Tag Archives: Vanessa German

Collection Legacy

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The four upstairs galleries at the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202) are filled with treasures, some of which I have seen many times over the decades – but not like this.  Elizabeth Dunbar, director and CEO, has a way of pairing paintings and ceramics with a keen eye that makes everything come alive and feel fresh again.

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It is this new perspective that breathes love into the exhibition, A Legacy of Firsts:  The Everson Collects.  It showcases the museums over one hundred year history, presenting the cohesion via an American thread.  The exhibition honors the museum’s legacy and in turn reveres the decisions made by previous curators and directors.  I love this credence to respect.  It feels welcoming.  It feels like family.  It feels like home.  As she says in her message in the winter 2020 Everson Bulletin, [the museum is] “For artists.  For community.  For everyone.”

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This is an historical trek that begins at the top of the spiral staircase with pieces purchased around 1911 when the museum was known as the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts – impressionistic landscapes, portraits and still-lifes displayed in ornate golden frames coupled with the ceramic pieces of the day.  Adelaide Alsop Robineau was a local potter who corresponded with and met the museum’s director at that time, Fernando Carter, as she frequented the facility back then – her intricately carved vessels were the first pieces purchased for what became a premier ceramics collection.

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There are over 11,000 items in the Everson’s collection! As the show progresses into the second chamber, you are jolted by bold colors.  This room is filled with large-scale abstractions and colorful pottery to mix and match.  Lee Krasner’s painting is displayed above her husband’s, an early Jackson Pollack.  I love the similarity in their styles.

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There is a display of transmedia here as well, but the videos don’t translate well in a photograph.

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The next gallery is familiar in that the museum purchased pieces from exhibitions from their recent past.  This (below) is a piece by Vanessa German.

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And I believe that (above) is an Angela Fraleigh 

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The fourth gallery space is heaviest on the ceramic collection.  It is such a bold move to see these pieces sans glass or other protective shielding, but that is what makes them so compelling.  Textural items created to be touched that one must not touch within reach – when I visited the museum as a child, all the ceramics were under glass in the do not touch space, as though they came to the museum to die, lol.  Now they are sooooo alive!

This show is visual candy.  I love the angles of the presentations, the way pieces connect, that flow, rhythm and the sheer beauty of the artwork.  It’s a wonderful journey through yesteryear and beyond.  <3

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A Legacy of Firsts:  The Everson Collects continues through March 22, 2020.

The Everson Museum of Art is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Hours of operation:  Wednesday, Friday and Sunday noon – 5 PM, Thursdays noon – 8 PM and Saturdays 10 AM – 5 PM.  There is a sliding scale admission fee (free for members).  Visit their web-site for the deets.  www.everson.org

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Army of Thieves

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According to the literature for this exhibit of sculptures by Vanessa German, “when assembled together, these power figures resemble an army of women on the march”.  German creates them from a plethora of found objects.  The mannequin parts are plastered and tarred then assembled and dressed via wiring, sewing and gluing the objects in place, adding jewelry and dress that evokes some form of armor.

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They become modern soldiers lined up in effect, like those terra-cotta figurines found at the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang in China.  It is incredibly breathtaking and powerful to witness.  The work is in the Sculpture Court and in the Wampler and Robineau Galleries on the first floor of the Everson Museum of Art (400 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York).

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Tonight was the art reception for this exhibit titled de.structive dis.tillation (a nod to the chemical construction of tar), as well as for the Bradley Walker Tomlin retrospective.  I will be attending an in-service for teachers in March that focuses on the latter.  I titled this post Army of Thieves because the German sculptures stole the show, which is totally ironic in that the upstairs galleries are full of local artists work and that has ALWAYS been my dream for the Everson, lol, and includes my colleagues and former S.U. professors in its mix.  Vanessa German is a product of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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German’s dolls are meant to tell the story of/create a dialogue about the social injustices of the African-American experience.  It’s to do with destructing in order to construct.  Rebuilding a world and giving voice to a type of commitment to peace, joy and love in spite of challenges.  The result is the whimsical and harmonious sound of texture, a cultural heritage-based beauty and personification that has the potential to resonate for everyone in our community.

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It is the flavor of intense joy.  There is so much to see here!  Flea market finds that take your breath away.  Attention to detail with regard to fabric and fibers.  The sculptures are skateboarding and riding tricycles, standing on soap boxes and rejoicing as they stand for one’s tears and for the healing hope of a better future.

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You need to see them!  I really ought to plan a field trip for my Studio in Art students.  We just finished creating sculpture/mobiles of paratroopers using plaster, found objects and humanoid forms, so, this would be right up their alley.

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The exhibit continues through May 7, 2017.  The Everson is planning a day camp for students during the week of Mid-Winter recess (that starts a week from today).  Go to their web-site for more information or call them at (315) 474-6064.  They will also be doing a Saturday workshop for children, and in addition, several events such as family day and docent led tours of the exhibitions. <3

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