Tag Archives: art reception

Rage of Love

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The artwork presented by storyteller artist and quilter Vanessa Johnson is an extension of her being.  The outstretched arms of this humanoid fabric art are inviting, welcoming and loving, connecting the women they represent, the artist and the viewer in a heart-warming embrace.  She is honoring women as she visually interprets their struggle while contemplating her own life journey as an African American with roots in Ghana.

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Vanessa begins with the bodies – sewing cloth to cloth, much of it found in West Africa.  This becomes her canvas and from it sprouts limbs, heads and the detailed decoration of meaning that produces emotionally-charged and animated floor-to-ceiling quilts.

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Last night was the opening reception for Unwrapping Vanessa at ArtRage, 505 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, New York.  The art exhibition continues through March 25, 2017. ArtRage is a gallery that focuses on social issues.  They hold several exhibitions a season and coordinate them with other events – lecture/discussions, musical performances and poetry readings, film screenings and theatrical plays.  There is a pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 5, 2017 beginning at 9:00 am.  On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Vanessa Johnson will give an artist talk at 7:00 pm.

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Vanessa has been creating art quilts for over twenty years and has exhibited her work all over Central New York.  She displayed work at the Chittenango Middle School library a few years ago!  Since then her work has evolved considerably.

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There is so much raw emotion to be discovered.  Of the love of identity, of the power of friendship and of the joy of knowing a world where so many women of color are respected in their achievements.  She is certainly inspired by these women and by the strength of the community in which she lives.

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The artwork is combined with stories, text in quilted books and woven into the tapestry.  In addition, pouches of soil from her homes here and in Ghana are lovingly added as a type of talisman.  She calls them “gris gris”.  It is this narrative that blurs the lines between artist and artwork, iconography, environment and inspired action.  So much beauty in the richness and flavor of her life! <3

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ArtRage is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday noon – 4:00 pm.  They are available for school tours as well, and are always seeking submissions from artists for future exhibitions.  For more information, contact info@artragegallery.org.  Their website is www.artragegallery.org.

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Event Horizon

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The great thing about having an art exhibition and art reception at a restaurant is you forego the traditional crudities in favor of sampling the cuisine.  And in the case of Maxwell’s, this involves a gourmet spinach salad, brick oven pizza and hot wings.

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Toss in a performance by a band starring a whiz kid on drums and you have one amazing evening with artists and friends!

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Artwork by Kara D. Cook is on display and for sale at Maxwell’s for only one week, but I am certain she will sell everything in that short time.  Like me, she has her BFA and MS from Syracuse University, and she is a local art teacher.  She is also a fan of Jasper Johns and Alice Neel, but her fanaticism does not spill into her canvases.  Her work is original, fresh and captivating.

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The show is titled Bricks & Bones.  Kara preps some of her canvases with paper collage of sheet music or maps then creates landscapes of local haunts, places she sees as she drives to work, places from her childhood in Chittenango, New York…places that have been discarded and left to rot in a way.

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But there is so much beauty to see in these images, I think, like the beauty of everlasting love explored in The Velveteen Rabbit.  Memories of the past that make you say – I remember that place and I will try to not forget that past.  She attacks the canvases with a combination of materials beginning with acrylic then adding charcoal, colored pencil, marker and whatever else works.  I actually thought they were digital photographs when I first walked in.  I was delighted to see all of the nuances of the mixed-media upon further inspection.

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I purchased a print of the Cinema North, the old free-standing movie theatre in Mattydale, New York.  I was trying to remember what movie I went to see there, something with my cousins who lived out that way.  So, yeah, it’s like that – a faded memory that had to be a good one but now it is sort of missing its pieces too.

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According to Wikipedia, In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman’s terms, it is defined as “the point of no return”, i.e., the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible, even for light. An event horizon is most commonly associated with black holes. Light emitted from inside the event horizon can never reach the outside observer. Likewise, any object approaching the horizon from the observer’s side appears to slow down and never quite pass through the horizon,[1] with its image becoming more and more redshifted as time elapses.

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This provocative timey-wimey feeling is what I get from Kara’s work.  You are most definitely pulled in, and the effects are impossible to escape.  They linger, like that reoccurring dream you keep having or like that math problem that seems easy yet you cannot solve.  According to her literature, “[the work] retain[s] memories of the past. Bricks and Bones is meant to appreciate their narrative.”  I am so impressed with the depth to which Kara reveals emotion in her work.

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Oh, and she makes jewelry too!

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Maxwell’s is located at 122 E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York 13202.  Call (315) 299-6633 for information or visit their web-site here.  Kara D. Cook can be located on all the usual social media locations.  You can start by liking her on Facebook here.

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A Giant Among Us

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Italian born artist Domenico Gigante is exhibiting his art in the Chittenango Middle School library until mid April, 2016.  He was an Italian and French teacher and, now retired, he dabbles in still life and landscape painting.

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I met him last year – I attended an exhibition of his work at the Onondaga Public Library in Baldwinsville, NY.  We had scheduled his show for last year but he had to cancel due to his extensive travel schedule.  I am so happy/grateful he was able to reschedule for this year, as I just found out he is moving out of state!

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Yesterday he spoke to some students at an after school art reception.

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He talked about how he was born in Italy and came to this country without knowing English.  As a child, he played soccer and did lots of other things, but he did not start making art until he retired from his teaching job at Henninger High School in Syracuse, New York.

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The children all listened intently to his stories of how each painting came about and at the end, we asked questions pertaining to what he’d said.  Students who knew the answers won free posters!

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I was surprised and delighted by how well those 5th – 8th graders were listening!  It was pretty incredible!

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I have four artists in this gallery space every year.  I think I have two booked for next year already, but I can’t remember right this second.  If you are interested in exhibiting work, please contact me at ktashkovski@chittenangoschools.org.

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The artists do this for free including giving a Tuesday afternoon talk (I make cupcakes!) but there is always the possibility of selling the work.  The library is used for other events, like the occasional board of education meetings and PTA meetings, so lots of people see the artwork.

Here is a link to Domenico Gigante’s art blog.

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