Former Syracuse University Art Professor Michael Sickler knows how to put on a show. I stopped into the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville again (5110 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, New York 13078), and this time the tiny gallery space looked vastly different. Sickler’s collage pieces are pure harmony. From the process and the materials to the size relationships and the framing, this presentation is truly exceptional.
It is a series of collage pieces, rectangles adhered together with a sort of natural (read nature-based) thread. Drawings/scribbles are juxtaposed with leaves and patterns from textiles, as well as with pages from vintage wallpaper books to form an edited narrative depicting a landscape of perception.
Items are layered on balsa wood to create a variety of planes. There is precision in his process. He alludes to an interest in fragments, as in how we, as a society perceive information that seems random yet can be organized to reveal relationships.
This is recent work on a small scale, which has been captivating him lately, along with his strong interest/second career in poetry. The exhibited art is indicative of visual poetry in the way that dreams are subconscious thoughts.
Formal principles of art dominate and allow for a lovely flow from piece to piece. This library is the perfect place to showcase these beauties because they are child friendly – Sickler is planning a presentation in the library’s Community Room on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 7 PM. He will discuss his process in an hour-long lesson/lecture. Registration is encouraged for this free demo. I’m sure the local art crew will be there in full-force for this gem, but I would love it if there is plenty of room for kids too, as in, I hope some of my students will take advantage of the opportunity to meet and know Michael Sickler. <3
The exhibition runs through April 2020. Call (315) 446-3578 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.
Today, on Orthodox Easter, I did, technically, go to a church. Kirkland Art Center occupies the architecture of a former house of worship in the quaint town of Clinton, New York ( 9 1/2 East Park Row, Clinton. NY 13323). The place looks like the set of the naughts TV series Gilmour Girls! I’d been invited here several times, but this was my first visit to this amazing little venue.
Penny had a show there last month, so we took the road trip to get her paintings then stayed for the new exhibit.
Needles & Glue features the work of mixed media artist Pamela Crockett, sculptor Stephanie Garon and collage artist Steven M. Specht, Ph.D., NCS. Of the three, only Specht was in attendance today.
Specht, a Psychology professor by day, sold two pieces, which were very reasonably priced. There is so much satisfaction in these little gems. Pictures are garnered from vintage magazines then arranged as narrative utilizing techniques he learned in an art course. The collages are really quite intelligently crafted.
The exhibition continues through May 24, 2019. See the website for more information – hours of operation and future events planned at the center including musical performances and dance! <3
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.
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!
Also in this show are Heidi VanTassel’s photography and paintings by Kate Renetta.
Point of Contact gallery is located in The Warehouse building, 350 W. Fayette Street (near the intersection with West Street) in Syracuse, New York. It is an annex of Syracuse University located in the Armory Square area of town. Its mission is to provide an arts dialogue with the community focusing on Latin American culture.
In the summer, however, the gallery opens its doors to a juried exhibition, welcoming all local artists to participate. Currently, Sum Art 2017 is up until mid-August. The art reception was last night.
For some reason, every time I enter this gallery, it starts out feeling like Dr. Who’s Tardis – bigger on the inside. Last night, as I winded my way around the exhibit taking quick snapshots here and there around the many patrons who attended finding myself in the second room and nearly impaling myself on a tall wooden sculpture, I realized that idea is an illusion.
It isn’t so big and yet, this show really packs a punch. So much to delight in – to see. Large scale works and tiny collage pieces. Realism in both painting and ceramics juxtaposed with pricey abstracts. There was something for every individual aesthetic.
Last year I bailed on this show, lol. I made up for it last night, even getting an Instagram fashion post out of the dealio – thanks to contributing artist Penny Santy (photo cred)!
Maybe next year I will go a step further and enter my artwork…. (???)
Gallery Hours: The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 PM to the general public.
This lesson is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
Students had to conceive an idea for the composition. I had planned to have them draw thumbnail sketches, as well as lists of what props they would need – but after showing my accelerated Studio in Art kids the ones done by my students in 2012 and 2013 via my school web-site, they just knew what they were going to do. It was the craziest thing and really phenomenal the way they all collaborated with one another.
Each student planned the day for their picture – we had two weeks before Christmas break and it was a tight schedule for the twelve of them. They all brought their costumes, props and their A games with them, lol!
I just loved how they were able to count on each other and how responsible everyone was for their respective part in both their own work and that of their friend(s). Models allowed the artist to direct them. The poses replicated the ones in Wood’s painting with the person on the right looking straight into the camera and the other one gazing in the distance. I placed the school’s green screen against a wall for the photo shoots, printed the pictures then cut and pasted them to foamboard.
They created the backgrounds using a variety of mixed-media including tissue and decorative papers, toothpicks, beads, glitter and more. The border was done in metallic paint to act as a frame. A picture from the internet chosen to convey a theme was selected as reference and they attacked the canvas panels with vigor. It was so exciting to see them work. There was so much confidence amidst the chaos of all the materials.
Once the background was finished and dry (everything attached with Mod-Podge and/or hot glue), we placed 3-D Os on the back of the foamboard and poppped the pics on top. The result – twelve very different, very cool mixed-media pieces that are currently on display in a glass case in the atrium of Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.
The great thing about having an art exhibition and art reception at a restaurant is you forego the traditional crudities in favor of sampling the cuisine. And in the case of Maxwell’s, this involves a gourmet spinach salad, brick oven pizza and hot wings.
Artwork by Kara D. Cook is on display and for sale at Maxwell’s for only one week, but I am certain she will sell everything in that short time. Like me, she has her BFA and MS from Syracuse University, and she is a local art teacher. She is also a fan of Jasper Johns and Alice Neel, but her fanaticism does not spill into her canvases. Her work is original, fresh and captivating.
The show is titled Bricks & Bones. Kara preps some of her canvases with paper collage of sheet music or maps then creates landscapes of local haunts, places she sees as she drives to work, places from her childhood in Chittenango, New York…places that have been discarded and left to rot in a way.
But there is so much beauty to see in these images, I think, like the beauty of everlasting love explored in The Velveteen Rabbit. Memories of the past that make you say – I remember that place and I will try to not forget that past. She attacks the canvases with a combination of materials beginning with acrylic then adding charcoal, colored pencil, marker and whatever else works. I actually thought they were digital photographs when I first walked in. I was delighted to see all of the nuances of the mixed-media upon further inspection.
I purchased a print of the Cinema North, the old free-standing movie theatre in Mattydale, New York. I was trying to remember what movie I went to see there, something with my cousins who lived out that way. So, yeah, it’s like that – a faded memory that had to be a good one but now it is sort of missing its pieces too.
According to Wikipedia, In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman’s terms, it is defined as “the point of no return”, i.e., the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible, even for light. An event horizon is most commonly associated with black holes. Light emitted from inside the event horizon can never reach the outside observer. Likewise, any object approaching the horizon from the observer’s side appears to slow down and never quite pass through the horizon, with its image becoming more and more redshifted as time elapses.
This provocative timey-wimey feeling is what I get from Kara’s work. You are most definitely pulled in, and the effects are impossible to escape. They linger, like that reoccurring dream you keep having or like that math problem that seems easy yet you cannot solve. According to her literature, “[the work] retain[s] memories of the past. Bricks and Bones is meant to appreciate their narrative.” I am so impressed with the depth to which Kara reveals emotion in her work.
Oh, and she makes jewelry too!
Maxwell’s is located at 122 E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York 13202. Call (315) 299-6633 for information or visit their web-site here. Kara D. Cook can be located on all the usual social media locations. You can start by liking her on Facebook here.
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.
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?
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.
Just picked up my copy of the September 2015 issue of Women of Upstate New York. So excited to be a part of it!
A month ago, I spent the day with Audrey Levinson. She is an art teacher in the Syracuse City school district, as well as a writer for this magazine. She is also a family friend – we went to high school together (she was my sister’s bestie).
Audrey started writing as a tribute to her mother, who passed away a year ago. I really loved spending the day with her and listening to her story too. When I read the article, I feel like it is more about our friendship than anything else. And that feels very special.
The sweeper in soccer is a defensive player who usually works her magic to intercept the ball when the opponent has penetrated the line of defense. This player can also move the ball up field and even score on occasion, and is typically one of the fastest players.
In baseball, a pinch hitter’s role is to bat for another player. Usually this person is an outfielder who is also a good hitter. And yes, I am as well-versed in sports as Amy Schumer’s character is in the movie Trainwreck, lol, which is to say not at all. I had to Google search these definitions because I was trying to create a sports analogy that defines my role in the new art exhibition at the Syracuse Tech Garden (235 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202).
Forty-six paintings are on display in The Boys of Summer: Baseball Meets Art with a reception this Thursday, August 20, 2015, from 5 – 7 pm. Steve Nyland is the curator.
My role in this show is a blend of sweeper and pinch hitter. I added thirty-two paintings and paper collage pieces to round out the show and fill the walls. My watercolors were untitled before and now they have baseball themed titles – cliché, perhaps but whateves. I think it is kind of hilarious and fun, and makes me feel like a part of a team, the way Amy did during the climax of what was really a pretty terrific rom-com.
Steve is also sharing his paintings in the art show, which will run through October 9th if you don’t have a chance to make it to the opening.