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RIT unveils downtown art gallery

RIT unveils downtown art gallery

RIT City Art Space—the College of Art and Design’s new first-floor gallery and community event venue inside Sibley Square at Liberty Pole Plaza in downtown Rochester—opens its doors to the public on Friday, Dec. 7, with an exhibition featuring two of the university’s creative titans. As part of the “Faculty in Focus” series, RIT City Art Space will present the work of RIT professors and lifelong artists Willie Osterman and Leonard Urso. Osterman teaches fine art photography in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, and Urso is a professor of metals and jewelry design in the Schools of Art and American Crafts.

The joint exhibition, titled “Emergence,” runs through Jan. 20, 2019. An opening reception—part of the monthly First Friday art series in downtown Rochester—will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Osterman and Urso will be in attendance.

“City Art Space is so much more than an exhibition venue for our students, faculty and alumni,” said Robin Cass, interim dean of the College of Art and Design. “It’s a platform for all sorts of programming that will enrich the life of the community and reconnect RIT to its downtown roots through creativity.”

The college’s interior design students helped figure out how the space could be flexibly designed to accommodate this vision, Cass added. “It’s A. Sue Weisler RIT City Art Space, the College of Art and Design’s new first-floor gallery and community event venue inside Sibley Square at Liberty Pole Plaza in downtown Rochester, opens its doors to the public on Friday.

RIT City Art Space adds a sparkling new art, educational and event spot to the Midtown/East End district at the corners of East Avenue, Main and Franklin streets— across from RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship. The close proximity of the two initiatives provides the opportunity for cross-programming and engagement with alumni, K-12 populations and the downtown community at large—including underserved, at-risk and continuing-education populations.

About the exhibition

Osterman and Urso have spent the last 30 years in close proximity inside RIT’s College of Art and Design, developing distinguished careers as artists and educators. Not until recently, however, did they spend time looking at or discussing each other’s work, according to John Aäsp, gallery director for the college.

At first, it might be easy to classify Osterman as a photographer and Urso as a sculptor, especially in the context of what they teach. But if asked, they resist any reductive classification. Both are interested in the practice of art as curiosity, research and ritual—how human elements, mark making and visual mythologies emerge and inform ancient to contemporary cultures.

“While that conversation certainly involves more than the work of these two artists, it sparked Osterman and Urso’s attention to each other’s work,” Aäsp noted. “After several discussions and studio visits, their common interests became a collaborative thread that runs through the works in this exhibition.”

This exhibition, while offering only a glimpse, aims to show that even after decades of honing a personal visual language and practice, the slightest gesture of collaboration can generate unexpected ideas, cross-disciplinary dialogue and new paths for future creative development.

“In that spirit, the process of coming into being—Emergence—is celebrated in parallel with the debut of RIT’s new City Art Space in downtown Rochester,” Aäsp noted.

About the artists

Osterman has been teaching, researching and working as an active artistsince 1984. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography with a minor in art history from Ohio University, and a Master of Fine Arts.

For more information on this exhibition or RIT City Art Space, contact AaÌ? sp at or go to

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