Category Archives: art gallery

Land of the Living

According to the blurb in the SU Art Galleries’ newsletter,

Artist Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, featured at five Venice Biennales, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors is the recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.”



She is a living legend in the art world, a kind of giant, a dichotomy of sorts because in person she really is quite delicate looking with slender features.  Her hands in particular, which seem a stark contrast to the sort of macabre drawings they produce.  Kiki Smith is my favorite artist’s favorite artist.  I read that somewhere decades ago.  Jasper Johns is famously tight-lipped to disclose the inner workings of his mind.  Smith is similarly private.  The language with which gallery director Domenic Iacono uses to describe Smith’s prolific career’s trajectory reminds me of this thing I read by a dating coach who insists women must keep men off-balance by speaking gibberish, like saying one thing and flipping it on its side to keep them guessing, lol.  Not to say that his words are not an accurate portrayal.



Yes, I saw immediately via Smith’s slide presentation on Thursday evening, February 15, 2018 in the lecture hall adjacent to the gallery in Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University how the work relates to life from birth to death and how that relationship is reproduced in a type of modern allegory.  It’s just that the description gives the impression that the artist set out to make particular meaning in her work, that there was clear and deliberate intent to be a crusader of issues or whatever.  And so, this presentation was like a breath of fresh air to me because it wasn’t what I expected at all.



There were around (or over) three hundred people in attendance, many of whom students searching for a road map to art success, a short-cut maybe despite their unique circumstances.  Penny Santy, Laurel Morton and I had a different experience.




She said, “I don’t know” a lot.  My friends and I responded to the realness of her being. Kind of reminded me of the Star Trek TNG movie where they time-travelled to meet the guy who invented warp drive.  How they had studied him in school and expected him to be a type of god only to find him to have the same sort of trials and tribulations as any one of us.


Smith sat in a corner until she was introduced then raced up and got caught up in the microphone’s battery, which messed up her hair and caused her to flop into position and, while struggling with the technology, to utter, “I’m totally discombobulated.”



You can hear my laugh in a large group situation.  I really should get a job sitting in the audience during the taping of TV sit-coms.  It was this unexpected sort of absentminded normalcy that I fell in love with.  Because Kiki Smith was not there to teach us to be like her or offer advice on the inner workings of the international art world or art super-stardom.


She was here to share her art.  It was her focus on the specific and unique problem solving issues related to art material and rudimentary technique that propelled her journey, which if plotted probably resembles a scribble rather than a connect-the-dot drawing.


Some people think or expect that you should make the same kinds of art forever because it creates a convenient narrative…I want my work to embody my inherent contradictions.



Art, she said, is not meant to be permanent and neither are we.  It is simply a thing we can do to make our marks.  It passes the time.  You can sell it or give it away to friends. This despite also indicating that 90% of her art is self-owned and in storage, which most of us can relate to, lol.  She acknowledged that she was priveleged; she mentioned her father several times as well-known sculptor Tony Smith.  She said she was a college drop-out who had an inkling to become a baker and chef but never really learned to cook.  So she began to experiment with cheap or rather, non-archival art materials to sort of replicate the braid strands in challah bread and from that her artwork evolved through the evolution of several decades to sculpture, jewelry making, tapestry and stained glass via printmaking.



My father was a baker and chef so I was amused by this.  The internet is littered with people who chastise her, thinking her success is solely attributed to her father’s connections and not to her talent, creativity and attitude.  Had she and I been flipped at birth, I can safely say that her self-proclaimed lack of culinary skills would not be in jeopardy.  Parents raise you – they do not do the work for you.  Everyone knows that.  You and you alone create your life.



Her journey has taken the New Jersey native around the globe – to Germany to paint on glass, Iceland where the tapestries take years to manufacture and, as mentioned, to Venice, Italy several times for the Biennales.  She has even worked on and off as an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia!  It was a sort of Alice in Wonderland type story where help became available when needed.  Experts in their fields there to assist in creating the vision so that she could maintain the integrity of her mark-making, revisit old drawings and turn, turn, turn leaving no stone unturned – flipping everything on its axis until an idea had/has been fully explored.


It was this part that I just loved.  Naturally, the point to me is meaning.  Not meaning in her work, more like, the meaning of my own life.  I saw the seemingly disparate dreams I have come together.  I saw my own path and how I got to where I am.  I am a dreamer first and foremost.  That is abundantly clear to me.


A writer, an artist, fashion designer, teacher, friend.  And within these categories, sub-categories (in the case of my art, I am across the board with watercolor, collage, encaustic and all that).  But I do see how it is all related and that is a beautiful thing.


I am so grateful I had the chance to meet Kiki Smith and selfie with her too, of course!  It truly is all about our personal journeys.  We are all exploring the body, the muse and the spirit in an experimental way.  Smith relayed the bit about how her mother’s passing, as well as the death of a beloved cat affected her work while I have sort of been hibernating all winter, I guess you could say, dealing with my own thoughts of mortality.


Many of you know that I have been absent from work.  I have another month of healing from a medical thingy and that includes slowly getting back to exercising in a couple of weeks and venturing outside my little corner of the universe.  Before you get all freaky with the I’m sorry-ies, I am totally fine.  Trying to be private and like, kind of forgetting that people have noticed that I have been out of the public eye.  I mean, I put myself here so there it is.


I am discombobulated in my own way, but I decided that instead of hiding from the world entirely or walking around with a dumb old grimace on my face, I will choose to smile.  Smith said sometimes she is thinking about some weird murder movie while making art.  She doesn’t want people knowing what is going on inside her brain.  I tend to agree with the limits of what should and should not be revealed.  People are going to believe what they want to believe and say things about you and/or about your art and it really is not anything you can control.  But you can/I can control my own experience and I choose happiness.


So grateful to her – an amazing artist – for coming to our neck of the woods to be herself in such an inspirational way.  We are all here together, in the land of the living, and that is a precious thing.  I appreciate the love I know I feel from friends, family, students and readers of this web-site.  All of you have shaped my world and I appreciate you all very much. ❤

Kiki Smith and Paper:  The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit was curated by Wendy Weitman and is here courtesy of Oklahoma State University Museum of Art until March 9, 2018.  Visit for more information about the SU Art Galleries including hours of operation.


Dish Babies



Gratitude is in abundance in November.  It is in the air we are breathing here in Syracuse, New York  The cold air that is making its journey across the ocean as I write this, which may actually bring with it a snow day or at least a two-hour delay on Monday (according to my meteorologist friend), is actually clearing our sinuses of the allergens from last season with every breath we take.

We are grateful for the freedom from headaches and nausea associated with said allergies, lol.  By we I mean specifically me, but I assure you, there are many who share the same sentiments.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we (again me, lol) are all more keen to bring conscious awareness to our love and appreciation for our lives – our families and the pets we love, our friendships both near and far, and all of the things we love (yes! like art!).


I hosted a dinner party last night along with my friend Bobbi Rock Petrocci – Friendsgiving 2017, our 3rd annual and the biggest to date with thirty people dining together in the private room at Grover’s Table in Fayetteville, New York.  It was a blessed evening.  I just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these amazing people.



Last week, I met Bobbi at the Half Moon Bakery & Bistro in Jamesville, New York to assist her in installing her latest exhibition of Christian Brothers Academy student artwork.  I did very little.  She is an epic installer, equipped with level, hammer, tiny nails and the perfect plan to display these very special diminutive plates.  I just provided the oh-that-looks-so-goods, and was the first to make a purchase.


They were made by CBA art club students in grades 7 – 12 for the purpose of fundraising for Hope for the Bereaved, a grief counseling group.  These dishes are infused with color and spiritual messages, and/or delicate imagery meant to allow the flow of positive energy to encompass the viewer and subsequent owner.  They are priced at $10 each.  You put your money in a jar on the counter and write your name on the accompanying master grid to secure the one you want.  A butterfly sticker is then placed under the purchased piece until November 30, 2017 when the show comes down and all the artwork are released to their respective new owners/homes.


These dishes epitomize kindness, the idea that we help each other heal; that children are just as capable as adults are to feel, express and share the positive vibe of love.  Each piece is unique.  I am sure that you will find one that speaks to you.

And while there, give thanks to amazing proprietor Debbe Titus who has been busily creating, crafting and baking pies to sell for Thanksgiving, as well as offering daily specials of breakfast and lunch – soups, salads and sandwiches that are very, very yummy – and of course, desserts like half moon cookies and pumpkin bread, cupcakes and all things deliciously amazing!  So grateful! ❤


T Minus One Week





Futura comes down on Saturday, November 11, 2017 (11/11).  You can still see the show and buy the work in a cash and carry.  Paintings are $111 each.  Eye Studio is located at 712 W. Manlius, East Syracuse, NY.  They are not open today – hours are 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday – Saturday.



Here are the pictures from the closing reception last Friday night.  I am so grateful to Ilene Layow for offering me this wonderful space and throwing such an awesome party complete with music by Jerry Cali, and that gratitude is extended to all of my friends, patrons and family who came to support my art career.  Great time! ❤ ❤ ❤









Trina Turk dress, Michelle DaRin jewelry bracelets, BCBGMaxAzria sandals



Delavan Holiday Party!



My friends and I had a lot of fun in the journey of traveling through the labyrinth that is the Delavan Center.  It is a building west of Armory Square that houses artist studios.  There was open house last night.  The party continues today until 4:00 pm.  The Delavan is located at 509 W. Fayette Street in Syracuse, New York, 13204. (315) 476-9001



You will find lots of treasures!  Artists are selling paintings, ceramics, sculpture, clothing and jewelry – buy something for yourself or to give as gifts this holiday season.




So fun!









Futura and Eye


Futura, my exhibit of twenty-four encaustic angel paintings, is on exhibit in the gallery space at Eye Studio, 712-14 West Manlius Street, East Syracuse, New York (13057).  They are open Monday through Saturday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm.  There will be a closing reception on Friday, October 27, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm with free food and drink (wine!)  Musical guest will be Jerry Cali.


Please come if you can.  The goal is to sell all of the angels by the end of the party.  Patrons can leave with their purchase, which is why I like the idea of a closing reception rather than an opening.  They are priced at $111.


angel encaustic paintings by Karen Tashkovski

Futura is the brainchild of my inner being, a series of twenty-four 8” x 10” encaustic angel paintings. They depict the pure, positive energy of the present moment while reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future.

They are meant to be whimsical creatures supporting me and those who view them with love, kindness and appreciation. Encaustic is heated beeswax infused with oil paint. Each brushstroke is a deliberate creation, a quick and conscious decision on my part to honor a distinct moment in time.

I am fasciated by a found object’s abundant meaning, and so I use keys, horseshoes, sea glass and ribbons to add dimension to these paintings – another source of love and luck that is a talisman to me as the artist that will, hopefully, resonate with the viewer and subsequent owner of the piece.

I had the title of the exhibition in mind for several years before embarking on this collection. It was as if these images revealed themselves when they were ready to do so, and I was just the facilitator of the experience, like a fixed point in the future that I could not see until it became evident that I was finally ready and then that future became the now. I am delighted to finally share this new series of paintings with you – an audience of art aficionados, family, friends, artists and art students of all ages.










Save the Date



Eye Studio is in a brand new location!  It is around the corner from me at 712 W. Manlius Street in East Syracuse, New York (13057).  The space is welcoming with a gift shop in front, office space, a kitchen for culinary classes and an immense studio space for creating art where wine and paint nights for adults take place, as well as ceramics classes, glass fusing and other art courses for all.





In addition, there is gallery space.  Proprietor Ilene Layow is currently exhibiting her Green Lakes series of drawings, paintings, and glass works.  Yesterday she offered me a show for next month!  I will display Futura, my series of twenty-four angel encaustics.




Yes!!!! They have found a temporary home from their current location on my dining room table.  I am beyond excited right now!  The space is really a perfect location for this artwork.  A match made in heaven!


We have scheduled a closing reception for Friday, October 27, 2017 from 6:00-8:00 pm.  There will be wine and food, and a musical guest to be announced.  Save the date.  It would be just over-the-top amazing to see you all there.  I am so grateful for all of the support I have received throughout the years.  You are such amazing friends!



The great thing about a closing reception is the cash and carry aspect.  You can buy the art and take it right off the wall and home with you immediately.  The show goes up on October 2nd and will be available to view during normal business hours and by appointment.  Contact Ilene at  or call (315) 345-4576 for that information.  The hours of operation are changing for the fall season. They will be up on their website soon.



I am quite certain you will fall in love with this place then receive the impulse to take art classes.  Art is the absolute best medicine for a happier you. ❤



Let Me See Your Etchings





In full-on back to school mode, Syracuse University flung open its doors to an art gallery reception last night.  Meant to Be Shared is but a smidgen of the vast group of etchings from the collection of a man named Arthur Ross.




Etchings are drawings done on copper plates that are inked and burnished to paper.  Many of these pieces were originally made for books hence the creases in the pages.




The magnificence of these etchings lies in the tiny details.  The line quality is just superb in a way that I cannot even begin to imagine the time and dedication they took to make.  And of course, the fact that they were created by the likes of Rembrandt, Goya, Pissarro, Delacroix, Manet, Matisse…it’s just mind-blowing.  All the big guns.



I didn’t know everyone of them knew how to use this medium.  It’s cray-cray amazing.  This is a traveling exhibit on its final stop.  It was at Yale University and at a college in Gainesville, Florida.  You can find it here in Syracuse, New York at the SU Art Gallery in the Shaffer Art Building until November 19, 2017.




There are scheduled gallery tours and lectures coming up.  The purpose of the title of this show is one of education.  Meant to be Shared – to allow new viewers to experience the work and to teach them the importance of the collection while sharing its sublime beauty.




If any art teachers out there would like to schedule a field trip to visit the gallery contact them at




Visit the website for gallery hours and information on upcoming shows too.  OMG, Kiki Smith is coming up next!  Can life get any better?  Yessss!!!!!