Artistic Gifts for the Holidays

Local art venues display potential gifts for the holidays

This holiday season local arts and crafts venues will showcase works ranging from paintings to pastels, from ceramics to silk. The venues are varied as well; one is celebrating its 61st birthday while another is just 2 weeks old.

The rookie, Armory Artworks Gallery, opened Nov. 13 in a second-floor space at 136 Walton St. It’s a cooperative venture founded by nine local artists who are splitting rental expenses and the work of staffing the gallery seven days a week. The space will feature their artworks as well as those created by 14 other artists whose pieces are being sold on consignment.

Ceramics by Amy Patricia Hare. Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Ceramics by Amy Patricia Hare.
Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Given that roster of 23 artists, it’s not surprising that Armory Artworks has a decidedly eclectic flavor. It displays Marcus Acevedo’s ceramics and Vanessa Johnson’s soft-sculpture fetishes, Cathy Lobdell’s fiber work, and acrylics and jewelry created by Mary Stanley and Louise Werner, biological and artistic sisters.

Clearly, starting a gallery poses a fair amount of risk. Johnson acknowledges that factor while also citing the positive energy associated with getting a new project off the ground. “There’s risk, and there’s joy,” she said. “We enjoy each other’s company. That’s important when you’re running a co-op.”

One of the gallery’s goals is to encourage interactions between the public and artists. Barbara Weingart, who works in silk, will discuss fiber art on Friday, Nov. 27, 4 p.m. That’s part of a weekend schedule including hours on Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 870-3408.

A second downtown venue, Art Mart, located in the Atrium at City Hall, 201 E. Washington St., set up for its first holiday season 61 years ago. It continues to be a juried show whose participants all come from local art guilds. Wendy Brown, a jewelry artisan in her fourth season with Art Mart, notes there’s a cooperative aspect. All the artists pay an admission fee and work shifts totaling 15 hours.

The works reflect a range of creative possibilities. Christa Boice’s photo of a waterfall at Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, coexists with Judith Hand’s watercolors. The blazing colors of Greg Trombley’s “Palm at Sunrise” hangs with “Rocks of Maine,” a pastel by Doris Cross.

Beyond its longevity, Art Mart stands out by virtue of its extended schedule, which runs though Dec. 24. It’s open Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extra hours on Friday, Nov. 27, 4 to 8 p.m., during Clinton Square’s Christmas tree lighting festivities.

A third local festival, Plowshares, builds on 45 years of experience, and on coordination by the Syracuse Peace Council, which runs the event as a fundraiser. Plowshares will be staged Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6, at Nottingham High School, 3100 E. Genesee St. There’s an admission fee on a sliding scale.

Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

It’s a large crafts fair and peace festival, with more than 90 artists and crafters displaying their works in two large rooms. The media are diverse, including Matthew Davis’ paintings, hats by Kathy Barry, Tom Huff’s stone sculptures and ceramics by Jen Gandee.

Beyond that, Plowshares’ identity is shaped by musicians performing during the weekend, food catered by the Mission restaurant, and the presence of several local organizations. The Syracuse Community Choir and the Peace Council are just two of the groups staffing tables at Plowshares.

Finally, ArtRage Gallery, 503 Hawley Ave., and the Oswego shop Que Colors are collaborating on a Fair Trade Sale. The event, slated for Friday, Dec. 11, 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., features scarves, hand-woven linens and other items made by artisans from Guatemala and Bolivia.[snt]

A Time for Peace

The yuletide season is prime time not only for local festivals but also for groups like the Syracuse Cultural Workers. They research, design and distribute the Peace Calendar which is sold at independent bookstores, food co-ops and other venues across the United States.

In creating the calendar’s 2016 edition, the group focused on several themes including climate change. Indeed, the calendar’s cover showcases an image of the People’s Climate March which took place Sept. 21, 2014, in New York City. A second photo, accompanying dates for next August, depicts a demonstration in the harbor by Seattle, Wash., as dozens of activists on kayaks protested against oil drilling in the Arctic region.

Other illustrations touch on immigration, as seen in a piece blending bright colors and the words “No Human Being Is Illegal,” and on public education. The artwork for September combines a photo of high school students demonstrating and a quote from Diane Ravitch, a prominent critic of privatizing schools and high-stakes testing.

“Creation of the World,” an acrylic mural, embraces aboriginal culture as interpreted by a Potawatomi artist, Daphne Odjig. And “The Fight for $15,” the artwork for June, references the movement for an increase in the minimum wage.

Syracuse Cultural Workers will be selling the Peace Calendar, now in its 45th year, at the group’s 400 Lodi St. storefront. During the holiday season the shop is open Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The calendar will also be available during the Plowshares festival on Dec. 5 and 6.

Header photo by Michael David of the Syracuse New Times.
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