I visited with four friends in their tents on Montgomery Street yesterday. They are all participating in the AmeriCU Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival, which continues today from 10 am – 5 pm. The festival occupies and includes four streets around Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse, New York.
While the Everson Museum of Art is celebrating fifty years in the biz with all sorts of amazing events throughout the year, the AmeriCU Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival is clocking forty-nine. The fest is located on and around Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse, New York with lots of artwork, jewelry, accessories and functional pottery. And musical performances, food trucks (Carvel Ice Cream!) and even a vagabond stilt walker or two. The first two days are clocked out but you can stroll the event tomorrow from 10am – 5pm.
I found Peter Valenti and his wife in their prime location right on the circle. Peter is a retired public school art teacher (East Syracuse-Minoa) who has always been a working artist. He is a member of the Independent Potters’ Association (IPA) and one of the premiere ceramists in the area. If you don’t collect his work, you should.
Valenti creates the slabs then bisque fires them. His fabulous glazing effects are by way of raku firing. The colors and patterning (dragonflies, ginko leaf) lend themselves well with Arts & Crafts style and yet, they have a modern flavor and would compliment any home décor. <3
For more information, contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The retrospective currently on exhibition in two of the upstairs galleries at the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) was fifty years in the making. Puerto Rican born Juan Cruz has spent the past forty years dwelling here in Syracuse, New York, making murals, teaching and working on a collegiate degree in Fine Art from Syracuse University. And painting – he has been creating the mother-lode of paintings.
This show exemplifies what I have always wanted the Everson to be – a museum that believes in local artists, supporting their careers and offering ample space to breathe love and life into a body of work that illustrates the strength, character and beauty of an artist’s life-long vision.
There are paintings that show Cruz’s proficiency with realism – watercolor landscapes and oil on paper portraits. These pieces are the yellow bricks of the journey. They offer the first dance on a path that takes a left hand cruise into abstraction.
Those abstracts even go 3-D via a few sculptures as well, but the artist’s main strength is in the confident energy of the gnarled face forms peering out of these canvases, evidently pleading to be understood.
This energy alludes to social injustices felt both personally and as a member of a Caribbean culture with economic drama. There is abundant repetition of shape and color interspersed with black outlines, as well as bright white. This co-mingling rhythm creates a cartoon-like flavor undermining the angst, which gets more pronounced in the newer pieces, suggesting a shift to a more positive perspective for this working artist.
I would imagine pure full-on non-representational abstraction is the goal, obliterating the need to be understood by the masses, because when the goal is freedom of expression, the limitation of pleasing others gives way to one’s own knowing. Knowing the rightness of choices made with deliberate intent.
It’s all about the journey, and this one is an enormously satisfying one. I am delighted that I was able to witness this body of work as it is displayed. And for Juan Cruz, the best is yet to come. Because the dance is by no means over – it has just begun. <3
Juan Cruz: A Retrospective concludes on August 4, 2019. (Up next – Yoko Ono!)
****From the Everson website
Syracuse-based artist Juan Alberto Cruz (b. 1941, Puerto Rico) combines rich symbolism with a bold and colorful abstract style to create work infused with his Caribbean heritage. Moving from Puerto Rico to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and subsequent travels to Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Central America have had a major impact on Cruz’s work, which reflects a mixture of his cultural heritage and life experiences. From his earliest portrait paintings to recent abstract collages, Cruz uses the emotional realities of his past to articulate his feelings about economic inequality and systematic injustice.
As a child, Cruz taught himself to draw by copying the comic strips from discarded newspapers onto brown paper grocery bags, and later he drew portraits of everyday people that he sold for pocket change on the street. It was not until his thirties, when he enrolled in an art program led by then-Everson Director Jim Harithas that Cruz learned art could be more than replicating the world around him. Harithas taught Cruz how to paint and introduced him to a world of modern artists, which led Cruz’s drawings and paintings to evolve into a complex amalgamation of figurative and abstract forms. For the past five decades, Cruz’s boundless creativity and production has led him to compile a massive body of work.
Since moving to Syracuse in 1975, Cruz has made a significant impact on the local community. He has painted numerous murals throughout the city, including on the Onondaga Commons building, in Skiddy Park, and several in the Near West Side. He also completed a new mural with the Everson Teen Arts Council currently on view on the Museum’s Lower Level. Cruz served as artist-in-residence for the Near West Side Initiative for five years and ran the Patch-Up Studio, a community center that provided children and adults with a safe space to make and learn about art. By choosing to live and work in Syracuse, Cruz has brought together a multigenerational community inspired by his public art initiatives and workshops.
His vision is one that reflects a heritage in which landscape and religion play vital roles. He is from New Mexico, although his art education took him to Ohio and New York, which is why we are able to fall under his spell here in Syracuse, New York. This show was curated by the Columbus Museum of Art and will be on exhibit until Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Dominguez combines ceramics and found objects to create his irreverent world. It is a playful, fantastical and thoroughly original body of work. <3
The youngest of eight children, Eddie Dominguez grew up in Tucumcari, New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Amarillo on historic Route 66. He came to national prominence in the mid–1980s for highly stylized dinnerware sets that also stack into sculptural forms. In his work, Dominguez frequently references his home state’s vegetation, landforms, weather, and Hispano–Catholic culture. The dual nature of Dominguez’s objects, which inhabit the gray area between utility and art for art’s sake, reflects his personal experience as a New Mexican who studied ceramics in the Anglo–dominated East: whether we see “art” or “craft,” local Hispano or melting pot American depends completely on the immediate context.
The Everson Museum of Art is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York, 13202. Call (315) 474-6064 for more information.
Tandy Leather is my new favorite place on Earth. It is only five minutes away from my house by car (6700 Thompson Rd., Syracuse, NY 13211).
I have been there twice in the last two days (I’m working on a leather project that is consuming me – so excited about it!).
I can’t believe the store has been here this whole time and I had no idea. I just love, love, LOVE this place! The smell of leather hits you full-on as you enter. It is intoxicatingly provocative. OMG!
There are all sorts of hides and also smaller pieces in different colors and textures depending on the scope of one’s project.
There are dyes, as well, and tools, and accessories to purchase, like rivets, eyelets and snaps. Also hardware for keychains, wallets, purses and such. The prices are incredibly reasonable too.
Tandy sells various crafting kits – to make wallets, moccasins and purses. Regularly scheduled leathercraft classes are usually free with the purchase of a kit. See the website for more details.
Here are some of my Instagram photographs taken outside of the classroom. Summer rocks! So grateful for time off of work, for time to enjoy the sunshine. And for time to bask in the creation of art, and in the appreciation of it. #blessed <3
Eugene and Clare Thaw began collecting Native American art in 1987 when they lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They donated the collection to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York where it currently resides in the downstairs gallery across from the Herb Ritts exhibition.
The life of Eugene V. Thaw is eloquently reviewed in an obituary written by Holland Carter for the New York Times, which I have included in this post. It documents a man’s life-long passion for the arts. His dedication to collecting, amassing more like, and also preserving and selling art is a gift to the world.
In this case, American Indian clothing, jewelry, pottery, and both decorative and functional objects depict the powerfully dignified beauty of a culture/civilization. Although the collection began in the Southwest, the Thaws expanded it to include every region of the US. The pieces are exquisitely displayed via region.
I am especially drawn to the costume, the leather hides, the intricate beadwork and the colors. Just fabulous!
Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Thaw, for your life’s work and vision – preserving American history through the beauty of its art. <3
He was born on Oct. 27, 1927, in Washington Heights in Manhattan. His father was a heating contractor, his mother a schoolteacher. They named him for the socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs, who had died the previous year.
As a young teenager, Mr. Thaw took drawing classes at the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan. But he did not pursue the hands-on practice of art.
“I can’t create the objects I crave to look at,” he later said, “so I collect them.”
After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 15, he entered St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., and began making day trips to art museums in nearby Washington.
Returning to New York in 1947, he took graduate classes in art history at Columbia University with Millard Meiss and Meyer Schapiro. He also followed the city’s contemporary-art scene, getting an early immersion in Pollock’s work at the Betty Parsons Gallery.
His closest institutional tie was to what is now the Morgan Libraryand Museum, which in the 1950s was one of the few New York museums to have a curator of drawings. In 1975, after the museum had expanded its acquisition parameters to include 19th-century work, the Thaws decided that the Morgan would be the recipient, in incremental allotments, of their ever-growing holdings. The Morgan exhibition “Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings From the Thaw Collection,” which opened in September and closes on Sunday, marked the completion of the gift, encompassing more than 400 sheets.
Among them were works by modern and contemporary artists in whom Mr. Thaw took particular interest. In the 1950s, on summer vacations in East Hampton, N.Y., Clare Thaw had struck up a friendship with the painter Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s widow. With Ms. Krasner’s cooperation, Mr. Thaw began preparing the multivolume Pollock catalogue raisonné, an annotated listing of all the artist’s known works, in the 1970s, hiring the art historian Francis V. O’Connor as co-author.
Discover the most outstanding items from the Thaw Collection American Indian Art. Objects of transcendent beauty that span the continent—from the Arctic to the Southwest, and from the Eastern Woodlands to the Pacific West–encompassing close to 2,000 years of artistic tradition and innovation in North America.
Herbert Ritts was a California boy. Growing up, he lived in Steve McQueen’s neighborhood in Brentwood, which, according to many biographies I have read recently, was an instrumental synergy that launched his comfort level with celebrity.
The quotes from his high profile portrait subjects include statements about how using daylight was his strength and that they felt at ease in front of his lens:
“Herb made me look how I wish I looked when I woke up in the morning.” – Cindy Crawford
“In his sweet disarming way he suggested that we work together again and I agreed to it. And that was the beginning of an incredibly long and fruitful working relationship, but it was also the beginning of a great friendship.” – Madonna
“Working with Herb was more like just hanging out with a friend. We’d joke, chatter and gossip and at the end of the day he would have captured the whole thing in the lens. He was a great guy.” – David Bowie
Herb Ritts – The Rock Portraits is on display at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (5798 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY 13326). The photographs are on loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio until September 2, 2019.
The show is a mirror of my youth. So many images that I have seen on album covers, in music videos, in fashion magazines – Herb Ritts is like an old friend. It is as if you know him. Knew him. You can envision him working because it is evident that it was not work. It was more like a relationship, the way he presented people at ease in the present moment, not thinking about what they must do later in the week or later that day, but being in the now. You can see this in the eye contact, in the way the light shines on their faces and in the crispness of the images.
Ritts captures the essence of his subjects. What I see in the photographs is the “authentic self”, the real person behind the fame. The Bob Dylan pictures are gritty, as though the man cannot hide a lifetime of struggling with inner demons. The Bruce Springsteen images reflect a certain shyness beneath the success. And the Madonna images are, to me, the most iconic, spanning the ’80s and ’90s and showing us a vulnerable, little Italian girl who grows in confidence and artistic resonance with every click. We get to witness that evolution, that living history, and that is a beautiful thing. <3
It is this contrast between the legend and the human spirit that gives credence to Ritts as artist rather than commercial photographer for hire, and is the reason why these photographs and videos belong in a museum. They are evidence of the art of living, the art of performing, the art of communicating a visual language of persona, and the art of documenting artistic merit as an art. It is all about authenticity.
The photographs are accessorized with costumes and musical instruments, also on loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is Madonna’s. I could totally rock this – OMG, I know it would fit me. Unfortunately, it was on a mannequin and encased in lucite or else it would have been my #ootd.
I took these pictures yesterday, took a day trip to Cooperstown, which I highly recommend! You must go to there! The drive was spectacular – from Syracuse, New York, it is an hour by New York State Thruway then an additional forty minutes down Route 28. Cooperstown is truly a magical place. Home to so many attractions – the Glimmerglass Opera House, the Baseball Hall Of Fame, the legendary Cardiff Giant (on view at the Farmer’s Museum).
And the Fenimore Art Museum is on the lake. It is just incredibly gorgeous there – it was my first time and I felt like Cinderella arriving at the castle for the ball. Just spectacular!
They are open today 10 am – 5 pm. Call (607) 547-1400 for more information about this wonderful place. <3
Known for his elegant and minimalist work, and his mastery of photographing in natural light, photographer Herb Ritts (1952–2002) had a gift for turning stars into icons. Here, in the first curated collection of his photos of some of music’s most celebrated artists, visitors will see how he captured the likes of David Bowie, Tina Turner, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Prince, Cher, Madonna and many more—the world’s biggest music stars—and in the process, helped define their iconic status for generations of fans. See many of his best-known portraits alongside stage costumes and guitars from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
As a native of Los Angeles, Herb Ritts was uniquely attuned to the natural light of the California sun, and preferred to shoot outdoors. He took work seriously and was renowned for posing his subjects in classic, sculptural styles, with little or no pros. He also had a unique, understated way of making his subjects feel comfortable in front of his camera. They trusted him and it’s often that trust and human bond that you see reflected in his portraits. When he died of complications from AIDS at the age of 50, Ritts left behind an extraordinary body of work, that when we see as a whole, demonstrates his undeniable impact on contemporary culture.
The exhibition is sponsored in part by The Clark Foundation, Fenimore Asset Management, and NYCM Insurance.
Panel Discussion – Fenimore Rocks! Herb Ritts and the Image of Rock Music
Saturday, July 13 • 2:00–4:00 pm Join us as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president, Greg Harris, moderates a lively talk and cocktail party focusing on Herb Ritts and the impact his photographs had on the image of rock music in the 80s and 90s. The event also features Laurie Kratochvil, former Director of Photography at Rolling Stone magazine, John Covach, Professor of Music Theory and Director of the Institute for Popular Music at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and Rory Ritts, Herb Ritts’ younger brother. After, join them for cocktails and a buffet on the terrace (cash bar, weather permitting).
The talk is free for museum members; otherwise, included with regular admission (Adults: $12, Seniors: $10.50). Seating in the auditorium is extremely limited and will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Overflow seating will be available with live viewing via a flat-screen monitor.
Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – I’m Not There
Saturday, July 27 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. (2007, R) More info
Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – Burlesque
Saturday, August 10 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) A backstage musical film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. (2010, PG-13) More info
Food For Thought – Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits (Lunch)
Wednesday, August 21 • 12:30 pm with Paul D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of Fenimore Art Museum, and Kevin Gray, Manager of Arts Education More info
Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – Madonna: Truth or Dare
Saturday, August 24 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) Documentary chronicling the life of Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. (1991, R) Otsego County native John Draper, former Tour Manager of Madonna’s Blonde Ambition World Tour will be present for a live commentary on the film, giving a rare behind-the-scenes look of what it takes to manage a tour for one of music’s original megastars. More info
Live Music with Wurliday
Friday, August 30 • 7:00–9:00 pm (takes place across the street at The Farmers’ Museum) FREE ADMISSION! Hailing from Albany, NY, Wurliday brings together some of the most exciting, dynamic musicians in the live music scene for a lively injection of soul-funk goodness, direct to your ears. You’ll dance all night long! Free admission. More info
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