Category Archives: education

The Thaw Legacy

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Eugene and Clare Thaw began collecting Native American art in 1987 when they lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  They donated the collection to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York where it currently resides in the downstairs gallery across from the Herb Ritts exhibition.

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The life of Eugene V. Thaw is eloquently reviewed in an obituary written by Holland Carter for the New York Times, which I have included in this post.  It documents a man’s life-long passion for the arts.  His dedication to collecting, amassing more like, and also preserving and selling art is a gift to the world.

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In this case, American Indian clothing, jewelry, pottery, and both decorative and functional objects depict the powerfully dignified beauty of a culture/civilization.  Although the collection began in the Southwest, the Thaws expanded it to include every region of the US.  The pieces are exquisitely displayed via region.

I am especially drawn to the costume, the leather hides, the intricate beadwork and the colors.  Just fabulous!

Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Thaw, for your life’s work and vision – preserving American history through the beauty of its art. ❤

The Fenimore Art Museum is open today 10am – 5pm.

5798 STATE HIGHWAY 80 (P.O.BOX 800)
COOPERSTOWN, NY 13326
607-547-1400
INFO@FENIMOREART.ORG

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****From the New York Times website

Eugene V. Thaw, Influential Art Collector and Dealer, Is Dead at 90

By Holland Cotter

January 5, 2018

He was born on Oct. 27, 1927, in Washington Heights in Manhattan. His father was a heating contractor, his mother a schoolteacher. They named him for the socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs, who had died the previous year.

As a young teenager, Mr. Thaw took drawing classes at the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan. But he did not pursue the hands-on practice of art.

“I can’t create the objects I crave to look at,” he later said, “so I collect them.”

After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 15, he entered St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., and began making day trips to art museums in nearby Washington.

Returning to New York in 1947, he took graduate classes in art history at Columbia University with Millard Meiss and Meyer Schapiro. He also followed the city’s contemporary-art scene, getting an early immersion in Pollock’s work at the Betty Parsons Gallery.

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***From the Fenimore website

EUGENE AND CLARE THAW: A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE

April 2 – December 31, 2019

Discover the most outstanding items from the Thaw Collection American Indian Art. Objects of transcendent beauty that span the continent—from the Arctic to the Southwest, and from the Eastern Woodlands to the Pacific West–encompassing close to 2,000 years of artistic tradition and innovation in North America.  

 

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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. ❤

Peek-A-Boo

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In the 1950s, the artist Dorothy Reister and her husband purchased land for a summer home in Cazenovia, New York.  They added acres when land became available then turned the place into a sculpture garden, creating hiking trails, as well a sculpture studio attached to their mid-century modern A-frame home.

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The property transformed into the incorporated non-profit Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, recognized by National Geographic magazine as one of the top sculpture gardens in the nation, and home to permanent and temporary sculptures by such renowned sculptors as Rodger Mack and Emilie Brzezinski.  Now the home and art studio on the property are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is open to the public to enjoy.  Today was the perfect day to hike the trails and fall in love with the hidden sculpture gems playing peek-a-boo around every corner.

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I am on vacation this week, Spring Break.  I spent a few hours investigating several trails and breathing the fresh air of this space with my high school pal Suzy, who is a fellow teacher.  There was really no one else around – it was a serene and wonderful experience.

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I highly recommend coming here, especially if you have kids at home this week and are looking for something to do.  I brought students to Stone Quarry Hill on a school field trip a few years ago and they loved it.  There truly is a surprise around every corner!

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Suggested donation is $5 at the front entrance.  If you wish to donate to the upkeep of the park or volunteer, there is more information on their website – here  

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Several events are upcoming – kite flying, an art exhibition in the indoor space, and a YMCA summer camp experience.  All information is on their website – here.

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315-655-3196

office@stonequarryhillartpark.org

3883 Stone Quarry Rd., P.O. Box 251, Cazenovia, NY 13035

Cancel That

Currently, three venues are hosts to the twenty-four Syracuse University MFA candidates: Point of Contact Gallery, Community Folk Art Center and the SU Art Galleries. The art reception at POC was last Friday (that show continues through May 10, 2019), the one at CFA will be Thursday, April 18, 2019 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm (show continues through May 11, 2019). Last night at the Shaffer Hall venue, I attended the art reception for eleven of these students.

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What I love about Thursday evening art openings on campus – you can drive right up to the gate and park for free in the Q-4 lot – easy-peasy! It was such a beautiful evening. The university is a reoccurring landscape in my life. I really love being there. I received my BFA and MS degrees from Syracuse. I did not get an MFA, which I guess I would need if I am ever to be considered for a job as an Art Professor at SU (the Art Education masters is a Masters of Science for whatever reason, which is weird). A series of questions answered in essay format served as my thesis and not a gallery showcase of artwork, as is the case in these recent exhibitions.

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The students have varied focuses – illustration, painting and digital art, for example. Apparently, the cohesive thread of this work, according to the curator’s statement, is to do with the artist’s responses to their current realities and the angst that resides there be it via monstrous nightmare, political climate, gender issues, or social injustices, or some combination of junk that creates a response to conditions. The artists in this particular show seem to be attempting to express views, beliefs, fears and perceived truths in a sort of thinking man’s artist thing-a-ma-gig.

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Nothing tickled me here – true story – and that could just be because I am so not their generation, (kids these days, am I right? lol) and because I am a happiness-and-joy girl. I am perplexed by the need to be conditional about anything. I trust that everything unfolds when you are true to yourself, creating a vision that exposes yourself in a vulnerable way, perhaps, allowing your inner being to guide you towards the inspiration that will captivate. You feel it in your soul and that beauty that is within becomes your art and it subsequently resonates with the world. You will know it, your friends will know it, your professors will know it and you will see how incredibly it will take you where you want to go, easily and effortlessly.

So where do these kids see themselves? A conversation with some professors indicated that student art direction these days is focused on thinking about rather than the executing of ideas. This is not something I really understand. Are they not happy?

Are they hoping to open a dialogue about negative stuff? I don’t know. Some of this work is on the rather provocative side in the way that I cannot bring my thirteen-year-old students to this gallery on a field trip. There is some adult content of a sexual nature, as well as pieces that draw attention to violence and horror.

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Let’s cancel all that.

I guess I don’t agree with the blurb sentiment “sober examination of the facts”. We create our own realities based on dreams and desires. Choosing to get caught up in something you don’t want or don’t like just does not make sense to me. If I create a reality I don’t want, I don’t choose to stay there and dwell in it, complain about it and get stuck there. And I don’t really think it is the blanket statement under which all of these artists sleep, is it? Or is Plans are Cancelled a reference to a positive re-boot?

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The fun for me are these questions, not in the answers because the questions alone allowed me to ponder solutions of my own with regard to my own life. I am grateful for this show because I had really satisfying conversations with my friends Penny and Davana about this show and about how it can help us define/re-define ourselves as artists and teachers.

And it was also so helpful to share what I saw here with my Studio in Art students. It is so important to me as a teacher that I offer guidance in the form of training my students to trust and believe in themselves, to know that they will be able to navigate their path to whatever they care to do artistically in the future with or without me.

I wish these MFA candidates the best of luck and love in their creative journeys. I sincerely thank you all for your perspectives. ❤

Plans are Cancelled will remain on display until May 12, 2019.

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***Artists represented at Syracuse University Art Galleries

Hollie Lyko, E. Garrett Bryant, Perry Burlingame, Jestina Sutherland, Rebecca Forstater, Sylvie Prendergast-Corvo, Samantha Corbett, Louise Thompson, Jason Cheney, Mark Zbikowski, Jiallin Deng

Watercolor Lesson

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Teaching watercolor to my 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art students was probably the most significantly beautiful thing I have done at school all year.  I gave them each their own palettes and set of Koi brand watercolors.  They began by painting on small sheets, practicing four techniques:  saving the white of the paper, glazing, wet-in-wet and dry brush.

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Then I gave them Arches 300# watercolor paper.  They drew landscapes with barns.

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Paintings took weeks to create.  Many, many days of thin coats of glazing culminating in dry brush details.  These kids are extraordinarily talented.  I guided them, but really, they were on auto-pilot for much of the lesson.  My job was to remind them to utilize formal principles consciously – rhythm, balance, emphasis…and to insist that they trust their own hand and intuition, so that their style could emerge.  My goal and hope for them, as they mature as artists in high school and beyond, is for them to stay true to who they are and what they want to evoke in their artwork.

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I am beyond blessed to know these talented über-amazing young people!!!!

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Paintings are currently on display on the hallway walls at Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, New York.

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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!  ❤

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Who’s Greek Now?

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I decided to infuse the 8th grade Medusa  drawing project with real people.  I was driving to work a few weeks ago and the idea just came to me, lol, but would the teachers at Chittenango Middle School go for it?

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On the half day, I sent out an email then I ran around taking pictures of those who were receptive to being immortalized as Medusa.  The principals were even on board, which was so, totally, awesome!

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Students selected from the faces and added the snake hair and Greek pattern border.  We watched excerpts from 1981 and 2012 Clash of the Titans while using Sharpies and colored pencils.  Here are the results.  They used 16″ x 20″ white heavyweight tagboard and Prismacolor colored pencils.

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I have two classes working on a new batch on brown Kraft paper.  It is such a fun project.  So many possibilities with regard to color schemes and composition.  So incredibly satisfying!

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This artwork is currently on display in the hallway outside of my classroom at Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.  It will be up for a while, at least until the end of the semester at the end of January.  I will display some of them at the school fair in May too.

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