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Sigriet Ferrer & Matthew Leffler

Artists Heart ROC

Interview No. 57


Arts are appreciated here. It’s a different attitude than in some other cities—there’s a more genuine interest.

Where are you originally from?

Sigriet: I’m from Miami.

Matt: I’m from Buffalo.

Why did you move to Rochester? What made you want to stay?

Matt: I moved here for school, and decided to stay afterwards because I had a lot of connections and friends here. I felt more familiar with the scene and had a good feel for the city.

Sigriet: I moved here for school, too. I stayed because I found that our city has a lot to offer (and I came from a big city!). It’s economically accessible, plus the people in Rochester are polite and friendly, as opposed to the stereotype of unfriendly people in big cities.

What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?

Sigriet: The change of seasons were part of it for me—I didn’t get that living in a tropical area! Rochester is also brimming with culture, and there’s a wealth of resources available for artisans, which I love.

Matt: It’s a big community, but it’s so accessible. Neighborhoods like NOTA and the South Wedge are great, with awesome food and restaurants. There’s always new stuff around here! And, all throughout the year, there’s always stuff to do.

Do you have any favorite/secret Rochester spots?

Matt: Good Luck. Village Gate too—that whole area! It’s one block that just has everything.

Sigriet: Yeah, NOTA as a whole is one of my favorite areas in Rochester.

Do you have a favorite nonprofit/charity you like to support?

Sigriet: The Monroe County Library System!

What’s the most interesting or unique event you’ve ever been to in Rochester?

The Spectral Carnival! We went last year and it was so cool and interesting. It had kind of a steampunk vibe, with carnival type food, singing, juggling, costumes, belly dancing, and more!

Describe your dream Rochester day.

Well, it would be a day off, in the summertime. We’d frequent a small coffee shop. Go explore the city, just walking around. Get some reading done, maybe visit Small World Books. We’d also go to the MAG!

Adapt, stay warm, and stay positive! It’s not gonna hold us back.

What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?

Bundle up. It’s easy to want to retreat, but it’s good to go out and stay social. See friends and family, and maybe even some art. Adapt, stay warm, and stay positive! It’s not gonna hold us back.

What makes Rochester unique?

Matt: The size is one thing—it’s physically smaller, but concentrated. Just because it’s a smaller city doesn’t mean it’s less diverse. It’s also really nice that you don’t have to travel far to get to cool stuff.

Sigriet: I love the diversity of Rochester. Especially with restaurants! You can try new foods all the time.

What do you think could be improved?

Matt: Well, the Inner Loop fill-in is pretty cool! Downtown is sparse, so that revitalization would be great to see. I think it will continue to spread from what’s already growing right now.

Sigriet: I’d like to see more community initiatives to address socioeconomic and other issues that we’re facing. Working together to come up with more solutions to help our community is really important.

What’s it like being an artist in Rochester?

Matt: It’s good! There’s a great arts community here. First Fridays are great—people show a lot of support for the arts. There are tons of festivals, events, and places to go see art.

Sigriet: There are lots of resources for artists! The Rochester Brainery is a great one, with all their classes, they are able to spread knowledge to lots of people. The public libraries are great too—they disseminate information to people, hold community events, and offer multimedia resources.

What is the best part of being an artist in Rochester?

Sigriet: It’s less saturated, so it’s easier to stand out in a crowd.

Matt: There are lots of opportunities to show your art—like the Corn Hill Festival, the Brainery Bazaars each month, and even local coffee shops. There’s less competition. Also, there’s a lot of creativity in the area, so that’s inspiring! It’s nice that it’s not a totally impenetrable wall to be seen by someone.

Sigriet: Arts are appreciated here. It’s a different attitude than in some other cities—there’s a more genuine interest.

What are some of the challenges you face?

Matt: In general, always improving and continuing to develop my work. Reaching a larger audience, too.

What inspires you? Who are your influences?

Sigriet: Nature, of course. Something as simple as a blooming flower. The juxtaposition between life and death. Weird and surreal things, too. Music—like the Smiths! I also listen to a lot of classical music and world music. Art house films, too! A student once told me my work reminded her of Georgia O’Keefe, so perhaps that’s a subconscious influence. Some literary inspirations include Haruki Murakami, Isabell Allende, Etkar Kerret, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Matt: The surreal and the strange are what really inspire me. One artist, Mobius, is definitely an inspiration. Old heavy metal comics. Weird, old horror movies. The director, Jodorowski, makes some strange, spiritual stuff that inspires me. Vibrant colors inspire me too.

Where are your favorite places to go to get inspired?

Sigriet: The MAG.

Matt: The Little or the Dryden. Support local!

Any advice for other artists/creative in the area?

Sigriet: Stay optimistic, no matter what. All artists struggle and have bad days—it’s easy to get caught up in the short term, but positivity will take you a long way.

Matt: Keeping at it is a way to stay with it. Repetition and practice will improve your work. Don’t give up!

Sigriet Ferrer of Prismatic Gardens and Matt Leffler of Soft Drawers are artists living and working in Rochester, and part of our Artists Heart ROC series. See more of Sigriet and Matt's perspectives on our Instagram.