After a year of being apart, it was a day for art lovers to be together as Arts on the Ave returned to the Slattery Park neighborhood near downtown Rochester.
The 11th annual event was back in a modified form Saturday after a year off due to the pandemic.
"Art on the Ave really is all about bringing together community and celebrating the arts, and what a better way to do that than put public art into our neighborhood," said Wayne Flock, an Art on the Ave board member.
There are more than a dozen sculptures for the public to enjoy throughout the Slatterly Park neighborhood. On Saturday, the collection grew as members of the neighborhood and arts community gathered in the 800 block of Fifth Avenue Southeast for the unveiling of the newest piece of public art.
The sculpture "Food of Love" by Susan Waughtal took its inspiration from the Shakespeare play "Twelfth Night" — "If music be the food of love, play on.”
The sculpture sits in the front boulevard of Misha Johnson; her husband, Alex Frazier; and their two teenage children. The family also got to pick the inspiration for the sculpture. Johnson said the family chose the quote in part due to their connection to the Rochester Shakespeare Festival, which the couple helped start.
"I think it is one of the reasons we moved to the neighborhood, because there is such a love for the arts in this area, and it’s a wonderful honor, really, to be receiving this sculpture," Johnson said.
On it's 10th anniversary event, the neighborhood was proclaimed as the artist quarter of downtown Rochester and the "Slatterly Park Arts District" in 2019 by Rochester Mayor Kim Norton.
"To have an arts district is so important for our community, who has always loved art but has never identified itself like this and like this neighborhood, and I just think that the art that has happened over the years has created a sense of community," Norton said Saturday morning. "Art speaks for the heart, the mind and the soul, and this neighborhood embodies all of that."
A little over an hour later, the Slatterly Park neighborhood sidewalks began to fill with people as the event began in earnest with four booths of activities and music.
Where the newly unveiled statue stood, Rochester resident Eleanor Goldammer-Moffit and her 3-year-old son, Dorian, were waiting to screen-print their T-shirts. This year, attendees were able to bring their own shirts and have them screen-printed with the event logo while they watched.
Goldammer-Moffit said she likes to see the art community thrive, and attends the annual event to see the art, listen to the music and visit with friends.
"I think it is good for the community, especially after a hard year," she said.
At the Threshold Arts activity booth on the corner of Fifth Avenue Southeast and 10th Street Southeast, artist Amarama Vernocke was helping visitors decorate rocks because they said "art rocks."
Five-year-old Zayda Harrison and her grandmother Sue Harrison worked together to paint flowers on their rock with Zayda's favorite colors, purple, pink and blue. Sue Harrison said they usually come to the event every year together, and when it was canceled last year due to the pandemic, Zayda kept asking about it.
The 5-year-old's art of choice? "I like painting and coloring," she said.
At the activity booth in the 900 block of Sixth Avenue Southeast, attendees were able to pick up ribbon dancer activity kits assembled by the Rochester Art Center to take home.
In the 900 block of Seventh Avenue Southeast, Seth Nfonoyim-Hara watched as his 3-year-old daughter, Zoraida "Zo," made spin art at the Spin-O-Paint booth with We Bike Rochester and Rochester Community Bike Club - Pata de Perro. Squeezing bottles of pink, blue and yellow paint onto a canvas with help from mom Nicole Nfonoyim-Hara, Zo then climbed onto the child-sized bike and began to pedal.
With a little help from both mom and dad to get the pedals going and stay going, Zo was cheered on by a crowd of family friends.
"I think any opportunity to get together with community, and especially being outside where it is relatively safe, makes a big difference of us," Seth Nfonoyim-Hara said. "I think everybody is itching to get out of the house."