Thanks to Katherine Rushworth for her article in today’s STARS. I’ve pasted the article below for reference or read it HERE. I’ve already received one passionate response to her statements. What do you think? Please leave your comments…
By the way, yes, we are extending the gallery to August 1. A press release with more info on that will be coming shortly….
It’s a sad statement about the level of commitment our community has to the visual arts when the safest way to open a new gallery is to find donated space in an empty building and then plan on being there for only two months. But, that’s exactly what two artistic entrepreneurs decided to do with a vacant office space on Harrison Avenue.
On June 11, Contemporary Gallery opened at 230 Harrison St., just down the road from the Everson Museum of Art and across the street from the Technology Garden. The gallery closes Aug. 1. Seems like a lot of work for a short run, but maybe these budding titans of fine art are on to something.
Courtney Rile and Roslyn Esperon met while working at the Delavan Art Gallery last summer and hit it off right away. This summer, they found they had some free time. Esperon has a couple of months before she heads off to New York University to pursue a master’s degree in arts administration. Rile, marketing and public relations coordinator at the Delavan Art Gallery and director of communications at the Cultural Resources Council, also found she had some free time while the gallery is on hiatus.
So, the two friends began driving around downtown Syracuse at night looking for empty storefronts or office spaces and taking down phone numbers. They called the property owners and made a convincing sales pitch.
“We’d renovate the space, put in a gallery and leave the place in better shape than when we moved in,” Esperon explains.
Sounds like a great deal, but only one agency responded positively – J.F. Real Estate.
Esperon and Rile took possession of the meandering space May 9 and immediately began sprucing it up. The walls, a dreary, tea-stained color, were the first thing to go.
“We knew we wanted to try bold colors,” Rile explains.
Look for “Pitter Patter Blue” on one wall and a rich aubergine in the bathroom. Yes, there’s art hanging in the bathroom.
In fact, it didn’t take long for Esperon and Rile to fill the half-dozen rooms comprising the space with art works based on the theme of whimsy. Their one and only show, “Whimsy: Celebrating the Power of Why Not,” includes drawings, film, illustration, installation, prints, mixed media works, photography, sculpture and video art. Some of the artists they encountered while working at the Delavan Art Gallery and others through personal connections.
Some of the show’s highlights include Tijana Djordjevic’s “Plate Series,” seven drawings on stoneware plates referencing personal cleaning rituals and her slip cast porcelain floor installation titled “Grass.” Kent Mikalsen’s large drawings in marking crayon stand out against the “Pitter Patter Blue” walls and Brian Butler’s obsessively detailed pen and ink drawings are obsessively compelling.
More than 300 people have visited the gallery since its opening last month according to Rile. That includes attendees at the gallery’s standing room only opening June 13.
So, with success of this caliber, why can’t our community sustain a commercial gallery for more than two months?
“People have to buy art for a gallery to survive,” Rile says.
And there in lies the age-old problem. Until we put our money where our feet are, until we reach into our pockets and start supporting these galleries with more than our presence, then two-month runs are all we’re entitled to.
Katherine Rushworth, of Cazenovia, is a former director of the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center (State University College at Fredonia) and of the Central New York Institute for the Arts in Education.