Nature in the City: Open air art expo comes to the Rochester Public Market Friday

Around Town

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A one-day outdoor art and community event comes to the Rochester Public Market this week, in tandem with First Friday.

It’s called Nature in the City and it takes place on July 2 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The event will feature more than 30 local vendors offering original works of art, artisanal crafts, workshops, and more.

Nature in the City is organized by Hayley Van Dusen and her partner Alexander Fals, from Rochester and Naples, respectively. The partners are both full-time artists and entrepreneurs focused “on creating collaborative, creative spaces to share with other artists and organizations who promote environmental health and awareness.”

“A few months ago, Alexander and I were brainstorming how we could share our soil paintings in a COVID-safe way, in a central and inclusive city space, and not have to work with a middle-man gallery that take commissions on the pieces,” Van Dusen said. “As our plans developed and we began working with the Rochester Public Market, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to create a larger space for many local artists like us, who are looking for the same kind of space to share their work in the city. Thus Nature in the City was born!”

There will also be plenty of entertainment options, with a full-day of live music, live dance performances, live painting sessions with artists from The Yards Collective, food trucks, and more.

“There are over 40 vendors participating in this event,” Van Dusen said. “There will be an incredible variety of craftsmanship and artistry including but not limited to sculpture, illustration, painting, and poetry. Throughout the day, we will be enjoying performances from over 11 groups and individuals, from classical ballads to African marimba to jazzy reggae fusion pop.”

Additionally, the event will feature various environmental justice and nature-focused organizations, like Cornell Cooperative Extension and Tap Root Collective, who will host workshops on city soil, and soil painting for kids and adults.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension will be offering a soil painting workshop throughout the day, where attendees can collaboratively paint on one large canvas,” Van Dusen said. “TapRoot Collective will be offering an educational booth on City Soil, to teach us how to best work with and maintain soil in our urban gardening endeavors. The Yards will have a booth and live painters, creating paintings before our very eyes throughout the day.”

Van Dusen says they are hoping to make this an annual tradition in Rochester.

“We would absolutely love to make this an annual event, and we’re manifesting this by calling it ‘First Annual Nature in the City!'” she said.


  • 11 a.m. — Event start
  • 11 a.m. — Tap Root Collective City Soil Education Begins
  • 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. — Performance by singer/songwriter Mike Joseph
  • 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. — Dusenberg Fare and Festivities, with food!
  • 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. — All-Day Soil Painting Workshop begins, kid-friendly (kid-friendly!!) with Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Program, kid-friendly!
  • 12 p.m. -12:45 p.m. — Performance by singer/songwriter Joe Masci
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. — Zimbabwean Marimba Ensemble “Simba Marimba”
  • 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Brazilian Percussion Band
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. — Ashley Smith + Co. featuring Live Dancer Amber Woldeguiorguis
  • 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. — Eagle Crest Winery Wine Tasting
  • 4 p.m. – 7 .m. — Tony’s Tuscan Wood-fired Pizza
  • 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. — Performance by the band Acid Rain Dance
  • 5:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. — Poetry by Marty Dodge
  • 5:30 p.m. 6:15 p.m. Performance by vocalist Allyn Van Dusen
  • 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. — City-wide First Friday Hours
  • 6:45 p.m. – 8 p.m. Performances by bands White Woods and Woven home, featuring live dancers Andrew Evans, Amanda Turk and Alanna Ackert
  • 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. — Performance by the band Flying Object
  • 10 p.m. — Event end

Van Dusen grew up in Rochester, between the 19th Ward and the South Wedge. She graduated from School of the Arts and later Purchase College with degrees in creative writing.

“Later on I discovered my passion for songwriting, performing, and painting,” she said. “All of which have taken me on wild journeys.”

Those wild journeys include adventures from Rochester, to Seattle, and all the way south to Popayan, Columbia — where she lives part-time with her partner, whose family is from there.

“Alexander taught me how to make natural pigments with soil that comes from the volcanic region of Cauca, where we live,” she said.

Those soil paintings will be on display at the Public Market Friday for Nature in the City, along with creations from dozens of more local artists.

“Creating Nature in the City has been a dream come true,” Van Dusen said. “It has affirmed my life-long love of community work, the arts, and inclusive collaboration, while testing my limits and showing Alexander and I what we’re made of. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to come together with our local Rochester community, to share all of the inspiration and color that keeps us going no matter what.”

‘A Human History,’ by Alexander Fals

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