Category Archives: Syracuse University

Misery Loves Company

I love a man who believes in the devil.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ❤

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  ❤

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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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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

In Bronze

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Syracuse University has wowed us yet again with another fabulous art exhibition at their art gallery in the Shaffer Art Building on S.U. campus.  This time a collection of bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) fills the space.  The art is actually owned by the Iris and Gerald Cantor Foundation – they organized the show as well.

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Penny Santy and I attended the opening reception tonight – it was the perfect thing to do on this back-to-school night, an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the visual stimulation of an artists’ life work and then discuss it all with my fellow artist friend. The kind of discussion that catapults our individual journeys as we sort of translate what we see into how we see ourselves as artists – our respective places on the path.   It is just so incredible how modern this body of work really is – how this master artist took things a step further, editing body parts to emphasize movement.  Doing things because he wanted to, because it was necessary for his own growth without crumbling in the face of criticism.

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Innovation always comes with critics riding shirttails, doesn’t it?  People can be so limited in their thinking and so, when I see a show like this, I see that Rodin’s confidence and trust in what he knew was right is what influenced and still influences artists one hundred years later.

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Inspirational thinking.  So, so amazing!

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Rodin: The Human Experience will be on display until November 18, 2018.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  In addition, they are open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays. (315) 443-4097

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The Invention Story

I’m basically a storyteller.  And all of my stories begin with, “the year was blah-blah-blah”.  Today, one of my students called me over and asked, “will you tell us a story?” and someone else chimed in with, “we love your stories!”  !!!

So – here’s a story for you….

The year was last year.  All of my 5th graders were bringing those fidget spinners to class.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – they are some sort of toy that was created as a way for students to stay focused, particularly students with focus issues – but they were seriously getting out of control.   Everyone had them.  Most had more than one in their pockets. Kids were just playing with them all over the place until pieces flew off.  It was nuts.

One day after school, I was sitting with my feet up on my desk and I envisioned a teacher confiscating those dumb things then sitting exactly as I was . . . and eating them, lol.  I had invented a commercial for chocolate fidget spinners!

OMG, I thought, I have my million dollar idea!  I called Hercules, a candy company in East Syracuse, New York.  I told the proprietor, Terry Andrianos, my idea.  Her response was it takes about a year in development to create the mold for something like this and it is expensive.

So, I thought, that was that.

A few days later, I attended a concert at Traditions at the LinksLetizia and the Z Band was performing.  At their break, the drummer, John Mangicaro, told me this gig was like a full-time job but he did have a full-time job – he was in the technology department at Syracuse University.  He runs the 3-D printer!

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I shared my fidget spinner concept with him.  A few months later, he’d created a mold for me.  I brought the mold back to the candy shoppe and Terry agreed to make a couple samples for me!

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I had successfully brought my invention to fruition and it didn’t cost me a dime.  Law of Attraction brought me face-to-face with these amazing people who helped me just for the fun of it!  Of course, after it was all said and done, I checked Amazon.com and now there are fidget spinner molds available.  Yes, a zeitgeist!

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Students don’t play with fidget spinners anymore.  I have not seen one at all this year.  It was a very short-lived fad, which leads me to believe that nobody really desires chocolate ones anymore either.

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But the point of the story is to illustrate how you don’t really have to know how to manufacture an idea in order to invent something.  Leonardo da Vinci drew pictures of helicopters in the 1500s, as well as all sorts of things he did not actually make.

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My fidget spinner story acted as the launch pad for the active minds of my 5th grade art class.  I gave them a hand-out – to get them thinking about inventing something – why do people need it?  Who will use it?  How big is it?  How much does it cost?

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They filled out the sheet and drew illustrations for a coloring book of inventions.  This took several classes.  We did projects in between, which gave ample time for the students to ponder ideas.  Many shared the project with their parents – some came back with sketches their parents had made of the assignment.  It seems that everyone is a budding Leonardo!

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I sent the pages to Chittenango High School and the person who runs the Xerox printer created these amazing books.  Each student received a book of everyone’s inventions.  We spent one class period coloring them.  I told them to hold on to their copy, to keep the book in a bookshelf for, like, fifteen years.  Then pull it out, maybe when they are moving out or when their parents hold a giant garage sale, lol, and flip through it to see if any of the inventions had really been invented.  Zeitgeists happen all the time.

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My cousin Brian is an inventor at Welch Allyn.  He has something like forty patents.  Engineering type stuff.  I had actually checked on the patent information regarding my idea.  It seems the woman who had invented fidget spinners could not afford the patent and that is why everyone was manufacturing them.  Crazy, right?

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Our science teacher, Beth Bennett, received a grant to purchase a 3-D printer for school.  She will be meeting with John to learn more about the machine and what amazing things can be created with it.  I just love that!

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The sky’s the limit!

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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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