Tag Archives: Syracuse New York

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. ❤

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.

 

Let Me See Your Etchings

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In full-on back to school mode, Syracuse University flung open its doors to an art gallery reception last night.  Meant to Be Shared is but a smidgen of the vast group of etchings from the collection of a man named Arthur Ross.

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Etchings are drawings done on copper plates that are inked and burnished to paper.  Many of these pieces were originally made for books hence the creases in the pages.

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The magnificence of these etchings lies in the tiny details.  The line quality is just superb in a way that I cannot even begin to imagine the time and dedication they took to make.  And of course, the fact that they were created by the likes of Rembrandt, Goya, Pissarro, Delacroix, Manet, Matisse…it’s just mind-blowing.  All the big guns.

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I didn’t know everyone of them knew how to use this medium.  It’s cray-cray amazing.  This is a traveling exhibit on its final stop.  It was at Yale University and at a college in Gainesville, Florida.  You can find it here in Syracuse, New York at the SU Art Gallery in the Shaffer Art Building until November 19, 2017.

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There are scheduled gallery tours and lectures coming up.  The purpose of the title of this show is one of education.  Meant to be Shared – to allow new viewers to experience the work and to teach them the importance of the collection while sharing its sublime beauty.

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If any art teachers out there would like to schedule a field trip to visit the gallery contact them at www.suart.edu.

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Visit the website for gallery hours and information on upcoming shows too.  OMG, Kiki Smith is coming up next!  Can life get any better?  Yessss!!!!!

Parking

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There are things I have always liked doing and still do – swinging on swings at a playground, lol…playing jacks and Chinese jumprope, blowing bubbles with a ninety-nine cent bubble wand.  They never get old.  The best things in life from childhood – because when you were little you were free to just have fun and dream.

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My summer has been a lot of that.  A world filled with possibilities and joy.  I discovered a new park today.  It is on the west side of Syracuse, New York past the Delavan Center on W. Fayette Street, called Lipe Art Park.

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I love that there are people in this city committed to improving abandoned areas, in this case a former railroad yard.  Sculptures flourish beside positive message murals and flower garden vignettes, like set decoration for a movie with a backsplash of real-live moving trains.  It has this surreal flavor of being elsewhere.  Unexpected urban beauty.

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I’ve driven past it loads of times and never noticed it until a Facebook post inviting me to visit unveiled it to me, which is just so amazing.  I found a playful atmosphere there – a happening – Blinded by the Lipe! with music, food and new interactive art.

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The best things in life are free.

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Come This Way

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Point of Contact gallery is located in The Warehouse building, 350 W. Fayette Street (near the intersection with West Street) in Syracuse, New York.  It is an annex of Syracuse University located in the Armory Square area of town.  Its mission is to provide an arts dialogue with the community focusing on Latin American culture.

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In the summer, however, the gallery opens its doors to a juried exhibition, welcoming all local artists to participate.  Currently, Sum Art 2017 is up until mid-August.  The art reception was last night.

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For some reason, every time I enter this gallery, it starts out feeling like Dr. Who’s Tardis – bigger on the inside.  Last night, as I winded my way around the exhibit taking quick snapshots here and there around the many patrons who attended finding myself in the second room and nearly impaling myself on a tall wooden sculpture, I realized that idea is an illusion.

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It isn’t so big and yet, this show really packs a punch.  So much to delight in – to see.  Large scale works and tiny collage pieces.  Realism in both painting and ceramics juxtaposed with pricey abstracts.  There was something for every individual aesthetic.

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Last year I bailed on this show, lol.  I made up for it last night, even getting an Instagram fashion post out of the dealio – thanks to contributing artist Penny Santy (photo cred)!

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BCBGMaxAzria romper, belt and clutch, BCBGeneration booties

Maybe next year I will go a step further and enter my artwork…. (???)

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Gallery Hours: The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 PM to the general public.

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What’s Right is Left

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Constructing Angela Fraleigh

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So, this happened. ^^^^  Do you see the resemblance or is this just another one of my crazy thoughts – that I resemble this woman in the above painting?  (Am I really a time-traveller or what?)  It is the work of Angela Fraleigh, part of her exhibition in two galleries at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.

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The show is titled Between Tongue and Teeth and, as the literature states, “co-opts the techniques, media, and styles of the European Old Masters to create monumental paintings of female figures that explore social constructs of gender, power and identity.”

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These paintings are inspired by artwork from the Everson’s collections, as well as by other historical figures in the Arts & Crafts movement and from Central New York history!

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It was such a pleasure to meet the artist (here I am in the above picture with Angela and sculptor Arlene Abend!)  She is such an amazing talent.

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She uses gold and silver leaf, and resin to create abstractions.  The result are these divine modern takes on old world beauty.

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Angela works in both Allentown, Pennsylvania and New York City.  It is a wonderful thing to engage with a contemporary artist, find out how her mind operates and what inspires her.  If you wish to do the same, she will be accessible via a gallery walk at the museum on October 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm.

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Angela Fraleigh:  Between Tongue and Teeth continues through December 31, 2016.  You can visit the museum Wednesday-Sunday noon to 5:00 pm with longer hours (until 8 pm) on Thursdays.

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