Category Archives: art in libraries

In the Absence of Presence

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The last time I went to the Noreen Reale Falcone Library (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, New York 13214), the LeMoyne College campus looked a lot different.  They’ve since uprooted a nearby parking lot in favor of more grassy knolls (which are currently snow-covered).  I had to ask several people to direct me to it once I found visitor parking across the street.  It was, like, in the Hunger Games when they discombobulated the players by topsy-turvy-ing the playing field computer simulation.  The building didn’t even look the same to me as I came upon it from a different angle.  I mean, where was I?

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Eventually, I found my friend Penny and together we chatted with Gina Occhiogrosso, who is currently showing oil paintings and mixed-media fabrications at the Wilson Art Gallery located inside the library.

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Occhiogrosso graciously shared information with us regarding her artist inner-voice.  Her mother (now retired) was an artist and shoe designer with a penchant for “junking” (as my sister calls it), filling her home with flea market finds in various states of patina-ed wear.  Decades of layers that make up a life of surroundings.  As the artist pondered this home landscape, she created paper cut-outs from photographs she’d taken then abstracted them via paper collages.  Intrigued by the void, the absence of the material, she set upon painting large scale versions of these pieces.

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The result becomes its own presence, its own entity put into the world without the necessity of the language of its origin.

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It is beautiful to witness these things and know their secrets, though, because I, personally, just love knowing.

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There is artwork in this show that spans approximately three years of work.  More paper collages are meant to represent the anxiety of environmental disaster, in this case, the tsunami disaster of 2011.  Occhiogrosso creates that absence of presence once again, cutting images, rearranging them and turning them into solid-colored shapes that intertwine to create something vaguely familiar but completely void of the emotion that inspired them.

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In addition, there are fabric collages that are stitched, painted and inked.  Here the work becomes layered, as though there is more to discover, as if she’s hiding a legend inside.  I am intrigued by this body of work.  Occhiogrosso’s talent lies in the bridge between fear and the journey to a calmer, gentler space via the shapes of the present.  She seems to be on a discovery to something more.  I stumbled into something wonderfully puzzling and I am very interested to see what happens next.

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***from the artist’s web-site

I am a painter whose work is composed not only through the application of wet color on a surface, but through processes of disassembly and realignment, and the incorporation of common, everyday materials like thread and yarn. These activities and elements allow me to explore anxiety, loss, humor and heroic femininity.

The hallowed and often masculinized tradition of painting is subverted in my work through a repeated process of cutting and then sewing painted surfaces together to develop new forms, dynamic connections and illusions of depth. Where these freshly stitched edges join, there is a seam, which has both linear and sculptural qualities. The seam acts as a geometric disrupter of curvy ellipses and other organic forms that are carefully rendered and then carved up with alternating precision and chance. The ghost of those cut edges has its own subtle presence. Where the fabric overlaps in the reverse of the painting, a slightly more opaque path is traced, issuing a new element whose origin is not at first apparent to the viewer.

I am interested in developing a surface that’s full of the suggestive qualities that abstraction can create. The stitched paintings supply this through the deliberate recalibration of shapes and their relationships to one another. In parallel to these, and often in service to them, collage becomes an important method for revealing new, unexpected interpretations of form. The sources of the collaged materials are often photographs of real things and places that hold meaning for me. As in the paintings, that information is disrupted and reinterpreted in compositions that suggest the fleeting nature of forces, figures and time.

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Gina Occhiogrosso is an Associate Professor and Foundations Coordinator at The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.  She is represented by several galleries and has been in numerous group shows.  She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow.  This exhibition will remain on view at Wilson Art Gallery during regular library hours through February 21, 2020.  For more information call (315) 445-4330.

 

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Journey

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This year there are fifteen 8th graders in my Studio in Art accelerated high school course at Chittenango Middle School.  They finished the Lions Club Peace Poster project just in time for the end of the first marking period and for the judging last Wednesday.  This is an international competition where the big winner gets $5,000.  At the local level, the Chittenango Lions awarded monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

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This year’s theme is Journey of Peace.

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Posters will be on display in the guidance office where we have recently created a little gallery space.  They will be moved to the Sullivan Library’s Community Room for the month of December 2019.

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Today our winning poster competes for the regional title.  If it wins, it continues its journey at the state level then internationally.

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The Lions Club is providing us with a luncheon on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 in our classroom.  I am so incredibly blessed to have these wonderful people in my life.  They are so supportive of my program and each year for the past thirteen years they have turned three of my students into professional artists.  That’s a lot of pros!  Win-win! <3

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Steely Pam

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With a name like Pam Steele, you can bet this internationally recognized artist knows a thing or two about using metallic elements in her artwork.

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Steele is currently showing work in the art gallery at Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville (5110 Jamesville Road, Jamesville, New York 13078).

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These mixed-media pieces are made of copper, stainless steel, glass, paint and resins.  They will be on display through October 2019.

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And, P.S., her prices are a steal – some as low as $220!  Contact the artist to make a purchase – steelestudio22@gmail.com

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Contact the library for more information –

Phone: (315) 446-3578
Email: reference@cldandj.org

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Library Hours

Monday – Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

*Summer hours:

Saturday
Sunday

Services limited 15 minutes before closing

 

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New Library Landscapes

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After two hours of hiking around Clark’s Reservation in Jamesville, New York, I was inspired, finally, to stop in to see the new library at 5110 Jamesville Road (DeWitt, New York 13078).  It’s called the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville.

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Stephen Alexander Clark is an Assistant Professor of Painting at SUNY Cortland.  His work here depicts abstracted landscapes.  His interest lies in the topography of farmland, the configuration of stacks of firewood and the seeming randomness of camouflage patterns.

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This artwork will be on display through June 2019.  It is located in a hallway that leads to the main library space on the first floor.

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A piece by Pam Steele, who will exhibit in September, occupies the space as well. And an installation by Margie Hughto greets visitors at the entrance.  Both pieces belong to the library.

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Click here for a complete list of future exhibitors.

The library is open Monday – Thursday 10 am – 9 pm, Friday 10 am – 5 pm. Saturday and Sunday hours will change come summer – they are currently Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm.

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This little trip inspired me to get to work on a new series of encaustic paintings.  Details to follow, hopefully, soon. <3

The Elephant in the Room

Elephants are taking over Central New York.

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There is a new restaurant in Skaneateles called the Elephant and the Dove.

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The brainchild of proprietor Adam Weitsman of the Krebs, this new endeavor serves up Mexican fare.  The name alludes to Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s partnership, a marriage of contrasts.  It is meant to be a casual destination – no reservations required.

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We have seven Asian “pachyderm residents” at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo – Doc, Siri, Romani, Kirina, Targa, Mali and Batu.

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And, currently, the Petit Branch Library , 105 Victoria Place, Syracuse, New York, is host to original paintings of elephants by Rebecca Stella.  The artist reception is today from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The exhibition continues through April 30, 2019.

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Here is the press release –

Artist Rebecca Alexander (Rebecca Stella Art) will be exhibiting her work throughout the month of April. Her work is primarily mixed media, many pieces of which are elephant and music themed. She donates 10% of all elephant art sales to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, an organization that provides support to end the ivory trade and promote elephant conservation via an orphan rescue and rehabilitation program. Rebecca believes that art and painting are channels for emotion, dreams, and fantasy. In addition to being an artist and animal activist, Rebecca is a yoga instructor and a physical therapist. She shares, “All of these roles shape my creations and the way in which I choose to interact with the world. 

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Rebecca sells her work on Etsy . You can also find her on Facebook.

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Oh, and lest I forget, my favorite of all elephant sites – Bistro Elephant, which is what they call the bar area/bistro of the Lemon Grass restaurant in Armory Square.  It offers the best Thai cuisine.  My favorite place to go on a Friday night to hear my friend John Spillet on sax. <3

Secret Chamber

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I have always been drawn to the exquisite beauty of all that is Ancient Egypt.  I took an Egyptology course at University College while teaching at Bryant & Stratton back in the ’80s to answer a student who questioned why and how Egyptian fashion was selected as the first chapter in the costume history textbook.

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The answer lies in art, because all of our history to do with ancient cultures comes not from the written word, but from pictures – in this case hieroglyphics, tomb murals and, of course jewelry, as well as the remnants of clothing made of linen fiber.

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I learned that Napoleon’s French army invaded Egypt in 1798.  They rediscovered the antiquities and were the first archeologists to investigate the area.  It wasn’t the painstaking attention to delicate detail that it is today or even remotely a respectful handling of human remains.

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Many mummies were burned as fuel for steam engines, which is just so tragic.  Later on, in the following century, Egypt became an exotic vacation spot for wealthy Americans who enjoyed purchasing the baubles, scarab beetle decor, and mummies!

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They held mummy unveiling dinner parties back in the States, stuff like that.

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Howard Carter uncovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.  This significant find catapulted Egyptian archeology in terms of the level of importance, the regard for history and the sheer magic in attaining this priceless treasure.

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Somewhere in the middle, during the Victorian age, Cazenovia Public Library benefactor Robert James Hubbard and his son accumulated a collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts including an intricately wrapped-in-linen mummy for the purpose of creating a museum.

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And so, yes, there is a mummy in this library.

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Yesterday, Janine and I visited Cazenovia, New York; first stop, Cazenovia Artisans, second, Common Grounds and next, to the library to see this exhibit.  We ended up at Empire Farm Brewery for lunch.  Janine had never been to any of these spots nor had she an idea this breathtaking collection even existed.  So, my thought is that not many of you know about it.  You’re welcome!

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When I taught elementary art at Bridgeport Elementary School in our district, I decided to add a few lessons on Ancient Egypt culture to the third grade curriculum, because I had this knowledge I wanted to share.  I created a cat mummy sculpture lesson.  Naturally, no pets were harmed.  Students’ sculptures were made of an armature of plastic bottles and styrofoam balls.  They were void of remains, unlike the actual cat mummy at this museum.

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At Chittenango, it is the sixth graders who study the ancient civilizations in Social Studies.  They do take a field trip to Cazenovia Library, as the village is adjacent to our school district via Route 13.  I highly recommend a visit.  It is free and really quite extraordinary.

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The library is located at 100 Albany Street, Cazenovia, New York 13035.  It is open Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 – 5:00 pm.  They are closed on Sundays.  Call (315) 655-9322 for more information.

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The museum space is also home to a gallery for rotating local artist/art organization exhibitions, as well as a wonderful exhibit of birds and plumage in fashion.  They also have many interesting activities for children including puzzle clubs and such.  Yesterday they had a hot chocolate and cookie station available.  Set in a Victorian mansion, this is truly a quaint and lovely experience that really packs a secret chamber punch.  So special!  <3

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