Tag Archives: social justice

Stone Face

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Art Rage (505 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, New York 13203) has offered up another large-scale portrait show – this time they’re paintings – by Buffalo, New York bred and current Hudson Valley artist Joe Radoccia.

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These are oil paintings with gorgeous technical drawing proficiency and a burnt sienna/sepia color palette that alludes to the past – in regard to both subject matter and mature stoic models.  They are installed using magnets that connect to a metal brace on the wall, which also seems to be an allegory – magnetic personalities who found themselves in a battle for their sexual orientation rights, telling stories that combine hope for tomorrow with a bit of waiting-for-the-shoe-to-drop angst (will it fall/falter/fail?).  One that Art Rage fans find compelling – social (in)justice, in this case, as it relates to the history of gay rights and the personal histories of these larger-than-life characters.

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The show is titled About Face: 50 Years After Stonewall.  It chronicles the events during and following what is known as the Stonewall rebellion, a protest/fight-back by attendees of a Greenwich Village nightclub during a police raid.  It was this single event in 1969 that catapulted the gay pride movement as mainstream history.

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Each painting in this series is accompanied by interviews with the models and these snippets form the narrative link.  It is a fascinating and informative journey.  Personalities sharing their unique stories, which, combined, create a tapestry of unity, spirit, power and grace.

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The art reception was last Saturday, but other events are scheduled during the next month and a half.  Joe Radoccia will do an artist talk on Tueday, June 18, 2019 at 7 pm at the gallery.  In addition, there will be film screenings as well as LGBTQ activist lectures.  See their website for the deets on those activities here.

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The show runs through July 12, 2019.  Art Rage is open Wednesday – Friday 2 – 7 pm and Saturday noon – 4 pm.

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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! ❤

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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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