Be prepared for an all consuming journey of the mind, if you plan to visit Syracuse University’s Point of Contact Gallery (350 W. Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) in the next two months. Puerto Rican artist Rafael Trelles has reinterpreted visions, dreams and literature to create a compelling dialogue between artists while exposing his queries regarding the human condition in his art exhibition titled The Imagined Word.
Twenty-two painted drawings are presented here. They are figurative – faces painted with etching inks, an oil-based ink that dries relatively quickly (as opposed to using oil paint, which would bleed on this particular paper, as he explained to me at tonight’s reception).
Some faces came first until a literary resource matched the artist’s hand then others selected first and the process reversed. Gestural lines and acrylic paint in sweeping brushstroke join these brilliantly rendered portraits to create compositions of depth and allegory, allowing the viewer to attach meaning in terms of their own identity to the stories with respect to personal fears and the beauty of their individual subconscious realms.
There is magic here. These recent pieces reflect two years of work. Next up for the Trelles, large-scale paintings on canvas and an exhibition in London!
The Imagined Word continues through March 13, 2020.
Point of Contact Gallery |350 W. Fayette St. Syracuse, NY 13202 | Open Monday – Friday: 12PM – 5PM or by appointment. Call (315) 443-2169 for more information.
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?
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.
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.
The result becomes its own presence, its own entity put into the world without the necessity of the language of its origin.
It is beautiful to witness these things and know their secrets, though, because I, personally, just love knowing.
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.
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.
***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.
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.
I don’t give credence to evil. I believe there is goodness and lack of goodness. We create our own realities and so, perhaps unwittingly, we create sadness, doom, mayhem and what have you. The Universe/God gives you EVERYTHING you ask for without the emotion associated with positive or negative vibes.
That’s the gist of it. In this way, no outside entity or force is inserting itself into your experience. You and you alone create the life you have.
The good news is that you can control your life experience by thinking positively, by working to create a sense of goodness via happiness, joy and love. You can have a beautiful life if you choose to look at the good, that is to say to create rather than face reality.
People who argue for their limitations, who need to revisit shit-storms don’t get this. People who use the devil as a temptation scapegoat instead of taking responsibility for their actions – well, that seems a fearful way to live.
I accept that I will not be loved unconditionally by this man, because it is apparent our beliefs have divided us, and so, this so-called devil has seemingly wedged itself in the cracks of my relationship after all.
Isn’t that ironic? You get what you think about – perfectly illustrated. Imagined evil wins this round (for the sake of this article). And the moral is that you just can’t take yourself too seriously. Allow everyone to live their own truth even if it perpetuates pain rather than alleviating it. And don’t judge. Yes, that’s the trick – to love anyway, even if you don’t always agree…and to trust, trust, trust that goodness will inevitably/eventually prevail. There are always positive outcomes available to you. <3
Jerome Witkin has made a career of facing harsh realities via his large-scale figurative paintings. Art must show our times, without any holding back, showing how we are living in this time – this world . His quote operates on the assumption that everyone in this time is living crummy lives. He uses Katrin Naumann, my friend and yogini as a primary model to illustrate the dastardly manifestations of society, which is such an irony in itself. Katrin is an ethereal soul, an absolutely beautiful human person.
Witkin is proficient in rendering and paint applications. His compositions are modern visual collages shaped like temples for his angst-infused pulpit. The devil is in the details, lol.
Jerome Witkin: This Time, This World is currently on exhibit at ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, New York 13203). The art reception is tonight from 6-8 pm. The show runs through January 11, 2020 with an artist talk planned for Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 7 pm.
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).
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.
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.
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.
David MacDonald’s ceramics are still for sale too!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
They were and are true working artists, not just people showing up to collect a paycheck.
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
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.
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.
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.
There is a restaurant as well, the Apple Kitchen, and they serve apple crisp! <3
Wednesday-Saturday, 10-5 Sunday 11-5
Apple Kitchen Hours:
Saturday, 11-4 pm
Sunday, 11-4 pm
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
Current list of vendors –
The Apple Kitchen • Alexandra’s Attic • The Heckled Hen Antiques • Decorative Edge • 13 South Metal Signs • Wendy Harris Fine Art
Tonight was the opening reception for the summer art exhibition at The Syracuse Tech Garden gallery (235 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202). It is titled Cool August Moon. I saw my high school friend and fellow art teacher Audrey Levinson there!
Artist Steve Nyland (another Jamesville-DeWitt alum) is the curator and a participant in the show. He told me that he signed a new contract to continue with these exhibitions for at least another year. They take place in the lobby of this building, which is across the street from the Syracuse Marriott (Hotel Syracuse).
Other local artists contributing to this show –
Laura Audrey Terry Lynn Cameron Richell Castellon Fletcher Crangle Kathy Donovan Ryan Foster Larry Hoyt Lisa Ketcham James P. McCampbell Sally Stormon Rabekah Tanner Mitzie Testani Ray Trudell Kayla Cady Vaughn Ryan Wood
Massachusetts transplant Lisa Ketcham creates these kitschy assemblages and frames. They are sort of a cross between steampunk and macabre via the use of gears, timey-wimey-ies and skeletons.
Terry-Lynn Cameron brought her originals to share. I met her on Sunday at City Market where she was selling prints of these lovely acrylic paintings.
Richell Castellon Ferreira is the real deal – a painter and woodworker by trade. He comes to us from Cuba. His paintings of the Syracuse landscape would make perfect additions to any local collector’s art stash! He paints from photographs and from memory. These originals are only $175.
Ray Trudell focuses on the invisible in his black and white photographs taken of the surrounding area. He “slows time” by defining a glimpse of a moment using sharp contrast in his compositions.
The exhibit will be on display until September 20, 2019. For more information contact Steve Nyland at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase artwork, contact the artists directly. They have left business cards and also have contact information on their respective art tags.
When I met Jason Alexander, I did that goofy Cinderella’s step-sister thing and asked him how he liked our Syracuse, New York weather.
He replied, “It sucks!” This was after a performance of the play he’d directed at Syracuse Stage. My friend and I looked at each other in an are-you-kidding-me glance because we both love it here, both love to hike whether in rain, snow, sleet or hail. And our weather had been particularly great in June.
So funny – and that is why I don’t have a selfie with the Seinfeld alum.
Today’s weather is sheer perfection – a magnificent sunny and breezy day to explore the offerings at City Market. Sponsored by the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202), the market is housed on the museum grounds around the fountains.
It takes place on the second Sunday of the month from 10 am – 4 pm. There are two dates left before the season ends – Sunday, September 8, 2019 and Sunday, October 13, 2019.
There is a lot to peruse – jewelry, trinkets, clothing, food, furniture and flea market-y miscellaneousness. And art, of course.
Tyler Cagwin created Nostalgia Chocolate. He manufactures the product here in Syracuse with international cocoa beans. The flavors are rich and satisfying! Gourmet chocolate with health benefits! (That’s a win-win).
I loved these ceramic pins and magnets created by Beckie Bortel of Beckie’s Pottery. They have a substantial feel to them and they look like ginger snap cookies. Great patina!
Terry Lynn Cameron is selling originals and prints of her colorful paintings. The prints are done on canvas, which is very cool. I am really impressed with how she markets her product! Some of the art has been adhered to sketchbooks and daily planners. Love!
Lori Lizzio‘s work can be found as originals, prints and notecards. They are ink and wash pieces of animals and figures.
Syracuse does have beautiful weather, Jason Alexander, and beautiful people – and art. It is satisfying and fun. Really fun. It doesn’t suck. <3
The retrospective currently on exhibition in two of the upstairs galleries at the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) was fifty years in the making. Puerto Rican born Juan Cruz has spent the past forty years dwelling here in Syracuse, New York, making murals, teaching and working on a collegiate degree in Fine Art from Syracuse University. And painting – he has been creating the mother-lode of paintings.
This show exemplifies what I have always wanted the Everson to be – a museum that believes in local artists, supporting their careers and offering ample space to breathe love and life into a body of work that illustrates the strength, character and beauty of an artist’s life-long vision.
There are paintings that show Cruz’s proficiency with realism – watercolor landscapes and oil on paper portraits. These pieces are the yellow bricks of the journey. They offer the first dance on a path that takes a left hand cruise into abstraction.
Those abstracts even go 3-D via a few sculptures as well, but the artist’s main strength is in the confident energy of the gnarled face forms peering out of these canvases, evidently pleading to be understood.
This energy alludes to social injustices felt both personally and as a member of a Caribbean culture with economic drama. There is abundant repetition of shape and color interspersed with black outlines, as well as bright white. This co-mingling rhythm creates a cartoon-like flavor undermining the angst, which gets more pronounced in the newer pieces, suggesting a shift to a more positive perspective for this working artist.
I would imagine pure full-on non-representational abstraction is the goal, obliterating the need to be understood by the masses, because when the goal is freedom of expression, the limitation of pleasing others gives way to one’s own knowing. Knowing the rightness of choices made with deliberate intent.
It’s all about the journey, and this one is an enormously satisfying one. I am delighted that I was able to witness this body of work as it is displayed. And for Juan Cruz, the best is yet to come. Because the dance is by no means over – it has just begun. <3
Juan Cruz: A Retrospective concludes on August 4, 2019. (Up next – Yoko Ono!)
****From the Everson website
Syracuse-based artist Juan Alberto Cruz (b. 1941, Puerto Rico) combines rich symbolism with a bold and colorful abstract style to create work infused with his Caribbean heritage. Moving from Puerto Rico to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and subsequent travels to Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Central America have had a major impact on Cruz’s work, which reflects a mixture of his cultural heritage and life experiences. From his earliest portrait paintings to recent abstract collages, Cruz uses the emotional realities of his past to articulate his feelings about economic inequality and systematic injustice.
As a child, Cruz taught himself to draw by copying the comic strips from discarded newspapers onto brown paper grocery bags, and later he drew portraits of everyday people that he sold for pocket change on the street. It was not until his thirties, when he enrolled in an art program led by then-Everson Director Jim Harithas that Cruz learned art could be more than replicating the world around him. Harithas taught Cruz how to paint and introduced him to a world of modern artists, which led Cruz’s drawings and paintings to evolve into a complex amalgamation of figurative and abstract forms. For the past five decades, Cruz’s boundless creativity and production has led him to compile a massive body of work.
Since moving to Syracuse in 1975, Cruz has made a significant impact on the local community. He has painted numerous murals throughout the city, including on the Onondaga Commons building, in Skiddy Park, and several in the Near West Side. He also completed a new mural with the Everson Teen Arts Council currently on view on the Museum’s Lower Level. Cruz served as artist-in-residence for the Near West Side Initiative for five years and ran the Patch-Up Studio, a community center that provided children and adults with a safe space to make and learn about art. By choosing to live and work in Syracuse, Cruz has brought together a multigenerational community inspired by his public art initiatives and workshops.