Tony Thompson’s closing reception was last night. He’d been showing his artwork at Kasai Ramen, 218 Walton Street, Syracuse, New York 13203 for two months. I decided to go and it was the first time I’d been to this location in twenty-six years! OMG. It used to be Sweet Baba’s, the very first place I exhibited my own art. I was the house artist for a while – I don’t remember how long, but it was the place where I sold my first painting, which led to a commission. Fond memories.
The restaurant itself is a work of art. It was built in the alley between two buildings. The Walton Street entrance boasts a cozy bar area and some seating. There are three staircases, one a spiral, that lead to a lower level filled with the ambiance of brick walls, dark lighting and the dance of kitchen staff preparing asian fusion meals to perfection.
“Kasai Ramen is a 100 seat, two level restaurant. Its menu features traditional Ramen and Izakaya dishes with a Salt City attitude. Featuring superior service and exceptional quality food in an electric fast paced atmosphere Kasai is the restaurant to dine at in Armory Square. Come enjoy an order of Pork Gyoza, Shrimp Steam Buns, Shoyu Ramen and a Whole Roasted Duck!”
Thompson is a Syracuse bred artist currently living in Utica, New York. He exhibits regionally and is part of the graffiti/tattoo stable of artists led by my friend Jamie Santos. These thirty somethings have commandeered the art scene here with many cool-themed pop-up shows and curated group restaurant gigs under their young hipster belts.
The work here is cohesive. Thompson uses found object canvases – discarded windows, old cabinets and wood scraps. His work is a narrative of the inner workings of his mind. Portraits that bring to mind a Basquiat quality with competent, confident line quality that belies his mostly self-taught status. The other imagery appears like a nightmare jutxaposed with sweet child-like innocence. My favorite pieces are the glass ones. They are a fun marriage of old and new, the window allowing the viewer to, sort of, see into the artist’s engagingly energetic mind.
Next up for the restaurant is a show by Jamie and beyond that, a curated Japanese-themed one that I may be a part of. I am immersed in Japanese art and culture right now with four of my classes using Hokusai and other wood block print references, so it may be up my alley. (Get it? Because Kasai Ramen is built in an alley….)
Teaching watercolor to my 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art students was probably the most significantly beautiful thing I have done at school all year. I gave them each their own palettes and set of Koi brand watercolors. They began by painting on small sheets, practicing four techniques: saving the white of the paper, glazing, wet-in-wet and dry brush.
Then I gave them Arches 300# watercolor paper. They drew landscapes with barns.
Paintings took weeks to create. Many, many days of thin coats of glazing culminating in dry brush details. These kids are extraordinarily talented. I guided them, but really, they were on auto-pilot for much of the lesson. My job was to remind them to utilize formal principles consciously – rhythm, balance, emphasis…and to insist that they trust their own hand and intuition, so that their style could emerge. My goal and hope for them, as they mature as artists in high school and beyond, is for them to stay true to who they are and what they want to evoke in their artwork.
I am beyond blessed to know these talented über-amazing young people!!!!
I have been playing with mixing patterns and textures in my #ootd. And layering. Putting sweaters under dresses and finding unexpected matches, like my amber necklace (I actually designed it myself!) is the same color as the Marc Jacobs patent leather booties in rust (pictured above).
And a new cardigan pairs nicely with a four-year-old dress (above).
It is now spring. I have started to slowly reintroduce sandals. The weather in Syracuse/Chittenango will just have to catch up.
In other news, students are glazing textured clay projects, finishing up patterned paintings and some fashion drawings. The quarter ends on April 5th, I believe. Then we will be gearing into the homestretch with sculptures, more paintings and artsy mayhem (the good kind – there is no fartsy in the art room).
There is a small gallery to the right of the entrance at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, New York, called the Gallery Julius. It is a space reserved primarily for emerging regional artists who send work to the art center’s curator for consideration.
Common Places is the current exhibition: photographs by Willson Cummer of Fayetteville, New York, taken while on hiking excursions to parks near his home. He and his wife are kindred spirits, the term for people I meet on the road-less-travelled sections of the trails at Green Lakes State Park. We have that in common.
These photographs also have sunshine in common, and a sense of serenity and timelessness. There are ten similarly-sized and framed photographs in this show, all priced at $650.
These photographs are from my project called Common Places. I use a few word plays to develop the concept. First, I made these images in parks — places held in common, set aside from private development. Also, these pictures are of unremarkable places. While I love to climb in the Adirondacks this work is about common parks near my home in Fayetteville, New York. Finally, I am interested in the use — primarily in the 1700s — of the commonplace, a scrapbook of sorts in which people collected stimulating quotes, letters and printed items. These pictures are my commonplace.
All current spring exhibitions will be on display until May 12, 2019. The Schweinfurth is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm. Admission is $7 and free for exhibiting artists, members and children.
Sixty artists (all of whom are New York state residents) are included here. The work is in the gallery’s Main Gallery space, which includes several smaller rooms within the space. The overall theme seemed to be one of nature and the idea that spring is in the air. I saw predominately yellows and oranges in color palettes, and a number of pieces with trees, as well as birds and bees as subject matter.
It is currently spring in New York, so this does make sense, although no one told Mother Nature, who decided to smack us with blizzard-like conditions for the drive home.
Several artists received monetary prizes for their work including John Fitzsimmons who received Best in Show for his oil painting titled “The Voices of Those” (below left).
Other winners included David Higgins, First Prize for “Loomis” (below), Stefan Zoller,Second Prize for “Skeletal Trees”, Russell Serrianne, Juror’sChoice for “Continuum”, and Faithanne Flesher, Juror’s Choice for “Floodfires”.
The gallery is hosting several events during this exhibition. On Saturday, April 27, 2019, Stefan Zoller will demonstrate an image transfer technique and on Saturday, May 11, 2019, Sally Hootnick will demonstrate working with wax. Both presentations will begin at 1:00 pm on their respective dates. Other events: First Friday celebrations on Friday, April 5, 2019 and Friday, May 3, 2019, and several educational activities. See their website for more details here. We are heading into better, non-white-knuckle driving conditions, which will make the trip to Auburn (about 40 minutes from Syracuse) a satisfying one. It is sunny with dry roads as we speak (read: as I write).
There is more art too. The upstairs gallery is the temporary home of Double Vision, paintings by Pennie Brantley and Robert Morgan. Willson Cummer’s photography show, titled Common Places, currently occupies the Gallery Julius.
***Artists included in this exhibition
Jerry Alonzo, Robin Arnold, Patricia Bacon, Audrey Bialke, Bridget Bossart van Otterloo, Andrea Buckvold, Nancy Callahan,Stephen Carlson, Daniel Chadwick, Linda Cohen, Bradley Cole, Christopher Cook, Cynthia Cratsley, Stephen Datz, Scott Deyett, Constance Ehindero, John Fitzsimmons, Faithanne Flesher, Karen Frutiger, Kathryn Gabriel, Judith Gohringer, Hall Groat II, David Higgins, Sally Hootnick, Stephen Horne, Cheryl Hutchinson, Barbara Kellogg, Nancy Kieffer, Russell King, Robert Licht, Barry Lobdell, Chris McEvoy, Michael Morgan, Kyle Mort, Diane Newton, Avani Patel, Allison Piedmonte, Judith Plotner, Rose Marie Popper, Eva Redamonti, Kathryn Rehrig, Michele Riche, John Rodrigues, Patricia Russotti, Karen Sardisco, Marcie Schwartzman, Russell Serrianne, Eric Shute, James Skvarch, Ahree Song, Steven Specht, Bryan Valentine Thomas, Kate Timm, Michele Vair, James Van Hoven, Margaret VanArsdale, Heidi Vantassel, Anna Warfield, David Werberig, Despina Zografos, Stefan Zoller
Penny, Janine and I attended the Pop-up Video Installation and Performing Art exhibition at Apostrophe’s this evening. (1100 Oak Street, Syracuse, New York) It was a three-hour event. Artist Yilu Yang from Shanghai, China is currently a graduate student in the Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University.
Her show was titled Subconsciously Flowing Water. Yilu’s interest in nature stems from a yearning to seek its innate tranquility, a sanctuary from the contemporary man-made life-in-the-fast-lane that has been her experience growing up in a big city. Her films are self-portraits, depicting herself creating narratives that represent an intimacy with water, sand and the landscape of Earth while also acknowledging the customs, poetry and history of her heritage.
Her colleagues, fellow students and friends gathered for a critique led by Laura Heyman, Associate Professor in the Department of Transmedia and D.J. Hellerman, Curator of Art & Programs at the Everson Museum of Art. The Everson has one of the largest collections of Video Art in the nation (who knew?) and so, the museum works closely with the university to promote and guide students in their respective artistic journeys.
Heyman asked what direction she felt her art was going, other than to be viewed in this gallery space? Yilu Yang remained poised as she answered. Her audience ventured closer to hear her soft spoken response. She was clear in her vision, that her work is both personal and universal in that it allows the viewer to ponder the peaceful inner being while questioning their place in society. It may become more political or not, depending on where it takes her – back to China or on an extended path around the world.
I see it as the beauty in escape – that we can all benefit from unplugging from society and focusing on creating our own imaged histories, rewriting our realities and then revisiting ourselves in the physical. In this way, we seek and find our true happiness.
I see a lot of wonderful things in Yilu’s future. She found a fit with Syracuse and with the United States – mainly, the freedom to express her vision with determined fluidity. <3