Save the corncob watertower

Leah Bee, owner of Canvas & Chardonnay, will be hosting a water tower painting event that doubles as a fundraiser for Channel One to help raise support for preserving the corn water tower at the Seneca Foods site.

The fate of Rochester’s iconic ear of corn water tower — like the 151-foot structure itself — is up in the air.

However, some Rochester artists want to ensure the unique feature has a future. Canvas and Chardonnay is hosting a “Save our cob” art class and fundraiser Wednesday.

The corn tower sits on New York-based Seneca Foods’ production facility on 12th Street just east of South Broadway. Seneca announced it will end food production there at the end of the year. The company has not publicly stated what’s in store for the 87-year-old ear of corn that served as the facility’s water tower.

Rochester’s Heritage Preservation Commission unanimously voted Nov. 27 to earmark the tower as a potential landmark.

Artist Chad Allen created a simple line interpretation of the tower about a year ago. It proved a popular piece at his show at Studio 24 and has since been replicated as vinyl stickers, T-shirts and in other media.

At the Wednesday “Save our cob” event, participants will get guidance on how to make their interpretation of Allen’s canvased cob.

Allen said he initially resisted making the corn cob piece. However, the uniqueness of the structure and the history of the plant won him over.

“It’s a beacon of blue-collar heroes,” he said. “It’s the one thing in town that reminds us we are not all physicians.”

Leah Joy Bee, owner of Canvas and Chardonnay, has lived in Rochester for about 20 years. Bee said she took more notice of the corn tower once her son began to point it out.

“Kids get excited about things that are different in the sky,” she said.

Bee said the work has been one of her favorites by Allen.

“It has bold lines, there’s nothing busy going on,” she said. “I feel it’s a very good representation of what the corn tower is.”

On canvas, the tower occupies the lower right quadrant of the canvas and is surrounded by negative space.

“I’ve always been one who loves off-balance work,” Allen said.

Videographer Tyler Aug will be at Wednesday’s event to document people’s stories and memories about the corn tower. The video will be posted online via Rochester Posse, a social media group, and presented to the Rochester City Council.

“Our resources are our friends,” he said. “We’re going to bring as many people to the table as possible.”

People can register for the event online., through Canvas and Chardonnay’s website, at Click on the Upcoming Classes tab. Registration is $35 and attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Channel One Food Bank. Canvas and Chardonnay will also donate $10 per participant to Channel One.

Allen said he is confident the structure will be preserved.

“I have no worries that the right thing is going to happen,” Allen said. “The cob will live another day.”

What's your reaction?


General Assignment Reporter

John joined the Post Bulletin in May 2018. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 2004 with a BA in Journalism and Japanese. Away from the office, John plays banjo, brews beer, bikes and is looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter “b.”

Print ads