Dolce Vita World Bistro is across the street from Syracuse Stage – at 907 E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York. The restaurant serves international cuisine, hosts musical and theatrical events in collaboration with Syracuse University and promotes local visual artists via monthly art exhibitions on the walls of its dining room.
Friday night I attended the opening reception for What’s Left, an art show combining the talents of Le Moyne College colleagues Erin Davies and Penny Santy. The title is derived from a Robin Williams quote –
What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.
The show features wood collage pieces by Erin and oil paintings by Penny.
Meredith Cuddihy on violin provided the musical entertainment. There was wine and cake, and other yummy fare, as well as friendship, camaraderie, and lots of fun! It is always very special to support my friends in all of their endeavors and of course, any excuse for a party is a good one, especially now – we are weathering a severe cold spell in Syracuse, New York and no one really wants to hunker down in their respective shelters to wait it out.
According to their web-site, Dolce Vita is open Monday – Thursday 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Wednesday – Friday 11:00 am – midnight, and Saturday 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm. They schedule private events on Sundays. If you are interested in scheduling one, making a reservation or checking out the wonderful art, call (315) 475-4700 for the deets.
While searching for the pictures for my last blog post, sifting through pages and pages of photo albums, I came across these gems.
In 1999, I had an art exhibition at Roasters, a coffee shoppe that used to be next to where the Fayetteville, New York YMCA is now. It was owned by artist Ilene Layow and her husband. One wall was devoted to a mural and the other available for monthly art shows by local artists.
I used to make postcards for my events and had a 200+ mailing list to insure that I would get a 10% return – meaning about twenty people might come to the opening. This party happened on a Sunday afternoon in December of that year so I was happy to have welcomed enough people to fill the whole place.
I created only eight pieces in this series, called Black & White. For those of you saying to yourself, why not twelve?, I think when I went to purchase a dozen canvases, the store didn’t have enough in stock – something like that.
I prepped the canvases as I always do – canvas collaged to canvas, the addition of some drink coasters for texture. Then I created compositions by using a ruler to break up the space including the use of a border, using the width of the ruler to establish it. I painted with oils and added collage bits at the end. My work was beginning to be more three-dimensional. I am devoted to Jasper Johns, but I’d been to the Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at the Guggenheim in NYC in 1997, and I really fell in love with him and his combines. That may explain why I played with elements at the edges of the canvases for the first time.
I also had applied and won a grant from Rauschenberg’s foundation, Changes, Inc. That $1,000 came in the nick of time when I needed it most, so he will always hold a special place in my heart and my art!
I used to write articles for the Bridgeport-Chittenango Times, a now defunct free weekly paper. At the time, I was the only person besides the school superintendent allowed to share school news in a public forum. I wrote about art lessons and community events such as Ozstravaganza and other neat things happening in the village (the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and dozens of other children’s books).
This may have contributed to my receiving such a super-sized article (posted above) about my exhibition, which may have assisted in sales. Maybe not. I sold five of the eight pieces – two to one patron and three to another. My artwork seems to be purchased in multiples a lot, which is why I tend to prefer one woman exhibitions over group shows.
Of course, this (above) is probably my favorite picture from this flashback – the late, great, BEAUTIFUL artist Yolanda Tooley. She was such an inspiration to me, as I’ve mentioned before. She always encouraged me to be fearless with my work and used the word brave – you’re very brave – the idea that exposing your emotions can leave you very vulnerable. You can easily fall victim to criticism, but revealing oneself in this way is really the only way an artist can share their work with the world.
I’ve had a number of people compliment my honesty in regard to writing these blog posts, something that, if you read earlier posts, I wasn’t actually doing. I started writing like a child learning to swim. Toe in first then comfort, and then diving into the deep end on a spring board with a bit more spring than she thought.
This series was titled Black & White because I was living on limited funds due to my obsession with fashion (mainly, as well as other actual wasteful spending), so I had planned to only use black and white paint, like Picasso during his blue or rose periods. Each painting has text with either black or white written in different languages – four of each.
At least that anchored the theme, because I just couldn’t do it. I can’t see the world in black and white nor shades of gray. It’s complex, rich with color, limitless and…okay I’ll stop before I go off the deep end. Oh, forget it – I’m already there.
I’ve been thinking about this paint landscapes thing, which led me to bring my camera on my last “walk about”. Here are some pictures I took at Green Lakes. It is a New York State park not far from my home. I’m there nearly every day because I <3 it there. There are two lakes: Green Lake and Round Lake. They are meromictic, which means the water on top doesn’t mix with the water on the bottom or something. Formed by glaciers and seemingly mysterious. Very, very deep. I’ve heard that Round Lake is bottomless or maybe just so super deep that it can’t be measured easily. Something like that.
It takes about an hour to walk around both lakes, about 3 1/2 miles of time to think, meditate, clear your head, enjoy nature, etc. The other day as I walked this little kid stopped me and asked me if there were coyotes in the woods, and I said probably. That was mean. I don’t know why I scared that kid like that. I’ve never seen a coyote. Doesn’t it just look like a dog? How scary can it be to humans? I don’t know. I’ve seen other critters – turtles, snakes, owls, deer, fox, groundhogs, and lots of squirrels and chipmunks….
It’s really beautiful there. The water is more turquoise than green I think, and it is probably my favorite color even though I don’t particularly use it in my paintings, in home decor or wear it in a garment. I don’t think pictures do the place justice to tell you the truth, but at the same time, I can’t see myself ever doing a literal translation of these photographs and the fifteen or twenty more I took that day. Maybe as an art project for school, but I think that it would be better if students used their own compositions and probably more amazing if there was a way to do a plein-air field trip.
But that is just a fantasy because when you teach eighteen or more students at once, things take way longer than you think they would if you were doing it yourself. For example, it takes me about 20 minutes to capture someone’s essence in a portrait drawing – pencil only or crayons only, which is fun to do at parties until it gets too weird and you end up feeling like a hired clown. It takes middle school students about three weeks to do the same work. You kind of learn how to organize your class lessons after a while of teaching, learn how much they can accomplish in a given period of time – just saying if there are any Art Ed students reading this.
I went to high school with Syracuse artist Michael Cody. He is known for his Green Lakes paintings, which he has done in both oil and acrylics. He showed them in the library art gallery at my school and did a talk that illustrated the fact that George Benedict was a great art teacher, because a lot of what he talked about regarding composition and mixing paint was information I have taught to my students that came from the horse’s mouth (Mr. B.), and so he really kind of reinforced what I had been teaching. Of course, that does not always happen with other artists who have spoken to my students. Sometimes there is a giant difference of opinion regarding the vernacular of art.
I have this thing about figure and ground vs. negative and positive space. I only use negative and positive to describe form in a work of sculpture (the negative space is the void) and refer to figure and ground when discussing two-dimensional works. A lot of art education has to do with how you were taught, as though all of the college stuff goes out the window for some reason when you teach. This isn’t just me talking, I read it in a bunch of research papers when I took a graduate course two years ago and again when I worked on my papers for National Board Certification this past year. I feel lucky I had great art teachers when I was growing up, but then again, someone else in the art world would be more than willing to dispute my knowledge and share their knowledge/expertise/opinions when given a platform.
So here are some paintings by Michael Cody.
It would have been so cool if I had photos of the exact same locations – like in a perfect world I would be the super blogger of the universe, but, oh well. I think you can see that it is the same place only so much better in Michael’s work. Aren’t they so good?
I don’t know if he is represented in a gallery. I will have to let him know I shared these here and he can give out the details of how you can contact him. He is the real deal.
As for me? My abstract landscapes are still hanging in the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY. They will be there until the end of August. I was lucky that their August person cancelled because as I told you before, I just think one month shows seem too short. So there are a couple more weeks if you want to see them.
I’ve booked the next person for the school library show and it is Karen Kozicki. She’s a photographer. I’m so excited to work with her. Booked the show a year ago! We are meeting at the end of August to install. There’s still plenty of summer left before then and plenty of days to enjoy the lake.