Art City

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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.

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Barbara Conte-Gaugel sells unique, handmade handbags and wallets.

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John Oneal Heard (johnonealheard@gmail.com) is also a drummer.  His paintings on glass reference music.

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Charlie Sam creates whimsical illustrations on T-shirts.  They are known as having a “both cute and creepy” dichotomy.

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And, of course, Michelle DaRin.  I love her vibe – and feel privileged to be among her tribe. ❤

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Valenti

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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.

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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.

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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. ❤

For more information, contact the artist at pvalentistudios@gmail.com.

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Cruz-ing

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ❤

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Juan Cruz:  A Retrospective concludes on August 4, 2019.  (Up next – Yoko Ono!)

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****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.

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EVERSON MUSEUM OF ART HOURS:

SUNDAY 12-5
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY CLOSED
WEDNESDAY 12-5
THURSDAY 12-8
FRIDAY 12-5
FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH NOON–8:00PM
SATURDAY 10-5

Call (315) 474-6064 for more information.

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Garden of Eddie

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Eddie Dominguez transports us to his version of the Garden of Eden in his show at the Everson Museum of Art‘s Robineau Memorial Gallery.

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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.

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Dominguez combines ceramics and found objects to create his irreverent world.  It is a playful, fantastical and thoroughly original body of work. ❤

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*** from the Everson Museum of Art website

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.

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The Everson Museum of Art is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York, 13202.  Call (315) 474-6064 for more information.

EVERSON MUSEUM OF ART HOURS:

SUNDAY 12-5
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY CLOSED
WEDNESDAY 12-5
THURSDAY 12-8
FRIDAY 12-5
FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH NOON–8:00PM
SATURDAY 10-5

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Tandy

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Store Hours:
M-F 9am-6pm
Sat 10am-5pm    Sun Closed

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Tandy Leather is a hidden gem. ❤

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Art Masks Identity

Here is a great article by Katie Turner about artist Nick Cave! Thanks, Katie ❤

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Nick_cave from wiki Nick Cave picture by Bowmanga 

Nick Cave is a Chicago based artist (originally from Missouri) who has some very interesting art that combines fabric, sculpture, dance and performance.

I first heard about Nick Cave while reviewing ISEA (International Society of Experimental Artists) 2019 symposium workshops. I found one workshop that involved creating a “Nick Cave” style soundsuit.  What is a soundsuit?  It is part sculpture, part costume and a bit of dance.

Cave has been creating soundsuits since 1992 using many found objects, fabric and other items.  He created these life size suits in response to racial experiences.  The suits usually have sound when worn, due to the sticks and twigs that he adds during the creation but often museums display the suits as static sculptures.  He uses the soundsuits as a way to confront identity.  He has created over 500 of these suits so far.

The soundsuits fully…

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Retail Queen

This was originally posted in 2016. The Lavender Festival took place again last weekend, which got me reminiscing about this amazing experience.

Karen Tashkovski

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Back in the ’70s, my friend Leslie Noble and I would take the tail end of the cash register tape and turn it into a Miss Dey Brothers sash while working behind the candy counter at the Shoppingtown department store in DeWitt, New York.  This was the beginning of our retail careers, lol, at sixteen and seventeen years old, and the start of her creative life as an actress and mine as an artist.  We learned to make change without a calculator and to always put the customer first.  Actually, we used to include the customers in our social conversations while still sharing noteworthy sales information, providing them with a fun shopping experience to go along with their Swedish Fish gummmies and Godiva chocolate.

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I have worked retail many times – I was a Co-Manager at The Limited in Florida in the ’80s.  I used to always get A+ ratings…

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