Discussion of the 2011 art scene in Syracuse begins with a tagline: the year of retrospectives. Then we move on to exhibits incorporating personal stories, to documentary work and to an array of group and solo shows.
During 2011, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, just outside Cazenovia, hosted an exhibition devoted to Dorothy Riester’s artworks and her contributions to the art park. The Community Folk Art Center celebrated its 40th anniversary by displaying a range of artworks from its permanent collection. And the Everson Museum of Art presented a large selection of Alec Soth’s images, drawn from his earlier career, other bodies of work and his current photographic project.
Drawn to Paint, displayed concurrently at XL Projects downtown and at the Shaffer Art Gallery at Syracuse University, highlighted Jerome Witkin’s paintings and drawings. Among other things, the exhibit featured large-scale, emotionally powerful paintings dealing with the Holocaust and other historical subjects.
Several shows focused on life stories.
At ArtRage, Ellen Blalock’s one-woman show blended images of nontraditional families with text written by her subjects. Canary, hung at Light Work Gallery, displayed Hilde Jensen’s images of herself and other people coping with multiple-chemical sensitivity. My Recovery Story, presented at XL Projects, offered narratives from participants in Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare’s programs.
Bruce Jackson’s photos of grain elevators on Buffalo’s waterfront were shown at the Erie Canal Museum. Bob Gates photographed people waiting at Common Center, Centro’s downtown transfer point, and later exhibited those images at Schine Student Center on the SU campus. Gates is in no way the first photographer to appear at Common Center. Nonetheless, his photos resonated.
Around Central New York, many group shows were displayed at local venues. In Auburn, the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center again hosted Made in New York, whose artists came from Rochester, Syracuse, Oswego and other locales throughout the state. The 2011 exhibition empha sized sculptures more than any Made in New York exhibit in recent years.
At Le Moyne College, the Wilson Art Gallery displayed Life Blood: Women in Haudenosaunee Art. It presented a range of media including Maria Skye’s paintings, Ronnie Leigh Goeman’s Peacemakers canoe basket and “Wampum Spirit,” Otat Homer’s linoleum-cut piece.
La Casita Cultural Center, which had its official opening this fall, hosted Motifs: Evocations. That exhibit featured works by Abisay Puentes and Experanza Tielbaard, Juan Cruz, Oscar Garces and Ricardo Exparza.
In Fayetteville, Rachel Harms and Anne Skiold showed their work in a strong exhibition at Limestone Art and Framing Gal-lery. At the Redhouse, Happy Acccidents showcased pieces created by Erin Davis and Sonya Parish.
Several galleries continued to carve out their own space on the Syracuse art scene. Edgewood, for example, continued to use its small gallery space in a highly effective way. A show displaying work by Linda Bigness, Tom Huff and Jerome Durr not only highlighted individual pieces but also drew connections among a diverse set of artworks. Figurative Expressions II, encompassing artworks by Gail Hoffman, John Fitzsimmons, Stephen Ryan, Vincent Fiches and Scott Estelle, also was a wellorganized, enjoyable show.
Szozda Gallery, meanwhile, marked its first anniversary with a full slate of exhibits. There were several interesting two-artist shows, including one presenting works created by Karen Lillie-Thomas and Jeremy Randall. In a second exhibit, the wife-husband duo of C. Wilkinson and Bruce Thomas showed both their own pieces and several artistic collaborations.
ArtRage offered a mixed bag of exhibitions. These included Ellen Blalock’s show, photos taken by Sarah Averill on Syracuse’s North Side, and Daughters of Ixchel:
Women Weavers of Guatemala, which displayed both hand-woven textiles and photos of Mayan weavers.
The Warehouse Gallery had a good year, hosting exhibits such as Quadrangular Cloud, created by Sarah Kueng and Louis Capoto, and Colorfornia, which delved into street art on several levels.
Other fine solo exhibits appeared at Syracuse venues. The Everson scored with Margie Hughto’s sculptural installation, created specifically for a space on the museum’s first floor, and David MacDonald’s Power of Pattern. Dalton’s American Decorative Arts presented Laura Wilder’s block-print artworks. Light Work displayed a large selection of Kelly Anderson-Staley’s tintype portraits.
As in past years, a slew of non-gallery venues hosted exhibitions. Adriana Meiss hung her Impressions of Central New York show at Sparky Town restaurant. Joan Carlson’s pen-ink drawings, which deal with refugee stories, were displayed at the Petit Branch Library, also the venue for an exhibit of images created by William Rollins Hall Jr.
Ty Marshall reached back into Central New York’s past by evoking the
Cardiff giant. Back in the 19th century, the giant made national news
twice: first because of its discovery and then because of revelations
that the Giant was a complete hoax. Marshall’s work not only created a
physical facsimile of the Cardiff giant but also sparked discussion of
the Giant’s significance today. He had it buried at Lipe Art Park, then
uncovered and on display, and then moved to City Hall Commons, near the
spot the original Giant eventually had been moved to from its burial
spot near Nedrow.