Category Archives: fiberarts

Woolly Winter

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Today, after work and a five-mile Green Lakes hike, I headed over to the Sue & Leon Genet Galley at The Nancy Cantor Warehouse (350 W. Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) for the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection exhibit, Let It Snow!  Keeping Warm at Syracuse University, 1870-2020.

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I love the irony of this whole premise that it is cold in Syracuse in winter and I’m all hiking my head off for two hours a day thinking it’s totally warm – what’s wrong with you people?  Naturally, I am also all about cashmere, fur, leather and down parkas, so this little exhibit was right up my alley.  Keeping warm is my schtick.  Really, it’s fashion.  Fashion’s my schtick.

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I frequented this gallery when it was housed in Slocum Hall back in the ’80s, so actually visiting it again, it’s kinda/sorta my old stomping grounds.  I am a graduate of the Fashion Design program at Syracuse University and a really cold (minus 4 degrees) day in 1982 is referenced in the literature, which was probably a day I was walking around campus with my gigantic portfolio and paint case or a huge bag of fabric and a sewing kit (dual degree Fashion and Studio Arts) blowing around all over the place.  Could this be anymore about me? LOL, sorry….

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This is obviously an exhibition of outerwear spanning a century and a half.  Everything on the mannequins looks stunning – well preserved and for the most part, timeless.

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The show was curated by Professor Jeffrey Mayer.  Kirsten Schoonmaker gave a slide presentation during the event tonight sharing her expertise on textiles, specifically a history of the fashion/costume use of wool and fur through the ages.  Students in attendance were clearly enthralled by her dynamic presence.  She is an Associate Professor of Fashion Design at Syracuse University, as well as the exhibit designer and collection manager.

Let It Snow! will be up through February 28, 2020.  You will love it. <3

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***from the Syracuse University website

On Dec. 2, 2019, Syracuse University canceled a full day of classes for the fourth time in its 150-year history. This means that generations of students have trudged through snow, sleet, ice, and wind in order to get to class. How did they keep themselves from shivering as the daytime temperatures plunged as low as -4°F in January of 1982? Students on campus have proved that staying warm doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Thick fulled wool in fashionable hues has been cut and shaped to follow the silhouettes of the moment, whether it be the 1880s, the 1980s, or today. Collars and cuffs have been trimmed with insulating materials from soft fur to plushy polyester, trapping warm air around exposed skin as icy winds blow. Belts and buttons not only keep coats from flapping, but also add a touch of shape, sparkle, or contrast. Selections from the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection reveal that while faces may change, outerwear has always been a style statement on campus.

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About the Sue and Leon Genet Gallery:

Based in the School of Design at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery is a student-managed space hosting exhibitions from the school’s students, faculty, and alumni. Programing seeks to engage the University and downtown Syracuse community with exhibitions inspired by and related to the field of design. Public gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 pm., or by appointment.  Call (315) 443-2455.

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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.

 

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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