Alumni organize fall art exhibit

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Artwork by Robert Whiteside ’77 (fine and applied arts).

Two RIT alumni will return to campus this fall as part of a group of five artists exhibiting at the Ohringer Gallery in the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at NTID.

The exhibit, which runs from Sept. 30 to Nov. 8, celebrates the 35th anniversary of the Wildroot Gallery, a small cooperative art gallery in Rochester that George Wegman ’75 (fine and applied arts) and Robert Whiteside ’77 (fine and applied arts) helped to establish.

Founded in 1978 by Wegman, Whiteside, Lindy Mathews, Peter and Gloria Monacelli, and Nancy and Bill Holowka, the Wildroot Gallery had humble beginnings. The gallery got its name from a bottle of Wildroot Quinine Bouquet hair tonic that was left behind by a barber, who was the previous tenant of the gallery space. Located on South Avenue, Wildroot was created with the intention of being a not-for-profit gallery run by artists, for artists.

The gallery served as a gathering place for the group of artists over the years, and it became a fixture in the community as well. The gallery spilled out onto the street in the summers, hosting cookouts and inviting in anyone who passed by.

Over the years, the gallery has featured work by all of the members of the group, including Wegman and Whiteside. Having graduated from RIT in 1975 with a mater’s degree in fine arts, Wegman has gone on to have his work featured in numerous exhibitions, including the Elizabeth Collection, the Little Theatre Café Gallery and the Bevier Gallery at RIT, among many others. He describes his art as exploration.

“I try out new materials, techniques and ways of putting things together to make my statements,” he says. “Stylistic consistency is less important than the potential of the materials to reach my vision.”

Whiteside has served in many positions since graduating with a master’s degree from RIT in 1977, including working as a professor of fine arts at Monroe Community College, Genesee Community College and Nazareth College. He currently serves as a creative arts therapist at the Jewish Home of Rochester.

Whiteside’s work has been featured in galleries around the world. He describes his style as an “attempt to examine the phenomenon of line, color and form as a metaphorical interpretation of both life and the dances that are created between the players of the game.”