Tag Archives: Wizard of Oz

Land of Oz

autographed picture of Clarence Swenson
autographed picture of Clarence Swenson

Ozstravagaza returns to the village of Chittenango this weekend, June 5th-7th, 2015, with lots of special guests including Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked and other books set in L. Frank Baum’s fictitious Oz.

Jerry Maren in the 2000 Ozstravaganza parade, Chittenango, NY
Jerry Maren in the 2000 Ozstravaganza parade, Chittenango, NY

For many years, I dressed as Dorothy and walked the parade with the 2nd graders from Lake Street Elementary school in Chittenango, New York.  I wore that costume throughout my thirties and wondered what I would have done as a 50-something had I not moved on to work at the middle school.  (A student suggested going as the witch, lol).

with Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover
with Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover

Our float was a collaboration between all 2nd grade teachers.  My colleague Sandy Kennedy (who retired) and I made art projects for students to carry in the parade, and music teacher Margaret Kelsey taught the students a song with a bit of choreography to clinch one of the many awards the Oz Foundation gave to parade entrants. This year is Lake Street’s last foray into Oz because the district is closing the school – restructuring the Bolivar Road elementary to accommodate students.  It’s really an end of an era because Mrs. Kelsey is retiring as well.  They plan to go out with a bang, so it will definitely be exciting to watch if not simultaneously bittersweet.

with Mr & Mrs Jerry Maren
with Mr & Mrs Jerry Maren

Although I have not participated in the parade in nine years, I am still a part of this wonderful community via my 8th graders , who created the illustrations for the coloring contest.  They will be honored at noon at the center stage on Sunday, June 7th.

with Mr & Mrs Clarence Swenson
with Mr & Mrs Clarence Swenson

The pictures accompanying this post are from 2000, specifically the night I kissed a munchkin on the lips.  He was Clarence Swenson (above) and it was the night of the munchkin dinner.  Clarence and his wife, Jerry Maren and his wife, Ruth Duccini, Karl Slover, and Margaret Pellegrini were all in attendance.  Sadly, many of them have passed away.

Margaret Pellegrini and her granddaughter
Margaret Pellegrini and her granddaughter

I was especially fond of Margaret, as she reminded me of my grandmother who, had she been in the right place at the right time, could have easily been swooped up into the Singer Midget troupe.  You see,  I come from a family of the short – my grandmother was only 4’4″ tall, two inches shorter than Margaret.

My grandmother with one of her award winning crochet bedspreads.
My grandmother with one of her award winning crochet bedspreads.
autographed picture of Margaret Pelligrini
autographed picture of Margaret Pelligrini

Margaret signed this 8″ x 10″ glossy that I keep in an over-sized Pottery Barn frame with a big mat border.  It says “to Karen the art teacher” and “Munchkin love”.  She would see me every year and say,  oh, you’re the art teacher!  I just loved her.

"to Karen the art teacher"
“to Karen the art teacher”

People come to Chittenango  from all over the world to attend this event.  It is the birthplace of the author of the Wizard of Oz books.  For more information, check out the Ozstravaganza website here –   http://www.oz-stravaganza.com/


Grape Art Expectations

Now that school is in full swing, I’ve become a blog slacker.  I feel bad about that because I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be a quitter and then, you know how that goes, life happens, and all sorts of junk takes up the space of what was supposed to be art time.


I’m in a full stop pattern with regard to creating new artwork with the exception of art samples of lessons I create for my students.  This is such a weird thing.  Like a music teacher who doesn’t sing or a gym teacher who doesn’t exercise.  Drawing becomes this foreign language that has the magical capacity to come back to me (like riding a bike) when I do a demonstration in class and that is always a little weirdly wizard-like.



It’s not that I no longer believe in myself as an artist.  Last night I finally watched that movie filmed here in Syracuse – Adult World, about a girl who thinks she is going to be the next great poet and I have to say I found myself identifying with John Cusak’s professor character so much.  Yes, it’s great to believe in yourself but not everyone is going to be great on the first try was his mantra even though he had become a well-known poet in his youth.  I’ve been making art for many years but I am certainly no financial role model, no great business woman, and so I mostly give away my artwork, art that truth-be-told was made for myself as another character in that movie stated about his own, and not with the intent that someone else would get it and in the process get me, despite what I may have said in previous blog posts, lol.  So I guess that makes me both the successful and the emerging artist simultaneously.


I’ve had many art shows in the past, peddling my paintings all over the place, wherever opportunity smiled at me.  My watercolors were particularly of interest outside of this area possibly due to their formal principles-led abstract expressionist style.  I sold four to one person visiting Syracuse from NYC several years ago when they were on exhibit at Pastabilities Restaurant here in Armory Square, four or five to a friend from Connecticut, many to my patrons in South Florida, several during a stint with a gallery in Rockville, Maryland and this one in Boston.  For a year about ten years ago or so, I was the house artist for a hair salon (known as the Best of Boston according to Vogue magazine at the time) James Joseph Salon. http://www.jamesjosephsalon.com/


As I reflect on these photographs, I can’t even remember which pieces I’ve sold or given away as gifts and which are still in my possession.  They are all currently wrapped in brown paper and stored away in a hidey-hole.  Such is the way of the world for an artist with a lot of inventory who, for a self-professed organized person, keeps lousy records.


My www.linkedin.com activity has summoned another opportunity though, and many of these pieces will see the light of day and maybe even get a chance to live on the walls of strangers’ homes instead of cluttering up my limited storage space.  I was invited to participate in an event called Grape Expectations, a wine tasting benefit to raise money for Catholic Charities of Oswego, NY.  It’s happening Sunday, September 28th, 2014 from 3-6 pm at the River Vista in Fulton, New York.  Kathy’s Cakes will cater and Canvas Moon’s going to perform.  Tickets are $25.




It will probably blow my mind if someone comes up to me and says, “I read your blog” or something to the effect that acknowledges I am in some way successfully navigating a marketing strategy that will catapult me from rock bottom to someplace else.  But of course, you can only go up once you hit bottom and that is the kind of optimistic course I choose to plot while wearing my Dorothy costume and humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

dorothy costume 001



Art in Oz

It’s almost time for my annual art exhibition at the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY.  Actually, they said I could install any day now but the show is technically scheduled for the month of July.  It is located at 101 Falls Blvd.  My art will be in their Community Room.  This room is available for parties and club meetings as well as local events.  In November, it acts as a polling place for elections.  The decor is all things Oz, complete with various cookie jars and 1st edition books as well as plywood statues of the main characters.  The last time I was there, Dorothy and company were disguised with mustaches, which I deduced to be their Halloween costumes.

dorothy (1)

The library is the old State Bank of Chittenango.  They converted the bank vault into a cool reading room for children.  You have to go through a Munchkin door to get to it.  It’s just really cute.  I’m assuming that you know Chittenango is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, but if you don’t, well, you’re welcome.

scarecrow (1)

I still haven’t decided what I will exhibit.  Hopefully I’ll get it together soon then post pictures.  No reception or anything but if you want to buy the art, contact me through this website or on my Facebook like page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Tashkovski-Visual-Artist/167509472886

tinman (1)