Tag Archives: Syracuse New York

AM-Jam Tattoo Expo

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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In the Absence of Presence

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The result becomes its own presence, its own entity put into the world without the necessity of the language of its origin.

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It is beautiful to witness these things and know their secrets, though, because I, personally, just love knowing.

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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.

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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.

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***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.

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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.

 

Measuring Up

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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They were and are true working artists, not just people showing up to collect a paycheck.

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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

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Syracuse Antiques Exchange

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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.

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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.

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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).

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The building itself is an antique.  Here are some pictures from yesteryear courtesy of their Instagram account/Facebook page.

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Yoko Experience

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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Rachel Zoe dress, BCBGeneration sandals, Coach bag, Tashkovski bracelets

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Imagine that. <3

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***from www.everson.org

On View August 31 – October 27, 2019

All my work is a form of wishing.
-Yoko Ono

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.

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Art City

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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.

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Barbara Conte-Gaugel sells unique, handmade handbags and wallets.

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John Oneal Heard (johnonealheard@gmail.com) is also a drummer.  His paintings on glass reference music.

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Charlie Sam creates whimsical illustrations on T-shirts.  They are known as having a “both cute and creepy” dichotomy.

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And, of course, Michelle DaRin.  I love her vibe – and feel privileged to be among her tribe. <3

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Tandy

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Store Hours:
M-F 9am-6pm
Sat 10am-5pm    Sun Closed

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Tandy Leather is a hidden gem. <3

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Politics As Art

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Discord is a necessary factor in conscious creation because when you know what you don’t want, you can know what you do want.  So it can be a good thing even while it is causing the upset.  In its acknowledgement, the theory is that change can happen.  And there’s magic in that.

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Art Rage is the gallery in Syracuse, New York that specializes in social injustice and political satire.  It’s not typically my thing.  I am so la-la-la lately, living life in a sort of happiness bubble of gratitude and appreciation, and not giving much attention to the national headlines that seem to keep others in a constant state of pissed-off-ness.  I don’t often agree with the arguments.  But I attended this art reception anyway – I do love when an artist translates their angst into something tangible that transcends its origins and hands the world something beautiful.  And I loved every minute I spent viewing this incredible new work and talking to artist Jim Ridlon.

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Discord & Dissent:  Commentary on Contemporary Politics by Jim Ridlon is the final show this season at Art Rage, 505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse, New York, 13203.  And it is truly genius!

Ridlon was not a fan of the political shenanigans, as witnessed on the morning news during the 2016 presidential campaigns.  What followed was a bit of scribbling – sentences, words that he desired to expand upon via this new series of assemblages.  Each one in this series is equipped with its own statement to guide the viewer to their own conclusions.

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They are visual puns meant to take the sting out, to replace the discord with fun, humor and the strange machinations of this Renaissance man’s mind.  They are outfitted in sports gear to possibly refer to the political arena as a game, as well as referencing his own history – football hero turned Syracuse University professor.  There are clipped feathers found on meditative hikes taken with his son that speak of the illusion of the sanctity of government positions; rusty found objects from various trips to flea markets – hunting the perfect pair of old scissors or wood turnings, ropes/chains to bind the opponent in an intricate power trip.  Well-worn accessories complete these framed boxes of objects, the human element that sets the viewer on this quest to create meaning.

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Jim Ridlon is a true artist in every sense of the word and does justice to this art form by allowing us a glimpse into his vortex.  I asked him if his studio was neatly organized – were all the scissors in a bin, leather bits together, et cetera?  Answer – chaos! Lol, I love him!

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Ridlon sets up his studio space so that he can concoct several pieces at once.  They are on tables laid out in their frames, items amassed in nearby boxes first that speak to his mini manifestos.  He builds, builds up then knocks everything down.  Sometimes it takes over thirty tries to make one good product and once that solution arrives, it is like a game key that solves the puzzle and everything else just falls into place.

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It is music to my ears when I hear an artist speak about their process.  It is poetry.  It is radiant and beautiful, and everything I love about creation.  The work becomes the thing – important, all encompassing and his passion was just so present as he shared it with me.  He told me that this process took months to complete.  He spent days and days working on them and many, many nights dreaming about them.  He was a man consumed by this work.  His eyes sparkled as he spoke of getting just the right element to fit the case then finalizing and gluing it all into place – a culmination that is weirdly spiritual.  Like, it was not about politics anymore.  That was just the spark to the flame.  An idea that took thoughts to these wonderful things.

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Were they for sale?  Yes, but he quipped that he did not expect to sell them, as they have an ugly side to them.  I didn’t agree.  But I guess this is the case with artists of all skill level and experience.  The force that reckons with the making and manipulation of art flickers out once the discord that brought it about dissipates.

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Thank you, Jim Ridlon, for inspiring me as my aesthetics professor in 1981 and continuing to inspire me to desire to grow as an artist.  To want to take a dream and make it real, and laugh in the face of current realities that are undesirable.  Outrage can and does make a difference when one is aligned with their ultimate source.  And then we watch as everything changes for the better.

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Jim Ridlon will give a presentation about his work on June 11, 2018 at 7pm in the gallery.  Visit the website or call (315) 218-5711 for more information including gallery hours.

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Land of the Living

According to the blurb in the SU Art Galleries’ newsletter,

Artist Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, featured at five Venice Biennales, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors is the recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.”

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She is a living legend in the art world, a kind of giant, a dichotomy of sorts because in person she really is quite delicate looking with slender features.  Her hands in particular, which seem a stark contrast to the sort of macabre drawings they produce.  Kiki Smith is my favorite artist’s favorite artist.  I read that somewhere decades ago.  Jasper Johns is famously tight-lipped to disclose the inner workings of his mind.  Smith is similarly private.  The language with which gallery director Domenic Iacono uses to describe Smith’s prolific career’s trajectory reminds me of this thing I read by a dating coach who insists women must keep men off-balance by speaking gibberish, like saying one thing and flipping it on its side to keep them guessing, lol.  Not to say that his words are not an accurate portrayal.

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Yes, I saw immediately via Smith’s slide presentation on Thursday evening, February 15, 2018 in the lecture hall adjacent to the gallery in Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University how the work relates to life from birth to death and how that relationship is reproduced in a type of modern allegory.  It’s just that the description gives the impression that the artist set out to make particular meaning in her work, that there was clear and deliberate intent to be a crusader of issues or whatever.  And so, this presentation was like a breath of fresh air to me because it wasn’t what I expected at all.

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There were around (or over) three hundred people in attendance, many of whom students searching for a road map to art success, a short-cut maybe despite their unique circumstances.  Penny Santy, Laurel Morton and I had a different experience.

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She said, “I don’t know” a lot.  My friends and I responded to the realness of her being. Kind of reminded me of the Star Trek TNG movie where they time-travelled to meet the guy who invented warp drive.  How they had studied him in school and expected him to be a type of god only to find him to have the same sort of trials and tribulations as any one of us.

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Smith sat in a corner until she was introduced then raced up and got caught up in the microphone’s battery, which messed up her hair and caused her to flop into position and, while struggling with the technology, to utter, “I’m totally discombobulated.”

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You can hear my laugh in a large group situation.  I really should get a job sitting in the audience during the taping of TV sit-coms.  It was this unexpected sort of absentminded normalcy that I fell in love with.  Because Kiki Smith was not there to teach us to be like her or offer advice on the inner workings of the international art world or art super-stardom.

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She was here to share her art.  It was her focus on the specific and unique problem solving issues related to art material and rudimentary technique that propelled her journey, which if plotted probably resembles a scribble rather than a connect-the-dot drawing.

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Some people think or expect that you should make the same kinds of art forever because it creates a convenient narrative…I want my work to embody my inherent contradictions.

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Art, she said, is not meant to be permanent and neither are we.  It is simply a thing we can do to make our marks.  It passes the time.  You can sell it or give it away to friends. This despite also indicating that 90% of her art is self-owned and in storage, which most of us can relate to, lol.  She acknowledged that she was priveleged; she mentioned her father several times as well-known sculptor Tony Smith.  She said she was a college drop-out who had an inkling to become a baker and chef but never really learned to cook.  So she began to experiment with cheap or rather, non-archival art materials to sort of replicate the braid strands in challah bread and from that her artwork evolved through the evolution of several decades to sculpture, jewelry making, tapestry and stained glass via printmaking.

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My father was a baker and chef so I was amused by this.  The internet is littered with people who chastise her, thinking her success is solely attributed to her father’s connections and not to her talent, creativity and attitude.  Had she and I been flipped at birth, I can safely say that her self-proclaimed lack of culinary skills would not be in jeopardy.  Parents raise you – they do not do the work for you.  Everyone knows that.  You and you alone create your life.

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Her journey has taken the New Jersey native around the globe – to Germany to paint on glass, Iceland where the tapestries take years to manufacture and, as mentioned, to Venice, Italy several times for the Biennales.  She has even worked on and off as an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia!  It was a sort of Alice in Wonderland type story where help became available when needed.  Experts in their fields there to assist in creating the vision so that she could maintain the integrity of her mark-making, revisit old drawings and turn, turn, turn leaving no stone unturned – flipping everything on its axis until an idea had/has been fully explored.

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It was this part that I just loved.  Naturally, the point to me is meaning.  Not meaning in her work, more like, the meaning of my own life.  I saw the seemingly disparate dreams I have come together.  I saw my own path and how I got to where I am.  I am a dreamer first and foremost.  That is abundantly clear to me.

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A writer, an artist, fashion designer, teacher, friend.  And within these categories, sub-categories (in the case of my art, I am across the board with watercolor, collage, encaustic and all that).  But I do see how it is all related and that is a beautiful thing.

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I am so grateful I had the chance to meet Kiki Smith and selfie with her too, of course!  It truly is all about our personal journeys.  We are all exploring the body, the muse and the spirit in an experimental way.  Smith relayed the bit about how her mother’s passing, as well as the death of a beloved cat affected her work while I have sort of been hibernating all winter, I guess you could say, dealing with my own thoughts of mortality.

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Many of you know that I have been absent from work.  I have another month of healing from a medical thingy and that includes slowly getting back to exercising in a couple of weeks and venturing outside my little corner of the universe.  Before you get all freaky with the I’m sorry-ies, I am totally fine.  Trying to be private and like, kind of forgetting that people have noticed that I have been out of the public eye.  I mean, I put myself here so there it is.

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I am discombobulated in my own way, but I decided that instead of hiding from the world entirely or walking around with a dumb old grimace on my face, I will choose to smile.  Smith said sometimes she is thinking about some weird murder movie while making art.  She doesn’t want people knowing what is going on inside her brain.  I tend to agree with the limits of what should and should not be revealed.  People are going to believe what they want to believe and say things about you and/or about your art and it really is not anything you can control.  But you can/I can control my own experience and I choose happiness.

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So grateful to her – an amazing artist – for coming to our neck of the woods to be herself in such an inspirational way.  We are all here together, in the land of the living, and that is a precious thing.  I appreciate the love I know I feel from friends, family, students and readers of this web-site.  All of you have shaped my world and I appreciate you all very much. <3

Kiki Smith and Paper:  The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit was curated by Wendy Weitman and is here courtesy of Oklahoma State University Museum of Art until March 9, 2018.  Visit www.suart.syr.edu for more information about the SU Art Galleries including hours of operation.