She was resolute in her determination to create art on her own terms.
I have known Syracuse artist Arlene Abend for thirty years. We met when I joined the now defunct Visual Arts Committee at the Civic Center. We held juried exhibitions and installed the work of local artists on the walls of the space – a captive audience situation, which lead to several sales. My sister even bought someone’s art from there and I met my first patron who ended up buying several of my paintings over the years.
I left the program after about four years. I wanted to do member exhibitions and everyone felt that was self-serving. Later, they moved the exhibitions to the PBS building (was it? I don’t really remember) but they did start having those member’s shows.
I have always felt the same way about the Everson Museum of Art. They would bring in these out of state artists who’d get recognition from our less established museum subsequently gaining the confidence to go on to illustrious careers. I couldn’t understand why the Everson didn’t cultivate from within. That seemed the perfect opportunity – to big up our talented local artists and catapult us towards successful art careers nationally. It would be a win-win as it would generate interest and revenue for the museum because there would be so many wealthy and amazing artists who would give back. I guess I was never thinking universally, but selfishly (my vortex contains the dream of showcasing my art in all four of the upper galleries – I can 100% fill them), The idea that we are an art community that helps and supports each other – is that too daft?
Well, it’s finally happening. Elizabeth Dunbar has begun this trajectory and we can currently see this manifestation in the form of a feisty little ninety-year-old woman who is currently showing her sculptures in the Robineau Gallery at the Everson Museum of Art.
We create our own realities and Arlene Abend’s road has been one primarily of family and deep-rooted friendships combined with the solitude of her artistry. Every one of us has stated a collective “it’s about time” in reference to this exhibition!
The bumpy amorphous shapes in her metal wall sculptures sort of mirror the curves in her path/emotions in her path – health issues, worry, relationship heart break, disappointment, money struggles, fears…and yet, the tiny humanoid figurines showcase her whimsy and humor, her belief in the human spirit even while the resin pieces indicate a sort of trapped suffering.
This exhibition has always been in Arlene Abend’s vortex – of that I am certain. It’s almost as though the resolution was in lowering the resistance. Lessening the struggle in favor of the resiliency of the human condition. Here she is at the apex of her career, all ragged edges, highs and lows, structures and voids, liquids solidifying inside her mind for all of us to witness – a life lived with an expectation to share it in all its incarnations.
It really does not matter how much time it takes for a dream to come true. That’s the beauty of it.
Arlene Abend – RESOLUTE is on display through April 17, 2022. Visit the www.everson.org for information regarding hours of operation and admission price or call (315) 474-6064.
The Erie Canal Museum (318 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, New York 13202) is host to a ceramics exhibition, one installed in February 2020. The museum is currently closed due to the world-wide health crisis – that makes interacting with the clay vessels (created as site-specific art) nearly impossible.
This is an irony because the idea behind the work envelopes the scope of human life, as it interacts with the forces of nature, the forces of water and the history of the man-made canal. The humans in question are every socio-economic level of local and regional society. All races of people who, in some way, have interacted with, associated with or had some understanding of what the Erie Canal has meant in our history, as well as those who have no idea but in fact, have been, inadvertently, affected by the legendary waterway.
Artist Linda Zhang was the 2017-2018 Boghosian Fellow in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. She came to Syracuse from Europe and knowing no one, she spent time meditating (think deep thought) on designing the curriculum for this relatively new fellowship. She proceeded to think about and create strategies for the design of her position, ideas that would ultimately catapult her educational journey to include making art and teaching electives at the college, which led to philosophical-infused artwork and the idea of making meaning in terms of one’s personal vortex. This path included an interdisciplinary union with Errol Willet, Associate Professor of Art (ceramics) and Biko Mandela Gray, Assistant Professor of American Religion.
Although Zhang is currently a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, The Story of Water pairs the artist with her SU educational cohorts. The clay vessels in this exhibition were slip cast and formatted utilizing water from the canal. There is a transformation – water crafts and the art is manipulated to create a phenomenological transcendence – art as symbolism.
Taking an idea and moving it through time, so that the result is present while encompassing a larger whole – this is incredibly interesting on so many levels. Fortunately for all, nothing is truly impossible. This exhibition can be viewed remotely. Zhang will be offering a lecture on her process via an on-line Zoom meeting. This event takes place on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM. Click on the link above to join the party or check out the same link by way of the event’s Facebook page.
The event is free, however; donations to the museum are welcome. <3
*from the Erie Canal Museum web-site
February 3-April 16, 2020:The Story of Water: The Erie Canal as a Site of Untold Stories
“The Story of Water” is a collaborative project between Linda Zhang, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Ryerson University, and Biko Gray, Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. This exhibit features clay vessels based on 3-D drone scans of Erie Canal structures, transformed by the introduction of Canal water before the firing process. The resulting clay models symbolize the transformative effects, positive and negative, that the Erie Canal had on the lives of those who built it, used it, and lived near it.
Zhang will discuss the artwork, her creative process, and what inspired her and collaborator Biko Gray to develop this exhibit. “The Story of Water” features clay vessels based on 3-D drone scans of Erie Canal structures in Central New York. The artist introduced Canal water to the pieces before the firing process, creating models that symbolize the transformative character of water and the Erie Canal.
The Museum is currently closed to the public to protect visitors, volunteers, and staff from Covid-19. We’re working diligently to serve you by offering programs by alternative means, and greatly appreciate your help. You can make a donation to the Museum through the link in the “Get Tickets” box below,
We look forward to seeing you on April 18 for this thought-provoking talk!
There is a tattoo convention happening now through Sunday, January 26, 2020 at the Ramada on Carrier Circle (6555 Old Collamer Road S., East Syracuse, New York 13057). It is the 34th annual AM-JAM Tattoo Expo 2020.
I get a lot of my information about events through social media, but for this one, I saw the advertisement in the Eagle Bulletin! I decided to check it out since it is a hop, skip and a jump from home – just got back.
I had to park at another hotel – this is a happening! There are vendors selling jewelry, clothing, tattoo ink and even honey in addition to the many tattoo artists represented from all across New York State.
I saw A LOT of people getting tattooed! Clients can book appointments in advance, but walk-ins are certainly welcome. This is an epic phenomenological encounter-style experience: the smell of cigarettes in the air outside the hotel, the incessant buzzing of the needles as they drive ink into human flesh, the visual stimulation of the macabre juxtaposed with cartoon imagery as you weave a path that takes you through several banquet rooms on your quest for all things inked. It’s pretty amazing!
Other events scheduled include tattoo contests and costume contests. They will be open until midnight tonight then back at it tomorrow from noon to 6 PM. Admission is $10. Call (518) 893-2273 for more information.
The last time I went to the Noreen Reale Falcone Library (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, New York 13214), the LeMoyne College campus looked a lot different. They’ve since uprooted a nearby parking lot in favor of more grassy knolls (which are currently snow-covered). I had to ask several people to direct me to it once I found visitor parking across the street. It was, like, in the Hunger Games when they discombobulated the players by topsy-turvy-ing the playing field computer simulation. The building didn’t even look the same to me as I came upon it from a different angle. I mean, where was I?
Eventually, I found my friend Penny and together we chatted with Gina Occhiogrosso, who is currently showing oil paintings and mixed-media fabrications at the Wilson Art Gallery located inside the library.
Occhiogrosso graciously shared information with us regarding her artist inner-voice. Her mother (now retired) was an artist and shoe designer with a penchant for “junking” (as my sister calls it), filling her home with flea market finds in various states of patina-ed wear. Decades of layers that make up a life of surroundings. As the artist pondered this home landscape, she created paper cut-outs from photographs she’d taken then abstracted them via paper collages. Intrigued by the void, the absence of the material, she set upon painting large scale versions of these pieces.
The result becomes its own presence, its own entity put into the world without the necessity of the language of its origin.
It is beautiful to witness these things and know their secrets, though, because I, personally, just love knowing.
There is artwork in this show that spans approximately three years of work. More paper collages are meant to represent the anxiety of environmental disaster, in this case, the tsunami disaster of 2011. Occhiogrosso creates that absence of presence once again, cutting images, rearranging them and turning them into solid-colored shapes that intertwine to create something vaguely familiar but completely void of the emotion that inspired them.
In addition, there are fabric collages that are stitched, painted and inked. Here the work becomes layered, as though there is more to discover, as if she’s hiding a legend inside. I am intrigued by this body of work. Occhiogrosso’s talent lies in the bridge between fear and the journey to a calmer, gentler space via the shapes of the present. She seems to be on a discovery to something more. I stumbled into something wonderfully puzzling and I am very interested to see what happens next.
***from the artist’s web-site
I am a painter whose work is composed not only through the application of wet color on a surface, but through processes of disassembly and realignment, and the incorporation of common, everyday materials like thread and yarn. These activities and elements allow me to explore anxiety, loss, humor and heroic femininity.
The hallowed and often masculinized tradition of painting is subverted in my work through a repeated process of cutting and then sewing painted surfaces together to develop new forms, dynamic connections and illusions of depth. Where these freshly stitched edges join, there is a seam, which has both linear and sculptural qualities. The seam acts as a geometric disrupter of curvy ellipses and other organic forms that are carefully rendered and then carved up with alternating precision and chance. The ghost of those cut edges has its own subtle presence. Where the fabric overlaps in the reverse of the painting, a slightly more opaque path is traced, issuing a new element whose origin is not at first apparent to the viewer.
I am interested in developing a surface that’s full of the suggestive qualities that abstraction can create. The stitched paintings supply this through the deliberate recalibration of shapes and their relationships to one another. In parallel to these, and often in service to them, collage becomes an important method for revealing new, unexpected interpretations of form. The sources of the collaged materials are often photographs of real things and places that hold meaning for me. As in the paintings, that information is disrupted and reinterpreted in compositions that suggest the fleeting nature of forces, figures and time.
Gina Occhiogrosso is an Associate Professor and Foundations Coordinator at The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York. She is represented by several galleries and has been in numerous group shows. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow. This exhibition will remain on view at Wilson Art Gallery during regular library hours through February 21, 2020. For more information call (315) 445-4330.
The Art Galleries at Syracuse University are designed to facilitate education. In other words, it’s a teaching museum. Professors require students to go to there – to critique the art/learn how to judge a work of art. Students journal about experiences for classes, attend the receptions and lectures, and even work there (which has to be the greatest work-study gig).
Last year, former Director Domenic Iocono mentioned it was the reason artists like Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and Kiki Smith wanted to collaborate by sharing their work with our community, enhancing the walls of the spaces with their respective visions.
In this season’s first exhibition, Not a Metric Matters, the university galleries led by new Director and Chief Curator Vanja Malloy, Ph.D. hosts its own – the School of Visual & Performing Arts faculty. It is an opportunity to showcase their talent, yes, and also turn the tables on the critiquing process allowing the professors to show students how it’s really done.
Margie Hughto has been affiliated with the university for many, many years. When I spoke to her last month, she said teaching is still fun and so, she will continue to share her expertise with students for many years to come.
Her ceramic and found object work is exquisite. It is perfection in editing – selecting just the right found object pieces to coordinate with the ceramic pieces. The work alludes to the recent discarded and forgotten in terms of technology.
The thought provoking concepts aside, Hughto’s artwork screams of her strength of character. She finds beauty in every angle, in each piece fused as one. They are signatures of her style while continuing to surprise and delight us, continuing a growth trajectory as an artist and that in itself is the lesson.
Holly Greenberg has isolated grief in this productive series of drawings. These pieces resonated with me – as you know my father recently passed away and his belongings are still in the closets, his car in the driveway at Mom’s house. Using these ordinary objects as memento gives them a lovingly somber power and isolating them in their compositions drives the message home.
It is curious how objects can retain the emotion of the spirit and Greenberg’s proficiency in rendering provides the elevation of their status.
Ann Clarke‘s fiber artwork is marvelously original. Texture is my thing and seeing monumental work on the walls creates a bold statement about time. The fabrics are traditional, but the techniques are fresh and alive. The hooked rug eye is really incredible in-person. I love the idea of taking a method we all used in the past and formulating this new pattern, which seems to denote to me that someone is watching over me, loving me.
Clarke’s statement does imply that she is the watchful eye for her ailing mother and that is a beautiful thing. That the old becomes new again, and time is cyclical.
Other teaching artists in this show –
Yasser Aggour, Cooper Battersby, Emily Vey Duke, Don Carr, Deborah Dohne, Heath Hanlin, Seyeon Lee, Sarah McCoubrey, Su Hyun Nam, Vasilios Papajoannu, James Ransome, Tom Sherman and Chris Wildrick
Their work takes dimension as paintings, drawings, photo-collage, video and installation – and all have something important to say within the context of their visualizations.
There are more exhibits in the space, all curated by different people. DJ Hellerman is the curator of this show. He is the Art and Program Curator at the Everson Museum of Art and collaborates with SU’s Department of Transmedia. I met him while stumbling into a critique of university students’ final exhibitions at Apostrophe’s.
David Prince curated the display of former VPA faculty members. As you know, I am an SU grad (B.F.A. ’85, M.S. ’93). These professors are my people. I absolutely loved Rodger Mack. He was so devoted to building the sculpture department and his bronze sculptures are THE BEST!
Seeing his hands portrayed by Jerome Witkin brought a tear to my eye. There is so much love here, people. Going to Syracuse University was a dream come true for me – I feel incredibly blessed to have been the first person in my family to ever go to a university – and to see the professors being honored is such a gift. They deserve every accolade.
They were and are true working artists, not just people showing up to collect a paycheck.
There’s lots more to see of these exhibits and the vast permanent collections. It will all be on display until November 24, 2019. There will be an art reception on Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 5 – 7 pm. And Holly Greenberg will be giving a presentation in the adjacent Shemin Auditorium on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 6:30 pm.
Syracuse University Art Galleries is located in the Shaffer Art Building on Syracuse University campus. Free parking is available on Sundays and on Thursday evenings in the Q lot – or at least it was when I was there yesterday. Call (315) 443-4097 for more information including hours of operation. <3
I drank a lot of iced coffee yesterday, well after 5:00 pm then I devoured free and salty buttered popcorn in the VIP lounge at the Mary J. Blige concert last night, which caused a totally weird all-night awake fest (thank God for old episodes of Million Dollar Listing on Bravo on-demand). I fell asleep somewhere around 6 am and woke up around noon, thus missing my weekly Sunday trek to the flea market.
Yes, Tuesday’s return to work after eight weeks of summer bliss will be a rude awakening for me. I will need to start getting up at 5:30 am and if I can do that, it will be by some sort of divine miracle.
This afternoon, in order to satisfy my craving for old stuff/junk/treasure, I decided to wander into Syracuse Antiques Exchange (1629 North Salina Street, Syracuse, New York 13208).
The building itself is an antique. Here are some pictures from yesteryear courtesy of their Instagram account/Facebook page.
The place is chock full of antiques. Four floors of vendor vignettes – clothing, jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia, knick-knacks, collectibles even Tiffany stained-glass windows! Very cool! Purchases are made at the desk – on the first floor by the entrance.
Prices are as marked but there is a little bit of wiggle-room for haggling, like maybe 10% off. If the vendor is available via a text message, you are golden.
They are open every day 10:30 am – 5:30 pm, although they are planning to be closed tomorrow due to the Labor Day holiday. Call (315) 471-1841 for more information. <3
In 1971, Syracuse Folklorist Dan Ward met someone (okay, it was a hitchhiker), which led to his first trip to Syracuse, New York to see James Taylor in concert at the War Memorial. Instead of acquiring tickets to that sold-out concert, he ventured across the street and was pulled through the door of the museum. Somehow he randomly became part of an elite group allowed to tour the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, along with the artist and her husband John Lennon.
The whole thing was documented on film and in the media. Dan Ward was a teenager living a serendipitous existence. There was a waterbed on the floor that evening, positioned to offer a unique view of the spiral staircase. He thought it was unusual but gave it a try – his first time on a waterbed and with a bed-bug (a Beatle). There were other interactive ingredients as well, some have been replicated for the retrospective/new exhibition, Yoko Ono: Remembering the Future, which opened last night. Every piece cultivated to reside harmoniously within the walls of I.M. Pei’s modern architecture. This show was meant to create a dialogue between viewer and artist with the viewer creating the closure.
Yes, a stunningly beautiful Ono (according to Ward’s recollection – photographs never did her justice) and Lennon, and Ringo Starr were all there that night, as well as several of their close friends from Manhattan. It was a media circus focused on celebrity in a time when art was misunderstood and maligned.
I wish I could have been there back then, too, wish I could have been that fly on the wall – to bear witness to perceptions of the past while remembering the future….
Imagine a museum filled with objects – hammers, nails, string, ladders, piles of dirt, blue paint. Imagine a world where the viewer participates and the result is a collaboration between artist and you. Artist as conceptualist. You as executioner. You as artist too.
It is what I do as a teacher. Okay, students – here’s the lesson, here are the supplies…. It is always so gratifying and almost strange in a way. Like – do this, and they say okay.
This is the genius of Yoko Ono. It is a presence, a facilitator who loves her audience, who gives them an experience, a happening, a memory. Something to do. Museums are always a DO-NOT-TOUCH place, but here you can add string to the wall, hammer in a nail onto a piece of wood, paint part of a mural, be a part of something bigger than yourself that has no other meaning than what it is. Collective mark making. A chance to interact in a museum in a child-like manner and by that, I mean being totally present. Not thinking about anything else but the art – and not even thinking too hard about the how or the what, or the why.
Because you are a part of the experience and your existence is relevant, necessary and needed. You matter. You are loved. You are welcome. You belong.
For six decades, Yoko Ono has maintained an unwavering belief in art’s ability to transform, uplift, and inspire. Her work, typically ephemeral or participatory, occupies the porous boundaries between artistic disciplines, from music and film to sculpture, poetry, and performance art. Ono’s approach to art making is generous, and since emerging in New York’s downtown art scene in the 1950s, she has privileged collaboration over solitary authorship, inclusivity over isolation, and transience over permanence. These underlying precepts, which simultaneously undermine the capitalist structure of the art market and criticize the institutional model of the museum, also unified a postwar artistic movement known as Fluxus, of which Ono was an important contributor. For Ono, as well as later generations of artists and those currently engaged in social practice, art belongs to everyone, can be created by anyone, and has the potential to change the world.
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo in 1933. A survivor of the trauma inflicted on Japan during World War II, she moved to the United States in 1953 during a period of surging nationalism, consumerism, and anti-Japanese sentiment. During this time, Ono became a central figure within New York’s downtown scene and became close collaborators with artist George Maciunas, the founder of Fluxus. Many avant-garde intellectuals, artists, composers, and writers gathered regularly at Ono’s Chambers Street loft for experimental performances by groundbreaking artists like La Monte Young, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Terry Jennings, Jackson Mac Low, Richard Maxfield, Henry Flynt, Joseph Byrd, Simone Forti, and Robert Morris. Here, Ono realized some of her earliest conceptual works that would greatly influence the trajectory of art, film, and music.
Ineffable, intangible, impermanent, Ono’s art, as a body of work, defies categorization. The term Wakon yosai (“Japanese spirit, Western technology”), the national slogan of modernization in Japan during the Meji era, might best describe Ono’s approach to life and art. Her works, conceptually linked to the form of musical scores, draw on sources as diverse as the history of classical and modern Japanese art and Zen Buddhism to early black-and-white cinema and classical music. Ono’s signature text-based scores date back to the early 1950s. In 1964, she published the scores in Grapefruit, her definitive text. The scores, as Ono explained in 2016, “are a bit like music scores which exist so anyone can play the composition. What I’ve imagined are art scores. Each visitor can take them up so that their own ‘music’ can be heard in my creations.”
Throughout the 1960s, Ono had significant solo exhibitions in the United States, Japan, and in England—including the AG Gallery in New York City and the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. She performed at the 83rd Fluxus Concert: Fluxorchestra at Carnegie Hall, In 1966, Ono performed Cut Piece in Kyoto and Tokyo, exhibited her work at the Judson Church, and participated in the first Destruction In Art Symposium organized by Gustav Metzger in London. Ono met John Lennon when he visited her exhibition Yoko at Indica, at the Indica Gallery in London.
Following her marriage to Lennon in 1968, Ono was catapulted onto the world’s stage of fame and wide public visibility, a position she has brilliantly coopted to further her long-standing interest in the power of the imagination, human rights, and world peace.
Forty-eight years after the Everson hosted This is Not Here, Ono’s first museum retrospective, YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE presents her enduring artistic work devoted to healing human connections and exposing social and political injustices. Spanning more than six decades from germinal early instruction pieces to recent, large-scale architectural installations, YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE traces Ono’s experimental approach to language, art, and participation as a means of contributing to a more accepting and peaceful world.
YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE is curated by DJ Hellerman, the Everson’s Curator of Art & Programs and Jon Hendricks, Ono’s long-time friend and curator in partnership with Yoko Ono, Studio One, and Susie Lim.
The operation of the Everson Museum of Art is made possible with funding from the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, the County of Onondaga administered by CNY Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Richard Mather Fund, the Everson Board of Trustees and Everson Museum of Art Members’ Council.
YOKO ONO: REMEMBERING THE FUTURE is made possible, in part, through support from Bonnie and Gary Grossman, and Sollecito Landscaping Nursery.
I visited with four friends in their tents on Montgomery Street yesterday. They are all participating in the AmeriCU Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival, which continues today from 10 am – 5 pm. The festival occupies and includes four streets around Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse, New York.
Tandy Leather is my new favorite place on Earth. It is only five minutes away from my house by car (6700 Thompson Rd., Syracuse, NY 13211).
I have been there twice in the last two days (I’m working on a leather project that is consuming me – so excited about it!).
I can’t believe the store has been here this whole time and I had no idea. I just love, love, LOVE this place! The smell of leather hits you full-on as you enter. It is intoxicatingly provocative. OMG!
There are all sorts of hides and also smaller pieces in different colors and textures depending on the scope of one’s project.
There are dyes, as well, and tools, and accessories to purchase, like rivets, eyelets and snaps. Also hardware for keychains, wallets, purses and such. The prices are incredibly reasonable too.
Tandy sells various crafting kits – to make wallets, moccasins and purses. Regularly scheduled leathercraft classes are usually free with the purchase of a kit. See the website for more details.