Tag Archives: Chittenango

Kindness Prevails

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Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions. Wikipedia

National dayObserved on February 17th, National Random Acts of Kindness Day has grown in popularity each year.



  1. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.


    kind-heartedness, warm-heartedness, tender-heartedness, goodwill, affectionateness, affection, warmth, gentleness, tenderness, concern, care, consideration, considerateness, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, selflessness, altruism, compassion, sympathy, understanding, 
    big-heartedness, benevolence, benignity, friendliness, 
    neighbourliness, hospitality, amiability, courteousness, public-spiritedness,
    generosity, magnanimity, indulgence, patience, tolerance, charitableness,
    • a kind act.
      plural noun: kindnesses
      “it is a kindness I shall never forget”
      kind act
      good deed
      act of kindness
      good turn


      act of assistance



This year’s Doodle for Google competition has now closed.  All entries had to be postmarked yesterday.  These images are among the many I submitted – 8th graders from Chittenango Middle School.  The winner receives $30,000, and $50,000 in technology for their school.


The theme of this year’s contest is “I show kindness by….”



Do we have a winner?






Sullivan Summer Show

Trust (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200
Trust (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200

Every year librarian Karen Trainer at the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY, offers me an art exhibit in the library’s community room for the month of July.  And every year when the time comes, I forget if I had asked her. I called last night and, yes, she was expecting me.  Said I could come in any time to install the show and also said I could have the space through August!

I Said the Wrong Thing (detail), 1997, oil & collage, $200
I Said the Wrong Thing (detail), 1997, oil & collage, $200

I love this small space.  I’ve shown my own work so many times – all sizes – and I’ve shown student work many times as well.  There are only eight of those long hook things that connect to a chair rail in the wall and additional S pegs if you want to display a lot more pieces.

Life (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200
Life (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200

I chose to do an exhibit of eight works from one of my Pompano series.  I created them in ’97-’98.  Eight 18″ x 24″ canvases depicting Pompano Beach, Florida and my subsequent life back in Syracuse, NY after graduate school.

We've Spoken These Words Before, 1997, oil & collage, $200
We’ve Spoken These Words Before, 1997, oil & collage, $200

My work is autobiographical and this time of my life was sort of a see-saw of comedy vs. drama.  It was about change, really, insofar as who I truly was as a person and what I presented to the public.  I wasn’t sure who I was and what I wanted, to tell you the truth.  I would have to say that I had misaligned convictions.

Quiet (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200
Quiet (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200

I was almost fighting the idea of traditional me and trying to be super artsy.  I’ve come to find out that I am somewhere in between.  Or maybe not.  😉

III, 1998, oil & collage, $200
III, 1998, oil & collage, $200

These paintings are like old friends.  Seeing them again makes me reflect on my progress in this crazy world.  It seems like art gallery dealers only want to see an artist’s latest work.  But I am comfortable sharing this retrospective.  I’m not like Madonna who once said she didn’t want to sing any of her old ’80s songs in concert because she was bored with them (I’m paraphrasing).  I saw her in concert (on TV) and I absolutely loved the way she retro-fitted her old songs with new melodies – taking dance tunes and turning them into ballads, for example, going guitar only or remixing old melodies with new and noticing commonalities in the lyrics.  So I guess it turns out that her comment had been a flippant in the moment thing and she found a way to welcome those old songs back into her life, lol.

Fool, (detail) 1998, oil & collage, $200
Fool, (detail) 1998, oil & collage, $200

I welcome you to see my exhibition.  These paintings are all framed in gallery style maple hardwood and are priced at $200 each.  I would love to sell them so they don’t end up back where I stored them in the little closet of my second bedroom.

Fish Out of Water (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200
Fish Out of Water (detail), 1998, oil & collage, $200

Whatever is old can be new again and these oldies look fresh to me again.  I’m glad they will see the light of day for the summer and I hope, if you are in the area, you will stop into this wonderful library right off the main “strip” in Chittenango, NY.  The Sullivan Library is located at 101 Falls Blvd., and is open at 10am most days in the summer.  Show’s up through August 2015 but if you want to buy one (or all) I can always switch it up.  I don’t mind a cash and carry art display.  And more about that coming soon.



Land of Oz

autographed picture of Clarence Swenson
autographed picture of Clarence Swenson

Ozstravagaza returns to the village of Chittenango this weekend, June 5th-7th, 2015, with lots of special guests including Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked and other books set in L. Frank Baum’s fictitious Oz.

Jerry Maren in the 2000 Ozstravaganza parade, Chittenango, NY
Jerry Maren in the 2000 Ozstravaganza parade, Chittenango, NY

For many years, I dressed as Dorothy and walked the parade with the 2nd graders from Lake Street Elementary school in Chittenango, New York.  I wore that costume throughout my thirties and wondered what I would have done as a 50-something had I not moved on to work at the middle school.  (A student suggested going as the witch, lol).

with Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover
with Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover

Our float was a collaboration between all 2nd grade teachers.  My colleague Sandy Kennedy (who retired) and I made art projects for students to carry in the parade, and music teacher Margaret Kelsey taught the students a song with a bit of choreography to clinch one of the many awards the Oz Foundation gave to parade entrants. This year is Lake Street’s last foray into Oz because the district is closing the school – restructuring the Bolivar Road elementary to accommodate students.  It’s really an end of an era because Mrs. Kelsey is retiring as well.  They plan to go out with a bang, so it will definitely be exciting to watch if not simultaneously bittersweet.

with Mr & Mrs Jerry Maren
with Mr & Mrs Jerry Maren

Although I have not participated in the parade in nine years, I am still a part of this wonderful community via my 8th graders , who created the illustrations for the coloring contest.  They will be honored at noon at the center stage on Sunday, June 7th.

with Mr & Mrs Clarence Swenson
with Mr & Mrs Clarence Swenson

The pictures accompanying this post are from 2000, specifically the night I kissed a munchkin on the lips.  He was Clarence Swenson (above) and it was the night of the munchkin dinner.  Clarence and his wife, Jerry Maren and his wife, Ruth Duccini, Karl Slover, and Margaret Pellegrini were all in attendance.  Sadly, many of them have passed away.

Margaret Pellegrini and her granddaughter
Margaret Pellegrini and her granddaughter

I was especially fond of Margaret, as she reminded me of my grandmother who, had she been in the right place at the right time, could have easily been swooped up into the Singer Midget troupe.  You see,  I come from a family of the short – my grandmother was only 4’4″ tall, two inches shorter than Margaret.

My grandmother with one of her award winning crochet bedspreads.
My grandmother with one of her award winning crochet bedspreads.
autographed picture of Margaret Pelligrini
autographed picture of Margaret Pelligrini

Margaret signed this 8″ x 10″ glossy that I keep in an over-sized Pottery Barn frame with a big mat border.  It says “to Karen the art teacher” and “Munchkin love”.  She would see me every year and say,  oh, you’re the art teacher!  I just loved her.

"to Karen the art teacher"
“to Karen the art teacher”

People come to Chittenango  from all over the world to attend this event.  It is the birthplace of the author of the Wizard of Oz books.  For more information, check out the Ozstravaganza website here –   http://www.oz-stravaganza.com/

Christmas in July

I am on summer vacation from my teaching job – full swing.  It’s been a week of staying up late but still getting up early because I have two pets to feed.  They are not interested in having a summer schedule.

The art exhibit at Sullivan Library will continue through this month and possibly next.  I only say that because last year I had student work up in July and there was no one scheduled for August so I was able to keep the work up until school started and that was really nice.  I personally prefer a two-month run at a captive audience style venue – libraries, restaurants, etc. because it gives people enough time to eventually venture over there and see it.  I sometimes exhibit at the East Syracuse Free Library and when I took the last show down, (honestly, I can’t remember when – two years ago?) a preteen approached me and told me that she came to the library nearly every day that summer and she enjoyed the time she was able to spend with my work.  Yeah, that really happened.

I invite four artists a year to exhibit artwork in the library of the school and we have had so many phenomenal local artists in the past four years, among them, two who have passed away – Yolanda Tooley and George Benedict.

Yolanda was someone I met over twenty years ago when we volunteered on the Visual Arts Committee affiliated with the Cultural Resources Council of Onondaga County here in Syracuse.  She was always such a positive force in my life.  She told me that I was very brave to create artwork that has such a personal meaning to me and I think about that any time I feel like I should revise my thought process and make art that caters to some unnamed consumer.  She was a photographer who used colored inks to hand color her images, many of which were done in collage to create her own personal visions of landscapes from her many world travels.  This one is of Venice.

yolanda tooley art

Mr. Benedict was my Studio in Art teacher circa 1976-77.  I could never call him George even as an adult (which probably means I will always be Ms. Tash to some people, I imagine).  He was the very first artist to showcase his landscape oil paintings (see below) at the school library.  He pretty much taught me, in that one year I spent working with him, everything that I know about teaching.  He was always so proud of me, and all of his former students for that matter, and made sure to stay in touch for many, many years.

george benedict art

They both had cancer, which brings tears to my eyes every time I think about them because they loved life, lived it  creatively and fully, and there is just never enough time for good people.  Cancer is evil.

I’m not sure if either of them made significant money selling art.  I know that Yolanda’s family sold much of her work at a retrospective after her death.  It kind of makes me wonder what the hell will happen to my stuff in the aftermath of me.  Will someone sell it, give it away, trash it?  Is it meant to last way past my expiration date?

Do people buy art to appreciate it for what it is – a visual representation of an image or idea?  Or do they buy it because they think it will go up in value once the artist kicks it?  I guess it depends on the buyer.  I was a little troubled by the fact that when I asked my Studio in Art students to tell me what they learned from viewing those art shows this past year, someone said something like – if you want to be an artist you have to take another job because you won’t make a living at it.

I can blame myself for that.  The comment was most likely directed at me as I was the second artist to exhibit, which I do on occasion when an artist cancels on me.  As you can imagine, many people think teachers teach because they can’t be successful in their respective fields, which as you all know, is not true at all.  I think we tend to work harder to pursue our hearts’ desires while still managing to encourage students to pursue theirs.

Selling art is as much about marketing as anything else and what I find difficult about it on a personal level is that although I have a job where I talk a lot (some may even say too much), I really am an introvert. I should have pursued more shows, gallery representation, grant money – stuff like that.  But I just didn’t.  Part of it was not knowing how to parlay one experience into the next, not having a business head on my shoulders, having that pesky burden of occasional self doubt.  You name it, and I will use it as an excuse.

My goal this summer will be to expand the scope of this website and hopefully reach people who are interested in my work.  Not that I plan to leave my job any time soon if money starts falling out of pockets and dropping into my lap, but it would be nice to nip that you-can’t-make-a-living comment in the bud. I don’t travel like Yolanda did and aside from my abstract Pompano paintings, I don’t create landscapes like Mr. B.  The landscape of my life is pretty much art and family.  So in the spirit of my mother’s favorite TV network, QVC, I will leave you with some Christmas in July.  Here is my mom reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to my sister’s best friend’s kids.

Art in Oz

It’s almost time for my annual art exhibition at the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY.  Actually, they said I could install any day now but the show is technically scheduled for the month of July.  It is located at 101 Falls Blvd.  My art will be in their Community Room.  This room is available for parties and club meetings as well as local events.  In November, it acts as a polling place for elections.  The decor is all things Oz, complete with various cookie jars and 1st edition books as well as plywood statues of the main characters.  The last time I was there, Dorothy and company were disguised with mustaches, which I deduced to be their Halloween costumes.

dorothy (1)

The library is the old State Bank of Chittenango.  They converted the bank vault into a cool reading room for children.  You have to go through a Munchkin door to get to it.  It’s just really cute.  I’m assuming that you know Chittenango is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, but if you don’t, well, you’re welcome.

scarecrow (1)

I still haven’t decided what I will exhibit.  Hopefully I’ll get it together soon then post pictures.  No reception or anything but if you want to buy the art, contact me through this website or on my Facebook like page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Tashkovski-Visual-Artist/167509472886

tinman (1)