Squared off for business

Follow Marcia Morphy on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

A. Sue Weisler

This glass work by artist Leon Applebaum ’81 (glass) is for sale at Shop One2.

Alec Hazlett remembers his first large sculptural piece that was exhibited at downtown Rochester’s Shop One in 1968.

“One of the owners, Frans Wildenhain, taught me at RIT, and he would select student work to be on exhibit. He was like a god in the wind; I felt lucky to be considered.”

Back in the 1950s, Shop One at 77 Troup St. and America House on 52nd Street in New York City were the only two craft stores around. The businesses shared another connection: Leading art patron and philanthropist Aileen Osborn Vanderbilt Webb helped launch America House and also was a devoted supporter of RIT’s School for American Craftsmen, which had migrated from Dartmouth College, to Alfred, to RIT in what is now known as the School for American Crafts.

Hazlett ’71, ’72 (ceramics) had taken ceramic classes at the Memorial Art Gallery since he was 8 years old and later earned his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees at RIT. He remembers the excitement surrounding the retail craft store and the “celebrity-like” artists.

“I grew up in Rochester and became very familiar with Shop One when I was at Brighton High School; I used to go there to buy jewelry for my girlfriend,” Hazlett recalls.

“If you think of the faculty at that time in RIT’s craft school, you had five of the most famous people in the country,” he says.

“There were the founders—Wildenhain, John Prip, Tage Frid and Ronald Pearson—and then along came Wendell Castle. Shop One wasn’t just a craft store; it was a hangout for people in Rochester to hobnob with the artists, listen to them argue about their work, have a glass of wine, and buy some fantastic art you’d never find anywhere else.”

Although Shop One closed its doors in 1975 after a nearly 25-year run, six decades later in October 2010, the gallery was rebooted to an upscale boutique location at Global Village on the RIT campus with a slight name change: Shop One2 (Shop One squared).

Like Alice through the looking glass, passers-by can get a glimpse of a treasure-trove through the window displays: paintings, prints, photography, jewelry, textiles, blown glass, furniture, sculpture, music and literary publications.

All items are made by RIT-affiliated artists: faculty, students and alumni—including Hazlett and William Keyser ’61 (furniture design), who have exhibited at both galleries.

“I met one of the founders, Tage Frid, when I was considering coming to RIT for woodworking and he told me to go over to Shop One and look around,” recalls Keyser. “The high quality of crafts sold me on coming here to earn my degree.

“Shop One was definitely a craft gallery rather than a fine art gallery. It wasn’t overloaded like shops today; it was sparsely exhibited but never felt empty.”

Indeed, the physical nature is so different between the two places. “Shop One2 has lots of glass and it’s bold and bright but there’s no coffee pot running,” says Hazlett with a laugh. “Shop One on the other hand was in an old, dilapidated Tudor-styled carriage house. You went upstairs through a garage door into a surprisingly expansive warren of rooms with selected pieces of ceramics, jewelry, prints, sculpture and textiles.”

Affordability is a big factor for customers, says Wendy Marks ’77 (textile design), Shop One2 manager. “We have a variety of items to fit every budget. We are not a museum. We want people to walk in and feel welcome to see and experience these handcrafted items in a gallery setting.”

Marks says the new space speaks to the diversity of the RIT talent pool. “In a world where imported, mass-produced goods are common, it is refreshing and inspirational to see handmade artwork by RIT and regional artists. That’s something we can be proud of.”

Hazlett agrees and says the Shop One founders would have given the new location a thumbs-up. “Shop One was a magnet for the whole city in the art community, but Shop One2 is now a main attraction in the great megalopolis of RIT,” Hazlett says.

“It’s reborn and open for business.”

To learn more

RIT’s unique fine art and original craft gallery is open to the public and located in Global Village on the RIT campus, 6000 Reynolds Drive.

Parking is available in the northwest section of S Lot, labeled Global Village Retail Parking. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, go to www.rit.edu/shopone2.

To submit artwork, contact manager Wendy Marks at 585-475-2335, or e-mail shopone2@rit.edu.