Category Archives: ceramics

Water is Art

The Erie Canal Museum (318 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, New York 13202) is host to a ceramics exhibition, one installed in February 2020.  The museum is currently closed due to the world-wide health crisis – that makes interacting with the clay vessels (created as site-specific art) nearly impossible.

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photo cred – Jocelyn Reynolds

This is an irony because the idea behind the work envelopes the scope of human life, as it interacts with the forces of nature, the forces of water and the history of the man-made canal.  The humans in question are every socio-economic level of local and regional society.  All races of people who, in some way, have interacted with, associated with or had some understanding of what the Erie Canal has meant in our history, as well as those who have no idea but in fact, have been, inadvertently, affected by the legendary waterway.

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photo cred – Shane Lavelette

Artist Linda Zhang was the 2017-2018 Boghosian Fellow in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University.  She came to Syracuse from Europe and knowing no one, she spent time meditating (think deep thought) on designing the curriculum for this relatively new fellowship.  She proceeded to think about and create strategies for the design of her position, ideas that would ultimately catapult her educational journey to include making art and teaching electives at the college, which led to philosophical-infused artwork and the idea of making meaning in terms of one’s personal vortex.  This path included an interdisciplinary union with Errol Willet, Associate Professor of Art (ceramics) and Biko Mandela Gray, Assistant Professor of American Religion.

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graphic design – Im Burrow

Although Zhang is currently a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, The Story of Water pairs the artist with her SU educational cohorts.  The clay vessels in this exhibition were slip cast and formatted utilizing water from the canal.  There is a transformation – water crafts and the art is manipulated to create a phenomenological transcendence – art as symbolism.

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Taking an idea and moving it through time, so that the result is present while encompassing a larger whole – this is incredibly interesting on so many levels. Fortunately for all, nothing is truly impossible.  This exhibition can be viewed remotely.  Zhang will be offering a lecture on her process via an on-line Zoom meeting.  This event takes place on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM.   Click on the link above to join the party or check out the same link by way of the event’s Facebook page.

The event is free, however; donations to the museum are welcome.  <3

*from the Erie Canal Museum web-site

Weighlock Gallery

February 3-April 16, 2020:The Story of Water: The Erie Canal as a Site of Untold Stories

“The Story of Water” is a collaborative project between Linda Zhang, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Ryerson University, and Biko Gray, Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. This exhibit features clay vessels based on 3-D drone scans of Erie Canal structures, transformed by the introduction of Canal water before the firing process. The resulting clay models symbolize the transformative effects, positive and negative, that the Erie Canal had on the lives of those who built it, used it, and lived near it.

*Details from Facebook event page

Join artist Linda Zhang and Syracuse University Professor Biko Gray at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 18 for a live, online talk about ‘The Story of Water,” an exhibit of abstract art that is at the Erie Canal Museum. It will be hosted on the Zoom meeting app. Click on this link to register and you will receive an email confirmation: .https://ryerson.zoom.us/meeting/register/u50vcuGsqTwsjUGXxhFl1-DgYZPFHN2lzA.

Zhang will discuss the artwork, her creative process, and what inspired her and collaborator Biko Gray to develop this exhibit. “The Story of Water” features clay vessels based on 3-D drone scans of Erie Canal structures in Central New York. The artist introduced Canal water to the pieces before the firing process, creating models that symbolize the transformative character of water and the Erie Canal.

The Museum is currently closed to the public to protect visitors, volunteers, and staff from Covid-19. We’re working diligently to serve you by offering programs by alternative means, and greatly appreciate your help. You can make a donation to the Museum through the link in the “Get Tickets” box below,

We look forward to seeing you on April 18 for this thought-provoking talk!

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Lizards!

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Two of my classes used hand-building skills to create these adorable clay lizards.  We used the Sax Colorburst glazes.  I love the colors, especially the Firecracker!!!  The projects remain in the glass case in the Chittenango Middle School atrium.

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We looked at the work of the Aboriginals of Australia for inspiration.  Different patterns were added to the body, head, limbs and tail using a variety of techniques.

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Face Mask

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My B-day Art-8 students (Chittenango Middle School) created these clay masks.  We used Sax Colorburst glazes.  They have silica flakes that pop in the kiln creating confetti-like effects.

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I offered students thirteen different colors and asked that they use at least six, making sure to place three coats of glaze on the mask for each color.   It was tricky because the glazes transform in the kiln – there is that allowance for serendipity that doesn’t work if you are a control freak, but totally does if you are experimental.

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I added a wire to the back so they can hang on the wall.  Students took them home today.  I miss them already!

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Day Tripping @ 54

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Terry Askey-Cole was in charge today at Gallery 54 (54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, New York 13152).  She is one of the artists represented by the gallery.  Fifteen years ago, Askey-Cole took courses in ceramics.  Now she has her own home studio complete with kiln where she creates decorative pieces, like these whimsical floral garden sculptures (below), as well as slab and wheel thrown pottery and mosaics.

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According to the gallery’s website:

Opened July 2009, Gallery 54 is an artist owned and operated gallery located in the scenic Finger Lakes village of Skaneateles. Most of our artists are local to the Finger Lakes/Central NY area and offer our customers a wide variety of high-quality and unique fine art and fine craft, including paintings, mosaics, pottery, art quilts, jewelry, photography, stained glass, handbags, scarves, and more.
In addition to the artwork our owners have on display, we also represent many additional local artists, whose mediums include paintings, jewelry, metal, glass, wood boxes, sculpture, tiles, silk wearables, ceramic clocks, illustrations and more. Be sure to visit our artist’s pages for more information about our artists and to see photographs of their work.

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Askey-Cole said there are eight artist owners.  Other artists may submit their work for jury – they can sell it on commission or sometimes items are purchased wholesale, so working the cash register is optional.  It is an interesting model for business – and quite successful.  Askey-Cole has played a part here for the past eleven years (since its inception)!

Traffic consists mainly of day trippers, like me.  People from outside the Skaneateles area who venture in exploration and leave with a wooden bowl, jewelry, painted glass, knitwear and/or artwork.  Gallery 54 makes use of every available space and when there are several people inside, it’s tight.  There were a bunch of excuse-mes and sorrys today as I guided my way around every nook and cranny.

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My friend Nella Joseph does well here.  She hand-paints glassware.  I am in love with the cardinal pieces (below).

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Richell Castellon is the featured artist.  His original paintings are cityscapes with one of the groupings done in black and white on burlap.  Castellon is also currently exhibiting (until March 30, 2020) in a solo show (From Cuba to Syracuse) at the Wilson Art Gallery in the library at LeMoyne College.

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Eventually I will purchase one of these amazing ceramic slab wall hangings by Peter Valenti.  His work is so incredibly well-crafted.  I love the Arts & Crafts feel with the ginkgo leaf and dragonfly motifs and the copper finishes. They are so distinctive in style!  They are raku-fired, which is the method where the ceramics are removed from the hot kiln and placed in sawdust, salt or another smothering effect to starve the artworks of oxygen thereby affecting the glazing process.  Valenti’s pieces offer rich texture and color.

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Other artists represented by Gallery 54 include Lisa Maffiore, Liz and Rich Micho, Donna Smith, Sallie Thompson, Fred Weisskopf, and Judi Witkin.  The gallery is open 10 AM – 5 PM daily.

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Collection Legacy

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The four upstairs galleries at the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) are filled with treasures, some of which I have seen many times over the decades – but not like this.  Elizabeth Dunbar, director and CEO, has a way of pairing paintings and ceramics with a keen eye that makes everything come alive and feel fresh again.

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It is this new perspective that breathes love into the exhibition, A Legacy of Firsts:  The Everson Collects.  It showcases the museums over one hundred year history, presenting the cohesion via an American thread.  The exhibition honors the museum’s legacy and in turn reveres the decisions made by previous curators and directors.  I love this credence to respect.  It feels welcoming.  It feels like family.  It feels like home.  As she says in her message in the winter 2020 Everson Bulletin, [the museum is] “For artists.  For community.  For everyone.”

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This is an historical trek that begins at the top of the spiral staircase with pieces purchased around 1911 when the museum was known as the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts – impressionistic landscapes, portraits and still-lifes displayed in ornate golden frames coupled with the ceramic pieces of the day.  Adelaide Alsop Robineau was a local potter who corresponded with and met the museum’s director at that time, Fernando Carter, as she frequented the facility back then – her intricately carved vessels were the first pieces purchased for what became a premier ceramics collection.

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There are over 11,000 items in the Everson’s collection! As the show progresses into the second chamber, you are jolted by bold colors.  This room is filled with large-scale abstractions and colorful pottery to mix and match.  Lee Krasner’s painting is displayed above her husband’s, an early Jackson Pollack.  I love the similarity in their styles.

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There is a display of transmedia here as well, but the videos don’t translate well in a photograph.

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The next gallery is familiar in that the museum purchased pieces from exhibitions from their recent past.  This (below) is a piece by Vanessa German.

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And I believe that (above) is an Angela Fraleigh 

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The fourth gallery space is heaviest on the ceramic collection.  It is such a bold move to see these pieces sans glass or other protective shielding, but that is what makes them so compelling.  Textural items created to be touched that one must not touch within reach – when I visited the museum as a child, all the ceramics were under glass in the do not touch space, as though they came to the museum to die, lol.  Now they are sooooo alive!

This show is visual candy.  I love the angles of the presentations, the way pieces connect, that flow, rhythm and the sheer beauty of the artwork.  It’s a wonderful journey through yesteryear and beyond.  <3

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A Legacy of Firsts:  The Everson Collects continues through March 22, 2020.

The Everson Museum of Art is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Hours of operation:  Wednesday, Friday and Sunday noon – 5 PM, Thursdays noon – 8 PM and Saturdays 10 AM – 5 PM.  There is a sliding scale admission fee (free for members).  Visit their web-site for the deets.  www.everson.org

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Arts & Crafts-gasm

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The basement of the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) is currently an Arts & Crafts movement lover’s dream.  Renegades and Reformers:  American Art Pottery was just installed yesterday!  It is a phenomenal show.

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Adelaide Alsop Robineau was a well-known potter in Syracuse circa the early 20th century.  After the Everson purchased a collection of her work, the powers that be decided to focus on ceramics, eventually building one of the finest ceramics collections in the nation.

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This exhibition focuses on two factions of artists, in this case the idea that (according to the literature) there are “two personality types” among artists – renegades and reformers.

Renegades refer to those who created a personal identity through their art and reformers are considered to have pursued a modern approach to their work lashing out against Victorian values of the day.

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The exhibition will be on view through July 5, 2020.  A docent-led tour is scheduled for March 19, 2020 at 6 PM.  This is part of the Third Thursday event (many galleries and museums schedule art receptions and events simultaneously on the third Thursday of the month here in Syracuse).

The Everson Museum of Art is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Hours of operation:  Wednesday, Friday and Sunday noon – 5 PM, Thursdays noon – 8 PM and Saturdays 10 AM – 5 PM.  There is a sliding scale admission fee (free for members).  Visit their web-site for the deets.  www.everson.org

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Decorative Surfaces

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Just returned home from another wonderful art reception.  This time I was around the corner from home, at SUNY Empire State College (6333 State Route 298, Suite 300, East Syracuse, New York 13057) for the Independent Potters’ Association exhibition, Surface Decorations on Ceramics.

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I spoke with Alan Stankiewicz (above), the mastermind of this show, as he is curator and exhibitor, as well as an educator at the college.  He used horsehair as a surface decoration on his piece – the horsehair is placed on hot-from-the-raku-kiln-fired pottery.  It is allowed to burn away leaving fine lines resembling the look of a gestural charcoal drawing.  I’d never seen this technique before.

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This is the beauty of the exhibition.  The whole thing is a teachable moment.  This group of potters share their expertise with each other and now, here, with the students of this college and you, the public.  There is such a sense of positivity in their camaraderie.

The exhibit is nicely linked via tiles with explanations of individual techniques and literature that tells the story of this vernacular.  It is really so amazing how many ways pottery can be decorated and, of course, multiply that times the combined techniques variations and you have madness!  I honestly don’t know how the artists settle on a particular style.  It has to be inspired action.

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Many SUNY Empire employees joined the artists for the reception in the Central Arts Gallery.  They had a marvelous spread of munchies.  It is on the third floor of the building on the left after entering the college facility.  I was here once before for Maria Rizzo’s thesis exhibition.

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Surface Decoration on Ceramics will remain on display through February 28, 2020.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 9 AM-5 PM.  I highly recommend this to any high school ceramics art teachers in the area who are contemplating a field trip.  It is a really informative show.  So many cool ideas! Thank you, IPA. <3

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New Threads

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Syracuse artists Jacqueline Adamo, Lauren Bristol, Dana Stenson and Tom Huff have joined forces to produce a contemporary spin on texture for the new art exhibit at Edgewood Art Gallery and Custom Frame Shop (216 Tecumseh Road, Syracuse, New York 13224).

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These four talented people – I am always running into them in town – I saw Jackie at the Yoko Ono exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art; I see Lauren every now and then while hiking at Green Lakes; ran into Dana last week at Target and Tom at the Regional Flea Market.  But, weirdly enough, I missed the opportunity to see them all in one place at the same time at the art reception for their show, which was Friday night.

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The exhibit is called Creative Thread.  I popped in on Saturday to check it out.  Edgewood is a small gallery, about the size of my living room, but owner Cheryl Chappell has a great eye and a way with space.  Each show brings a fresh perspective and Cheryl does a magnificent job curating – pairing larger pieces with smaller ones and allowing all to shine.  She is also a preeminent framer.

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Jackie Adamo has created all new pieces incorporating fabric and sewing techniques into her oil paintings.  Lauren designs her own patterns in these wonderful crochet wall hangings in addition to displaying several diminutive fiber art narratives.  Dana is a metalsmith and has produced some mixed-media art pieces, as well as jewelry for this show.  And Tom has chipped in with his reductive soapstone sculptures.

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David MacDonald’s ceramics are still for sale too!

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This exhibit continues through November 15, 2019.

The shop is open Tuesday-Friday 9:30-6:00 PM and Saturday 10:00 AM-2:00 PM.  For more information call (3150 445-8111).

Measuring Up

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The Art Galleries at Syracuse University are designed to facilitate education.  In other words, it’s a teaching museum.  Professors require students to go to there – to critique the art/learn how to judge a work of art.  Students journal about experiences for classes, attend the receptions and lectures, and even work there (which has to be the greatest work-study gig).

Last year, former Director Domenic Iocono mentioned it was the reason artists like Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and Kiki Smith wanted to collaborate by sharing their work with our community, enhancing the walls of the spaces with their respective visions.

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In this season’s first exhibition, Not a Metric Matters, the university galleries led by new Director and Chief Curator Vanja Malloy, Ph.D. hosts its own – the School of Visual & Performing Arts faculty.  It is an opportunity to showcase their talent, yes, and also turn the tables on the critiquing process allowing the professors to show students how it’s really done.

Margie Hughto has been affiliated with the university for many, many years.  When I spoke to her last month, she said teaching is still fun and so, she will continue to share her expertise with students for many years to come.

Her ceramic and found object work is exquisite.  It is perfection in editing – selecting just the right found object pieces to coordinate with the ceramic pieces.  The work alludes to the recent discarded and forgotten in terms of technology.

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The thought provoking concepts aside, Hughto’s artwork screams of her strength of character.  She finds beauty in every angle, in each piece fused as one.  They are signatures of her style while continuing to surprise and delight us, continuing a growth trajectory as an artist and that in itself is the lesson.

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Holly Greenberg has isolated grief in this productive series of drawings.  These pieces resonated with me – as you know my father recently passed away and his belongings are still in the closets, his car in the driveway at Mom’s house.  Using these ordinary objects as memento gives them a lovingly somber power and isolating them in their compositions drives the message home.

It is curious how objects can retain the emotion of the spirit and Greenberg’s proficiency in rendering provides the elevation of their status.

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Ann Clarke‘s fiber artwork is marvelously original.  Texture is my thing and seeing monumental work on the walls creates a bold statement about time.  The fabrics are traditional, but the techniques are fresh and alive.  The hooked rug eye is really incredible in-person.  I love the idea of taking a method we all used in the past and formulating this new pattern, which seems to denote to me that someone is watching over me, loving me.

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Clarke’s statement does imply that she is the watchful eye for her ailing mother and that is a beautiful thing.  That the old becomes new again, and time is cyclical.

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Other teaching artists in this show –

Yasser Aggour, Cooper Battersby, Emily Vey Duke, Don Carr, Deborah Dohne, Heath Hanlin, Seyeon Lee, Sarah McCoubrey, Su Hyun Nam, Vasilios Papajoannu, James Ransome, Tom Sherman and Chris Wildrick

Their work takes dimension as paintings, drawings, photo-collage, video and installation – and all have something important to say within the context of their visualizations.

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There are more exhibits in the space, all curated by different people.  DJ Hellerman is the curator of this show.  He is the Art and Program Curator at the Everson Museum of Art and collaborates with SU’s Department of Transmedia.  I met him while stumbling into a critique of university students’ final exhibitions at Apostrophe’s.

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David Prince curated the display of former VPA faculty members.  As you know, I am an SU grad (B.F.A. ’85, M.S. ’93).  These professors are my people.  I absolutely loved Rodger Mack.  He was so devoted to building the sculpture department and his bronze sculptures are THE BEST!

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Seeing his hands portrayed by Jerome Witkin brought a tear to my eye.  There is so much love here, people.  Going to Syracuse University was a dream come true for me – I feel incredibly blessed to have been the first person in my family to ever go to a university –  and to see the professors being honored is such a gift.  They deserve every accolade.

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They were and are true working artists, not just people showing up to collect a paycheck.

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There’s lots more to see of these exhibits and the vast permanent collections.  It will all be on display until November 24, 2019.  There will be an art reception on Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 5 – 7 pm.  And Holly Greenberg will be giving a presentation in the adjacent Shemin Auditorium on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 6:30 pm.

Syracuse University Art Galleries is located in the Shaffer Art Building on Syracuse University campus.  Free parking is available on Sundays and on Thursday evenings in the Q lot – or at least it was when I was there yesterday.  Call (315) 443-4097 for more information including hours of operation.  <3

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Appleseeding

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The former Johnny Appleseed’s furniture store (3402 Old State Road, Erieville, New York, 13061) is now The Shoppes at Johnny Appleseeds.  The brainchild of Erica Gilmore and her husband Patrick, it is an over fifty vendor facility, with artisans setting up individual shopping experiences creating little vignettes throughout this amazing space.

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It is a still-life lover’s dream.  Charming folkloric visual merchandising at every turn.  The vendors are not there hawking their wares.  You are left to enjoy the process of discovery.  Vintage clothing, handbags, jewelry, greeting cards, home decor including furniture and housewares, candles, art (Wendy Harris is there!) and even bird houses.

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shop owner Erica J. Gilmore

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***from the web-site

The Shoppes at Johnny Appleseed reopened in the spring of 2017 as a retail space for crafters and artisans alike. We are excited to offer such a unique venue and are always looking for talented people to continue to grow with us as we build a future at this historic Central New York location. 

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There is a restaurant as well, the Apple Kitchen, and they serve apple crisp! <3

Store Hours:
Wednesday-Saturday, 10-5   Sunday 11-5 
Apple Kitchen Hours:
Saturday, 11-4 pm
Sunday, 11-4 pm

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They have various sales and events – pet adoptions on weekends via a liaison with Wanderer’s Rest and more!  You can stay informed by linking to their Facebook page. <3

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Current list of vendors – 

The Apple Kitchen • Alexa