Category Archives: painting

The Karen Section of Town

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Those of you who knew me in the ’90s know this about me, but for the rest of you, let me paint you a picture of what my life was like.  I taught art at a middle school that was an hour drive from home, so a typical Friday looked like this:  get up at 5:30 am, leave the house at 6:30 to be at work at 7:30; work until 3:30 pm, get home at 4:30; go to the gym for two hours.  Clean my room (or not).

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At around 10:00 pm, I would drive to Armory Square.  No plans – I just knew my friends would be out.  They always started at a bar called Witherspoon’s (not there anymore), and somehow we would hop around until 2:00 am then go to a Denny’s.  So I would pretty much do a twenty-four hour day!

Crazy times.

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But before that – in the ’80s…dating myself…I worked at Bryant & Stratton teaching Fashion Merchandising.  Yes, I was a professor.  I used to frequent Armory Square when it was a sort of derelict meets artsy neighborhood.  There was a frame shop on the corner of the main intersection called I’ve Been Framed (where I met a very beautiful guy named Mike).  I got my bed (that I still sleep in) at the Antique Underground on E. Fayette St. at a basement shoppe that reeked of mold, lol.

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When I told my cousin Nick the story of how I got a flat tire on E. Fayette Street (nearly thirty years ago) across from what is now The Black Olive restaurant – how there was no one to help me.  Every man who walked by was either blind or crippled, or missing an arm it seemed.

It was just super weird, I know.  And there were no cell phones, so I tried calling for help from the pay phone but the line was busy because there was also no call-waiting back then.  I should also preface this by saying it was raining that day and I was wearing a white linen suit complete with a pencil skirt, stockings and heels…and I am still unwilling to learn how to change a flat tire, lol…. When I got one this past summer, I still called my dad.  One of these days I should get AAA….

Anyhow, to make a short story long, as I have been known to do, in around 1986 or ’87, Nick started calling Armory Square the Karen section of town.

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The Karen section of town has changed a lot since then.  Lots of restaurant chains, as well as local haunts that are GREAT.  There’s a Starbucks and a Subway along with Kitty Hoynes, Blue Tusk, Empire Brewing Company, Pastabilities, The Bistro Elephant….

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There’s Jet Black, an amazing clothing shop where I bought my very first Trina Turk top, which is still one of my favorites to this day (bought in ’98 or ’99).  And now (drum roll)- THERE IS AN ART CO-OP CALLED ARMORY ARTWORKS!

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They had a grand opening that I missed, even though it said I went to it on Facebook.  I click that I am going everywhere and I don’t always follow through.  But I rectified that today.

My friend Janine and I took a stroll around the block, had lunch at the Empire Brewing Company and visited the gallery.

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The address is 136 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY.  It is an upstairs venue so I am going to say I do not think it is handicapped-accessible.  I mean, I did not remember seeing an elevator.  But if that is not an issue, once upstairs you will find an array of decorative and functional pieces by local artists.

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From what I understand, there are a couple of ways one can join the co-op. There is a $120 per month cover to be a member.  There is also a part-time scenario where you help (wo)man the place, ring register, and allow a 40% commission off sales of your art.

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Hours of operation:

11:00 am – 6:00 pm  Monday-Wednesday

11:00 am – 7:00 pm  Thursday

11:00 am – 8:00 pm  Friday-Saturday

noon – 5:00 pm  Sunday

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It is really beautifully merchandised and the prices are surprisingly reasonable.  Several of my friends are selling work there – Barbara Vural, Wendy Harris, Amy Bartell.  You can get art that has been printed on notecards for only $3.00 each or four for $10.00.   I usually do this then put the cards in frames if I cannot afford the originals.  It’s a great way to start an art collection.

Bracelets for under $40.00; hand-made sweaters, scarves, pottery, paintings, prints, you name it!  There’s really something for everyone!

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If you haven’t yet purchased original art for your home, I really urge you to do so.  There’s nothing better than owning something made with love, something made by a neighbor.  I don’t know – the comaraderie of friendship is a great gift, I think.  There is so much good here that I feel like we all benefit from the experience.

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So, if you find yourself in the Karen section of town, please visit this amazing place!  And if you get there soon, you’ll have a chance at a $25 gift certificate prize – no purchase necessary!

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For more information, call them at (315) 870-3408 or visit their website armoryartworks.com

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They are also on Facebook – find them here.

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Pizza & Art

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I’m not much of a drinker – I have a glass of wine socially, maybe, like, once a month (if that). I don’t really love the way it tastes and it gives me a headache afterwards so it’s not my “cup of tea”.  And for that matter, alcohol in general.

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I don’t eat bread or cheese.  I don’t like spicy foods or garlic….  For these obvious reasons and probably others of which I am not yet fully aware, I rarely date Italian men for very long periods of time, lol.  No wine, pasta, or pizza…no ice cream either.   Am just not an Italian foodie, or foodie in general.

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So what was I doing at a pizza-themed art show last night?

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Yeah – there was a pop-up art exhibition last night at Spark gallery on Fayette Street in Syracuse, New York.  Called The Passion of the Crust.

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A tenner got me in to see pizza paintings and sculptures.

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Many were painted on these pizza paddles.  I loved the concept!  It reminded me of a Project Runway fashion design challenge, only with artwork.

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This would be a great art lesson for my Studio in Art students (or at least a sketchbook homework assignment)!

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Some of the interpretations were kind of macabre…

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And some quite literal.

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Because it had been planned for the day after Christmas, many used religion to get their pizza messages across…

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It really was a great concept.  Dozens of artists sharing work on the walls in the gallery space.  Music and pizza slices available in the back room.

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A lot of the pieces had sold tickets on them, which was great, but unfortunately, there was no literature available as to making future purchases.  I guess that is the very nature of a one-night only event. It’s kind of like a happening of sorts and I commend these artists on making this event happen.  Syracuse has some really cool artsy people and part of what I am attempting to do with this blog is to make everyone aware of that.  To bring the art scene to the public in a way that the regular Joe can understand it, like it, buy it, live with it, love it, etc.

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The only person I knew there was Steve Nyland (above with the blue hair).  He is an artist and art curator who lives and works in Syracuse and in Utica, New York.  He said that many of these artists were from the Utica area.

Steve is curating a Star Wars and Star Trek art-themed show at the Syracuse Tech Garden next month!  (Perfect timing, don’t you think?)

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I really hope they decide to take this show on the road – like, get it seen in other venues, maybe a pizza shoppe or two.  Get it resurrected?  Call it The Dough Also Rises.  Tastes like a plan….

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Smarty Arty Marty

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I stumbled upon the Syracuse Art Mart last night on my way to the downtown Syracuse tree lighting ceremony.  It is in the Atrium at City Hall Commons located at 201 E. Washington Street in Syracuse, NY.

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It will be open until Christmas Eve – Monday through Saturday, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

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There’s lots to see and buy.  Art and craft from local and regional artists like Judi Witkin (jewelry) and Jeanne Dupre (oil paintings) – that was a shout-out to Facebook friends….

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Cow Town

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The Chittenango Middle School 8th grade teachers take our students to visit SUNY Morrisville.  We’ve done it for several years now. There are four activities plus lunch in the dining hall (!!!) – to see the automotive dept., the dairy management farm, the equine science program and the aquaponics greenhouse.

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I’ve gone on this field trip three times and this was the first time I visited the cows.  There I met Assistant Professor Ashley Adams, who loves cow art!

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So this blog post is for her.  I want to share artwork by my bestie, Penny Santy.  Penny is a graphic artist during the day, fine artist by night.  You can find her website here.

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Penny has this wonderful series of cow paintings.  I am totally in love with them.  She uses oils and paints in a quaint studio space in the basement of her home in Eastwood, a subdivision in the city of Syracuse, NY.

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I love the energy in her brush stroke and the juxtaposition of complementary colors used to create shadows.  Not just saying that because she is my friend.  I think Penny’s work would look great in the offices/buildings at the dairy science college!  They are large scale pieces – really breathtaking in person.  I especially love the buttery yellow one!

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Students in my ninth period A day class created cow portraits in oil pastel on black paper.

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We drew them on white paper, transferred them to the black Strathmore paper with graphite paper (magic) and painted out the lines with black acrylic paint.

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I showed students how to build up the color with the oil pastel using a layering technique and encouraged them to create their own consistent style – up and down, diagonal, coloring in circles, etc.

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I just love the way they turned out.  Each one is 16″ x 20″ – my favorite size for student work!  I am thinking of selecting a couple to enter into the Scholastic Art Awards competition, but I can’t decide which ones will be the most competitive.  I like them all.

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OMG, I love cow art too! ❤

Those That Teach, Do!

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There is this weird Catch-22 about the teaching profession.  I think I heard this growing up a lot. Those who can’t, teach.  It is such a strange statement.  And to grow up thinking your teachers are less intelligent than people who choose other professions – like being an engineer instead of a math teacher or being a rocket scientist instead of a science teacher, and in this case, being a professional artist instead of an art teacher…it’s so bizarre.  It was probably the reason I went into teaching reluctantly, because I perceived it as a death sentence to my creativity.  Of course, I was way off base.  Totally wrong.

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In this town, there is this weird thing where people perceive the university professors as “better” artists than public school art teachers.  Again – utter stupidity.  In fact, the public school teachers have a much better gig.  There are very few full time art professors – most are part-timers without the benefits of a decent salary and amazing insurance plans.  So the teaching gig is actually the best possible outcome, especially for people like Barabara Vural, who took time off from making art on and off, while teaching and while raising her family, but somehow managed to still find time to create this massive inventory of work.

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Barbara Vural’s current show at the Manlius Library in Manlius, New York proves my point.  She is sharing sixty years of artwork including current work that she has prolifically executed now that she has retired from teaching.

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Here we see a body of work that contains different media (pastel, acrylic…) as well as landscapes, still-lifes and portraits that are as well executed as a Mary Cassatt.

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Brilliant use of color – and lyrical rhythm that takes the viewer inside a beautiful mind.  There is so much beauty here – line quality that is so precise and just a complete mastery of art skill.

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There were sold stickers on many of these pieces already.  Her prices are extremely reasonable, from $75 to about $1,000 depending on size and detail.

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Artwork is on display until November 14, 2015.  Contact Barbara for more information including how to purchase and library hours, at bvural@twcny.rr.com.

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Field Tripping

On Friday, I took my Studio in Art students on a field trip to three locations.  It was a tight schedule that we stuck to like organized folk and not the fickle dreamers people imagine we are.

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The first stop was the Community Folk Art Gallery on Genesee St. in Syracuse, NY, where we toured the facility – we saw student art studios where high school portfolios are prepared for Scholastic Art awards and where kids get the benefit of learning from some of the premiere artists living locally, like ceramist David McDonald.  There was also a dance studio, a black-out performance room and in the gallery space, the magnificent photo collage/assemblage pieces by Najee Dorsey, who gave a talk the night before and was supposed to be at the gallery that day but we couldn’t stay.

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I didn’t want to leave, to tell you the truth.  I would have LOVED to have met him. The narratives within these works told stories of pain and triumph, and were saturated with incredible pink hues that left you, really, in awe of his mastery of the media.  I am always amazed by the passion a self-taught artist brings to the table.  It is a fearlessness mixed with passion.

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We learned that the story of the Lone Ranger was based on an African slave who escaped imprisonment, befriended American Indians and later become a Sheriff.  And that another woman, who is still alive today, paralleled Rosa Parks’ infamy with another back-to-front-of-the-bus challenge as a fifteen-year-old girl, to help change the injustices of the laws in the South.

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Next we moved to the James Rosenquist show and the private holdings of the Syracuse University Art Gallery at Shafffer Hall on SU campus, a space that not enough people in this city even realize is there.  I mean, no one else was even visiting aside from our group and they, apparently, have a bigger art collection (majority of it: prints) than the Everson Museum of Art has.

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I learned that Rosenquist is a frail eighty-one, and that is why he did not attend the opening reception last month.  We  discovered more about his journey, which made me love him all the more.  When you see the work in this manner, you really recognize its value and contribution to Pop Art and to the art world in general.

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Assistant director Andrew Saluti’s knowledge took the cake.  Again, a sense of passion for his job and for the art in his charge.  It was such a profound experience for me.  Sharing it with my students was something I really wanted to make happen and I did that – but you know how kids are.  When I asked them their favorite part of the trip, they all said McDonald’s, which was our lunch break destination (in Cazenovia, NY) before we settled at the top of the Stone Quarry Art Park hill.

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Yes, we ran around the park in the cold rain – of course, it rained during the outside portion of our day, while remaining completely sunny in Chittenango, NY.  That is the law of dumb luck.  But I knew that they were having a blast experiencing the sculptures along the way, one in particular looking like a house from Smurf village with a tiny igloo style entrance they took turns climbing into, as though they were entering a clown car, because I don’t understand how on Earth they all fit in there – it was Tardis-like in that way.  (And yes – it’s always important to throw in an obscure Dr. Who reference now and again.)

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And yes, I know they got a lot out of that packed with art-filled day. Some more than others.  Field trips are the stuff of legend.  They really bond you in ways that are pretty profound and this fifteen student community of artists are some of the best kids I have ever worked with.

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We got back in time for dismissal, so it was probably the best field trip ever in terms of both information and time management, as well as fun.  Thank you so much to everyone who helped me make this happen.  It was just so amazing to show up at a venue and have them ready and waiting for us – and so excited to see us!  If you are an art teacher in the area, you should definitely plan a day like this if you can.  The galleries were so accommodating, each with their own sensational contribution to the landscape of the arts in the Syracuse area!

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Interviewed

Hi everyone!

I was recently interviewed for a blog post on http://www.segmation.com. It was done via email.  I answered a series of questions.  My answers appear exactly as I had written them except for the part where I call myself an outward focused nurturer.  Those are not my words, lol, but I am flattered by the compliment.

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I am not sure how they found me.  I think it was through Twitter.  I haven’t been on my Twitter account in a couple weeks.  I better start paying it forward again by retweeting my followers to keep the good karma going.  I’m up to something like 6,400 followers now.  Now if I can get that many Instagram followers….  Lol, are we ever really satisfied?

Karen Tashkovski, Strength, 18" x 36", 1997, oil & collage, $675

Well…I am truly grateful for anything coming my way these days.  I love being part of an international art community and I love that I move closer to the dreams I have for myself every day.  So thank you, Segmation and everyone else who has been following me here and on other social media.  I am glad we are friends.

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See the interview here –

http://segmation.com/blog/2015/10/13/outward-focused-nurturer/#comment-1986