Looking for the Big Picture? You can't miss it
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY) - May 1, 2008
Brian Sharp, Staff writer
JAMIE GERMANO, staff photographer
Cyclist after cyclist emerged Wednesday evening on a boarded-up East Main Street storefront opposite Chase Tower.
With each 5-by-11-foot panel, a few riders became a race, and an eyesore began to transform into what will be a colorful, 87-foot-long snapshot of the Rochester Criterium.
This is the latest installment in the slowly developing Big Picture Rochester project.
Big Picture is Kenichiro "Ken" Sato 's idea. His goal: To create the world's largest outdoor photo gallery, ultimately drawing images from an international photography competition. The plan this year is to install at least 60 images of city events and festivals on Main Street building fronts and empty windows from Midtown Plaza to the Riverside Convention Center.
"I want to see that I can make change, a difference, you know?" said Sato , 29, who came to Rochester in 2005 to study public administration at Monroe Community College. "Many people give up, 'OK, Rochester can't change.' That kind of mindset. ... I just don't like that, and I just want to prove people can make change. I want to be that person, and I want to see difference."
Sato , a museum art director from Sendai, Japan, proposed the outdoor gallery idea two years ago. He got started with a community competition that resulted in the mosaic of local photos on the side of the SUNY Brockport building on St. Paul Street. The plan was to have hundreds of photographs up by now. Money to pay for it all remains a problem.
The current effort is funded with up to $65,000 from a downtown enhancement fund, to which center city property owners contribute. Big Picture Rochester is paying Xerox Corp. to print the photo enlargements locally, though it would be less expensive to go out of state.
All of the pictures were taken by local photographers. Fifteen already have been installed in Midtown's windows. The materials have a lifespan of two or three years.
Bill Pritchard, vice president of City Council, has urged Sato to continue to think big and create an attraction.
"I really would hate to see the entire project become filled with images of our festivals, in other words, promotional vehicles," Pritchard said. "That wasn't really the original idea for this downtown picturescape. And, in the long run, it's not an approach that will sustain the popularity of the project."
Gerry DiMarco, 62, started working with Sato last year. DiMarco's downtown law office now doubles as Big Picture Rochester's office. The goal does remain to go global, he said, but that will take money. DiMarco said there also is a need for more photographs to switch out with the current ones six months or so from now, so the exhibit remains fresh.
"I think once people start to see how nice these things look, and how great they uplift Main Street and downtown, I think we'll get more people on board," DiMarco said.
Once that happens, DiMarco and Sato say, the outdoor gallery of 200 to 300 images can finally be realized.
"In my mind," Sato said, "I already see those pictures — every day."
To contribute to Big Picture Rochester, contact Gerry DiMarco or Ken Sato at (585) 232-2556, or go online to www.Big PictureRochester.com.