art happens

For anyone who has ever said that Ithaca needs a more vibrant, dynamic contemporary art scene – suddenly it appears we have one.

As far as I see it, the only thing that is going to make what is shaping up to be a tantalizing lineup of art happenings even better – all things considered – is if we all turn up to support the scene. Here are my recommendations for the week – hope to see you there!

Kicking it all off is an artist sometimes-known-as Bravo, Cornell MFA candidate Jess Evett-Miller, who will present her installation, in perpetuity, in the Tjaden Experimental Studio, at Tjaden Hall, Cornell University, from Monday, Dec 1, 2008 at 8am to Friday, Dec 5, 2008 at 5pm
An opening reception will take place on Thursday, December 4th, from 5-7pm.

On Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, Brick Balloon in Collegetown, a project of Cornell MFA candidate Anthony Graves, is hosting its first exhibition, presenting works by Graham Parker, Ryan Harden Brown, Carla Herrera-Prats, and Mark Orange. An opening reception will be held Wednesday, December 3rd from 6pm–9pm
Exhibition runs: Dec. 1–31
Hours: T–Th 12–5pm or by appointment
Brick Balloon Space
108–110 Collegetown Ct. @ Dryden Rd.

Also of interest, The Working Relationship collective are presenting: “Temp Space: Four-Day Social Club,” a contemporary art community event at the former Battery Warehouse on 423 Franklin St. An event of art, interventions and disruptions that will continue throughout the weekend to offer unique encounters with art and artists. Special events and unexpected happenings will be taking place during open hours: Thursday, Dec. 4, 5-9pm; Friday, Dec. 5, 12-9pm; Saturday, Dec. 6,12-9pm; and Sunday, Dec. 7, 12-5pm.

And don’t forget that this Friday, Dec. 5th, 5-8pm, it is Gallery Night in Downtown Ithaca. For a complete listing of all of the participating galleries, contact the Ithaca Downtown Partnership or the Community Arts Partnership. Sorry this is the best I can do, they don’t seem to have a website – please correct me if I’m mistaken.

Highlights for me include the State of the Art Gallery’s Invitational Exhibition – which word on the street has led me to believe will be chock full of interesting and exciting surprises – as well as the CSMA Annual Open Show at the Community School of Music and Arts, and the Ink Shop’s new exhibit, Fine Edge: 9 Intaglio Artists, looks like one not to be missed.

On Friday, after you’ve finished perusing the downtown galleries, make sure to head over to Sfumato Studio between 8:00pm – 11:00pm for an evening of contemporary video art including a diverse cross section of nine regional artists working in video/new media. It promises to be an interesting and entertaining evening for all.”
The after gallery night screening
Friday December the 5th from 8 until 11pm
201 Dey St. Loft 202 (Hickey’s Music Building)
Ithaca, NY

Am I missing anything?
Hope to see everyone out and about for these events. What a town.


art salon #2

Thank you Working Relationship for inviting me to your art salon last weekend, and for inviting me to share my impressions. I hope this might contribute to the manifestation of a possible dialogue regarding the nature of art, the gallery, the non gallery, or anything in between.

Last weekend’s art salon was the second of its kind brought to us by the newly formed collective of artists, art historians and art-lovers, who are, according to their mission statement, ‘assembling platforms for the continuum of contemporary art practice and its audiences.’ I was invited as a guest, and had no involvement in the event’s creation, design or implementation. Taking place at a private residence in Lansing which had been temporarily transformed into a gallery for the singular night of the event, the salon featured works by 8 local and non local artists, working in painting, sculpture, photography, video, book art, and new media art represented. At the end of the evening, which included food (in this case tapas) a desert course was served, where each of the 20 or so guests were invited to assemble and reflect upon the evening, at which point 2 of the participating artists joined us for a question and answer discussion session.

As a format for exhibiting work, I found this experience to be interesting and intriguing, particularly in light of a previous thread on this site which sought to question the notion of the ‘coffee house as gallery’ in cases where there is little alternative for exhibiting work of an experimental nature around town. For this I give kudos to the group, who have managed to find an interesting way to surpass the glaring lack of gallery options and to offer a solution as has been the trend in larger cities where the walls of private homes prove quite suitable for displaying art. While there were some aspects I found difficult – the artists coming at the end, for example, rather than being present for the entire evening, which I thought would have helped the dialogue between guests who aren’t sure how to go about encountering or understanding contemporary art – a point which also could be seen as possibly creating an unnecessary separation between artist and non artist which might have been viewed as alienating for both parties – but, that’s just one critic’s opinion, and it bears mentioning that for this critic anyway, it is the elimination of separation and the achievement of unity all around – both in art, and in life – that is key. As a final critical observation, I found myself continually wondering what the evening might have been like with more people, and without so much structure in terms of the overall format. Good art should be enough to stand on its own, and if it’s good, a dialogue will emerge naturally between the work and the viewer. In this regard, the more the merrier. I’d love to see a similar exhibit mounted in a home and opened up to the public, and to see how the evening would take shape naturally.

Having said that, I eagerly look forward to seeing what other events of this nature the organization comes up with, and it seems that plans are well underway, with the forthcoming temporary exhibition the Working Relationship is mounting at the Franklin Market plaza.

ps. It was an extra special touch that each of the salon guests were given a work of art to take home – in this case a multiple created by Heather O’Hara, an artist working out of Baltimore. (pictured here.)

Our little site seems to be filling up with images of guns incidentally – what can it mean about the state of contemporary art?

New Links

I added a few new links today.

about local music: Ithaca Underground   Ithaca Music   The Cornell Hip Hop Collection

Ithaca Events is hosted by the arts council: It needs to be and might be updated.

Net.Art   Elmira Remix

The Collector

Tommi Brem, who appears to be a German who sayes “art used to make me angry,” has decided to start collecting contemporary art. He’s documenting how his collection grows from zero artworks, no experience, and a little money. You can follow him on Twitter, a blog, OR you can join his community of independent collectors. This social network swaps information, ratings, and searches for artists together.  

You’re not too late to get in on the story. He started collecting this past June. I just read on Twitter that he is trying to acquire a group of artworks which I already own… and that I bought in Ithaca. The Johnson Museum already showed us this summer that “Ithaca Collects” (although that show sort of felt like “art professors from CU collect”).  Tommi’s social network is helping independent collectors find artists from all over the world. How do you find the artists you want to support in Ithaca? And who do you trust to connect you with artists?

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Today and Tomorrow!!

Tomorrow the legislative session convenes (Nov. 18th). It’s not news to anyone that the Governor is proposing cuts for the arts. It only takes a minute to send an email that may alter the “cut list.”

Act Now! Alliance Arts Action for NY

Shooting Pictures

In response to a previous entry, here is a recent work by John Criscitello.


I view this piece as evidence of a new development taking place within Criscitello’s poignantly post-pop mode of articulation, and I look forward to seeing how this will continue to play out in his work. It reminds me of similar pursuits undertaken by artists of the 1960s and 70s, such as Niki De Saint Phalle’s Shooting Picture (1961) or the more disturbing expressions offered by the Beider Meinhof gang – a group of German ‘art terrorists’ from the 1970s- and the way artists, often during times of prolonged war, deploy such art-stunt strategies to an express an idea.


In case further explanation is required: Also by Niki de Saint Phalle:


As this work highlights, in this type of scenario, no one gets hurt. A war without victims. The painting, having been destroyed, can be resurrected and reborn at the will of its creator.

It’s too bad the current administration couldn’t have gotten their heads around this idea, even for a tiny little minute.

Having said that, there is no question Obama’s administration will bring change for the arts in this country. Surely the proof is in the color! I can’t recall having seen politicians sport such a variety of color before as Barack and Michelle’s indigos, cobalts and ultramarines (unless you count the ermine-fur trimmed ski suits worn by Vladimir Putin -but that would seem to be indicative of a different sensibility.) As for the Obamas, this can only be interpreted as a sign of ‘deep and sensitive feeling.’ What is this if not art?

The New New Deal?


There are so many reasons to be excited and hopeful about the Obama presidency – both for what he will do and for what his election tells us about ourselves as a country.  The comparisons to FDR are obvious – a Democrat taking office during grave economic times promising great change and calling on citizens to be active participants in this change, etc.

In FDR’s presidency the arts were not only supported, but an integral tool in executing the New Deal.  Programs encompassed all disciplines and not only supported artists, but encouraged the public to buy art and take free classes themselves.  And even those artists who were less than impressed with the work produced by the WPA had something to respond to in that work.

After years of cuts in federal funding for the arts, I can only hope that things will get better under Obama.  It may seem a bold move to support the arts in a time of financial uncertainty when the trend has been to treat them as frivolous and expendable.  Maybe we can return to seeing that the arts are an essential part of our society and maybe our government can communicate that belief by supporting the arts financially.