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What's the alternative? 

Although Rochester has a number of respectable art museums and galleries, rarely will these venues show anything outside the mainstream. For an art space to do something daring, quite often it has to rely on the vision and resources of an individual or a small group of people.

Fortunately, Rochester has a few such alternative places. One of them is not yet even open to the public. door7 originally opened in late 2003 as a collaborative student-run art space. John Yost and David Kaplan did an amazing job organizing a large exhibition of painters, photographers, sculptors, and filmmakers. The work was both interesting and well presented.

Yost, now partnering with Tom Papows and with the help of a dedicated group of RIT students, has brought this venture back as a more permanent entity. This time, though, it's in a different location (439 Central Avenue, 512-470-0078, www.door7.org). And with 14,000 square feet to work with, door7 will try to be a new space to show new work. But Yost wants it to be more than just an art gallery. He sees his work as building a new community that will integrate with a student community and the city at large.

Then there is the Rochester Contemporary (137 East Avenue, 461-2222, www.rochestercontemporary.org), formerly known as the Pyramid Arts Center, which probably started in a similar way and has persevered for almost 30 years. In that time RoCo has provided an exhibition venue for the local art community and made a commitment to showing work that is visually and intellectually stimulating. Now in the process of hiring a new director and with a new manager already in place, RoCo is on the move to becoming an even stronger art institution.

A/V is another intriguing space that shows some of the most daring visual work and is also a venue for experimental music. A/V (8 Public Market, 423-0320, www.artsoundspace.org) recently hosted the work of the Evolutionary Girls Club, a group of artists and activists. It was the best show in Rochester so far this year.

Another space that has gone through many transformations is Artisan Works (565 Blossom Road, 288-7170, www.artisanworks.net). This place is one of the most amazing spectacles --- thousands of square feet of art and artists. It has to be seen to be believed.

In This Guide...

    Annual Manual 2005

    Surprised by Rochester
    When I was getting ready to move to Rochester five years ago, my friends and family were confused. They wore worried faces when they asked me, "What's in Rochester?" and "That's not too far from the city, is it?" and "Do you like the cold weather?"

    A newbie’s checklist

    Beginner’s guide
    So you've arrived, and now you need the basics: phone, utilities, a way to get around town, and, maybe, a way to get out of town. Here is some info to help you get settled in.

    Who's representing

    Government
    Mayor Bill Johnson 30 Church Street, Rochester 14614

    Pounding the pavement

    Neighborhoods
    I've been thinking about changing my name to Where's Your Car? (though I would have preferred You're Stunning or Are Those Real?).

    It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    Neighborhoods
    There is so much talk about how to revitalize Rochester's downtown and make the city a more attractive place to live. But many people have discovered the benefits of city life.

    Finding a beat you can dance to

    Live music
    I know it takes a little more than turning on the tube, but heading out for live music is so good for you. Plus the audience (you) is an integral part of each performance.

    We’ve got music

    We're proud of our musical talent; here are four reasons why. The event

    Get yourself something to eat

    Welcome to the Rochester food scene. I write full reviews of different restaurants every other week in City, but here is a bit of a primer, by genre, to acquaint you with the area's amazing variety of dining options.

    Why we love market day

    The Rochester Public Market can be noisy, crowded, and fishy, but that is part of the vibrancy and spirit that make it a unique experience. Where else in Rochester is it almost too crowded to move for hours at a time?

    Tending to your health

    Major hospitals Highland Hospital

    Get learning

    Schools
    Each public school district in Monroe County has contact information (listed below) where you can get more detailed information about individual schools. To get an overall picture, for some general research, or to just get involved, here are some resources:

    A little culture never hurt anyone

    Arts
    For a city our size, we've got plenty of culture. There's enough for every taste and energy level, but not too much to overwhelm.

    The gold of the silver screens

    Movies
    I'm only about 5-foot-3-inches, but I totally towered over Isabella Rossellini. Now, you may be wondering what sorts of circles a humble hometown girl like myself would run in that would enable me to reach that conclusion.

    A little place outside the city

    Suburbs
    Monroe County has 19 towns and nine incorporated villages. Aided by short commutes, particularly between Rochester and its inner-ring of suburbs, many of these are bedroom communities.

    High class

    Colleges
    Colgate Rochester Divinity School Can boast of a dedication for diversity, teaching students in over 20 Christian denominations.

    We'd rather be out in the open

    Recreation
    The areas in and around Rochester are rich with green space --- diverse, convenient, and beautiful places to walk the dog, take out a canoe, find a zoo, or smell the lilacs. From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake --- here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (400 Dewey Avenue, 428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems.

    Block partying

    Festivals
    Go ahead, give us a reason to celebrate. I dare you.

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