Tag Archives: NY

Green Lakes Stroll



It’s always refreshing to chat with retired art teachers.  Their lives are so full of art – their own art, the business of art, and a treasure trove of excitement and genuine bliss.



Ilene Layow has been retired a couple years now.  She told me that in the last year she has produced more artwork than she ever had!




Her work can be seen at the Manlius Historical Society & Museum, 109 Pleasant St., Manlius, NY, through August 31, 2015.  They are open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm.



Using Green Lakes as her muse, Ilene has created work in ink, watercolor, acrylic and glass.  The glass pieces are particularly sensational.  OMG!





She has a kiln in her studio, Eye Studio at 126 Doll Pkwy in Syracuse, near LeMoyne college.  She’s there virtually every day either creating or teaching classes to other art teachers, friends and children.  There is a summer art camp for kids – $85 a week and the next one starts tomorrow.  For more information on this, her email is iteachart@twcny.rr.com.   Find her website here.




You all know that Green Lakes State Park is my happy place – and as I strolled through her collection, I felt like I knew exactly where each landscape existed on the path around the lakes!




She said she takes loads of photographs then works from them in her studio.  She is really an inspiration.  I absolutely love her passion for her work.  Love her mastery of all media!


Love, love love! <3






Adopt An Echo

Rune 1, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 1, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 7, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 7, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Bet you didn’t think you’d see me here again so soon.  I’m sure my Facebook friends will all end up blocking me because I’m posting so much.

Echo 6, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 6, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 6, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 6, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

But it is summer and I am in full-on art marketing mode!

Echo 1, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 1, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 11, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 11, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The Natur-Tyme show has only been up for a week. No sales yet.  My thought is it is something for customers and the area to need to warm up to.  Art seems to be not in the forefront of the average Syracusan’s mindset these days.

Echo 10, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 10, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Since they are small (18″ x 18″) and they are paintings of cats, and they are ten years old, I decided to go the way of the SPCA and other animal rescue shelters and price them the way they would an older cat who needs adopting.

Echo 9, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 9, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 11, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 11, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

This morning I changed my prices to reflect that.  Each painting is only $75!  A steal by any standards.  It’s dangerous to price paintings so low.  In the eyes of anyone, it may appear that I don’t believe in myself or that I may think my art is not of high quality and therefore not valuable.

Echo 7, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 7, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 8, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 8, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The opposite is true.  You must know that about me by now.  But making a living off my art is a dream, not necessarily the only reason I do it.  It’s really about sharing myself – sharing my hopes and dreams, and all that emotional stuff with an audience.  Artists are formalists and create their own versions of the world with detail but above all else, we are emotional creatures filled with this unquenchable desire to be loved in some way.  Our personalities, our quirks, our talent.  We are pretty  needy people.

Echo 2, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 2, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 4, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 4, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 5, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 5, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

And so, I am trying to compromise.  I want people to enjoy my paintings.  I want them to take them home at a price point that makes them feel like they didn’t overspend – I certainly don’t want anyone to experience cognitive dissonance after purchasing a final sale item.

Rune 12, 18" x 18", oil  & collage, 2005
Rune 12, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Rune 4, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 4, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The Echolalia series is a piece of me.  At its core, it’s really about how the past shaped me into who I am.  I cannot run away from it.  I can only move on from the dark stuff, own up to it and say – wow, you have really come a long way.

Rune 3, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 3, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

You assume these frolicking cats are about happy thoughts and in reality they were created out of despair.  They are all about me looking for ways to find happiness in a time when nothing at all was going my way.  Now things are so different and I see how I found and still find solace in these works.  How now, they represent a lifeline to the future world I’ve found myself in and everything is okay.

Rune 10, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2015
Rune 10, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2015
Rune 2, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 2, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Is that too heavy?  Sorry – for me, as you know, art is about exposing myself.   But in a way that works, like the game board in Concentration.  It’s not spelled out for you but sometimes you can still decipher it.

Rune 9, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 9, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

The goal is to sell all of the Echolalia paintings so that I can start moving this massive inventory of work.  Either that or start looking for a bigger house.  I will put both out into the universe and see what sticks.

Rune 8, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Rune 8, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005
Echo 3, 18" x 18", oil & collage, 2005
Echo 3, 18″ x 18″, oil & collage, 2005

Here is the link to Maria Rizzo’s article about the venue.



The Edgewood Gallery is a teeny little place, about the size of my living room with only two walls of space in which to exhibit art.  But I have to say, gallery owner and framer extraordinaire, Cheryl Chappell really knows how to pack an artistic punch.

I was crazy busy this weekend.  On Friday, I installed my art exhibit at Natur-Tyme, attended my sister’s garage sale, exercised, wrote the blog post about my show and finally got around to going to the artist reception at Edgewood.  It was from 6 – 8 pm and I squeaked in at 8:30.  A handful of people were still there including Hall Groat who creates breathtaking oil paintings.


He is selling tiny square pieces – maybe 6″ x 6″? for $125 but they are worth every penny.  He has such a masterful technique.  They are perfectly worked little canvases.  My favorite one is the little baseball.


Groat visited my school ages ago when I had this Visual Artist series at Bridgeport Elementary.  I would get three or four artists a year to come to the school library and give two presentations – one to all the 4th graders and one to all the 5th graders.  The series had been sponsored by the defunct State Bank of Chittenango.  I asked the bank president for grant money every year to pay the professional artists around $100 for their services.  Groat created a baseball painting as a demonstration that I still have somewhere.  I think I had it framed and it is still at the elementary school.


He didn’t remember me when we spoke at this reception.  No doubt my ego was a bit bruised, lol.  Back then I remember him telling me how he had eeked out a living as an artist by being a go-getter.  He’d created murals at the old Syracuse Savings Bank in downtown Syracuse by telling them he knew how to do it even though he had never done it before – the kind of amazing confidence that many of us spend our whole lives chasing.  Now Groat works alongside his mini-me, Hal Groat II.  They have a mutual website where, among other things, they interview other successful artists via offering them questions to respond to.  He proceeded to demonstrate this on me, which was pretty hilarious.


Jay Hart creates these large-scale “geographic  compositions”.  They are mounted on foam board – not sure how they are attached to the wall.  Very interesting textured topography!  I’m not sure my Samsung Galaxy 6 phone camera do them justice.  They are a bit more colorful in person.


At least I was able to take photographs.  The last time I attended an opening at Edgewood, it was so crowded with so many of my art colleagues that I spent the whole time talking – no pics to show for it and of course, I didn’t write a blog post on that show.  It was nice to be able to see the work from at least a five foot distance and the lucky thing for me was that even after hours, some of the artists were still there.

Vicki Thayer was selling hand-made jewelry.  I was particularly impressed with the keshi pearls.  They looked a lot like Honora pearls but her color combos were more brilliant, I think.  She said that soon no one will be able to get these pearls in these colors (they kind  of look like pieces of Corn Flakes in shape), because they take years to manufacture.  Obviously they are a specific type of oyster  – so when I say manufacture, these oysters are farmed but the process is all natural.


Even with that said, Thayer’s prices are so reasonable – a pair of earrings for around $40 and the ability to compliment them with a matchy-matchy necklace.


Finally, probably my favorite of the group – these impressive wood carved anamorphic wall mounted sculptures by June Szabo.  They reflect the idea of nature.  One of them was supposed to be a delta and two rivers but my dirty mind thought I was looking at Fallopian tubes, like in the 7th grade Health textbook.  I’m a dork.


John Franklin is also exhibiting.  The Edgewood Gallery is located at 216 Tecumseh Road, Syracuse, NY.  Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 9:30 am – 6 pm, Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.  And this show, entitled Beneath the Clouds, continues through August 28th, 2015, so there is lots of time to see it!


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.



Everything is Golden


There’s really nothing I like better than a solo exhibition.  It’s a chance to see an artist’s body of work and learn their point of view. It’s an opportunity to understand the visual and maybe connect with it and the artist in an emotional  way.



Susan Roth is exhibiting abstract work in three of the four main galleries at the Everson Museum of Art.  She works with Golden Artist acrylics and has a personal relationship with the company. She’s suggested products based on her needs, as written in one of the artist statements on the walls of the show.



I think these blurbs help the average Joe non-artist/non-patron understand how important her work is.  That she spent a lifetime experimenting with materials to the point that she designed some as well.  It’s just beyond cool.




There are paintings and sculptures and combinations of these. Unusually shaped canvases that make you want to reach out and touch them.


Are they hard and crumbly like pumice stone or smushy plastic a la Silly Putty?  They really draw you into Roth’s universe and the more you look, the more you want to remain transfixed.  Each piece dedicates itself to the next and you witness a visual life.  Not sure if I would get the same response if I only viewed one of her pieces, but they are just incredible all together in this space.


I was at the member’s art reception on Friday night.  The show, sponsored by Pathfinder Bank is titled Handmade: The Art of Susan Roth, and runs through August 30, 2015.  The Everson Museum of Art is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY.  Go to http://www.everson.org for more information.


On Saturday, I attended an art reception at Wine 105 – Art & Wine Pairing: the Not So Still Lifes.  I was there before for the Diana Godfrey show.  This time Mark Raush is exhibiting his large scale flower still-lifes.


They are also acrylic paintings, filled with gestural lines of vibrant color and texture!  I think Raush’s work is the kind people want in their homes – a statement piece the average Joe can understand.


They are artsy-familiar, if that makes sense.  I wish I could do a trade with him. art for art, but these pieces command thousands.  They are in the $7,000-$8,000 range (they take Visa and Mastercard), while I am currently selling paintings at around $200-ish.


Anne Novado curated the exhibit.  She also coordinates shows for Gallery 4040 (4040 New Court Ave, Syracuse, NY), which has another opening this Friday night.  Mark Raush has more to show us there, as well as Arlene Abend, Katya Bratslavsky, and Walter Melnikow.  Wine 105 is at the corner of Hawley and Green Street (and Catherine Street) in Syracuse.



The Ambiguous Stage

Went to another art reception last night.  It’s called Gallery 4040 – it’s at 4040 New Court Ave. in Syracuse, NY, not far from my house. The people who frequent these art shows remind me of the actors in the movie Shakespeare in Love for some reason.  I guess because they are all friends of a certain age (my age) and all happy, quirky and incredibly interesting.  Each takes their turn in the starring role, in this case Marna Bell.  Her black and white photographs are purposefully  blurry to illustrate what’s missing from her life.  Her memory.  She is such a sweet person and yet she cannot remember chunks of her childhood.

4040 Marna Bell art

I find this fascinating.  I sometimes can’t remember what I am doing once I walk over to my desk at work.  Like a student has asked for an eraser and as I approach the desk I begin talking to another student and I’m all what-am-I-doing-here?  But I can remember my first kiss and other pretty embarrassing things that happened a long time ago, some things I wish I could forget because they play in my mind in a loop, over and over until I wish I could shut them off.

Ultimately, it is very brave to expose oneself, as Marna does with her revelation, and I admire her so much for it.  Her work looks to be film clips taken from movie stills in a way that suggests – yes, I know those people, but wait, what?

gallery 4040 postcard

There are some large paintings of nudes on the next wall of the gallery.  I am really too immature to be in the same room with nudey-nudes, because I am the type of person who will say something completely inappropriate (and after having a small cup of wine, I’m pretty sure I did).  The colors in these paintings by Lacey McKinney are gorgeous and combined with size and compositions that either distort or void out the woman’s face, they make me question who the audience is supposed to be.


I guess I wonder if artists even think about the audience at all.  Do I? I’m not much of a business woman, so no, not really.  I think my paintings are more meant to be displayed in homes versus gallery and museum walls.  But how many people do you know who actually buy artwork for the purpose of enhancing their decor? Whatever number came to your mind, it really should be a lot more!

Why do people buy art?  I had a conversation with someone last night who suggested that the local art scene is being supported by its own.  Artists are trading art or outright buying each other’s art. We value it.  So there’s another question for you – how do we get civilians (non-artists) to value it too?  I’ve tried going the educate them route but for some, this is a hard sell.

So, back to last night -Juan Perdiguero’s chimpanzee drawings were the most fascinating to me.  They are in the back room of the gallery. Very realistic.  Life-sized drawings on photo paper.  Huge in-your-face monkeys.  I can’t even articulate what I want to say in sentences  because these pieces need to be experienced.  You want to reach out and touch them, even as you remember how chimps terrify you. They need to be in museum collections.  I’ve never seen anything like them – the technique, the commitment to the subject matter and overall experience being near them….

It was in this room that I met and chatted with Mary Giel.  Her effervescence really lit up the place.  She’s currently exhibiting in the annual juried show called Made in NY at the Schweinfurth Museum in Auburn, NY, having created a massive amount of tiny crocheted pieces that accumulate into floor and wall installations, which she creates in between rock climbing expeditions among other interesting travels.  The enthusiasm of her spirit is really breathtaking and made me realize that I need to find my way back to the pure spunk of it all.  The fun that is mark making.


So I’ve decided to begin a painting project – but not that kind.  Two hundred and fifty dollars got me enough latex paint and supplies to redo five out of the six rooms in my house.

I feel so DIY right now.  I just spackled up a hole in the kitchen wall and filled the crack in the bathroom wall with caulk as per the paint clerk’s suggestion.  I’m going to start painting tomorrow.  The last time I painted the interior here, there was no furniture or cats, so I’m preparing to have a giant headache over it all.  So much for spring break.

But since the weather has been so craptastic, it seemed like as good a time as any to do it.  Plus once I get an idea in my head, I really can’t let it go until I make it happen – it’s like having a giant monkey on my back.


Texture Goddess

Yesterday was one of those perfect days where I did everything I set out to do.  It was kind of a thinking week and I finally executed decisions from the think tank.

Diana Godfrey

I was thinking about the Academy Awards.  In the past (read: up until yesterday), I scoffed at those who thanked their families for an award they received at work.  It seemed to me that the SHORT speech should reflect the specific aspects of the work and thanking co-workers was the way to go.  But then I had the flu and the subsequent bout with a debilitating sinus infection and the truth is that I could have never gotten through the week without help from Mom and Dad.  Mom for running to the grocery store to get me oranges, bananas, Jello, and meds, and sitting with me without any fear of getting sick herself, and Dad for helping me shovel/snowblow my driveway at least three times so that when I was ready to go out, I actually could fall back into civilization.  No matter what other successes I may have had otherwise, I owe so much of it to them for being there for me always, including supporting me and my decision to be an artist.  I am grateful they decided to get married when they were basically kids and are still going strong after fifty-three years of marriage.  So thank you, Mom and Dad.



I don’t care if you call me a cat lady (at least you think I’m a lady) but I would also like to thank my two little indoor gin-gins for their companionship.  I tend to think they loved having me around this week.  My life was much like theirs.  Eat a little, dream a lot.  Go up and down the stairs and wonder what the hell I was doing up there once I got there, etc.  So thank you, Georges and Pablo.  Georgie is named after Georges Braque and Pablo for Picasso.  I’m kind of hoping they will want to help me make abstract watercolors this summer – I would love to see their polydactyl footsies stomping on Arches paper.

me and gin-gins

They are not my first multi-toed nutters.  I found a picture of Meet-zee and me recently.  He was our first cat.  We got him on Halloween when I was about nine from a house on Erregger Terrace.  I was telling the story to some students the other day and it did seem a little weird, like not something that would happen today unless scripted into an episode of Criminal Minds or something.

me and Meetzee 001

My sister, Kathy, and Anita Suritis and I were invited into the trick-or-treat house, went into the downstairs rec room and saw the orange and white kittens along with their mother in a comfortable cardboard box.  Their eyes had just opened making them about six weeks old, I guess.  We called Mom from the house and she came over in her bathrobe (not uncommon) and we got Meet-zee.  He only lived a year, hence no artwork.  Thought he ran away but only a few years ago Mom and Dad revealed that he was buried in the yard.  He’d been hit by a car over by where Kathy lives now.  Yeah, we used to let him go out at night and he would go hunting at Barry Park.


So, back to yesterday, I re-joined Gold’s Gym, went grocery shopping, came home, gung-hoed on doing pilates, and went to an art show! Thank god for people like curator Anne Novado of Cappuccilli Fine Art, LLC!  She’d posted the event on Facebook, called Fine Art pairing at Wine 105 (105 Green Street, Syracuse, NY), and I had checked that I would be going.  Then the weather got all snowstorm again and I could have easily reverted to my specialty, staying home in jammies with a Duraflame log in the woodstove, but I did it.  I said I would and I did.  I ventured out (and I’m really glad I did)!


I had a great conversation with the eternally youthful sculptor Arlene Abend and saw and chatted with Cheryl Chappell, Marna Bell, Sherry and Peter Allen, Linda Bigness, Anne Novado, and many others.



I really love a captive audience so here it was – an art show at a wine store.  And I really, really love it when it isn’t a group show, when it is a one artist thing showcasing the depth and breath of one person you can truly fall in love with.  That person is Diana Godfrey.

Diana Godfrey (left) with Arlene Abend
Diana Godfrey (left) with Arlene Abend

Now, I’m not an art critic and I find that it isn’t really a job I want to have being that I am a colleague, a fellow artist.  With that said, I am completely head-over-heels for Diana’s work.  She is a texture goddess.  There were straight paintings, and paper collages – paintings on paper then torn and arranged in magnificent compositions on display, all framed by Cheryl Chappell from Edgewood Galleries.


I met Diana for the first time last night and she had such a regal elegance.  I was born in Syracuse, lived two years in Florida – end of story.  I mean family is what brought and kept me here.  But Diana recieved her Master’s in Iowa and came here because her spouse had gotten a job at the university – not sure how long ago.  She spoke to me about the business of art and I loved that she could bridge both worlds – to be that talented and business savvy.  She makes a living selling art and well she should.


I just love her sense of color and the texture in her work and the holy trinity of putting those together with the ease of rhythmic expertise. There is so much to see in her world.  It’s what I’ve always wanted in mine – a sense that once you are drawn in, you never want to look away.  You never want to leave.  Her prices are reasonable so you may want to head down there and pick up a few.  While you’re there you can throw in a few bottles of wine to enjoy while watching the female Superbowl tonight.  You’re welcome.






The Winter Recipe


My work colleague, Sherry Spann Allen, is the lead artist in a group exhibition at the Tech Garden.  It is an office building across from the Hotel Syracuse in downtown Syracuse, New York. This city is all about alternative venues for artwork where a captive audience is forced to make visible what is ordinarily invisible.


Sherry’s work is all about texture, playing with it to the degree that her canvases literally pop off the wall with geometric, amorphic and combination shapes that emit a feeling of the sea.  Gorgeous turquoise encaustic and oil pastel mix with pinks and creams to produce the feeling of being on vacation in the Mediterranean.  I will be surprised if she doesn’t sell every one of those paintings in the next three months.


I know that at least one artist made a sale last night at the reception, which is great news for our talented community.  Steve Nyland curated the show from a list of emerging and already out there localites who’d been queued for a coveted spot at a local Armory Square bistro.  When the place changed hands, the art space was nixed in favor of god-knows-what.  Kind of a blow, but we artists are like cockroaches, emerging from the disappointment and ready to infest the world with our aesthetics.  Beware – we are not going anywhere!


Joan Applebaum was the only other artist I knew who exhibited – landscapes of familiar landmarks that resonate with local audiences because of their emotionally charged nostalgic-inducing vibe.




I took a few pictures of some other work as well, and I couldn’t help but take a few snaps of the food.  They had quite a spread.  In their defense, it was an excellent turn out for a night that started out fine and quickly turned into a blizzardly drive-from-hell-frozen-over drive home.



The show, entitled Winter Recipe, continues through March 27th, 2015.  The Tech Garden is located at 235 Harrison Street and features in addition to Sherry and Joan, the artwork of the following: Holly K. Austin, Theresa Barry, Emily Bender, Willson Cummer, Christophe Ennis, Cat Gibbons, Arianna Lynch, Ashley Marie, Yegor Mikushkin, Kathryn Petrillo, Gail Reynolds, Doreen Simmons, Ray Trudell, and Missy Zawacki,








The Unicorn Festival

Most teachers can relate to this simple fact.  Students always react strangely when they see us outside of school.  It’s either a hyper-freak out – OMG! Ms. Tash, Ms. Tash! or the total reverse; a shy backing away and a chorus of whispers – I think that’s Ms. Tash!  What’s she doing here?

Do they think we are robots that are turned off and put away at the end of the day, like a stack of I-Pads?  I talked to my sister about this and she said, “Look at it from their perspective.  Seeing you outside of school is like seeing a unicorn.”

I am a bit of a unicorn.  Because in this day and age, in a culture of me, me, me social media and with it the belief that we are all the stars of our own reality shows, it seems that everyone wants to be recognized for their individuality.  Their spirit, creativity and the like should make them the black hole of the universe, sucking everyone else inside their vortex.  Everyone wants to appear cray-cray, the risk-taking artist that deserves all that attention.

Maybe I’m the opposite.  The crazy person who just wants to be normal.  Am I crazy?  Sometimes people say I am, but maybe I’m the only sane one in the room and everyone else is crazy.  My last blog post generated a flurry of comments in the group postings on www.linkedin.com.  Mainly camaraderie in despair, which really made me wonder if they understood me at all.  Something made me feel sad last week.  I’ve had my share of ups and downs, wearing my heart on my sleeve and on the walls of my home, as I’ve shared in a previous blog post.  But my emotions don’t swing on a Vincent Van Gogh-caliber pendulum.  I’m still sad about that particular thing but it’s compartmentalized now and I’m, yes, perfectly normal.

Emotion certainly plays a chunk part in the world of art, though, and it’s funny how important it is to many that they are perceived as more emotional than another.  It’s not a competition, you know.  There are all sorts of emotions that come into play when making art.  It doesn’t have to be sadness.  It can be serenity, anger or euphoria….

Whatever it is, it should be nurtured and supported.  I have not been doing this as often as I should.  I get invited to local art openings and events all the time and I just don’t go.  I want to be a better friend.  This Friday  from 6-8 pm, the Edgewood Gallery is holding a reception for an exhibition and sale of artwork by Amy Bartell, Linda Bigness and Todd Conover.  Edgewood is located down the street from my parents’ house – you can see the house from the gallery’s front door if you look east.  It’s on Tecumseh Road in Dewitt, NY, right across from the Nottingham shopping plaza.


On Saturday from 10 am-4 pm, the Delavan Center will open its doors for a holiday event and sale.  The Delavan is a building filled with local artists’ studios, many of them are Facebook and personal friends of mine.  Linda, of course (find the link at the end of this post to the video we made on Columbus Day weekend), and Amy plus Laurel Morton and a slew of others.


This unicorn plans to make a cameo appearance at both events.  I’ll be in black, naturally, but I draw the line at wearing a beret on my horn.  That’s way too cliche, don’t you think?



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.