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Renovated Armory opens with art show


Less than two years ago, New York State was trying to rid itself of Rochester's Culver Road Armory. The sprawling, contaminated former home of the 121st Cavalry was falling into disrepair.

Now, after a lengthy renovation (documented here in time lapse video), the 100,000 square foot facility is decked out with museum-like flourishes of modern design.

So fittingly, to herald the opening of the Armory to the public, the developers threw an art show.

Pop-up gallery

With workers preparing the cavernous room behind her, art dealer Deborah Ronnen is thumbing through blueprints.

"This is how everything was planned," Ronnen says, pointing toward exposed brick and temporary display walls.

Last week she was rushing to transform 8,000 square feet of raw space into a "pop-up gallery" featuring 26 works from New York City-based artist Mark Fox.

Ronnen says some of the pieces will be drawings, some will be sculptures made of cut stainless steel and one will even feature materials from Ground Zero.
But she says a few of Fox's pieces will be especially resonant given the Armory's recent transformation.

"[Fox] actually writes out doctrine and cuts it up and reassembles it," says Ronnen. "And that's what happened here: They took really great bones and they figured out how to make it relevant for today."

Historic building re-imagined

In late 2009, local real estate developer Fred Rainaldi bought the 95-year-old armory for nearly $1.5 million.

The facility now sports space for offices, retail and a multi-story restaurant. The first tenant moved in earlier this month.

Art dealer Ronnen says the exhibit she's organizing is a fitting kickoff for the ambitious multi-use project.

"The hope is that it becomes a gathering space," says Ronnen.

The pop-up gallery opened to the public this past Saturday. The Mark Fox exhibit will be "popped-up" until Oct. 2. The Armory will feature permanent gallery space - but the pop-up gallery is set to become a storefront.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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