As I walked up the old escalator and began to gaze upon the stand-and-stare art installations that surrounded me at Saturday’s ArtAwake event, I found myself wishing I had an iPhone. University of Rochester students had turned an old building from the 1920s, the Alliance Building, into an art exhibit/music show/local food tasting event galore. After I got over the feeling of bewilderment that a place so cool could be conceived of and executed in Rochester, I felt a glowing sense of pride for my city. I’m incredibly grateful to this blog for opening my eyes to the possibility of finding inspiration everywhere and anywhere. Misguided and unfortunate as it may be at times, Rochester is and always will be my home, and there’s admittedly some really cool stuff that goes on here.
The trend is to think locally and act globally, and I can’t wait to peruse samples of Rochester culture to incorporate into the wedding for out-of-town guests. Once it finally stops snowing in April :( and the fairs and festivals start up again, I can really get to work figuring out how to display the beauty of Rochester to family and friends, most of whom on my side have only been here once or twice. The Lilac Festival, which takes place at the beautiful Highland Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmstead), will hopefully be in full bloom around this time next year, and I’m looking forward to gathering seasonal local flowers from the Rochester Public Market and freshly-made local goods from my neighborhood South Wedge Farmer’s Market.
I hope we can suggest some of our favorite local watering holes too to give our lovely guests a taste of the local culture here. While many Monroe County residents are still scared of coming into the city, I honestly dread leaving it for the suburbs, since its idiosyncratic nature seems to keep many of the more dignified members of the community at bay. We have funky old spaces like the Village Gate, nightlife spots like the East End area, pretty streets to window shop like the Park Avenue neighborhood and my home sweet home, the South Wedge — full of vintage shops, tasty eats, entertainment and Rochester hipster culture at its best.
Rochester doesn’t have the best of the best. It’s not the epicenter of a cultural movement or a place well-known for much more than garbage plates, a grocery store, a failed fast ferry and a tragic city school system, but it means a whole lot to a lot of people, including Jimmy and me. And since it’s our wedding after all, we hope that the visitors who venture here to help us celebrate our new life together at least try to get to know Rochester — a city that isn’t quite perfect, but one which has become so very near and dear to our hearts.