Living in the Real World

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I did this backwards – I went to the symposium first, at Watson Hall on Thursday night, a panel discussion about art starring the five artists represented in the current art exhibition at the Syracuse University Art Gallery.

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According to their newsletter, “the five artists included in the exhibition, Robert Birmelin, Gillian Penderson-Krag, Joel Sheesley, Tim Lowly and Bill Murphy, have all enjoyed long careers making images. Their decision to work in a representational manner put them at odds with an art world that has, at times, been little interested in the genre, preferring instead the forms and color of abstraction.”

Professor Jerome Witkin co-curated the exhibit, titled Poetry of Content: Five Contemporary Representational Artists, and led this panel with questions that were meant to delve into these talented artists’ minds and offer pearls of wisdom from the depths of their psyche.

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I tend to think the more we are able to verbalize what we are doing visually, the better non-artists can understand the whole she-bang and in turn, the better we can all understand each other in order to express our worlds.

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Some people are good at this and some are not particularly good at it. Which is why art ends up seeming incredibly difficult to comprehend to those who need that linear connection.  I think hearing these artists speak about their work first then going to see the exhibit, which I did today, finally (yay!), made viewing the work so much better, because I felt like I knew them a little bit better.  I had heard about their processes, their successes and their struggles. They were real people living in the real world all while manipulating the world via creating their visions on canvas, wood panel and paper.

And so, the emotion they conveyed in their marks, in their compositional viewpoints and in their selection of color and texture became poetic. Not sure if I would have had the same response had I seen the show first. So backwards in this case was better – for me at least.

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The art gallery is open on Sundays.  You can park for free in the Q4 lot across the street and once there, you can practically have the gallery to yourself.  I visited with my friend Joyce Backus and the only other people there were artist Ken Nichols and his wife, and the person at the front desk.

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Funny that, because as we made small talk, we realized that Cheryl Chappell and John Fitzsimmons were the ones who had planted the seed in all of us to go on a Sunday.

Thanks, Cheryl and John!

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It was such an amazing experience strolling through the space.  Witnessing the large-scale works by Tim Lowly was certainly powerful.  I would say more so after hearing him tell the tale of how they came to be – images of his daughter who, as he mentions in his artist statement, is developmentally disabled.  He uses acrylic paint and it is handled in such a magnificent way that I cannot understand how he can do that.  The colors are muted in an oil-painterly style with light coats of brush stroke and this incredible texture.  And the way he created light effects is genius!

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Joyce and I looked at each other and she said, “It makes me want to go home and paint!” And I agreed.  I was actually thinking the very same thing.  Ken said Golden Acrylics has a new product out that mimics the drying time of oils so…maybe….

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Many of the artists chose to do multi-paneled works.  Some on canvas, some on wood; placed near to one another or next to each other.  Robert Birmelin’s were more of the former.  People permeate the canvases then disappear into each other or other objects, giving the artwork a futurism flavor.  You could almost hear the sounds emanating from the work – of car horns, guns blazing, people shouting – the hustle and bustle of it all and all in motion, yet completely still in the quiet of the empty museum.

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Gillian Penderson-Krag’s artwork was the smallest of the bunch.  A lot of square canvases with amazing details – still-lifes and turquoise-walled interiors with people sitting around gazing in a way that creates rhythm (what do I see/what do they see?)  And land and seascapes that were a bit more universal in terms of connecting with the viewer.  She’d said that a professor once told her to paint what she liked and this was so profoundly simple in its truth that it changed her artistic life from painting abstractly, as was the style when she was in college, to creating these brilliant little works.

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This exhibition continues through March 20, 2016.

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In addition to these works in the main gallery, there is a show of graphic art by Robert Kipniss and…(drumroll, please)… etchings by Rembrandt!  OMG, one of them is a self-portrait, a tiny thing, but he looks like he is looking right at you.  Like he is staring and saying – go home and make art!  You have this. You love this!

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Yes – the collective shows, as well as the vast collection of art in this gallery, is incredibly inspirational.  Thanks, Syracuse University for being one of my soul-mates. ❤

If you want to help support SU Art, go to www.suart.syr.edu/give-now/.  You can also support the program by purchasing from the gift shop here.

 

 

 

New Jersey Art Show!

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I will be participating in this art exhibition in New Jersey!  It is an animal-themed show.  I will be selling oil and collage paintings from my Dream Time and Echolalia series.

Paintings will be $225-825 each.  10% of sales will be donated to an animal shelter in the area.  The show will run for several months.

I will have more information about it next month.  I still have not made travel plans to coordinate the installation.  For now, suffice it to say that I am soooo excited about this!

Below the Redhouse

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40 Below is a group that is making a difference in the city of Syracuse, NY.  Of course, anyone over forty thinks it’s a stupid name, lol.  I remember when they started the group – I was already not the target audience.  The point was to get the younger generations – were they Generation Xers then?  I can’t remember – to stay here.  To remain in Syracuse following graduation from college.  Most people who grew up here wanted to move anywhere else and I would imagine getting a downstate New Yorker to want to live life in this slower lane is a bit of a tough sell.

And I can’t blame them, as I did it myself for a time, moving to Florida when I was in my twenties.

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So yeah, it was/is a task force established to improve the arts culture and promote Syracuse as a happening cool place to live.  Syracuse, New York is more of a sports-town.  I think the world pretty much knows that via the amount of people we can get to go to the Carrier Dome for a college hoops game in 23 below zero weather (more than 30,000).  It’s definitely an astonishing feat by any stretch of the imagination.  The arts are always just short of emerging and it is funny (read: sad) how most successful Syracuse artists are finding their success elsewhere.

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Our most famous artist is Carrie Mae Weems.  She lives here but rarely shows her work here.  There was that Everson Museum of Art exhibition, but other than that she is strictly a grant recipient and sells in New York City.

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But 40 Below keeps trying and I commend them for it.  I attended their most recent pop-up art exhibition.  Last year’s coincided with Winterfest activities.  This year the one night only event happened on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 from 5 pm – 8 pm at the Redhouse Art Center, 201 S. West Street, Syracuse, NY 13202.

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All local artists were invited to exhibit by dropping off a piece at the Point of Contact gallery across the street.  I did not participate since the time for drop off was the exact time I was buying my new car from the Fox-Honda dealership in Auburn, NY.

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My friend Penny Santy participated, as did my Facebook friends Charlie Sam and Renee Fair.  In attendance were a lot of artsies over forty.  I mean, I didn’t see many or any twenty-somethings.  But it was a decent-sized crowd, and it was a lot of fun!

Not sure if anyone sold anything, but manifesting exhibitions sometimes leads to sales down the line so it’s all good.  You just never know when the next opportunity will present itself.  I know my friend Angela connected with some people about a possible new art venture and  we all enjoyed the carrot sticks and dip, wine and cheese spread.

If you’ve never been to an art reception – there is always free food and wine.

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Not sure when the next event will take place.  I am sure 40 Below would welcome your support!  Here are some links to find out more about this organization –

40 Below Facebook page

40 Below Twitter page

40 Below on VolunteerCNY.org

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Lots of Art!

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Last Thursday I attended the art reception for a new group of artists exhibiting and selling artwork at Natur-Tyme on Erie Blvd. East in Dewitt, NY.  Maria Rizzo is the resident artist. She books the others to show alongside her paintings for three-month engagements.  I was in the first one from July to September of last year.

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This time around there are three new artists:  Katie Turner, Blane Berry and Annie Taylor. Annie wasn’t there when I got there towards the end of the event (earlier I’d attended a seminar on photography at the Everson Museum of Art), but I met with the others and ended up buying a couple of things with the 10% reception night discount!

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I really loved the way the work was merchandised this time around.  A lot of smaller works with price points as low as $4.00!  Maria has made little magnets of her gorgeous tree paintings and sells them, as well as bookmarks and prints of her artwork in various sizes. The originals are on the walls too.

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Katie Turner is another local artist who has displayed work at the Chittenango Middle School library gallery and has spoken about her work to my students.  She creates watercolors on Terraskin papers.  She demonstrated the properties of this paper during her talk at CMS and it is really cool stuff!  I really love her work!  I bought a small painting of a bouquet done in reds and greens, which is pretty much the color scheme of my entire house.

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I bought a little wooden sculpture inscribed with the word love from Blane Berry.  It requires light – there are a bunch of drilled holes and only some of them are the coded message.  It is very special (and was only $5.00!) and makes a great conversation starter.

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I assume this group will continue their exhibition through March 2016,  if you want to check them out.  Who knows?  You may even spot a celebrity or two shopping in there.  It is a very cool place.

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Rob Schneider visits Natur-Tyme!

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