The Karen Section of Town

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Those of you who knew me in the ’90s know this about me, but for the rest of you, let me paint you a picture of what my life was like.  I taught art at a middle school that was an hour drive from home, so a typical Friday looked like this:  get up at 5:30 am, leave the house at 6:30 to be at work at 7:30; work until 3:30 pm, get home at 4:30; go to the gym for two hours.  Clean my room (or not).

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At around 10:00 pm, I would drive to Armory Square.  No plans – I just knew my friends would be out.  They always started at a bar called Witherspoon’s (not there anymore), and somehow we would hop around until 2:00 am then go to a Denny’s.  So I would pretty much do a twenty-four hour day!

Crazy times.

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But before that – in the ’80s…dating myself…I worked at Bryant & Stratton teaching Fashion Merchandising.  Yes, I was a professor.  I used to frequent Armory Square when it was a sort of derelict meets artsy neighborhood.  There was a frame shop on the corner of the main intersection called I’ve Been Framed (where I met a very beautiful guy named Mike).  I got my bed (that I still sleep in) at the Antique Underground on E. Fayette St. at a basement shoppe that reeked of mold, lol.

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When I told my cousin Nick the story of how I got a flat tire on E. Fayette Street (nearly thirty years ago) across from what is now The Black Olive restaurant – how there was no one to help me.  Every man who walked by was either blind or crippled, or missing an arm it seemed.

It was just super weird, I know.  And there were no cell phones, so I tried calling for help from the pay phone but the line was busy because there was also no call-waiting back then.  I should also preface this by saying it was raining that day and I was wearing a white linen suit complete with a pencil skirt, stockings and heels…and I am still unwilling to learn how to change a flat tire, lol…. When I got one this past summer, I still called my dad.  One of these days I should get AAA….

Anyhow, to make a short story long, as I have been known to do, in around 1986 or ’87, Nick started calling Armory Square the Karen section of town.

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The Karen section of town has changed a lot since then.  Lots of restaurant chains, as well as local haunts that are GREAT.  There’s a Starbucks and a Subway along with Kitty Hoynes, Blue Tusk, Empire Brewing Company, Pastabilities, The Bistro Elephant….

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There’s Jet Black, an amazing clothing shop where I bought my very first Trina Turk top, which is still one of my favorites to this day (bought in ’98 or ’99).  And now (drum roll)- THERE IS AN ART CO-OP CALLED ARMORY ARTWORKS!

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They had a grand opening that I missed, even though it said I went to it on Facebook.  I click that I am going everywhere and I don’t always follow through.  But I rectified that today.

My friend Janine and I took a stroll around the block, had lunch at the Empire Brewing Company and visited the gallery.

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The address is 136 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY.  It is an upstairs venue so I am going to say I do not think it is handicapped-accessible.  I mean, I did not remember seeing an elevator.  But if that is not an issue, once upstairs you will find an array of decorative and functional pieces by local artists.

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From what I understand, there are a couple of ways one can join the co-op. There is a $120 per month cover to be a member.  There is also a part-time scenario where you help (wo)man the place, ring register, and allow a 40% commission off sales of your art.

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Hours of operation:

11:00 am – 6:00 pm  Monday-Wednesday

11:00 am – 7:00 pm  Thursday

11:00 am – 8:00 pm  Friday-Saturday

noon – 5:00 pm  Sunday

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It is really beautifully merchandised and the prices are surprisingly reasonable.  Several of my friends are selling work there – Barbara Vural, Wendy Harris, Amy Bartell.  You can get art that has been printed on notecards for only $3.00 each or four for $10.00.   I usually do this then put the cards in frames if I cannot afford the originals.  It’s a great way to start an art collection.

Bracelets for under $40.00; hand-made sweaters, scarves, pottery, paintings, prints, you name it!  There’s really something for everyone!

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If you haven’t yet purchased original art for your home, I really urge you to do so.  There’s nothing better than owning something made with love, something made by a neighbor.  I don’t know – the comaraderie of friendship is a great gift, I think.  There is so much good here that I feel like we all benefit from the experience.

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So, if you find yourself in the Karen section of town, please visit this amazing place!  And if you get there soon, you’ll have a chance at a $25 gift certificate prize – no purchase necessary!

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For more information, call them at (315) 870-3408 or visit their website armoryartworks.com

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They are also on Facebook – find them here.

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