In 1971, Syracuse Folklorist Dan Ward met someone (okay, it was a hitchhiker), which led to his first trip to Syracuse, New York to see James Taylor in concert at the War Memorial. Instead of acquiring tickets to that sold-out concert, he ventured across the street and was pulled through the door of the museum. Somehow he randomly became part of an elite group allowed to tour the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, along with the artist and her husband John Lennon.
The whole thing was documented on film and in the media. Dan Ward was a teenager living a serendipitous existence. There was a waterbed on the floor that evening, positioned to offer a unique view of the spiral staircase. He thought it was unusual but gave it a try – his first time on a waterbed and with a bed-bug (a Beatle). There were other interactive ingredients as well, some have been replicated for the retrospective/new exhibition, Yoko Ono: Remembering the Future, which opened last night. Every piece cultivated to reside harmoniously within the walls of I.M. Pei’s modern architecture. This show was meant to create a dialogue between viewer and artist with the viewer creating the closure.
Yes, a stunningly beautiful Ono (according to Ward’s recollection – photographs never did her justice) and Lennon, and Ringo Starr were all there that night, as well as several of their close friends from Manhattan. It was a media circus focused on celebrity in a time when art was misunderstood and maligned.
I wish I could have been there back then, too, wish I could have been that fly on the wall – to bear witness to perceptions of the past while remembering the future….
Imagine a museum filled with objects – hammers, nails, string, ladders, piles of dirt, blue paint. Imagine a world where the viewer participates and the result is a collaboration between artist and you. Artist as conceptualist. You as executioner. You as artist too.
It is what I do as a teacher. Okay, students – here’s the lesson, here are the supplies…. It is always so gratifying and almost strange in a way. Like – do this, and they say okay.
This is the genius of Yoko Ono. It is a presence, a facilitator who loves her audience, who gives them an experience, a happening, a memory. Something to do. Museums are always a DO-NOT-TOUCH place, but here you can add string to the wall, hammer in a nail onto a piece of wood, paint part of a mural, be a part of something bigger than yourself that has no other meaning than what it is. Collective mark making. A chance to interact in a museum in a child-like manner and by that, I mean being totally present. Not thinking about anything else but the art – and not even thinking too hard about the how or the what, or the why.
Because you are a part of the experience and your existence is relevant, necessary and needed. You matter. You are loved. You are welcome. You belong.
For six decades, Yoko Ono has maintained an unwavering belief in art’s ability to transform, uplift, and inspire. Her work, typically ephemeral or participatory, occupies the porous boundaries between artistic disciplines, from music and film to sculpture, poetry, and performance art. Ono’s approach to art making is generous, and since emerging in New York’s downtown art scene in the 1950s, she has privileged collaboration over solitary authorship, inclusivity over isolation, and transience over permanence. These underlying precepts, which simultaneously undermine the capitalist structure of the art market and criticize the institutional model of the museum, also unified a postwar artistic movement known as Fluxus, of which Ono was an important contributor. For Ono, as well as later generations of artists and those currently engaged in social practice, art belongs to everyone, can be created by anyone, and has the potential to change the world.
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933. A survivor of the trauma inflicted on Japan during World War II, she moved to the United States in 1953 during a period of surging nationalism, consumerism, and anti-Japanese sentiment. During this time, Ono became a central figure within New York’s downtown scene and became close collaborators with artist George Maciunas, the founder of Fluxus. Many avant-garde intellectuals, artists, composers, and writers gathered regularly at Ono’s Chambers Street loft for experimental performances by groundbreaking artists like La Monte Young, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Terry Jennings, Jackson Mac Low, Richard Maxfield, Henry Flynt, Joseph Byrd, Simone Forti, and Robert Morris. Here, Ono realized some of her earliest conceptual works that would greatly influence the trajectory of art, film, and music.
Ineffable, intangible, impermanent, Ono’s art, as a body of work, defies categorization. The term Wakon yosai (“Japanese spirit, Western technology”), the national slogan of modernization in Japan during the Meji era, might best describe Ono’s approach to life and art. Her works, conceptually linked to the form of musical scores, draw on sources as diverse as the history of classical and modern Japanese art and Zen Buddhism to early black-and-white cinema and classical music. Ono’s signature text-based scores date back to the early 1950s. In 1964, she published the scores in Grapefruit, her definitive text. The scores, as Ono explained in 2016, “are a bit like music scores which exist so anyone can play the composition. What I’ve imagined are art scores. Each visitor can take them up so that their own ‘music’ can be heard in my creations.”
Throughout the 1960s, Ono had significant solo exhibitions in the United States, Japan, and in England—including the AG Gallery in New York City and the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. She performed at the 83rd Fluxus Concert: Fluxorchestra at Carnegie Hall, In 1966, Ono performed Cut Piece in Kyoto and Tokyo, exhibited her work at the Judson Church, and participated in the first Destruction In Art Symposium organized by Gustav Metzger in London. Ono met John Lennon when he visited her exhibition Yoko at Indica, at the Indica Gallery in London.
Following her marriage to Lennon in 1968, Ono was catapulted onto the world’s stage of fame and wide public visibility, a position she has brilliantly coopted to further her long-standing interest in the power of the imagination, human rights, and world peace.
Forty-eight years after the Everson hosted This is Not Here, Ono’s first museum retrospective, YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE presents her enduring artistic work devoted to healing human connections and exposing social and political injustices. Spanning more than six decades from germinal early instruction pieces to recent, large-scale architectural installations, YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE traces Ono’s experimental approach to language, art, and participation as a means of contributing to a more accepting and peaceful world.
YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE is curated by DJ Hellerman, the Everson’s Curator of Art & Programs and Jon Hendricks, Ono’s long-time friend and curator in partnership with Yoko Ono, Studio One, and Susie Lim.
The operation of the Everson Museum of Art is made possible with funding from the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, the County of Onondaga administered by CNY Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Richard Mather Fund, the Everson Board of Trustees and Everson Museum of Art Members’ Council.
YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE is made possible, in part, through support from Bonnie and Gary Grossman, and Sollecito Landscaping Nursery.
Tonight was the opening reception for the summer art exhibition at The Syracuse Tech Garden gallery (235 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202). It is titled Cool August Moon. I saw my high school friend and fellow art teacher Audrey Levinson there!
Artist Steve Nyland (another Jamesville-DeWitt alum) is the curator and a participant in the show. He told me that he signed a new contract to continue with these exhibitions for at least another year. They take place in the lobby of this building, which is across the street from the Syracuse Marriott (Hotel Syracuse).
Other local artists contributing to this show –
Laura Audrey Terry Lynn Cameron Richell Castellon Fletcher Crangle Kathy Donovan Ryan Foster Larry Hoyt Lisa Ketcham James P. McCampbell Sally Stormon Rabekah Tanner Mitzie Testani Ray Trudell Kayla Cady Vaughn Ryan Wood
Massachusetts transplant Lisa Ketcham creates these kitschy assemblages and frames. They are sort of a cross between steampunk and macabre via the use of gears, timey-wimey-ies and skeletons.
Terry-Lynn Cameron brought her originals to share. I met her on Sunday at City Market where she was selling prints of these lovely acrylic paintings.
Richell Castellon Ferreira is the real deal – a painter and woodworker by trade. He comes to us from Cuba. His paintings of the Syracuse landscape would make perfect additions to any local collector’s art stash! He paints from photographs and from memory. These originals are only $175.
Ray Trudell focuses on the invisible in his black and white photographs taken of the surrounding area. He “slows time” by defining a glimpse of a moment using sharp contrast in his compositions.
The exhibit will be on display until September 20, 2019. For more information contact Steve Nyland at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase artwork, contact the artists directly. They have left business cards and also have contact information on their respective art tags.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ❤
Juan Cruz: A Retrospective concludes on August 4, 2019. (Up next – Yoko Ono!)
****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.
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! ❤
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
***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
“Eye Studio Arts, LLC is featuring the work of artist Deborah Walsh during the month of April. Walsh is known for her acrylic paintings of reflections on shiny surfaces, most often cars, motorcycles, chrome, and glass. Her work is about how light and color is diffused and reflected on various surfaces creating repetition, variation, pattern and rhythm.
Walsh graduated with a BFA in Painting and MS in Art Education from SU. As a retired Liverpool art teacher, she says her students she taught inspired her for more than 30 years. Her work has been included in Central New York Regional and National juried shows as well as many one-woman and group exhibitions. Private collectors throughout the United States own and commission work.
The Artist Reception, April 12th, will feature an acoustic performance by Caleb Liber, food and beverages and an opportunity to meet the artist.” (from the art exhibitionFacebook page)
I stopped into Eye Studio this evening – once again I missed the art reception by about twenty-four hours and ten minutes. But, yes, I was there. The art studio is a place for ceramics, glassware, and drawing and painting classes for all ages and ability levels. There is a gift shoppe in the front room and two adjacent gallery spaces with the classrooms in the roomy back space.
My encaustic angel show was up at this time last year. It is a wonderful gallery space and Walsh’s work is spectacular. This art is highly collectible! I can see how the car motif resonates with so many people – from color to model and make. It is the kind of thing tailor-made for home décor. Walsh’s prices are quite reasonable for her originals and there are also Giclée prints available that are of incredible quality.
Deb Walsh has been painting shiny, reflective-surfaced items for almost thirty years. She gravitates to vehicles, but is currently also finding that this style works well with silver tea-sets and glassware.
I consider myself a contemporary realist, painting what I see. The way light falls upon objects and defines them, creating pattern, form, and rhythm intrigues me. Since the 1980’s, motorcycles, classic and vintage automobiles, with their expanse of shiny chrome and intense colors, have been a subject I keep returning to. Reflective glassware and paintings of our travels are also favorite subjects. My art continues to evolve and it almost exclusively begins with my own color photograph to collect and record information. Then working freehand, I paint in a fluid, gestural, and open-ended process, not concerned in recreating copies of photographs, but rather in manipulating and altering them, heightening the impressions of color and light, preserving a mood and a quality of light, to create an image that becomes more meaningful to me. Some images are tightly cropped and abstract, allowing the qualities of the forms dominate. My intent to have the viewer stop and take the time to see what they think they know, and be surprised by what they see. The human figure has become more important in my work, providing more of a narrative.
The work will be on display until April 30, 2019.
See the website for more information including hours of operation and pricing (here).