“It’s a project involving a community of veterans,” says Drew Cameron, one of four coordinators for Combat Paper. “We’ve worked with veterans from various wars: Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam and World War II.”
Cameron notes that the project is
ongoing, with production happening on a continuing basis and with
exhibitions staged at multiple sites. Around the same time as the
Syracuse show, which runs until Nov. 1, Combat Paper will have exhibits running at St. Lawrence University in Raleigh, N.C., and at Chicago’s Loyola University.
He adds that Combat Paper has
tried to provide varied outlets for participants’ creativity. Some
veterans have written on paper and then bound it into a book. Others
have taken part in performances coordinated with exhibits. On Oct. 16,
ArtRage will host an IVAW performance event featuring a documentary
film and Warrior Writers’ readings.
The next two shows will focus on
community groups, starting with a November celebration of the Syracuse
Cultural Workers’ 25th anniversary. SCW publishes the annual Peace
Calendar and Women’s Datebook while also distributing posters, cards
and an array of other items. Then on Jan. 14, the gallery will hang
Lida Suchy’s photos of members of the Syracuse Community Choir, one of
the oldest groups of its kind in the United States. Its extensive
songbook evokes civil rights movements, peace and war, and personal
struggles. The exhibit will coincide with a film screening of Giving Voice, a documentary about the Community Choir.
Rose Viviano, ArtRage’s director, says
she hopes such shows reach viewers on two levels: appreciation of one
organization’s activities and recognition that the work doesn’t happen
in isolation. “I want to collaborate with various organizations,” she
notes. “I also hope people will look beyond the context of a particular
show and connect issues.”
All the rage: Rose Viviano is banking on ArtRage’s social justice agenda to draw visitors to the gallery. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
At the same time, she sees the gallery
as a brand-new facility needing to get people in the door. Therefore,
she’s working on a mix of shows, including one connected to the Iraqi
Art Exchange, a collection of artworks created by Iraqi children. That
exhibit would not only display those pieces but also build a
partnership with a Syracuse elementary school.
The gallery is also committed to both
presenting art and offering other activities. During October, ArtRage
will show provocative films on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. for a $5 admission.
On Oct. 10 will be Iran Is Not the Problem, with Finding Our Voices: Stories of American Dissent on Oct. 17. “We want to have a program once a week,” Viviano says.
And she acknowledges she’s also
concentrating on the nuts and bolts of fund-raising. ArtRage couldn’t
have opened without significant financial support from Ruth Putter, a
local photographer and activist; that support is intended to honor the
memory of her late husband, Norton Putter. Nonetheless, additional
fund-raising is needed to operate the gallery.
That work, plus the various tasks
connected to opening a new facility, has resulted in an extremely busy
time for Viviano. Yet she’s clearly excited that ArtRage is opening its
doors. “The gallery offers an opportunity to break down boundaries, to
challenge assumptions,” she says. “I hope it will inspire people and
foster community involvement.”
The gallery is open Wednesdays to
Fridays, 2 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. For more
information, call 218-5711 or go to www.artragegallery.org.