In 2013 I gave myself a photo assignment. Pick 13 subjects, and take 13 snapshots of each… 13x13x13. At some point during the project I decided it’d be much more interesting to open this assignment to anyone who wants to participate. I’m glad I did. The following series of 13 comes from local photographer Arleen Hodge . These are portraits of 13 Rochesterians she’s met on the streets. Arleen says she is grateful to call these people her “friends.”
“They all have stories and they are truly a great bunch of men who are suffering another facet of the human condition,” Arleen reasons. “When I’m shooting underground for a night, these guys look out for me. There are those who are quick to judge… but these would be the guys to jump in and save your life.”
I can think of no better subject for this merry time of year – and less than a week after we were forced to face the facts; that Rochester stands as the fifth poorest city in the United States. It’s not just a city problem. According to that report by The Rochester Area Community Foundation, 160,000 people living within the nine-county region are living in poverty. These are our neighbors. Our friends. These could easily be portraits of you or me…
In 2013 I gave myself a photo assignment: Take 13 snapshots of 13 different subjects. Early on, someone suggested I do a series of traffic signal boxes – you know, the ones with the murals painted on them? At first I thought the idea was a little too obvious. I also thought many of the murals to be a little cliché. But soon I began to notice these things everywhere I looked. And then I felt like I couldn’t not do it.
While they may not be master works of art, these murals are definitely a unique part of our landscape. Some of them are kind of folksy; some are tongue-in-cheek; and many tell a story about the neighborhood. So, with the help of my friend Nicholas Swann , here are 13 of our favorite murals on traffic signal boxes…
Oh, and you’ll notice an extra one at the end. I’ve decided to paint one in my own neighborhood. You can tell me what you think…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.