Tag Archives: abstract art

Cruz-ing

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ❤

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Juan Cruz:  A Retrospective concludes on August 4, 2019.  (Up next – Yoko Ono!)

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****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.

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EVERSON MUSEUM OF ART HOURS:

SUNDAY 12-5
MONDAY CLOSED
TUESDAY CLOSED
WEDNESDAY 12-5
THURSDAY 12-8
FRIDAY 12-5
FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH NOON–8:00PM
SATURDAY 10-5

Call (315) 474-6064 for more information.

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Coming Up Rosenquist

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The James Rosenquist exhibition at the SU Gallery on Syracuse University’s campus is nothing short of exquisite.  I went to the opening last night and I was seriously moved to tears.

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For me, this IS art.  I can see his hand, taste his brushstroke, hear his narrative and feel everything I imagine he felt when creating these enormous paintings, breathtaking prints and inventive mixed media collage works.

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I love him.

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I am definitely going to plan a field trip so that I can share this experience with my Studio in Art students.  In addition to the Rosenquist pieces, the university has an eclectic collection of ceramics from many cultures, as well as 15th century paintings and things lurking around the corner that are shockingly unexpected. What a gem of a place.

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The exhibit runs through November 22, 2015.

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According to the gallery literature, this show was “developed in collaboration with Oklahoma State Museum of Art and curated by Sarah C. Bancroft, co-curator of the artist’s 2003 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.”  During her brief speech at this event, Bancroft shared that Rosenquist wanted to do this exhibit because he enjoyed the idea of inspiring students.  It’s been thirty years since I was an undergrad and yet, I felt exactly like the student I was as I stood in front of and breathed in the life of each work of art.  I told her how I felt and she said, “I’m glad you liked it.”

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A symposium is scheduled for October 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Slocum Hall auditorium on SU campus.  Titled The Rosenquist Network, it will “explore (the) role that the printmaking workshop has played in contemporary American art, and in particular in the career of artist James Rosenquist.”

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Road Trip

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Last night Penny Santy and I took a road trip to Rochester, NY to visit the Nan Miller Gallery.

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What a beautiful place!  Nan Miller has an exquisite eye for abstract art.  I loved everything about the place.  Linda Bigness has been in Nan’s stable for years and her work was prominently displayed throughout the gallery.

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Linda’s husband told me the space is a new incarnation, now located at 3000 Monroe Avenue.  A short hop, skip and jump from the New York State thruway.

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There are sculptures and paintings, and in the back room, prints by well-knowns Keith Haring and Jim Dine!  Price points range from $1,000 to upwards of $60,000!

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The opening was very well attended by patrons of the arts (lots of sold stickers!!!), as well as artists.  Nan and her colleague Gail Leess were so friendly and informative.  If you’ve never been, I suggest a road trip.  It’s definitely in order.   You will love it!!! ❤

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For more information – http://www.nanmillergallery.com – (585)292-1430.

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Art as Friendship

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Just picked up my copy of the September 2015 issue of Women of Upstate New York.  So excited to be a part of it!

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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.

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Thank you, Audrey!  Find the article here.

Pop Up

 

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A lot happened last Thursday evening.  The third Thursday of the month has become synonymous with art receptions here in Syracuse, NY.  And of course, there are all sorts of social things going on including some that suddenly popped up.

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Sandwiched in between my art reception at The Syracuse Tech Garden and the vigil, and subsequent wind down at Delphia’s in Chittenango for my dear friend Lynn Kurz (where I met her beautiful family for the first time), was a pop up art show at the Point of Contact Gallery in Syracuse, NY.

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It was a juried show filled with some of the most incredible art by local artists!  My friends Angela Arrey-Wastavino and Davana Robedee showcased their work, as well as several others – some work I’d never seen displayed locally before.  Really brilliant stuff!

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There was a silent auction for a series of 8″ x 8″ pieces made by the exhibitors.  I won this piece by Dana Bonn called Neon! I love it because of the numbers on it – love text/numbers in art anyhow but this is 768.  Seven is just a lucky number and six-eight is my birthday (June 8th) so that is really cool!

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The show is already down, I’m sorry to report.  It was literally there and gone in like two days.  Such a shame, but I am so glad I got a chance to witness it.  Art in Syracuse is nothing to be afraid of – I mean, for those of you non-artists who think the scene is some dark underworld type thing.  It is welcoming.  I feel that part of my job as an artist and art blogger is to introduce you to these events.  While this one may be over, another will surely suddenly pop up again in the future!

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Natur-Tyme Flier

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I just received the business cards I created through moo.com so I decided to take some over to Natur-Tyme, Dewitt, NY where I am showing and selling the Echolalia series through September 2015.  I dropped some off in one of the little cubbies and on my way out, I came across the store’s flier.

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Someone had mentioned it the other day but I hadn’t seen it until now.  A few months ago, Maria Rizzo, Tom Huff and I did a photo shoot at the store.  It was so fun.  I felt like a celebrity.

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I had no idea what to expect and I am very pleasantly surprised.  This is just so amazing.  I’m grateful and thrilled to be in the inaugural exhibit!

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