Category Archives: mixed media

Flowers, Tatts & China

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I have become a Transmedia groupie.

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Syracuse University Associate Professor Laura Heyman, guest Visiting-Artist and Instructor Ira Lombardia, and Everson Museum of Art Curator of Art and Programs DJ Hellerman led students through a critique tonight at Apostrophe’s Art Gallery, 1104 Oak Street, Syracuse, NY 13203.

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I was there a couple weeks ago for a similar event.  This time it was a joint showcase of work by Han Zhao and Hangyi Zhou.

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Han Zhao’s exhibit, Flowerbility, utilizes various media to showcase a single flower.  According to his artist statement, he creates on his I-Pad and laptop, which allows his ideas to flow freely and quickly.  There is joy to this ease.  His work ethic reminded me of artist Kiki Smith.  Last year, she visited Syracuse University and talked about coming at an idea from all angles.  I enjoyed the consistency of the image and saw how its use had implications and applications to interpreting and re-imagining business logos, taking the image to its unlimited potential.  That was exciting!

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I jumped into participating in Hangyi Zhou’s critique session.  What was I thinking, lol?  I guess the teacher in me couldn’t just be a fly on the wall.  I loved being a part of this adventure.  The artist’s four-piece photography exhibit, Chinese Tattooed Women, seemed rather simplistic until she shared some back-story.

What happens in China stays in China – except when young artists relate how their view of the world is tainted by a judgmentally governed society.  In this case, the notion that tattoos suggest disreputable character, specifically in regard to women.  Finding Chinese women courageous enough to pose for these photographs was quite an accomplishment, apparently.

Each model wears black and poses to portray their emotional connection to their respective tattoos, which are similarly inked in black and were all similarly executed in China.

This series seems to be in its gestation period, and a lot of what was said in the critique was thought-provoking in a helpful way.

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20190422_190221.jpgThank you, Transmedia gang, for including me.  This SU grad loves that Syracuse University art has expanded into the off-campus community.  Utilizing this unique gallery space for student exhibitions and holding receptions on Mondays is a win-win! ❤

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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. ❤

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

The Beauty Within

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The year was 1996:  the bartenders at Empire Brewing Company on Walton Street in Armory Square/downtown Syracuse, New York used to slip me handfuls of coasters all the time.  I used them as collage material in my oil & collage paintings.  I’m not a beer (or any alcoholic beverage) drinker but still – I was a bit of a barfly back in the day.  I really love that place!

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Well, they opened a farm brewery on Route 13 in Cazenovia, New York a while back.  It is a magnificent venue in every way – you must make your pilgrimage if you haven’t done so already.  It is the power of Empire times infinity!  I was there this evening for Kara Daviau’s art reception.

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Delicious food and drink specials, of course, and – who knew? a spectacular basement tasting/barrel room with brick walls and the most splendid ambiance for an art exhibition.  Kara’s work is a perfect match for this space.

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Her new series is titled Keep Me Where the Light Is.  Kara is continuing her journey of discovering abandoned places and summoning them to life with music.  She captures the essences of the forgotten beauty while listening to specific tunes, adding sheet music as collage before tackling the canvases with vibrant acrylic hues.

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Her new mantra is expand.  She is voraciously seeking new places to show and sell her artwork, (which includes merchandise – magnets, notecards, T-shirts and other accessories – you can find these and more at Wildflowers Armory in Armory Square).

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As of very recently, her paintings have been accepted in juried exhibitions at galleries in New York City and in Connecticut and Maryland with the opportunity for solo exhibitions in all locations on the horizon.  I asked her if she would seek abandoned spaces in these areas to create new work that resonates with people who live there.  Not yet was her response.

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She is at a crossroads, both personally and professionally.  Her focus is on healing and with that a strong urge to self reflect via self-portraiture may be the next leg in her journey.  She’d added a mini self-portrait to the lower corner of one of these paintings then wiped it out, as if to say she wasn’t quite ready for that leap…yet.

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I trust that Kara will visualize the success she deserves with any step she takes on her path to get there.  She is a beautiful person both inside and out.  I love the trailblazing spirit that guides her choices – such an incredibly talented artist and a wonderful role model for both her own children and her students. ❤

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Kara Daviau’s art studio is located at the Delavan Center (Studio 249), 509 W. Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York.  For more information about this work and more, contact her at KLDAV@HOTMAIL.COM.

Politics As Art

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Discord is a necessary factor in conscious creation because when you know what you don’t want, you can know what you do want.  So it can be a good thing even while it is causing the upset.  In its acknowledgement, the theory is that change can happen.  And there’s magic in that.

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Art Rage is the gallery in Syracuse, New York that specializes in social injustice and political satire.  It’s not typically my thing.  I am so la-la-la lately, living life in a sort of happiness bubble of gratitude and appreciation, and not giving much attention to the national headlines that seem to keep others in a constant state of pissed-off-ness.  I don’t often agree with the arguments.  But I attended this art reception anyway – I do love when an artist translates their angst into something tangible that transcends its origins and hands the world something beautiful.  And I loved every minute I spent viewing this incredible new work and talking to artist Jim Ridlon.

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Discord & Dissent:  Commentary on Contemporary Politics by Jim Ridlon is the final show this season at Art Rage, 505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse, New York, 13203.  And it is truly genius!

Ridlon was not a fan of the political shenanigans, as witnessed on the morning news during the 2016 presidential campaigns.  What followed was a bit of scribbling – sentences, words that he desired to expand upon via this new series of assemblages.  Each one in this series is equipped with its own statement to guide the viewer to their own conclusions.

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They are visual puns meant to take the sting out, to replace the discord with fun, humor and the strange machinations of this Renaissance man’s mind.  They are outfitted in sports gear to possibly refer to the political arena as a game, as well as referencing his own history – football hero turned Syracuse University professor.  There are clipped feathers found on meditative hikes taken with his son that speak of the illusion of the sanctity of government positions; rusty found objects from various trips to flea markets – hunting the perfect pair of old scissors or wood turnings, ropes/chains to bind the opponent in an intricate power trip.  Well-worn accessories complete these framed boxes of objects, the human element that sets the viewer on this quest to create meaning.

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Jim Ridlon is a true artist in every sense of the word and does justice to this art form by allowing us a glimpse into his vortex.  I asked him if his studio was neatly organized – were all the scissors in a bin, leather bits together, et cetera?  Answer – chaos! Lol, I love him!

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Ridlon sets up his studio space so that he can concoct several pieces at once.  They are on tables laid out in their frames, items amassed in nearby boxes first that speak to his mini manifestos.  He builds, builds up then knocks everything down.  Sometimes it takes over thirty tries to make one good product and once that solution arrives, it is like a game key that solves the puzzle and everything else just falls into place.

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It is music to my ears when I hear an artist speak about their process.  It is poetry.  It is radiant and beautiful, and everything I love about creation.  The work becomes the thing – important, all encompassing and his passion was just so present as he shared it with me.  He told me that this process took months to complete.  He spent days and days working on them and many, many nights dreaming about them.  He was a man consumed by this work.  His eyes sparkled as he spoke of getting just the right element to fit the case then finalizing and gluing it all into place – a culmination that is weirdly spiritual.  Like, it was not about politics anymore.  That was just the spark to the flame.  An idea that took thoughts to these wonderful things.

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Were they for sale?  Yes, but he quipped that he did not expect to sell them, as they have an ugly side to them.  I didn’t agree.  But I guess this is the case with artists of all skill level and experience.  The force that reckons with the making and manipulation of art flickers out once the discord that brought it about dissipates.

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Thank you, Jim Ridlon, for inspiring me as my aesthetics professor in 1981 and continuing to inspire me to desire to grow as an artist.  To want to take a dream and make it real, and laugh in the face of current realities that are undesirable.  Outrage can and does make a difference when one is aligned with their ultimate source.  And then we watch as everything changes for the better.

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Jim Ridlon will give a presentation about his work on June 11, 2018 at 7pm in the gallery.  Visit the website or call (315) 218-5711 for more information including gallery hours.

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Art in Hospital

After the Happy Little Tree House art reception on Tuesday, Brandon Hall took Karmin and me to see his other hospital exhibition.  It is in the cancer center wing of Upstate Medical Center and will be up for a couple months, I think, or at least until the end of May.

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Brandon is an art teacher at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.  He scours flea markets and garage sales to find discarded photograph albums and situates these unknown strangers into wallpapered assemblage landscapes peppered with texture and color.  They are mounted on wood and double-lacquered to prevent fading.  They are really exquisite and priced at only $250!

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Also in this show are Heidi VanTassel’s photography and paintings by Kate Renetta.

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