From War to Warhol

by Carl Mellor - Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
Area galleries filled their walls with a host of strong exhibits

During 2013, local galleries and museums staged exhibitions featuring a wide range of styles and subjects. Indeed, Central New York venues displayed Andy Warhol’s prints, contemporary quilts, Haitian art, and work associated with the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century.

In addition, there were significant developments on an organizational level. Three galleries celebrated important milestones; sadly, one fell by the wayside. Finally, in September, a Syracuse artist received a prestigious award.

In Utica, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute hosted The Prints of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, a traveling show offering an extensive look at Warhol’s work. The institute also presented a large group exhibition of artworks created in Central New York.

The Everson Museum of Art, meanwhile, scored with three exhibits: The Art of Video Games, American Moderns 1910-1960: From O’Keefe to Rockwell and An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts and Gustave Stickley. The latter show not only discussed links between fashion design and the Arts and Crafts movement but also emphasized Syracuse’s position as a stronghold of that movement. Beyond that, the exhibit referenced the museum’s involvement in efforts to restore the Columbus Avenue house where Stickley and his family lived almost a century ago.

The Art of Video Games

The Art of Video Games

At Syracuse University, Light Work Gallery celebrated four decades of exhibitions and other projects with 40 Artists/40 Years, which hung images associated with every year of the gallery’s existence. That was only one thread of Light Work’s 2013 programming. It also displayed Too Hard to Keep, Jason Lazarus’ collection of items sent him by people who no longer wanted to hang on to an object, and Jackie Nickerson’s “Terrain.” Her photos elegantly documented life in rural Africa where people have an intensive relationship with nature.

40 Artists 40 Years Lightwork Exhibit

40 Artists 40 Years Lightwork Exhibit

Clayscapes marked its 10th anniversary with shows like Henry Gernhardt’s Blue Ridge Jazz and Don Seymour’s one-man exhibit. The pottery venue continues to successfully execute a three-part mission: exhibitions in its gallery space, ceramics classes on an ongoing basis and sales of ceramic supplies.

The staff at ArtRage Gallery commemorated its fifth birthday with a full slate of exhibitions. Remnants of a Secret War hung Mike Greenlar’s images of two Laotian communities coping with mines and munitions left over from a war fought 40 years ago. Combat Paper Redux was a group show largely devoted to pieces created by combat veterans. It recalled ArtRage’s very first show, which also featured artists connected to the Combat Paper project.

Military Fatigues Paper Art

Artwork with paper made from military fatigues at ArtRage Gallery.

Auburn’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center again presented large, high-quality exhibits such as Made in New York, a showcase for artists living in our state, and the annual Quilts = Art = Quilts, which integrated a variety of styles and artistic approaches.

First Prize & Juror’s Choice: Kit Vincent, Megantic. (Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center)

The Edgewood Gallery hosted several noteworthy exhibitions. Creative Rapport encompassed Michele Darin’s jewelry, Stephen Brucker’s glassworks and paintings by Wendy Harris and Mary Padgett. Delineation focused on Arlene Abend’s jewelry and Donalee Wesley Perden’s pieces, which often delve into relationships between humans and animals.

Community Folk Art Center was the site for Philippe Dodard’s one-man show, with its array of abstract and figurative paintings. He’s a prominent Haitian artist. A second exhibit, Give and Take: The Currency of Culture, touched on connections between Africans and African Americans.

And SU Art Galleries began a year of shows devoted to international art. Nyumba Ya Sanaa: Works from the Maryknoll Collection featured paintings and sculptures by artists from Tanzania and encouraged students from Henninger High School to view the show, react to the artists’ exploration of community and create their own photos expressing local concerns. This was a successful collaboration between a campus venue and a Syracuse school.

Nyumba Ya Sanaa: Works from the Maryknoll Collection

Nyumba Ya Sanaa: Works from the Maryknoll Collection

In addition to the gallery scene, local artists showed their work at venues such as libraries, churches and restaurants. Sparky Town, a Burnet Avenue restaurant, hosted solo exhibits for Linda Bigness, Wendy Harris and other artists. A retrospective of Sharon Bottle Souva’s quilts, made over a 35-year span, appeared at Petit Branch Library. Arise Child and Family Service again organized a show presenting artworks and poems by people with disabilities living in Central New York. The exhibit, displayed at May Memorial Unitarian Church, included sculptures, mixed-media works, acrylics, and other media.

Carrie Mae Weems, a Syracuse artist who has received national and international recognition, was awarded a “genius grant” fellowship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In the course of her career, she’s used photos, text, fabric and other media. Her artworks investigate class, culture and race, and sometimes include images of herself.

There was sad news, as well. Fiscal troubles forced the Szozda Gallery to close its doors at the end of June. The venue, in business for more than two years, concentrated on exhibits featuring artists from Central New York and on projects assisting arts programs in several city elementary schools. Unfortunately, sales of artworks didn’t keep pace with expenses.

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