Tag Archives: Armory Square

Below the Redhouse

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40 Below is a group that is making a difference in the city of Syracuse, NY.  Of course, anyone over forty thinks it’s a stupid name, lol.  I remember when they started the group – I was already not the target audience.  The point was to get the younger generations – were they Generation Xers then?  I can’t remember – to stay here.  To remain in Syracuse following graduation from college.  Most people who grew up here wanted to move anywhere else and I would imagine getting a downstate New Yorker to want to live life in this slower lane is a bit of a tough sell.

And I can’t blame them, as I did it myself for a time, moving to Florida when I was in my twenties.

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So yeah, it was/is a task force established to improve the arts culture and promote Syracuse as a happening cool place to live.  Syracuse, New York is more of a sports-town.  I think the world pretty much knows that via the amount of people we can get to go to the Carrier Dome for a college hoops game in 23 below zero weather (more than 30,000).  It’s definitely an astonishing feat by any stretch of the imagination.  The arts are always just short of emerging and it is funny (read: sad) how most successful Syracuse artists are finding their success elsewhere.

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Our most famous artist is Carrie Mae Weems.  She lives here but rarely shows her work here.  There was that Everson Museum of Art exhibition, but other than that she is strictly a grant recipient and sells in New York City.

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But 40 Below keeps trying and I commend them for it.  I attended their most recent pop-up art exhibition.  Last year’s coincided with Winterfest activities.  This year the one night only event happened on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 from 5 pm – 8 pm at the Redhouse Art Center, 201 S. West Street, Syracuse, NY 13202.

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All local artists were invited to exhibit by dropping off a piece at the Point of Contact gallery across the street.  I did not participate since the time for drop off was the exact time I was buying my new car from the Fox-Honda dealership in Auburn, NY.

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My friend Penny Santy participated, as did my Facebook friends Charlie Sam and Renee Fair.  In attendance were a lot of artsies over forty.  I mean, I didn’t see many or any twenty-somethings.  But it was a decent-sized crowd, and it was a lot of fun!

Not sure if anyone sold anything, but manifesting exhibitions sometimes leads to sales down the line so it’s all good.  You just never know when the next opportunity will present itself.  I know my friend Angela connected with some people about a possible new art venture and  we all enjoyed the carrot sticks and dip, wine and cheese spread.

If you’ve never been to an art reception – there is always free food and wine.

art show at Redhouse

Not sure when the next event will take place.  I am sure 40 Below would welcome your support!  Here are some links to find out more about this organization –

40 Below Facebook page

40 Below Twitter page

40 Below on VolunteerCNY.org

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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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