Category Archives: art resources

Army of Thieves

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According to the literature for this exhibit of sculptures by Vanessa German, “when assembled together, these power figures resemble an army of women on the march”.  German creates them from a plethora of found objects.  The mannequin parts are plastered and tarred then assembled and dressed via wiring, sewing and gluing the objects in place, adding jewelry and dress that evokes some form of armor.

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They become modern soldiers lined up in effect, like those terra-cotta figurines found at the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang in China.  It is incredibly breathtaking and powerful to witness.  The work is in the Sculpture Court and in the Wampler and Robineau Galleries on the first floor of the Everson Museum of Art (400 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York).

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Tonight was the art reception for this exhibit titled de.structive dis.tillation (a nod to the chemical construction of tar), as well as for the Bradley Walker Tomlin retrospective.  I will be attending an in-service for teachers in March that focuses on the latter.  I titled this post Army of Thieves because the German sculptures stole the show, which is totally ironic in that the upstairs galleries are full of local artists work and that has ALWAYS been my dream for the Everson, lol, and includes my colleagues and former S.U. professors in its mix.  Vanessa German is a product of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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German’s dolls are meant to tell the story of/create a dialogue about the social injustices of the African-American experience.  It’s to do with destructing in order to construct.  Rebuilding a world and giving voice to a type of commitment to peace, joy and love in spite of challenges.  The result is the whimsical and harmonious sound of texture, a cultural heritage-based beauty and personification that has the potential to resonate for everyone in our community.

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It is the flavor of intense joy.  There is so much to see here!  Flea market finds that take your breath away.  Attention to detail with regard to fabric and fibers.  The sculptures are skateboarding and riding tricycles, standing on soap boxes and rejoicing as they stand for one’s tears and for the healing hope of a better future.

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You need to see them!  I really ought to plan a field trip for my Studio in Art students.  We just finished creating sculpture/mobiles of paratroopers using plaster, found objects and humanoid forms, so, this would be right up their alley.

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The exhibit continues through May 7, 2017.  The Everson is planning a day camp for students during the week of Mid-Winter recess (that starts a week from today).  Go to their web-site for more information or call them at (315) 474-6064.  They will also be doing a Saturday workshop for children, and in addition, several events such as family day and docent led tours of the exhibitions. <3

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Educational Camaraderie

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The gist of the art exhibition currently residing on the walls of the SU Art Gallery at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York is the sense that art matters.  It was a factor in business in the 1930s, as artists worked in tandem with corporations to promote products and lifestyles.  A mutual admiration society of people helping people.

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Thomas Hart Benton is at the core of this show, an artist a bit more well-known than others (with the exception of Grant Wood; he is now a household name to most of my students). They used Benton’s clout to generate sales for all the artists in the stable of a company called Associated American Artists.  Prints were sold to customers to bring art to every wall in American homes with lesser known artists being carried along for the ride of capital gain.  The company closed shop in 2000.

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The conscious acknowledgement of and respect for artists is what I walked away with from this exhibit, a system that worked and should continue to work. I would love to see artists promoted by local businesses in this way – perhaps a group showing of work based on local and regional products that would catapult said products into the national spotlight.  It’s a  mutual win-win.  Artists would maintain their stye and sense of freedom in the creation of the art and still create work that represents a company’s point of view.

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Syracuse University does an outstanding job curating this gallery.  It is remarkable how different it looks from the last show they had and how well more than one hundred thirty objects of art fit into the space.  I like to think I am well-versed in art history but … I learned so much tonight.  A truly educational experience.  I would expect no less from my alma mater!  Loved it!

This show, titled Art For Every Home (Associated American Artists, 1934-2000) came from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.  It will continue through March 19, 2017 with a gallery talk by one of the curators, Elizabeth G. Seaton. Ph.D, curator of the  Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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Sascha Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University, will give a presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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The gallery is located in the Shaffer Art Building on SU campus.  Gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  The gallery stays open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays.  They are closed during university holidays.  Call (315) 443-4097 for more information or email them at suart@syr.edu.

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American Gothic-eee

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This lesson is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

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Students had to conceive an idea for the composition.  I had planned to have them draw thumbnail sketches, as well as lists of what props they would need – but after showing my  accelerated Studio in Art kids the ones done by my students in 2012 and 2013 via my school web-site, they just knew what they were going to do.  It was the craziest thing and really phenomenal the way they all collaborated with one another.

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Each student planned the day for their picture – we had two weeks before Christmas break and it was a tight schedule for the twelve of them.  They all brought their costumes, props and their A games with them, lol!

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I just loved how they were able to count on each other and how responsible everyone was for their respective part in both their own work and that of their friend(s).  Models allowed the artist to direct them.  The poses replicated the ones in Wood’s painting with the person on the right looking straight into the camera and the other one gazing in the distance.  I placed the school’s green screen against a wall for the photo shoots, printed the pictures then cut and pasted them to foamboard.

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They created the backgrounds using a variety of mixed-media including tissue and decorative papers, toothpicks, beads, glitter and more.  The border was done in metallic paint to act as a frame.  A picture from the internet chosen to convey a theme was selected as reference and they attacked the canvas panels with vigor.  It was so exciting to see them work.  There was so much confidence amidst the chaos of all the materials.

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Once the background was finished and dry (everything attached with Mod-Podge and/or hot glue), we placed 3-D Os on the back of the foamboard and poppped the pics on top.  The result – twelve very different, very cool mixed-media pieces that are currently on display in a glass case in the atrium of Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.

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Going Greek

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This was a fun lesson – another one of my inventions:  Greek urns.  They are made of Pariscraft, not clay.  We used the plastic water bowls as molds, so it was a stagger start since I don’t have very many of them.

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Students placed 4 layers of plaster of Paris on the bowl.  In the following class, they were in a déja vu re-run because we needed two bowl molds for the armature.  Next, they added plastic cups (from Subway, Wendy’s, and various cottage cheese varieties).  I cut the hole at the bottom of the top cup and at the top of one of the plaster bowls.  They added plaster to the separate pieces then taped the bowls together with masking tape and went back to the plaster station to complete the step.  (Aluminum foil for the handles.)

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This was followed by painting the urn one solid color and then applying Greek patterns – and more color.

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They are stunning.  I love them!  Really substantial two and three feet sculptures.  I want them to write a note to their future selves and store it inside the vessels.  I am always thinking about my thirteen-year-old self.  Is she proud of who I have become? (I know she is!)  The note would serve as an artifact, the way Ancient Greek urns found in an archeological dig teach us about the culture that once was.  So fun!

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New Packaging

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I strolled through the Everson Museum of Art today (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202).  In the basement wing, they’ve flipped the Education Center with the Ceramics section and created a gorgeous inviting space for part of the ceramics collection (the rest, like the Robineau funerary urn, is in storage).

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It is spectacular!  The art looks fresh again.  You can actually enjoy the nuances of individual pieces and appreciate them for their craft.  The Everson has a very large collection of ceramics.  I’m not sure if it is one of the largest in the country, but something like that.  The old shelves made the collection look like it was all in storage, like they never really wanted people to look at it.  I remember taking students on a field trip there once and there was so much stuff, it read like junk and nobody looked at anything.  

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The museum has never looked better!  We have this incredible resource right here in Syracuse, NY.  So great.  I was delighted to see a handful of visitors there.  They are charging a fee to get in these days, but it is free for Everson Museum members.

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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
SATURDAY 10-5

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Next week they are installing the Festival of Trees, so maybe you can plan an outing for that!  Call (315) 474- 6064 for more information or visit their web-site www.everson.org.

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Flower Power

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Achieving harmony happens when you are living a life of happiness and joy, a life of positive energy and good vibrations.  If you are searching for a short cut to this harmonious vibrational alignment, you might want to visit (get lost in) the sunflower maze in Camillus, New York.

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It is located in the backyard of The Inn Between Restaurant at 2290 West Genessee Turnpike, also know as Route 5.

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My friend Lisa suggested an outing via a Facebook all-call and a bunch of us headed out there to frolic among acres and acres of sunflowers.  It is Syracuse’s version of a Christo and Jeanne-Claude happening, something fun for the whole family, and cheap – $5 admission for families, $2 for individuals and a senior citizen’s discount.

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The photo ops are priceless!  And if you are an artist or otherwise inclined, and want to channel your inner Vincent van Gogh, you’ll have plenty of resources to keep you occupied all winter.

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You can purchase sunflowers, sunflower seeds and honey made on-site by the many bees working diligently just for the fun of it.  You can have dinner in the restaurant or just cocktails at the bar, as my friends and I did last night.  So fun!

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The maze will be available to the public until Sunday, August 21, 2016.

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