There's a saying that goes, "Do what you love and the money will follow." Most artists hope the adage is true, but it neglects to mention the necessary elements to get a person from the beginning of that statement to the end of it: talent, opportunity, and luck.
Michael DeLuca is one of the fortunate who have been able to parlay their passion into their livelihood. The Webster native makes his living as a muralist --- people hire him to transform their surroundings from bare walls into, say, an Italian cucina where the window looks out onto a vineyard, or the visions a child might have while she sleeps.
Is it still self-expression if someone is telling you what to do? After all, art is practically synonymous with ego. "You have to drop that in a way," admits DeLuca (pictured here working on a Mediterranean balcony in a Webster home). He says his clients make suggestions, but they're also looking for his guidance, so he's allowed much freedom. For one Rochester home, DeLuca did a great deal of research into hieroglyphics and spent five months depicting an intricate story about a pharaoh's journey into the afterlife over the course of four walls.
Being a muralist can be grueling work. Rather than sitting in front of a manageable canvas with a neat palette and jauntily placed beret, DeLuca often finds himself laying down broad strokes from uncomfortable positions. But that's the kind of exhausting commitment that enabled visitors at the recent Homearama show to look up and see a ceiling painted to resemble a cloud-dappled sky instead of the usual boring white.
When DeLuca isn't tricking people's eyes on a massive scale, he can also be found doing the installation thing. His work is now on display at the Bug Jar, and his next show is scheduled for the Oxford Gallery. DeLuca's future plans include illustrating books for children and possibly some conceptual design for the movies, evolution being the hallmark of any decent artist... I mean human being.
Visit Mike DeLuca's website at www.homepage.mac.com/murality.
--- Dayna Papaleo
Plenty of people hold press conferences or call reporters to announce a run for public office. In Rochester, it's apparently becoming fashionable to seek out press attention for not running.
Early last month school board president Darryl Porter called a press conference in sub-freezing weather to say he was abandoning his mayoral ambitions. Then last week, term-limited Republican County Legislator Chris Wilmot called reporters around town and sent out a press release saying he'd decided not to run for mayor.
Wilmot's switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in December had stoked speculation that he might be planning such a run (and switching parties to avoid a primary in a heavily Democratic town). Wilmot did little to dispel that speculation until now.
"I guess this proves once and for all that I certainly didn't switch from Democrat to Republican to run for mayor of Rochester," he said in a press release.
That press release cited "exciting business opportunities" for his company Endless Wave Productions as his primary motive for backing off the mayoral race. Among other things, Endless Wave owns interest in a casino company, a motion picture, and is working on what Wilmot will only describe as "a suburban real estate development that I hope to be cluing the public in on in the near future" for fear of jeopardizing an impending deal.
An alternative explanation is that he didn't earn the nod from county GOP boss Steve Minarik, who has a reputation for imposing strict discipline on his party members lest infighting spill out into public view as it might in a primary. Attorney John Parinello has also expressed interest in running for Rochester mayor on the Republican line, and even attended a public forum for mayoral hopefuls at City Hall last month.
Consider what Wilmot told City Newspaper after he switched parties in December about a possible mayoral bid:
"I can guarantee this: I will not primary any Republican for mayor. I won't enter as a dark horse or as a renegade. And if I'm the selected candidate, I won't anticipate any primary if I'm the Republican nominee. That's something I think the Republican Party usually does a little differently."
But Wilmot dismisses that explanation, saying the decision was his own. As for other Republican mayoral candidates: "I'm not aware of anyone at the moment," he says. "There's no one apparent."
Wilmot adds that he hasn't closed the door on future political ambitions.
"I'm 43 years old; I'm not over the hill in life or in politics," he says. A former Capitol Hill staffer, he says he's always nurtured dreams of returning as a congressman.
--- Krestia DeGeorge
Parking's the latest target of the Center City Task Force, with studies now underway to potentially free up 100 short-term on-street spaces downtown.
But the Task Force's more long-term inquiries into downtown's traffic pattern --- mainly its one-way streets --- could have an enormous impact.
"This will be part of the Renaissance Square study," says City Councilman Bill Pritchard, who chairs the CCTF. "Renaissance Square is going to have such a huge effect on traffic patterns, so we want to get the discussion of changing some of these streets going now. I'm pushing hard for St Paul from Main on north to the Inner Loop to turn back into a two-way street."
One of the primary objections many community members have had to the location of a bus terminal at Renaissance Square is with the additional meandering buses would have to do to navigate one-way streets as they enter and exit the terminal.
"I'm hopeful there may actually be a solution where we can mitigate some of the disruptive parts of the previously proposed inflows and outflows at the bus terminal by changing these streets to two-way streets," Pritchard says. "I had a conversation with [Renaissance Square Corp. Executive Director] Mark Aesch about a week ago, and he seemed very open to the discussion of traffic flows downtown in the bigger picture."
But Pritchard's biggest hurdle will be convincing the city's traffic engineers, he says.
"The traffic engineers particularly think it's impossible to do," he says of converting St. Paul and other one-way streets to two-ways. "The current pattern was designed --- and I laugh when I say this because it goes so against how I feel we should treat downtown --- to get people into and out of downtown as quickly and easily as possible. I can appreciate that, but, quite frankly, I want people to come downtown and spend some time there."
Next on the task force's radar screen: tapping the potential of downtown as a Wi-Fi (wireless network/internet) zone. And what Pritchard coyly describes as "the introduction of a concept that will take relationships between the city and downtown businesses to the next level."
--- Chad Oliveiri