Category Archives: Syracuse University

Land of the Living

According to the blurb in the SU Art Galleries’ newsletter,

Artist Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, featured at five Venice Biennales, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors is the recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.”

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She is a living legend in the art world, a kind of giant, a dichotomy of sorts because in person she really is quite delicate looking with slender features.  Her hands in particular, which seem a stark contrast to the sort of macabre drawings they produce.  Kiki Smith is my favorite artist’s favorite artist.  I read that somewhere decades ago.  Jasper Johns is famously tight-lipped to disclose the inner workings of his mind.  Smith is similarly private.  The language with which gallery director Domenic Iacono uses to describe Smith’s prolific career’s trajectory reminds me of this thing I read by a dating coach who insists women must keep men off-balance by speaking gibberish, like saying one thing and flipping it on its side to keep them guessing, lol.  Not to say that his words are not an accurate portrayal.

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Yes, I saw immediately via Smith’s slide presentation on Thursday evening, February 15, 2018 in the lecture hall adjacent to the gallery in Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University how the work relates to life from birth to death and how that relationship is reproduced in a type of modern allegory.  It’s just that the description gives the impression that the artist set out to make particular meaning in her work, that there was clear and deliberate intent to be a crusader of issues or whatever.  And so, this presentation was like a breath of fresh air to me because it wasn’t what I expected at all.

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There were around (or over) three hundred people in attendance, many of whom students searching for a road map to art success, a short-cut maybe despite their unique circumstances.  Penny Santy, Laurel Morton and I had a different experience.

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She said, “I don’t know” a lot.  My friends and I responded to the realness of her being. Kind of reminded me of the Star Trek TNG movie where they time-travelled to meet the guy who invented warp drive.  How they had studied him in school and expected him to be a type of god only to find him to have the same sort of trials and tribulations as any one of us.

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Smith sat in a corner until she was introduced then raced up and got caught up in the microphone’s battery, which messed up her hair and caused her to flop into position and, while struggling with the technology, to utter, “I’m totally discombobulated.”

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You can hear my laugh in a large group situation.  I really should get a job sitting in the audience during the taping of TV sit-coms.  It was this unexpected sort of absentminded normalcy that I fell in love with.  Because Kiki Smith was not there to teach us to be like her or offer advice on the inner workings of the international art world or art super-stardom.

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She was here to share her art.  It was her focus on the specific and unique problem solving issues related to art material and rudimentary technique that propelled her journey, which if plotted probably resembles a scribble rather than a connect-the-dot drawing.

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Some people think or expect that you should make the same kinds of art forever because it creates a convenient narrative…I want my work to embody my inherent contradictions.

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Art, she said, is not meant to be permanent and neither are we.  It is simply a thing we can do to make our marks.  It passes the time.  You can sell it or give it away to friends. This despite also indicating that 90% of her art is self-owned and in storage, which most of us can relate to, lol.  She acknowledged that she was priveleged; she mentioned her father several times as well-known sculptor Tony Smith.  She said she was a college drop-out who had an inkling to become a baker and chef but never really learned to cook.  So she began to experiment with cheap or rather, non-archival art materials to sort of replicate the braid strands in challah bread and from that her artwork evolved through the evolution of several decades to sculpture, jewelry making, tapestry and stained glass via printmaking.

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My father was a baker and chef so I was amused by this.  The internet is littered with people who chastise her, thinking her success is solely attributed to her father’s connections and not to her talent, creativity and attitude.  Had she and I been flipped at birth, I can safely say that her self-proclaimed lack of culinary skills would not be in jeopardy.  Parents raise you – they do not do the work for you.  Everyone knows that.  You and you alone create your life.

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Her journey has taken the New Jersey native around the globe – to Germany to paint on glass, Iceland where the tapestries take years to manufacture and, as mentioned, to Venice, Italy several times for the Biennales.  She has even worked on and off as an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia!  It was a sort of Alice in Wonderland type story where help became available when needed.  Experts in their fields there to assist in creating the vision so that she could maintain the integrity of her mark-making, revisit old drawings and turn, turn, turn leaving no stone unturned – flipping everything on its axis until an idea had/has been fully explored.

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It was this part that I just loved.  Naturally, the point to me is meaning.  Not meaning in her work, more like, the meaning of my own life.  I saw the seemingly disparate dreams I have come together.  I saw my own path and how I got to where I am.  I am a dreamer first and foremost.  That is abundantly clear to me.

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A writer, an artist, fashion designer, teacher, friend.  And within these categories, sub-categories (in the case of my art, I am across the board with watercolor, collage, encaustic and all that).  But I do see how it is all related and that is a beautiful thing.

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I am so grateful I had the chance to meet Kiki Smith and selfie with her too, of course!  It truly is all about our personal journeys.  We are all exploring the body, the muse and the spirit in an experimental way.  Smith relayed the bit about how her mother’s passing, as well as the death of a beloved cat affected her work while I have sort of been hibernating all winter, I guess you could say, dealing with my own thoughts of mortality.

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Many of you know that I have been absent from work.  I have another month of healing from a medical thingy and that includes slowly getting back to exercising in a couple of weeks and venturing outside my little corner of the universe.  Before you get all freaky with the I’m sorry-ies, I am totally fine.  Trying to be private and like, kind of forgetting that people have noticed that I have been out of the public eye.  I mean, I put myself here so there it is.

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I am discombobulated in my own way, but I decided that instead of hiding from the world entirely or walking around with a dumb old grimace on my face, I will choose to smile.  Smith said sometimes she is thinking about some weird murder movie while making art.  She doesn’t want people knowing what is going on inside her brain.  I tend to agree with the limits of what should and should not be revealed.  People are going to believe what they want to believe and say things about you and/or about your art and it really is not anything you can control.  But you can/I can control my own experience and I choose happiness.

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So grateful to her – an amazing artist – for coming to our neck of the woods to be herself in such an inspirational way.  We are all here together, in the land of the living, and that is a precious thing.  I appreciate the love I know I feel from friends, family, students and readers of this web-site.  All of you have shaped my world and I appreciate you all very much. ❤

Kiki Smith and Paper:  The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit was curated by Wendy Weitman and is here courtesy of Oklahoma State University Museum of Art until March 9, 2018.  Visit www.suart.syr.edu for more information about the SU Art Galleries including hours of operation.

 

Let Me See Your Etchings

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In full-on back to school mode, Syracuse University flung open its doors to an art gallery reception last night.  Meant to Be Shared is but a smidgen of the vast group of etchings from the collection of a man named Arthur Ross.

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Etchings are drawings done on copper plates that are inked and burnished to paper.  Many of these pieces were originally made for books hence the creases in the pages.

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The magnificence of these etchings lies in the tiny details.  The line quality is just superb in a way that I cannot even begin to imagine the time and dedication they took to make.  And of course, the fact that they were created by the likes of Rembrandt, Goya, Pissarro, Delacroix, Manet, Matisse…it’s just mind-blowing.  All the big guns.

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I didn’t know everyone of them knew how to use this medium.  It’s cray-cray amazing.  This is a traveling exhibit on its final stop.  It was at Yale University and at a college in Gainesville, Florida.  You can find it here in Syracuse, New York at the SU Art Gallery in the Shaffer Art Building until November 19, 2017.

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There are scheduled gallery tours and lectures coming up.  The purpose of the title of this show is one of education.  Meant to be Shared – to allow new viewers to experience the work and to teach them the importance of the collection while sharing its sublime beauty.

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If any art teachers out there would like to schedule a field trip to visit the gallery contact them at www.suart.edu.

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Visit the website for gallery hours and information on upcoming shows too.  OMG, Kiki Smith is coming up next!  Can life get any better?  Yessss!!!!!

Come This Way

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)!

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BCBGMaxAzria romper, belt and clutch, BCBGeneration booties

Maybe next year I will go a step further and enter my artwork…. (???)

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Gallery Hours: The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 PM to the general public.

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Allentown

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Left Hand Path is the title of the latest art exhibition hanging on the walls of Apostrophe’s  Art Gallery, 1100 Oak Street in Syracuse, New York.  Glendon Allen has curated an exhibition that includes ten artists –
Charles Buechner
Ray Madden
Star Daniels
Jessica Whitely
Dylan Allen
Risa Fox
Maggie Carlin
Sherry Spann Allen
Katelinn Carrier
Glendon Allen~ Curator

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It is a family affair.  Both Glendon and his brother Dylan are graduates of Syracuse University.  Their mom, Sherry Spann Allen, is a recently retired art teacher, as well as a nationally recognized abstract artist.  Their dad, Peter Allen, is a successful local graphic artist, painter and musician.  Alice, Dylan’s daughter, poses here with her artwork on the wall as well.  (She said it was a giraffe!)

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Left hand path is a term to describe the religious practice of dark magic.  (I Googled it.)  In this case, the artists are aligning with the feeling of being placed in the category of outsider.  Their emotions play a significant role in the production of their artwork.  Discord is at the center of this vibration, although the work here is a combination of action strokes and calm precision.  A sort of beautiful aesthetic meets the doom and gloom of the future kind of thing.

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The above prints were available for immediate sale, the rest can be purchased once the show comes down next week.  Apostrophe’s is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment.

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What’s Right is Left

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Dolce Vita World Bistro is across the street from Syracuse Stage – at 907 E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York.  The restaurant serves international cuisine, hosts musical and theatrical events in collaboration with Syracuse University and promotes local visual artists via monthly art exhibitions on the walls of its dining room.

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Friday night I attended the opening reception for What’s Left, an art show combining the talents of Le Moyne College colleagues Erin Davies and Penny Santy.  The title is derived from a Robin Williams quote –

What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

The show features wood collage pieces by Erin and oil paintings by Penny.

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Meredith Cuddihy on violin provided the musical entertainment.   There was wine and cake, and other yummy fare, as well as friendship, camaraderie, and lots of fun!  It is always very special to support my friends in all of their endeavors and of course, any excuse for a party is a good one, especially now – we are weathering a severe cold spell in Syracuse, New York and no one really wants to hunker down in their respective shelters to wait it out.

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According to their web-site, Dolce Vita is open Monday – Thursday 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Wednesday – Friday 11:00 am – midnight, and Saturday 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm.  They schedule private events on Sundays.  If you are interested in scheduling one, making a reservation or checking out the wonderful art, call (315) 475-4700 for the deets.

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Army of Thieves

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According to the literature for this exhibit of sculptures by Vanessa German, “when assembled together, these power figures resemble an army of women on the march”.  German creates them from a plethora of found objects.  The mannequin parts are plastered and tarred then assembled and dressed via wiring, sewing and gluing the objects in place, adding jewelry and dress that evokes some form of armor.

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They become modern soldiers lined up in effect, like those terra-cotta figurines found at the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang in China.  It is incredibly breathtaking and powerful to witness.  The work is in the Sculpture Court and in the Wampler and Robineau Galleries on the first floor of the Everson Museum of Art (400 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York).

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Tonight was the art reception for this exhibit titled de.structive dis.tillation (a nod to the chemical construction of tar), as well as for the Bradley Walker Tomlin retrospective.  I will be attending an in-service for teachers in March that focuses on the latter.  I titled this post Army of Thieves because the German sculptures stole the show, which is totally ironic in that the upstairs galleries are full of local artists work and that has ALWAYS been my dream for the Everson, lol, and includes my colleagues and former S.U. professors in its mix.  Vanessa German is a product of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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German’s dolls are meant to tell the story of/create a dialogue about the social injustices of the African-American experience.  It’s to do with destructing in order to construct.  Rebuilding a world and giving voice to a type of commitment to peace, joy and love in spite of challenges.  The result is the whimsical and harmonious sound of texture, a cultural heritage-based beauty and personification that has the potential to resonate for everyone in our community.

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It is the flavor of intense joy.  There is so much to see here!  Flea market finds that take your breath away.  Attention to detail with regard to fabric and fibers.  The sculptures are skateboarding and riding tricycles, standing on soap boxes and rejoicing as they stand for one’s tears and for the healing hope of a better future.

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You need to see them!  I really ought to plan a field trip for my Studio in Art students.  We just finished creating sculpture/mobiles of paratroopers using plaster, found objects and humanoid forms, so, this would be right up their alley.

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The exhibit continues through May 7, 2017.  The Everson is planning a day camp for students during the week of Mid-Winter recess (that starts a week from today).  Go to their web-site for more information or call them at (315) 474-6064.  They will also be doing a Saturday workshop for children, and in addition, several events such as family day and docent led tours of the exhibitions. ❤

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Educational Camaraderie

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The gist of the art exhibition currently residing on the walls of the SU Art Gallery at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York is the sense that art matters.  It was a factor in business in the 1930s, as artists worked in tandem with corporations to promote products and lifestyles.  A mutual admiration society of people helping people.

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Thomas Hart Benton is at the core of this show, an artist a bit more well-known than others (with the exception of Grant Wood; he is now a household name to most of my students). They used Benton’s clout to generate sales for all the artists in the stable of a company called Associated American Artists.  Prints were sold to customers to bring art to every wall in American homes with lesser known artists being carried along for the ride of capital gain.  The company closed shop in 2000.

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The conscious acknowledgement of and respect for artists is what I walked away with from this exhibit, a system that worked and should continue to work. I would love to see artists promoted by local businesses in this way – perhaps a group showing of work based on local and regional products that would catapult said products into the national spotlight.  It’s a  mutual win-win.  Artists would maintain their stye and sense of freedom in the creation of the art and still create work that represents a company’s point of view.

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Syracuse University does an outstanding job curating this gallery.  It is remarkable how different it looks from the last show they had and how well more than one hundred thirty objects of art fit into the space.  I like to think I am well-versed in art history but … I learned so much tonight.  A truly educational experience.  I would expect no less from my alma mater!  Loved it!

This show, titled Art For Every Home (Associated American Artists, 1934-2000) came from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.  It will continue through March 19, 2017 with a gallery talk by one of the curators, Elizabeth G. Seaton. Ph.D, curator of the  Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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Sascha Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University, will give a presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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The gallery is located in the Shaffer Art Building on SU campus.  Gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  The gallery stays open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays.  They are closed during university holidays.  Call (315) 443-4097 for more information or email them at suart@syr.edu.

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