All posts by Karen Tashkovski

Karen Tashkovski is an artist and teacher from Syracuse, NY. She is a graduate of Syracuse University (BFA-Fashion Design & Studio Arts, MS-Art Education)

In-Your-Face

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The year was 2006 – I started working at the middle school after another teacher retired ten years into my career.  I would be teaching 8th grade Art and an 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art class, for which I had to plan a field trip to New York City.

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I followed the guide left by the previous teacher using the same bus company.  In addition, I planned every detail including the itinerary of visiting two museums and the cost calculations to include fees for the museums and meals from the school cafeteria.  It was a lot of work, a huge responsibility on top of preparing new curriculum and all that teaching stuff.  I was excited though, because I focused on all the cool things the kids would learn about art, all the amazing art and art history to see and experience, and of course the thrill of being in Manhattan.  My students all kept saying they just wanted to see a real live hobo.

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Finally, the day of the trip arrived.  It was November 10th, the day before Veteran’s Day. Everything was going at a good clip until about five hours in when the bus started having wonky problems.  It took us an extra hour to get from Macy’s in Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because the bus kept, like, shutting down-starting up again-shutting down, etc. at every stop light.  We arrived, spent five wonderful hours enjoying the Met and the American Museum of Natural History.  Instead of the company dispatching another bus, the driver returned with that faulty one.  Start-stop-start-stop-infinity until we made it to a Mobil station where we evacuated.  The bus driver put transmission fluid in then said he would drive around the block and come back for us.  He left us stranded for six hours, maybe seven.  We, kind of, became hobos.

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Luckily, it was a warm November night.  The children took it all in stride.  An adventure for them – they never felt in danger or scared.  Lol, I am pretty sure some of the chaperones are still traumatized to this day.  A one-day trip turned into an overnight ordeal.  Somehow the principal paid for us to take taxis to rendezvous with the dead bus now parked in a grocery store parking lot somewhere in the Bronx.  We made it home the next day via a bus dispatched from Quebec that had smashed both headlights in a collision with two deer on its way to save us.

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Those students are about twenty-five years old now!  Wow, that is just so crazy.  I suspect they are all doing amazing things these days and are not among the homeless faces exhibited in this art show.

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San Diego artist Neil Shigley has been working on this series of prints for about as long as I have had this memory in my head.  He interviews the subjects, photographs them then begins sketching their faces and transforms them into these larger than life prints.

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Each one looks to use two large pieces of linoleum; they are printed on two sheets of paper and mounted with large tacks directly into the wall.  The result is an in-your-face type of statement.  Making the invisible visible in terms of the scope of homelessness in our society.  Apparently, it is a vast and growing population in the San Diego area with people of all ages living on the streets and in parks, and just barely existing in this nomadic way.

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The exhibition is titled Invisible People:  Portraits of the Homeless.  The art reception was tonight.  It continues at Art Rage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse, New York) through October 27, 2018.  Shigley will talk about his work on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the gallery.  Call (315) 218-5711 for more information.  Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday noon – 4:00 pm.

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Black Mourning

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Ulla Johnson dress, BCBGeneration sandals

I wore all black this week because I am in mourning for my summer vacation – and because I just love wearing black.  I think I have, like, six black skirts and about a dozen different pairs of black pants.  I don’t know how many tops.  I could potentially extend my mourning period through the month of September just for the challenge of it.  But I don’t think I will.

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Trina Turk top and skirt, BCBGMaxAzria belt and sandals
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BCBGMaxAzria sweater and sandals, Trina Turk skirt, Michelle DaRin jewelry

My grandmother used to hate seeing the old widows at church all dressed in black.  She was a pearls, pink crochet cardigan, and pastel floral dress kind of girl, so I know she wouldn’t approve.  In 1996, I was hired as a long term substitute.  At the end of that first school year, I had to go through the interview process all over again when the other teacher decided to retire.  I wore red and black (the school colors) every day to work until it was confirmed that I had gotten the job.  Fashion themes are fun!  Go Bears!

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Honora necklace, BCBGMaxAzria top, Rebecca Taylor pants, BCBGeneration sandals

In Bronze

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Syracuse University has wowed us yet again with another fabulous art exhibition at their art gallery in the Shaffer Art Building on S.U. campus.  This time a collection of bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) fills the space.  The art is actually owned by the Iris and Gerald Cantor Foundation – they organized the show as well.

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Penny Santy and I attended the opening reception tonight – it was the perfect thing to do on this back-to-school night, an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the visual stimulation of an artists’ life work and then discuss it all with my fellow artist friend. The kind of discussion that catapults our individual journeys as we sort of translate what we see into how we see ourselves as artists – our respective places on the path.   It is just so incredible how modern this body of work really is – how this master artist took things a step further, editing body parts to emphasize movement.  Doing things because he wanted to, because it was necessary for his own growth without crumbling in the face of criticism.

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Innovation always comes with critics riding shirttails, doesn’t it?  People can be so limited in their thinking and so, when I see a show like this, I see that Rodin’s confidence and trust in what he knew was right is what influenced and still influences artists one hundred years later.

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Inspirational thinking.  So, so amazing!

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Rodin: The Human Experience will be on display until November 18, 2018.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  In addition, they are open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays. (315) 443-4097

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Summer Fashion

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Rachel Zoe dress, Coach clutch, Calvin Klein booties
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Rachel Zoe top, BCBGMaxAzria shorts, Calvin Klein booties
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BCBGMaxAzria romper and clutch, Marc Jacobs booties

Summer 2018 has been amazing so far.  So many fun things to do during my staycation.  The weather’s great.  Syracuse, New York was blessed with Florida style weather – so wonderfully crazy!  Me-likey!

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Marc Jacobs sunglasses, BCBGMaxAzria top and shorts, Ugg boots
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MichelleDaRin jewelry, Trina Turk top, Banana Republic shorts, BCBGMaxAzria sandals

Since I cannot wear them to work, shorts and off-shoulder tops are in heavy rotation right about now.  I have been frequenting live band venues –  a lot of dancing’s been added to my exercise regimen of yoga, hiking and pilates.

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Marc Jacobs sunglasses, Rachel Zoe dress, BCBGeneration sandals
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Max Mara top, BCBGMaxAzria shorts, Marc Jacobs sandals

As for art, the Happy Little Treehouse exhibit is moving to another location with a reception sometime next week, I think.  My paintings are still available and the proceeds from sales will be donated to Golisano Children’s Hospital.  More to come on that front.  Stay tuned!

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MichelleDaRin jewelry, Trina Turk top and skirt, BCBGMaxAzria sandals
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Trina Turk dress, Marc Jacobs booties
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BCBGMaxAzria romper, Joie sandals
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Trina Turk top and shorts, BCBGMaxAzria sandals
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BCBGMaxAzria dress, Marc Jacobs booties
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Rachel Zoe dress, Nine West booties
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Marc Jacobs sunglasses, C by Bloomingdale’s cashmere cardigan, BCBGMaxAzria romper, Nine West booties
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BCBGMaxAzria sweater and pants, Coach crossbody, Calvin Klein booties
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Nine West suede cap, BCBGMaxAzria sweater, top and leggings, Coach crossbody, Ralph Lauren boots
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Akemi + Kin for Anthropologie dress, BCBGeneration booties
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Marc Jacobs sunglasses, Rachel Zoe top, 7 for All Mankind jeans, BCBGeneration velvet booties
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Marc Jacobs sunglasses, Cinq a Sept dress, Coach bag, BCBGeneration sandals
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BCBGMaxAzria romper, Nine West booties
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Trina Turk top, BCBGMaxAzria shorts, BCBGeneration sandals
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Free People jacket, BCBGMaxAzria top, shorts and clutch, Ugg boots
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Mark Jacobs sunglasses, Trina Turk top, BCBGMaxAzria belt, shorts and sandals, Coach clutch

Little Birdie

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I hosted a closing reception for Jamie Santos’ art show.  The exhibition had taken place in the Chittenango Middle School library (Chittenango, New York) during May and June 2018.  Since they administered the algebra regents exam in the library today, we held the party in my art classroom.

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About twenty students attended this end of the year celebration.  Cookies were served.

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Jamie Santos is a tattoo artist.  She works at Tymeless Tattoo in Baldwinsville, New York.  Jamie is a 2003 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High school.  She says drawing is an important part of her life.  She gets up by 9:00 am and starts the day by sketching ideas for tattoos or paintings – she brought several notebooks full of these wonderfully executed drawings to share with the students.

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Her focus lately has been on birds.

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Students had a lot of questions about the tattooing process – does it hurt?  How long does it take to finish a tattoo?  Do people bring snacks? ( Lol, love that one ❤ )

Jamie was very honest about the process, the time commitment, the pain.  She explained how the needle works, how it vibrates when you hold it, how the artist gets better with every job.

She used to work every day and now she books clients only four days a week, devoting the rest of her time to creating art in her studio.  Designing her own unique look, her own motifs are crucial to her success and she takes pride in the fact that her work ethic has truly improved her skill.

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I asked how many of these eleven to fourteen-year-old students think that they want to get tattoos when they are older and the majority of hands flew up!  Should I be surprised by that?  I guess not.

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The students absolutely loved her!  She is amazing.  Thank you, Jamie Santos, for being such an inspirational voice for your profession.

A thousand thank-yous, as well, goes to my fabulous colleague, Katy Conden, for working with me to make these art talks happen. They are no fun without you!

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If you would like to see more of her work, Jamie will be exhibiting in a show of tattoo artists at the Everson Museum of Art.

 June 30–August 5, 2018

Embracing the Underground explores the rich and diverse culture of modern day tattooing. This exhibition is the second presented through the Everson’s Community Exhibition Program, which provides opportunities for Central New York organizations to present the work of area artists.

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The Invention Story

I’m basically a storyteller.  And all of my stories begin with, “the year was blah-blah-blah”.  Today, one of my students called me over and asked, “will you tell us a story?” and someone else chimed in with, “we love your stories!”  !!!

So – here’s a story for you….

The year was last year.  All of my 5th graders were bringing those fidget spinners to class.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – they are some sort of toy that was created as a way for students to stay focused, particularly students with focus issues – but they were seriously getting out of control.   Everyone had them.  Most had more than one in their pockets. Kids were just playing with them all over the place until pieces flew off.  It was nuts.

One day after school, I was sitting with my feet up on my desk and I envisioned a teacher confiscating those dumb things then sitting exactly as I was . . . and eating them, lol.  I had invented a commercial for chocolate fidget spinners!

OMG, I thought, I have my million dollar idea!  I called Hercules, a candy company in East Syracuse, New York.  I told the proprietor, Terry Andrianos, my idea.  Her response was it takes about a year in development to create the mold for something like this and it is expensive.

So, I thought, that was that.

A few days later, I attended a concert at Traditions at the LinksLetizia and the Z Band was performing.  At their break, the drummer, John Mangicaro, told me this gig was like a full-time job but he did have a full-time job – he was in the technology department at Syracuse University.  He runs the 3-D printer!

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I shared my fidget spinner concept with him.  A few months later, he’d created a mold for me.  I brought the mold back to the candy shoppe and Terry agreed to make a couple samples for me!

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I had successfully brought my invention to fruition and it didn’t cost me a dime.  Law of Attraction brought me face-to-face with these amazing people who helped me just for the fun of it!  Of course, after it was all said and done, I checked Amazon.com and now there are fidget spinner molds available.  Yes, a zeitgeist!

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Students don’t play with fidget spinners anymore.  I have not seen one at all this year.  It was a very short-lived fad, which leads me to believe that nobody really desires chocolate ones anymore either.

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But the point of the story is to illustrate how you don’t really have to know how to manufacture an idea in order to invent something.  Leonardo da Vinci drew pictures of helicopters in the 1500s, as well as all sorts of things he did not actually make.

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My fidget spinner story acted as the launch pad for the active minds of my 5th grade art class.  I gave them a hand-out – to get them thinking about inventing something – why do people need it?  Who will use it?  How big is it?  How much does it cost?

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They filled out the sheet and drew illustrations for a coloring book of inventions.  This took several classes.  We did projects in between, which gave ample time for the students to ponder ideas.  Many shared the project with their parents – some came back with sketches their parents had made of the assignment.  It seems that everyone is a budding Leonardo!

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I sent the pages to Chittenango High School and the person who runs the Xerox printer created these amazing books.  Each student received a book of everyone’s inventions.  We spent one class period coloring them.  I told them to hold on to their copy, to keep the book in a bookshelf for, like, fifteen years.  Then pull it out, maybe when they are moving out or when their parents hold a giant garage sale, lol, and flip through it to see if any of the inventions had really been invented.  Zeitgeists happen all the time.

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My cousin Brian is an inventor at Welch Allyn.  He has something like forty patents.  Engineering type stuff.  I had actually checked on the patent information regarding my idea.  It seems the woman who had invented fidget spinners could not afford the patent and that is why everyone was manufacturing them.  Crazy, right?

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Our science teacher, Beth Bennett, received a grant to purchase a 3-D printer for school.  She will be meeting with John to learn more about the machine and what amazing things can be created with it.  I just love that!

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The sky’s the limit!

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Diamonds

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There is no better way to celebrate my birthday than spending time with wonderful friends viewing art.

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The Everson Museum of Art is host to two exhibitions of Darryl Hughto’s paintings.  From Diamonds to Sailboats will be on display until August 26, 2018. According to the Everson Bulletin, this show “examines the artist’s tireless interest in the power and possibility of a single shape:  the diamond”.

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These diamond and sailboat paintings are ethereal, immediately transporting the viewer to the blue skies and sunshine of summer.  I loved how the unprimed canvases allowed the paint to seep into the cloth.  There is an underlying structure of softness that builds into a textural landscape of ocean waves by the commanding use of gel mediums.  The paintings are shimmery and soft while also entirely rhythmic.  Beautiful work!

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Also on view are portraits of friends and acquaintances in his world.  These are energetic gestural works.  A must see!

Hughto will do a gallery walk to discuss his work on June 14, 2018 at 6:30 pm.  It is free for Everson members, otherwise $8.00.