Jeff Hoone's comment that the drawings by Juliet Jacobson would be
"clearly offensive to a great many people" concerned me. I wonder if
he's ever attended a figure drawing class or walked through the halls
Shaffer Art Building? He seems clearly out of touch with the art
community and their comfort with the human form.
Dept of Art and Foundation
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Jeff Hoone's comment that the drawings by Juliet Jacobson would be
Posted by Whats this? at 3:15 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Reposted from here
Syracuse has been going through some tough art politics lately with the surprising dismissal of Astria Suparak from Syracuse University funded gallery, The Warehouse Gallery. Astria was appointed gallery director a year ago, almost instantly curating an Art Video Festival at the local art space, Spark. Many are outraged at the sudden firing and overwhelming confused on the bad decision made by the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers's Director, Jeffrey Hoone.
Some speculated the decision was due to the current exhibition up at the Warehouse Gallery, titled, "COME ON:Desire Under The Female Gaze." The CMAC heads were not too keen on the subject matter and how it would be perceived by the Syracuse public. Here is a the description of the show from the gallery website:
The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University launches a bold new exhibition, COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze, which focuses on the psychological, social, cultural and political dimensions of desire, subjectivity and pleasure.
COME ON reveals what is not represented in popular culture and provides a counterbalance to the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream heterosexual male sensibilities.
The art community in Syracuse have been growing at a fast rate thanks to Astria's influence and connections with the art world. This scuffle throws the growth back 10 steps in making Syracuse a city with a quality art community.
The backlash has succeeded in receiving many supporters for Astria as well as a blog, titled "Syracuse Loses Again." From there you can read the many many letters and press coverage about the situation. You can even read the obvious art censorship argument between Astria and Jeffrey Hoone in their email exchanges. Another interesting blog is Keep Astria.
The City of Syracuse Common Council appointed Astria Suparak to the Public Arts Commission for the period of three years, effective October 1, 2007. See The Post Standard Article.
Here is a flickr set of the COME On exhibit~
Posted by CNXY at 10:32 AM
Dear Mr. Hoone -
My name is K. Erik Ino/Peterson. I am a video artist, musician, and--by profession--a freelance graphic designer. I am currently finishing up my BFA in Art Video through Syracuse University/University College. I have been in Syracuse for 6 years and have been enrolled as a student for nearly 5. Changing majors 3 times does not make for a quick undergraduate career. However, it has given me a good opportunity to experience and embrace the city of Syracuse and what it has to offer.
In my 6 year stay in the Salt City I have always felt like the arts were under-appreciated. So, when I was brought in as a freelance videographer for the CMAC, in the summer of 2006, I was surprised to learn that things were about to change. I had met and interviewed the illustrious Astria Suparak and knew something great was about to happen. For the first time in 5 years, I was excited to be in Syracuse. For the first time, I felt like Syracuse was the place to be.
I'm writing to express my concern regarding the Warehouse Gallery and the supposed personnel changes. For the last year and a half I have been able to enjoy a truly diverse experience in the arts, via Astria Suparak and the events at the Warehouse Gallery, and I do not want that to end. There has been an interest in the arts, by both permanent Syracuse residents and the SU student body. Something currently exists in Syracuse, that has not existed since Bill Viola or Nam June Paik.
I firmly believe that we owe this to Astria Suparak. She has proven her merit, with shows like Come On: Desire Under..., Faux Natural, and Embracing Winter. Astria made these events happen... and these events are what made Syracuse happenin'! Astria has given the scene a new and important presence... but it needs to be cultivated. If she were to leave now, the scene would wither back to what it used to be and the arts would be dead!
Mr. Hoone... We need to foster the arts in Syracuse; we need Astria Suparak.
Thank you for your time.
K. Erik Ino/Peterson
Posted by CNXY at 2:11 AM
Saturday, September 29, 2007
After listening to the issues regarding Astria Suparak's firing as Curator of the Warehouse Gallery, and having been given no evidence from the university for her dismissal despite the outstanding job she has done for the arts community, I must withdraw my submission of work in this year's Faculty Show. Since the SUArt Galleries is part of CMAC and under the leadership of Jeffrey Hoone who has fired Astria, I cannot be a part of this show.
I have shown in the Faculty Show for eleven years, have always had great respect for the work of my colleagues at the Lowe Art Gallery and you all at the SUArt Galleries, so it with great regret and disappointment that I write to you.
Departments of Foundation and
College of Visual and Performing Arts
Posted by Whats this? at 7:16 PM
Hello, friends and neighbors,
This coming Monday, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m., a bunch of people will gather in front of City Hall to meet each other, drink some delicious coffee donated by Cafe Kubal (Eastwood) and show support for Astria Suparak, the curator of the Warehouse Gallery who was recently fired for vague reasons. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for her and a unified expression of admiration for her work, from all over the United States and even abroad, as well as outrage that Syracuse could lose her so quickly. She's only been here a year, yet there's been an explosion of public art in that time and her showings are bringing *positive* international attention to Syracuse and upstate in general. To lose her puts us in worse shape than we were in before she was here, for even though it was just one person at the university who fired her, booting such a professional and talented woman reflects on an entire city that until this year has been seen as somewhat of a cultural backwater.
Fortunately and laudably, the City of Syracuse has gone through with a previously expected appointment of Astria, with others, to the Public Arts Commission. There will be a reception put on by the City at 10:00 a.m. inside City Hall so that the public might meet all of the members of the Public Arts Commission.
You can learn more about the issues at http://keepastria.com and at http://syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com/. And if you can't make it at 9:30 Monday morning, please send in a warm body - or anyone you know who supports the arts in Syracuse.
I hope I can see some of you then!
Posted by Whats this? at 7:11 PM
Friday, September 28, 2007
PLEASE PASS THIS ON
Dear friends and fellow art lovers,
We will be hosting a party for Astria Suparak to celebrate the
tremendous outpouring of support the Syracuse arts community has
shown in recent weeks and to show our continuing support for Astria.
Today, Friday Sept. 28th, was Astria's last day. Although we may not
have been successful in changing the minds of Jeff Hoone and Syracuse
University, we did join together in an unprecedented manner to voice
that edgy contemporary art and the former Director of The Warehouse
Gallery are important to us. That deserves a celebration. Please
join us to honor what Astria Suparak has accomplished over her past
year in Syracuse and how we have all come together to support her on
WHAT: Party for Astria Suparak
WHERE: Delavan Art Gallery
WHEN: This Thursday, October 4 from 6-8 p.m.
See you there!
-Courtney Rile, Bill Delavan and Caroline Szozda of Delavan Art Gallery
Posted by Whats this? at 11:43 PM
Although I may be too late in writing this letter, I would like to show my support for this tremendous effort to keep Astria Suparak from being wrongly dismissed. While visiting Syracuse this past week, I was disgusted to learn about this entire mess. I met Astria in 2006, while helping her set up a traveling video show that she had curated and brought to Spark. It was our biggest SparkVideo event of the semester, and it met all of my high expectations. Not only did she show a diverse array of videos, but Astria engaged the audience in many fun and unique ways. It was obvious how much energy and effort she put into her work, and I came away from that experience thinking how great it was to see a curator so dedicated to stepping beyond the traditional boundaries of the curatorial role. I was delighted at the chance to see her in action. I feel sad for all those students who won't have that opportunity.
As a former Art Video major, I was thrilled to learn that Astria had become such a big part of the Syracuse Art Community. During my time at Syracuse it was obvious how much we needed more female perspectives in the art community, and more people willing to take risks to revolutionize our art program. It's a real shame that we're going to lose such an awesome voice, just so that these few decision-makers can remain rooted in oppressive traditions and the status quo. Have any of these decision-makers considered the consequences of this?
2006 graduate of Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Posted by Whats this? at 11:32 PM
I am shocked over the news of Astria Suparak's dismissal. The news were especially distressing in view of the growing credibility of The Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University in international art circuits. Customarily, university art galleries are a quiet business, largely occluded from broader visibility because of the often disconnected scope of their mandates. I believe Astria is doing an excellent job at approximating the programming at The Warehouse Gallery to current debates in the contemporary worlds of art and culture. She took the necessary bold steps to attain the independent and characteristic voice for The Warehouse Gallery that are so necessary to establish the relevance of a cultural art space. Her work has only began; to interrupt it now at such an early stage might compromise the reputation of the space and rob The Warehouse Gallery audiences of everything that was yet to come.
Alex Villar, New York based artist
Posted by CNXY at 11:27 PM
It looks as if Friday, Sept. 28 will be superstar curator Astria Suparak’s last day at the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, NY. She was officially canned on Sept. 7 and given until the end of the month to vacate. The reason for her dismissal being given by Jeffrey Hoone, the executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, was due to a restructuring of the gallery’s leadership. Yeah, “restructuring” Astria right out the door. Hoone also says he’s unable to give further details since it’s all a very confidential matter.
Despite massive protests, including a several hundred citizen walk out Sept. 20 and many, many emails and letters written, which are chronicled on the Syracuse Loses Again blog, it appears that Hoone isn’t budging and Astria is abruptly out of a job. Despite Hoone’s extra-super-duper secret restructuring explanation, many feel Astria got the boot over the controversial nature of her latest gallery show, “COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” a program that explores the discrepancy between the acceptable male subjugation of the female form in art and the overwhelming lack of female perspectives on passive male sexuality.
The Syracuse Loses Again blog has also posted up a fascinating email exchange between Astria and Hoone that was provided by Tom Sherman, a professor of Art Video at SU (Art Video? Sounds like an awesome class…) In the emails, Hoone comes across as extremely apprehensive of the “Female Gaze” show and totally worried about a massive community backlash. Now, the community backlash is regarding his canning of Astria.
At the same time as the firing, the Syracuse Common Council has unanamously appointed Astria to the city’s Public Arts Commission. However, this is just a volunteer position and not a real job. Astria’s staying in Syracuse is dependent on whether or not she can find a similar job at the university or in the city.
I hope somebody does something in an official capacity, whether it’s staying at the Warehouse Gallery or at the university. I haven’t corresponded with Astria personally in a year or more, but she was always very gracious and nice after I covered some of her curated events at the New York Underground Film Festival. She deserves better than this.
Posted by CNXY at 12:56 PM
To Whom it May Concern
I would like to comment on the emails written by Jeffrey Hoone and Matthew Snyder. Lisa Jong-Soon Goodin has publicly released two emails from these men, though they were not sent to her. She is releasing these letters on behalf of Jeff Hoone, stating:
it's important to post this email because it shows that when some administrators objected to the exhibit,Jeff defended it...
What's going on here? When some administrators objected to the exhibit? Does Jeff Hoone feel that he has been abandoned by the administration and must implicate them in the Warehouse fiasco?
Well, he may have a point. The email from Mathew Snyder to Jeff Hoone is instructive because it implicates the Chancellor, her Cabinet and the office of Public Affairs in the Warehouse fiasco and also indicates just how out of touch they are from their community (young women now fill the classrooms at SU):
Late last week, members of the Chancellor's Cabinet and Public Affairs office raised questions about the exhibit....I understand that Tom Walsh, Eric Spina, Barry Wells, and Kevin Quinn have been discussing the issue at the Chancellor's request.
Why on earth would the chancellor ask a group of 4 men to "discuss" a show about female sexual desire....how many men would kill for this job!
Can you see them, four grown men sitting around discussing the sexuality of young women, discussing and also pronouncing on the depiction of female sexual desire? They recommended a disclaimer, warning of the content and pulled promotional materials from student packets.
The paternalism is stunning.
The Chancellor, her cabinet and Jeff Hoone are clearly out of touch with the community of students and faculty they serve. The evidence of this has been glaringly obvious from the beginning of this fiasco. For example: canceling the Yes Men, apparently unaware of the degree of faculty involvement and financial investment in this show; firing Astria Suparak, apparently unaware of the amount and depth of support she had generated from many communities in her first year in Syracuse.
Research, research, research. How did they get it so wrong? How did they come to be so distant from the community they serve? All they had to do was ask...
The degree to which the Chancellor and the men of the Chancellor's Cabinet and Public Affairs, are out of touch with their young female students is again underlined in Jeff's letter: I understand that there are plans to have counselors available at the Warehouse this Saturday in case students who view the exhibition may be so inclined to seek our their comfort.
This assumption that young women are too stupid to interpret long black ballons, sagging against a white wall is demeaning for women of all ages. Did any of the Chancellor's Cabinet actually see the show?
Lisa Soon-Jong Goodin released two letters. In the first letter Jeff Hoone defends the content and extols the virtue of Come On:Desire Under the Female Gaze. I would like to point out that, in this defense Hoone, is simply reiterating Suparak's contextualization of the show. In other communication Jeff Hoone disparages the show, finding the images offensive to sophisticated art lovers. How many opposing opinions does Jeff Hoone hold?
Astria Suparak's performance has been exemplary. The Chancellor, her Cabinet, the Office of Public Affairs, Human Resources and Jeffrey Hoone have all behaved so very badly.
To add insult to injury this ensconced group of adults is attempting to cover its gross failure to do any homework by insinuating that this young woman is guilty of some nefarious evil doing known as "personnell issues."
Astria Suparak is not permitted to know what she is charged with, and is therefore not allowed to defend herself. Doesn't this violate the Constitution of the United States?
I am so very ashamed of Syracuse University.
Posted by Whats this? at 12:07 AM
Dear Chancellor Cantor,
I am writing to add my voice to the outpouring of protest against the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers ’ (CMAC) plans to remove Astria Suparak from her post as Director of the University-affiliated Warehouse Gallery.
Like thousands of my generation, I left an economically-depressed Northern New York in the 1980’s to seek better job opportunities and adventure elsewhere. In the course of my life, I have lived throughout the United States , and presently live in Brooklyn , New York . I pass through Syracuse regularly and am aware of, and applaud, developments in the city that indicate visionary leadership, such as the opening of the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center and the renovation of Armory Square . While the city has taken important steps towards putting its infrastructure in place, it remains unclear whether Syracuse can attract and retain the young talent that will ultimately drive its growth.
This summer, I heard that Syracuse University had hired Ms. Suparak to direct a newly renovated warehouse gallery in the city. As an artist and former media art programmer, I knew of Ms. Suparak’s thoughtful, intelligent, and energetic work. I was not at all surprised to learn that in a short time she had successfully developed the gallery into a regional powerhouse with a growing reputation.
In my view, leadership of Ms. Suparak’s caliber is what Syracuse needs to attract artists and professionals to the Syracuse area. As a nationally respected curator of visual and media art, her hiring signaled to me that Syracuse University recognized the role an active and engaged contemporary arts community can play in urban redevelopment plans.
Thus, I was greatly concerned when I learned that Ms. Suparak was unceremoniously removed from her post at Warehouse Gallery. From the letters posted on the web, it appears that many people found inspiration and friendship at the Warehouse Gallery. That energy cannot be attributed to bricks and mortar, but rather is due to Ms. Suparak’s enormous talents. It’s a shame the city will lose her.
Syracuse University owes Ms. Suparak, her supporters, and the city of Syracuse a cogent and satisfactory explanation for this unpopular decision. Ms. Suparak is held in high esteem by her colleagues and constituencies, both locally and nationally, because of her outstanding professionalism and enthusiastic personal style. Thus, her abrupt removal, without explanation, appears arbitrary and capricious. Mr. Jeffrey Hoones, the Executive Director of CMAC, has posted a letter on www.syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com that purports to justify his decision to replace Ms. Suparak. However, the letter’s inscrutable and empty doublespeak does little to assuage the genuine concerns expressed by the Syracuse and national art community.
In sum, the University has not demonstrated that Ms. Suparak is undeserving of her position as Director of the Warehouse Gallery, or that the Gallery would benefit from a change of direction. Indeed, it appears that Ms. Suparak’s tenure at the gallery has been a resounding success. Thus, it is my opinion that the University must reinstate Ms. Suparak, not only for the benefit of the Gallery, but also because such a move will contribute greatly to the growth and reinvigoration of the city.
Very Truly Yours,
Julie Zando-Dennis , Esq.
Posted by Whats this? at 12:02 AM
September 27, 2007
SU Art Galleries
Because of the actions of your supervisor and the poor leadership of CMAC, I am will not participate in this year’s faculty exhibition. I do not wish to be a part of an institution that does not value the judgment of the VPA faculty or its constituents.
Feel free to publish this letter in the catalog in lieu of an image of my work.
Department of Foundation
College of Visual and Performing Arts
Posted by Whats this? at 12:00 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Dear Chancellor Cantor, Vice-Chancellor Spina:
Jeffrey Hoone is circulating his "defense" of the COME ON exhibition to Matthew R. Snyder, Director of Communications and Media Relations Syracuse University Division of Student Affairs, sent Aug. 22, 2007. Hoone’s release of these e-mails reveals that University officials were uptight about the exhibition and had begun their efforts to censor Suparak.
In his ‘defense’ to Snyder, Hoone recycles the words of Astria Suparak, used in her defense of the exhibition Hoone had demanded of her one month earlier.
Note in the correspondence below that Hoone makes Suparak justify her exhibition, down to artworks chosen and the title of the show. Hoone does this one month before the exhibition's opening date, subsequently delaying all production of the exhibition; this after he announced to The Warehouse Gallery staff that they will report directly to Domenic Iacono, rather than to him (the beginning of the ‘restructuring’ Hoone deemed necessary to exert his control over the Warehouse Gallery).
I offer this correspondence between Hoone and Suparak to point out that the University was involved in censoring Suparak through the actions of her supervisor, Jeffrey Hoone, the Executive Director of CMAC. As has been pointed out repeatedly, CMAC has no board of directors, nor has CMAC any by-laws governing the behavior of its executive. In this case Hoone was obstructing Suparak’s efforts to mount a show he characterized as “weak” in his self-appointed role of Uber-curator. This correspondence also offers a glimpse of Hoone’s management style.
Please read the correspondence below. After considering this documentation of Hoone and Suparak’s discourse over “the Female Gaze show” (COME ON: desire under the female gaze), it should become clear that the University has been involved in censoring Astria Suparak through the unchecked administrative actions of Jeffrey Hoone. I ask that the Administration of SU reverse Hoone’s decision to dismiss Ms. Suparak from the Warehouse Gallery and Syracuse University.
Professor, Art Video
Department of Transmedia
In chronological order:
From: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thu 7/19/2007 11:23 PM
Cc: Domenic Iacono
Subject: RE: Drawings by Juliet Jacobson
We are going to have to do quite a bit of work to provide a context
and rationalization for exhibiting these pieces. Because she is a
young artist right out of graduate school, and that the work will be
clearly offensive to a good number of people, won't make it any
easier, or wether it is a risk worth taking.
These images will be a challenge for sophistacated art lovers, off
limits to any school groups, and certainily seen as controversial by
many. In making selections for this three person exhibition please let
me know how you considered the challenges of including these images
within the context of the gallery's goal of "engaging the community in
important issues." Your response should include a statement of
curatorial justification, and how the works are indespensible in a
three-person exhibition; plans for contextualizing the work and
presenting it to the media, and alerting gallery goers about the
explicit nature of the work. I would like to receive these materials
by Monday and then to meet with Domenic to dicuss how to move forward.
At that time we can also discuss the exhibition title to help clarify
and contextualize the exhibition. It is unfortunate that you chose to
send out the title of the exhibition before we concluded our
discussions about the wording. This is not how I had hoped to start
off the new year, but I look forward to receiving the materials I
requested and moving forward. Also please send the materials to
Executive Director Light Work
Executive Director Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC)
316 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13244
From: Astria Suparak
Sent: Sat 7/21/2007 12:42 PM
To: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone; email@example.com
Cc: Domenic Iacono
Subject: Materials on the next exhibition at The Warehouse Gallery
Jeff and Domenic,
Attached you will find the written materials requested by Jeff.
I would like to meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss final details for
the exhibition title.
Director, The Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University
350 West Fayette St, Syracuse, NY 13202 USA
T: 315-443-6450 F: 315-443-6494
The Warehouse Gallery's next exhibition, which I will refer to as The Female Gaze in this text, deals with the significant issues of gender and sexuality. Every day problematic imagery related to these areas are publicly displayed on television and in advertising and the news. In university environments, entire programs and courses revolve around these topics. Yet in Central New York, homosexual sex and explicit female desire are treated almost like taboos and are barely visible. These issues are important markers of our time.
The intention of this exhibition is not to shock people. It is to provide a springboard for discussion, to reveal what is not represented in popular culture, and to help balance out the overbearing imagery created by and for heterosexual males.
In the simplest understanding, this exhibition offers a reversal of what we see all the time: the sexualized, "available" female body. Nude or nearly nude female figures are witnessed daily by all age groups, across the world, via TV commercials, weekly newspapers and magazine ads, internet pop-ups, car adornments, and other outlets of mass culture. Even in the narrowest conception of art, or in the most classical reading of art history, the naked female form created for
male viewers reigns. A modern example: SU Art Galleries recently exhibited a painting by Mel Ramos depicting a heavily-bosomed nude woman behind a stag, playing on the slang term for breasts, "rack". The Female Gaze may be shocking to some simply because it provides images which are not commonly available. Each of us must endure depictions of the sexualized, passive female regularly. But the sexualized, passive male is suppressed, and suspiciously absent. The
male gaze viewing females as sex objects is expected and normalized. But the female gaze viewing males as sex objects is still considered deviant in 2007. This is one reason why using the activated term, "sexualizing" in the title of this exhibition is important; It focuses attention on the female enacting the sexual advance.
Within the downtown Syracuse community, three blocks from The Warehouse Gallery, are a gay bar (Rain), a gay dance club (Trexx), and a gay spa (Clinton St. Spa) that have no windows into their spaces, unlike their heterosexual counterparts. There isn't even visible signage on the street, in one case. The homosexual lifestyle continues to be treated as something that needs to be hidden, yet every day we are forced to observe expressions of heterosexuality. In The Female
Gaze, the delicate drawings of Juliet Jacobson disclose what is not represented in the open, through her loving depictions of interracial, homosexual male lovers.
Including work by three artists in this exhibition allows a multitude of ideas, experiences, and perspectives on the topic of female sexuality, as viewed by women artists in their late 20s through mid 30s, encompassing Third-wave Feminism. This carefully considered selection includes diverse media, imagery, formats, and practices, without overcrowding the space needed to contemplate these issues.
Rachel Rampleman, originally from the South, exhibits a video interview with traditional framing and structure, describing the idolization of a man, the fantasy and anticipation leading up to a
meeting, and the ensuing disappointment in the desired object's sexual skills. On view from Canadian Jo-Anne Balcaen are text based works, such as juxtaposed dictionary definitions which question the gendering of and the cultural baggage assigned to romantic phrases. Balcaen also
displays minimalist, abstract sculpture created out of balloons which points to the commercialization of courtship, the expectations of enjoyment, and the temporality of emotions like happiness.
From the West Coast, Juliet Jacobson's drawings are the only works in this exhibition that visually or realistically portray the male body. I realize the subjects that Jacobson represents will be difficult for some people. In large part, this will be because homosexual lovemaking is not portrayed as frequently as is the heterosexual act. This will also be due to the poorly represented perspective of the female gaze. Jacobson's drawings are the most literal illustration of the curatorial idea that there is a dearth of articulated female desire and a lack of sexualized, passive male bodies in mass culture and in the arts. Significantly, these complex works also speak to other interests and ideas. In a symbol set strongly grounded in the history of art, these densely composed, finely rendered drawings meditate upon life, generation and creativity, fragility, intimacy, love, vanity, morality, identity, alienation, universality, nature, death, eternity, and many other rich topics deeply tied to art history, literature, and current, critical issues in Central New York and beyond.
This exhibition addresses the psychological, social, cultural, and political dimensions of female desire, subjectivity, and pleasure. The three artists chosen for The Female Gaze are integral to adequately address the complexity inherent in this subject matter, providing a variety in art viewing experiences for our visitors, yet still maintaining a cohesive exhibition experience. This exhibition has the potential to expose any latent sexism and homophobia in a community that is accustomed to viewing sexualized female bodies but not sexualized male bodies, and displays of heterosexual love, but not homosexual love.
The questions this exhibition raises are:
- Why is "slut" such a bad term, and "stud" a positive one?
(Or, why is female desire considered deviant, whereas male desire is expected and excused of good manners, under rhetoric like, "boys will be boys"?)
- Do women and men feel differently about sex?
(Or, is there an essentialist difference between male and female sexuality?)
- Why is violent imagery more acceptable than that of consensual, loving sex?
- What are the relations between love and sex, if any?
WAYS IN WHICH THE GALLERY WILL NOTIFY VISITORS OF THE EXPLICIT NATURE
OF THE WORK:
- In the title of the exhibition.
The title will include a term such as "Sexualizing" or "Sex" to clearly indicate this subject matter.
- In the imagery of the publicity materials.
The postcard design, large window banner, outdoor sign, and press release will include a detail from Jacobson's drawings that indicate there are nude males in sexual situations. These images will not reveal genitalia, but may include kissing and bare male chests. See attached image.
- In additional signage.
Placed in the front gallery foyer and at the back entrance, visitors will be greeted with a free-standing sign that reads:
Attention: This exhibition contains renderings of human anatomy and sexuality.
HOW WE WILL PRESENT THE EXHIBITION TO THE MEDIA:
. The press release, email announcements, and other publicity materials will indicate the graphic nature of the works and the importance and relevance of these issues in a society that considers itself equal opportunity, not sexist, not homophobic, and not racist.
. The work will be contextualized in the realms of mass media imagery, art history, feminism, and major contemporary art exhibitions like WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Geffen Contemporary at L.A.'s MOCA and Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum.
The work will be accompanied by labels about the artists' intentions.
Because we've had many school groups visit The Warehouse Gallery's exhibitions in the past and will continue to host them in the future, we do not find that having one exhibition in which young children cannot attend a detriment. On average, we host about two visits per exhibition by this age group.
We may consider putting together a teaching aid with one of the Syracuse University courses relevant to this exhibition:
. ETS 441 Studies in Psychological Theories of Representation
. SOC 400 Selected Topics: Politics of Sexuality
. SOC 305 Sociology of Sex and Gender
. CRS 614/WSP 615 Communication, Power, and Gender
. WSP/SOC 435 Sexual Politics
. WSP 449 Women in Art
. ETS 360 Reading Gender and Sexualities
. SOC 305 Sociology of Sex Roles
. Ann Demo, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies spoke to us last week about her Fall 2007 course on the female gaze, and its relation to this exhibition.
From: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 11:59 AM
To: Astria Suparak; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: Domenic Iacono
Subject: RE: Materials on the next exhibition at The Warehouse Gallery
Attached are my comments concerning the exhibition Aw C'mon:
Sexualizing the Female Gaze to be discussed at our meeting with
Domenic on Tuesday.
Executive Director Light Work
Executive Director Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC)
316 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13244
Your description of the proposed exhibition “Aw, C’mon: Sexualizing the Female Gaze” at the Warehouse Gallery” lacks the clarity and curatorial focus necessary to engage the audience in the important and complex issues of gender, sexuality and female desire.
The subtitle of the exhibition suggests that the exhibition will attempt to examine sexual desire from a female perspective as a response to the long history in art and culture of representing the female body as the object of the male gaze. Your description of the curatorial premise of the exhibition seems to want to encompass several topics relating to sexual representation. Sometimes you state that the topic is female sexuality and then also include male homosexual sex and rationale about gay bars without windows in downtown Syracuse as a premise for the exhibition. It feels like you are trying to make a statement about a topic you find of interest and using the artists to make your point. This is a problematic curatorial practice that I have discussed with you previously with the Glam Rock exhibition proposal.
What I expect, and have stated on numerous occasions, is that sound curatorial practice begins and ends with the process of illuminating and providing a context for the artists work so that the audience is better able to understand and appreciate their contribution to the ongoing dialogue of contemporary art practice.
You state in your description of the exhibition that, “homosexual lovemaking is not portrayed as frequently as is the heterosexual act. This will also be due to the poorly represented perspective of the female gaze. Jacobson's drawings are the most literal illustration of the curatorial idea that there is a dearth of articulated female desire and a lack of sexualized, passive male bodies in mass culture and in the arts.” I’m not sure how the lack of representation of homosexual lovemaking in art and culture is due to the poor representation of the female gaze. But you also include a laundry list of issues that you hope might also be raised by Jacobson’s work in particular, which furthers stretches the credibility of the intentions and capability of the exhibition. I’m also not sure how “Balancing out the overbearing imagery created by and for heterosexual males,” by countering it with images made by women viewing males as sex objects, accomplishes very much. It seems more like equal opportunity exploitation rather than an opportunity for a complex examination of desire and sexuality.
I also find it problematic that you use the painting by Mel Ramos included in an exhibition at the SUArt Galleries as an example of how “the female form created for male viewers reigns.” The painting was included in an exhibition of POP ART from the Galleries’ collection. The intent of many of the artists in the exhibition is to comment on and critique popular culture. Within that context Ramos’s painting can be viewed as critiquing the historical view of women as sex objects, or in the least raising those questions in the viewers mind. That you used this painting as the only example of how you see “the naked female form created for the male viewers reigns” is a very narrow perspective. I actually could see this painting included in an exhibition about the female gaze to create a more complex dialogue about sexual representation.
You mention that the exhibition will be contextualized within the realm of two recent exhibitions WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, and Global Feminisms. WACK ART was an historical exhibition ending in 1985 and both exhibitions were much larger and comprehensive that what is proposed. There are many artists included in Global Feminisms that could have been included in an exhibition here to introduce the CNY audience to important artists dealing with issues of gender, sexuality and representation including Catherine Opie, Kara Walker, Sam Taylor-Wood and others. You mention that the three artists you selected for the exhibition are all in their late 20s to early 30s and represent “Third –Wave Feminism” yet never elaborate on what that might mean. If indeed this is a movement or informed contemporary art practice this could be explored as a unifying theme for an exhibition. The current selection of the three artists and your multiple explanations of the variety of topics that unify their work is confusing and disjointed.
In describing how the exhibition will be presented to the public and the media you state that none of the public material including banners, outdoor signage, invitations and press images will contain genitalia. Yet it looks like there is exposed genitalia in the mock-up for the postcard you intend to send out as an announcement for the exhibition. This is clearly not something we can send out in the mail as a postcard.
In developing the mission and vision for the Warehouse Gallery as a space to exhibit contemporary art that engages the public in a dialogue about important issues of our life and times it would be expected that we address issues, idea, and images that would at times be challenging for the audience. In order to accomplish this successfully it is important that we approach such ideas and imagery with sound reasoning, thoughtful interpretation, and adequate context. I don’t feel that this has been accomplished for this exhibition and I look forward to meeting with you and Domenic on Tuesday to address these concerns.
From: Astria Suparak
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 1:33 PM
To: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone; Astria
Cc: Domenic Iacono; Frank Olive
Subject: Meeting Tuesday at TWG, 2pm?
Hello Domenic, Jeff, and Frank,
Are you able to meet at 2pm on Tuesday at the Warehouse Community Classroom?
Jeff, in order for me to better answer your questions, I need to know
whether you are asking me to defend the exhibition of these works at
this moment for you, or for the presentation of the exhibition to the
The gallery has made agreements and arrangements with the artists to
exhibit their work beginning August 23rd. Other University departments
have booked artist lectures.
I am fully invested in this exhibition happening. We need to figure
out how to work together to make this work for all of us involved.
We can discuss these issues tomorrow at the meeting, or you can
respond via email.
Director, The Warehouse Gallery
350 West Fayette St, Syracuse, NY 13202 USA
T: 315-443-6450 F: 315-443-6494
From: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone
Sent: Mon 7/23/2007 2:17 PM
To: Astria Suparak; 'Astria'
Cc: Domenic Iacono; 'Frank Olive'
Subject: RE: Meeting Tuesday at TWG, 2pm?
Presenting exhibitions of controversial work is challenging under the
best of circumstances. Those best circumstances include strong
curatorial justification, a reasoned contextual framework, and
compelling interpretive materials and programs. As I have stated "The
Female Gaze" is a weak and seriously flawed exhibition that also
contains controversial work that we will have to defend from this
point of weakness.
What we need to discuss tomorrow are options that include.
1. Cancelling or postponing the exhibition.
2. Moving forward with an exhibition that even despite the
controversial nature of some of the work is a curatorial thin
3. Changes or improvements that can be made in a short period of time
to improve the quality of the exhibition, its contextual framework,
and it interpretive materials and programs.
There are certainly problems with all three options and I look forward
to discussing them tomorrow.
Posted by CNXY at 11:42 PM
Just to introduce myself. I am an Assistant Professor at in . I am also a filmmaker and artist. The reason I am writing to you is that I just heard that Astria Suparak has just been dismissed from her position at the Warehouse Gallery and that you are personally responsible for this dismissal.
Posted by CNXY at 10:28 PM
From ’s :
“-Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in , you know?
-We should go there, get some guys together.
-Get some bricks and baseball bats and explain things to 'em.
-There was this devastating satirical piece on that in the Times.
-Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks get right
to the point.
-But biting satire is better that physical force.
-No, physical force is better with Nazis. It's hard to satirize a guy
with shiny boots.”
Clearly Cantor and her PR machine is worried about being embarassed.
You know what’s more embarrassing than blog posting? A large group of
shouting protestors marching from now until the end of Friday night, or
until Astria is reinstated as gallery director.
By the way, I am not stating in any way a literal or figural connection
between Cantor, SU admin or Mr. Hoone and Nazis (and, as a pacifist,
I am also clearly not advocating violence). The point of using this
quote is to say that visible, physical protest is usually more effective
than intellectual argument, which distance has made me guilty of.
Posted by CNXY at 4:30 PM
To Whom It May Concern,
I was completely surprised by recent news that Astria Suparak is being
forced out of her role as the director of the Warehouse Gallery. I have
known and admired Astria's curatorial abilities for years. I run the
Small Change film
screening series in and Astria has consistenly been one of
our most captivating and beloved re-ocurring guests.
When I learned that she was offered a position at the Warehouse Gallery
my first thought was not "how lucky" for Astria but, how smart and
progressive of the
Warehouse Gallery to snatch up such a daring and obviously talented
If you pay the slightest bit of attention to Astria's track record it
is clear that she is extremely creative
and has enough resources in the art world to make really exciting
things happen. I think the exhibits
she has curated thus far have proven that immensely.
I think the Warehouse Gallery should strongly re-consider it's position
in forcing out such a dynamic visionary who is clearly bringing
some of the contemporary art world's most promising and exciting work
and making the city a relevant and even competitive figure in the
Posted by CNXY at 4:01 PM
From what I’ve gathered from the blog and other sources, the reason for this decision is based on a difference in vision for the aesthetic future of the Warehouse Gallery. What this situation has shown the community and faculty is that you have a different aesthetic vision than the majority of people who wish to support Astria's endeavors here in . As many people have stressed there has been no concrete reason made public for this decision, not even for Astria who is the conduit of this frustrating mess. So this is the explanation the community receives, nothing more. At least hold a meeting between you and those who feel differently about this situation. Please stop hiding behind your vague script and give the faculty and the students some real reasons behind your decision. Help us to understand your position, because ultimately the position of the majority, the people who this decision directly effects, want Astria to continue being a positive asset to such a fragile territory. I hope this whole mess also shows everyone that an art scene is not just one person working their butt off to make things interesting, which I feel Astria has most certainly done. It requires participation from everyone to show support, especially when something as unfortunate as this happens.
Posted by CNXY at 1:15 PM
PRESS ABOUT JEFFREY HOONE OF CMAC AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY FIRING ASTRIA SUPARAK AT THE WAREHOUSE GALLERY
as of September 27, 2007
Syracuse Gallery Director's Dismissal Sparks Protests, September 21, 2007
INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest, September 21, 2007
THE MAG: BREAKING NEWS, September 21, 2007
R.I.P For Syracuse Arts Scene?, September 20, 2007
Save Astria!, September 24, 2007
THE BUFFALO NEWS
ArtsBeat: Claims of Censorship in Syracuse, September 25, 2007
THE DAILY ORANGE
Art Directors Firing Stuns Syracuse, September 19, 2007
THE DAILY ORANGE
City offers commission seat to dismissed Warehouse art director, September 26, 2007
Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go, 18 September 07
HALLWALLS AND ELSEWHERE
Shitstorm Hits Syracuse!, September 21, 2007
NEW YORK TIMES
Arts, Briefly: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest, September 21, 2007
PHOENIX AND SALAMANDER
Astria Suparak and the boundaries, September 21, 2007
Art community stunned by curator's termination: campaign of blogs, letters, e-mails in support of Astria Suparak has been launched, September 19, 2007
PRESS ABOUT JEFFREY HOONE OF CMAC AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY FIRING ASTRIA SUPARAK AT THE WAREHOUSE GALLERY (CONT’D)
as of September 27, 2007
Hundreds turn out to support curator, September 21, 2007
The Astria Suparak firing: Up or down for West Fayette?, September 21, 2007
Forum: Astria Suparak, 9/22/07
Yes Men cancel show at Warehouse, September 20, 2007
News: Dismissed Warehouse curator named to new Public Arts Commission, 9/24/2007
Editorial Cartoon: Widescreen Cammuso, Sunday, September 23, 2007:
Conservatism is Alive and Well at Syracuse University, September 19, 2007
Did anyone really think Chancellor Cantor would stop at HillTV?
BLOG POST: CARDONI, September 21, 2007
BLOG COMMENTS: CARDONI, September 19, 2007 12:43 PM
PUBLIC STATEMENT BY THE YES MEN, September 22, 2007
Syracuse Gallery Director's Dismissal Sparks Protests
September 21, 2007
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The dismissal of the director of an art gallery associated with Syracuse University has spurred protests from local art professionals and university personnel, reports the New York Times.
Astria Suparak, director of the Warehouse Gallery since its founding last July, was told on September 7 by Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, that her employment would be terminated effective September 30. She says she was not given a reason beyond the restructuring of the gallery, although she adds, “My aesthetic is very different from his. I’m interested in street art, riot grrl, and D.I.Y. aesthetics." University officials deny that the dismissal has anything to do with the exhibitions Suparak mounted, but people in the college town’s arts community believe otherwise. Many have protested her dismissal at syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest
The ouster of the founding director of an art gallery overseen by Syracuse University has drawn protest from academics and art professionals there, reports Nadja Sayev for the New York Times. The director, Astria Suparak, of the Warehouse Gallery, said that Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, had told her on September 7 that she would be dismissed effective September 30. She said he did not give a reason beyond saying that the gallery was being restructured. Carole Brzozowski, the dean of [the College of Visual and Performing Arts at] Syracuse University, said the content of gallery shows organized by Suparak had nothing to do with her dismissal. But people in the arts at Syracuse, including university art teachers, asserted that the ouster was related to risk-taking or innovative exhibitions she had organized since becoming the director last year. Suparak said of Hoone: “My aesthetic is very different from his.”
The MAG: Breaking News
September 21, 2007
Syracuse's arts community has been rocked with news of the dismissal of Astria Suparak, director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery, which is affiliated with Syracuse University. A campaign of blog entries, letters, e-mails, and letters to the editor in support of Suparak has been launched.
Blog: Food and Musings in Syracuse, New York
R.I.P For Syracuse Arts Scene?
September 20th, 2007
Surprise - the blog has taken on a deathly look. This is because the powers that be at Syracuse University have seen fit to dismiss Astria Suparak, who had been doing highly impressive work to vitalize the Syracuse art scene, not only on behalf of the university, but also with the intent of increasing connections between the university, Syracuse artists, and the Syracuse community as a whole.
If you’ve read this blog before, you’ve likely noticed that I try to find positive aspects of living in Syracuse, pass along what I’ve found for your enjoyment, and encourage your comments. I strive to maintain a positive tone; after all, there are many naysayers here, and I very much want our town to grow and prosper, despite its apparent lack of vision and self-esteem. But truthfully, I sometimes get completed frustrated, as I am today. Just when it seemed that Syracuse was beginning to “get it” and get the right people to help our city, hopes may be dashed yet again.
It’s not clear exactly why they dismissed Suparak, as all the facts aren’t in, so to speak. But in a way, that’s just the point - there’s been no explanation to the community and university population: the people that are most affected by this unfortunate decision. Because the administration has kept silent, we can only speculate. Maybe Suparak’s programming, which actually included some somewhat controversial content designed to challenge perceptions, offended some timid souls. Maybe she’s not a natural political player, a problem in a bureacracy full of fiefdoms jockeying for position.
What is clear is this - now that she’s been dismissed, letters of support are pouring in from an impressive contingent of arts luminaries all over the US and beyond. And once again, Syracuse is being viewed as a Loser City, not just by its residents, but internationally. Way to go!!!!!
Blog: Underground Film and Indie Comics
September 24, 2007
Astria Suparak is a phenomenal film and art curator. I caught a couple of her exhibits at past New York Underground Film Festivals, but for the past year she’s been the Director of the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, NY. I was actually gearing up to write a post on her current exhibit “Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze” and a special screening next month.
However, today I just learned that Astria is being forced out of her post. Not much reason has been given about her letting go, but apparently it seems extremely abrupt. She’ll be out of her job at the end of the month. A lot of grassroots Syracuse support to re-instate Astria has popped up, so if you want to learn more and maybe do something to help I’ll just direct you to two websites devoted to the cause: Keep Astria! and Syracuse Loses Again. Currently there’s no info on Astria’s official site, but check that out, too.
- Mike Everleth
Los Angeles, CA
The Buffalo News
ArtsBeat: Claims of Censorship in Syracuse
(Former curator Astria Suparak in the exhibition "Faux Naturel" at Syracuse University's Warehouse Gallery in 2006.)
September 25, 2007
By Colin Dabkowski
There's a fiery situation bubbling up in Syracuse that should be of vital interest for anyone concerned about censorship in the arts. A young curator, Astria Suparak, has been fired by Syracuse University from her position as director of the Warehouse Gallery, a position to which she was named in 2006.
Accusations are being traded back and forth over the firing, which the university characterizes simply and cryptically as "a personnel issue." Hundreds of Suparak's supporters, however, claim that the firing was the result of her unconventional and risque curatorial approach, especially as it applies to the gallery's current show "COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze," which Suparak programmed. That the exhibition contains pictures of male genitalia and other potentially "unpleasant" elements is prompting many to speculate that Suparak was fired because her approach was rubbing university officials, like Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Jeffrey Hoone, director of the University's Coalition of Museum and Art Centers.
The most surprising thing about this case so far is the fact that hundreds of people have taken Suparak's side. They have, as is unimaginable for even larger issues in more apathetic communities, actually taken to the streets, as Suparak's supporters did on Sept. 20, to express their frustration over this incredibly unpopular move by the university.
As we've seen in Buffalo with the surprisingly vitriolic debate over the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's decision to sell off important parts of its treasured collection, when the integrity or quality of our artists and institutions comes into question, people rise up and get angry.
The best we can hope, for our community as well as Syracuse's, is that the powers that be listen intently and act according to the public they serve.
THE Daily Orange
Art Directors Firing Stuns Syracuse
September 19, 2007
The sudden firing of The Warehouse Gallery's director left many in the Syracuse University community shocked and dismayed.
For most, including the dismissed director, Astria Suparak, the decision was mysterious and unexpected.
"I haven't talked to one person who wasn't shocked and appalled," said Allison Fox, a College of Visual and Performing Arts graduate student.
Recent SU graduate and former intern at the gallery Katie Skelly called the decision "unthinkable. … I really can't imagine what she could have done to make them fire her."
Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, took responsibility for Suparak's firing.
"Nobody else made this decision for me," Hoone said. "I made this decision in consultation with the human resources department."
Suparak, who has worked as curator and director of the gallery since June 2006, was given notice this past week. Since then, e-mails have been flying back and forth among faculty, students, artists and curators from all across the country trying to figure out what Hoone's reasoning could be.
The future of an upcoming exhibit by The Yes Men, a group of activists, has been in question since the announcement of Suparak's termination.
The Warehouse Gallery Web site stated that the exhibit had been canceled. This provoked a public outcry, especially from professors who had invested in it financially and had already incorporated the exhibit into their curriculum.
Hoone announced that he plans to work to keep the exhibit on the schedule and that he never canceled it in the first place.
Suparak, however, believes otherwise.
"He definitely told me it was canceled, and I asked very specifically," Suparak said.
Either way, there is a question whether The Yes Men will even do the show anymore without Suparak as director.
"I don't think they're going to come here without Astria," says Joanna Spitzner, a professor in the Foundation program at VPA. Hoone "hasn't developed that relationship with them."
"This is a bad decision that's really going to have serious implications for the future of the city's cultural life and spirit," said Tom Sherman, a professor of video and media theory.
Sherman said the firing has more to do with the current exhibit, "COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze," than The Yes Men. He said the original title of the current show contained the word "feminist," and Hoone demanded it be censored out.
Suparak agreed that Hoone did not want the word in the title of the exhibit. She said she had to change the title two additional times because Hoone didn't like the revised title.
Hoone denied that there was any controversy surrounding the exhibit.
An informational postcard about the exhibit was withdrawn from the prepared packages for first-year students at the last minute. The decision to do so was made by members of the Chancellor's Cabinet and Office of Public Affairs.
Suparak said she was surprised by this action because the design had been specifically approved for the packages.
The question of why Suparak was fired has still not been directly answered.
"I was not given a reason when I was fired," Suparak said. "He told me that he had high standards, and this was really confusing to me because I really feel like I've done a lot with my time here."
Hoone said legally there are things he cannot disclose. When asked to be more specific about Suparak's shortcomings to justify his decision, he began discussing window displays.
"This is personnel change," Hoone said, "in order to get the best mix of people and resources together to do that."
Supporters in Syracuse and across the country have mobilized in support of Suparak. A letter-writing campaign started at www.syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com.
Suparak's supporters said she has fulfilled the gallery's mission beyond expectations. VPA professor Spitzner said Suparak has an "ability to connect with really interesting artists."
In fact, some have moved to the Syracuse area because of their desire to work with Suparak.
"I was looking for a job already, but meeting her really convinced me to take the job at Syracuse," said Frank Olive, assistant director at The Warehouse Gallery
Students also said she was doing a great job in enriching their experiences.
"She's definitely making this place younger, hipper, which we need desperately," said Stephanie Koenig, a VPA graduate student.
The blog, which was created in response to her firing, has an outpouring of support from the community. Many posts have mentioned surprise that Chancellor Nancy Cantor has not come out in support of Suparak.
Jan Pottie, a personal friend of Suparak's, said Suparak is very involved with committees having to do with Syracuse's art community such as the Public Arts Task Force and the Public Arts Commission.
Those supporting Suparak said her dedication and involvement in bridging the gap between the university and the downtown community runs parallel to Cantor's own vision of the Connective Corridor.
"Astria is organized, conscientious and precise," Pottie said. "But what really sets her apart is that she treats every exhibition as a work of art in and of itself, often adding elements of her own to enhance the experience of the audience."
"Imagine Syracuse actually has a good football team for once, and we have a really good coach, and then suddenly that coach is fired," gallery intern Skelly said.
"Clearly what The Warehouse Gallery has been to this community has been very active and dynamic and valuable and that is completely recognized," Ann Clarke, VPA associate dean, said.
The overwhelming support for Suparak has not made Hoone doubt his decision, however unpopular.
"I feel very confident in the decision," he said.
Suparak, on the other hand, is devastated by the decision.
"I had been working on the next two years of programming, and that was very exciting for me," she said. "It's too bad that everything's been canceled by what seems to be the position of one person."
THE DAILY ORANGE
City offers commission seat to dismissed Warehouse art director
By: Megan Saucke, Posted: 9/26/07
Astria Suparak's last day as director of The Warehouse Gallery will be Friday, but she might still play a significant role in the Syracuse art scene.
The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Suparak to the city's Public Arts Commission. Earlier this month, she was dismissed from her position at the gallery.
"Her appointment legislation was actually done before her being let go," said Ryan McMahon, Syracuse common councilor. "She still has something to bring to the art community, so we thought that it was appropriate to nominate her."
While Suparak said she would like to take part in the 11-member volunteer commission, she is not sure if she will be able to stay in Syracuse.
Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, took sole responsibility for dismissing Suparak on Sept. 7. He said firing Suparak is a part of restructuring the gallery's leadership, and that further details are confidential.
The Yes Men, a group of satirical imposters, whose act at the gallery was canceled earlier this month, said it will not exhibit at the gallery without Suparak.
"It's an honor to be respected by the city even if the university isn't going to," Suparak said Tuesday. She said the Public Arts Commission is an "important step" for the city of Syracuse.
The commission is responsible for creating a public art master plan "to enrich the visual and aesthetic environment of spaces within the City of Syracuse that are in some way accessible to the public," according to the Public Art Ordinance.
"It's clear that the city thinks Astria is important, and if the university doesn't make every effort to keep her here, they're making a big mistake," said Joanna Spitzner, a professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Suparak said she is waiting to see if the university will reinstate her. Failing to do so would be to "completely ignore the international art community and the community and its faculty, students, etc."
"I really don't know what the future holds for me. I've been trying to retain my position as director," she said. "If I can get a similar job with enough resources and staff to make an impact and make a difference, I would like to stay."
Despite receiving dozens of e-mails protesting the decision, Cantor continued her support of Hoone's decision to dismiss Suparak.
"This is a personnel decision and my role in that case is to make sure it was handled in an appropriate manner through our human resources department," Cantor said in an interview. "I assured myself that indeed there had been a process in place, and it had gone through appropriate channels."
Tom Sherman, professor of video and media theory, said as head of the gallery, Suparak was in line with the university's mission.
"In her job as a curator, she really did go out into the city and build bridges to the city like the university always talks about building," Sherman said.
Both Cantor and Hoone said the firing had nothing to do with censorship. But critics have raised questions concerning an exhibit called "COME ON: Desire under the female gaze," which is currently on display.
"This is specifically about working relationships in The Warehouse Gallery and restructuring The Warehouse Gallery going forth," Cantor said.
In mid-August, Hoone received an e-mail representing Cantor's cabinet that raised questions about the timing of the exhibit. In the e-mail, Matthew Snyder, director of communications and media relations for the division of student affairs, told Hoone that ads for the exhibit would be taken out of a packet given to incoming freshmen.
Hoone provided the e-mail to The Daily Orange on Tuesday after declining an interview.
Hoone always defended the decision to bring "COME ON" to the gallery, Cantor said, which features erotic sketches of men and women and exposure to genitals.
In his response to Snyder, Hoone wrote that the "work responds to our daily barrage of images that objectify young girls and women in the media. This is an issue that is very relevant to our student population and is consistent with our mission as an institution."
About 400 people attended the exhibit's opening on Sept. 20.
The Yes Men
The Yes Men, a group originally scheduled to come to The Warehouse from November to January, confirmed it will not exhibit without Suparak as the gallery's director.
"Astria was putting in the work to make up for the time that we didn't have," said Mike Bonanno, the group's co-founder. "So once she was gone, there was no way that we could expect to be able to do the show."
The act, which is controversial for its anti-capitalist statements, was canceled earlier this month, according to The Warehouse's Web site. Hoone said he didn't cancel the show and still wants the group to come.
Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum founded The Yes Men, currently based in New York City, in 1999.
The act wasn't able to attend the Seattle protest against the World Trade Organization, so it created a satirical Web site. When the site was mistaken for the real thing, it got invited to speak at conferences.
The Yes Men have since made many appearances impersonating people in power such as Halliburton executives and other CEOs. Bichlbaum describes it as "dramatizing the criminality that goes on."
"Students really connect with the issues that they're calling attention to and also the way they do it because it's fun, it's playful," professor Spitzner said. "But it makes you really think a lot about our society and the role that corporations play in it."
© Copyright 2007 The Daily Orange
THE WORLD’S LEADING ART MAGAZINE
Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go
18 September 07
Astria Suparak is being dismissed from her post as Director of The Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, New York. Originally hired in 2006 to run and develop the gallery, which is financed by the university and located in downtown Syracuse, Suparak has been embraced and celebrated by the local arts community for her programming. Her exhibitions have included Come On: Desire Under The Female Gaze, Faux Naturel, Embracing Winter, and Networked Nature. For reasons unclear, Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University has decided to terminate Suparak's position. As stated in a newsletter, "Faculty, students, artists and arts organizations are baffled by this decision." The local community is fighting to see Suparak stay and have begun protesting the decision by sending letters to Jeffrey Hoone.
Before going to Syracuse, Suparak worked for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY; Liverpool Biennial, U.K.; IMPAKT Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands; EYEBEAM, New York, NY; Yale University, Hartford, CT; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; and LTTR Art Journal, amongst many other organizations for art and new media.
HALLWALLS AND ELSEWHERE
Blog: the coming week's events at hallwalls contemporary arts center, buffalo, ny; other local listings; sundry filler material
Shitstorm Hits Syracuse!
September 21, 2007
Young curator Astria Suparak generated a great deal of excitement during her first year as Director of The Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, NY. The recent news that she would be deaccessioned from her position in a "restructuring" move has upset and incensed a lot of people, in Syracuse and across the country. No one gets it and no one can imagine what Suparak might have done to merit her dismissal. Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, has taken full responsibility for the firing but has failed to detail any justification for the dismissal, falling back on the politically-convenient trope that there are issues he is unable to legally disclose.
I've met Astria, but don't know her personally. I have, however, in the past year, heard NOTHING BUT raves and bottomless enthusiasm for the program she developed at Warehouse and the energy she has injected into the local scene. It's disappointing, to say the least, to see the fantastic forward momentum of a young curator be interrupted so suddenly and emphatically.
New York Times
Arts, Briefly: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest
September 21, 2007
The ouster of the founding director of an art gallery overseen by Syracuse University has drawn protest from academics and art professionals there. The director, Astria Suparak, below, of the Warehouse Gallery, said that Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, had told her on Sept. 7 that she would be dismissed effective Sept. 30. She said he did not give a reason beyond saying that the gallery was being restructured. (In a telephone interview, Mr. Hoone said he could not discuss Ms. Suparak but that he was revamping the gallery’s leadership.) Carole Brzozowski, the dean of Syracuse University, said the content of gallery shows organized by Ms. Suparak had nothing to do with her dismissal. But people in the arts at Syracuse, including university art teachers, asserted that the ouster was related to risk-taking or innovative exhibitions she organized since becoming the director last year. (Many have posted protests of her dismissal at syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com.) Ms. Suparak said of Mr. Hoone: “My aesthetic is very different from his. I’m interested in street art, riot grrl and D.I.Y. aesthetics.” A sign at the entrance to the gallery’s current show, “Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” reads, “This exhibition contains work generally intended for mature audiences.” Ms. Suparak said it was posted at Mr. Hoone’s behest. NADJA SAYEJ
phoenix and salamander
Astria Suparak and the boundaries
September 21, 2007
It sounds like a band.
Astria Suparak, founding director of the Warehouse Gallery , a contemporary art gallery overseen by Syracuse University, my alma mater, has been dismissed by Jeffrey Hoone, overseer of the university’s art centers. His explanation is that the gallery is being restructured. Carol Brzozowski, dean of the Crouse College of Visual and Performing Arts, my college, states that the content of the shows Suparak curated had nothing to do with her dismissal. Sure. Most folks in the know say differently, that it was Ms. Suparak’s choice of topics for exhibitions. The New York Times quotes Suparak as describing her aesthetic as “…street art, riot grrl and D.I.Y.” An article in the Syracuse New Times, my old favorite (my friend J used to sell classified ads for them, weren’t they personal ads, J?) describes her latest exhibit, “Desire Under the Female Gaze” in this manner:
“Female artists explicitly express desire, fantasy, disappointment and pleasure in a variety of mediums to counterbalance the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream media.” Got all that? if not, just check out the website. www.thewarehousegallery.org At Mr. Hoone’s request, a sign posted at the entrance to the gallery currently reads “This exhibit contains work generally intended for mature audiences.” Oh quick, Mr. Hoone, save us from ourselves! Thank you so much for that edifying sign. I expected it to be about our love of shoes and shopping.
What rankles me about this (and here let me state that I agree with the faculty and students that assert that this is due to choice of show content and not ‘gallery restructuring’), is that if we cannot explore the more controversial aspects of art (and here let me state that I HARDLY consider this topic - female desire and mainstream sexuality - controversial) at a relatively liberal and private university, where can we explore it? And how can we assert that an artistic, educational institution is a place of inspiration, revelation and innovation if we restrict it at its rawest edge?
Of course, this exhibit is most likely not the straw that broke the uptight camel’s back. I don’t wonder that it was more likely shows from the past, or perhaps even shows from Astria’s lexicon that were never intended to be in Syracuse. (Many totally fascinating, by the way - check out her past exhibits on her website.)
All this stinks of corporate ties and money, money, money. Who is Syracuse University displeasing by keeping Astria and her partner Brett Kashmere on the payroll? Or is it a case of the right person for the job being offed in order to give her position to someone who brings more corporate money with them? It will be interesting to see who fills Astria’s sizeable, forward thinking and extremely funky shoes. I predict a safer, extremely calculated and dry replacement. Who is male.
Astria will be fine. She is a tremendous art mind, and her talents will be welcomed many many places where the powers are fearless and wise. That is where she belongs.
We, as students, faculty and alumni of Syracuse University and Crouse College, will not be so fine. We are discovering our pride in the limitless possibilities we were charged to develop sullied by the arbitrary boundaries enforced by a small group of people who have not our artistic freedom as a priority but corporate bargaining and abuse of power. Our trust and faith is broken. Where is S.U.’s spirit? Why are you no longer brave?
If you’d like to learn more about this situation, and voice your opinion, please check out the blog: http://www.syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com/
Art community stunned by curator's termination: campaign of blogs, letters, e-mails in support of Astria Suparak has been launched.
By Melinda Johnson. Arts editor
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Syracuse's arts community has been rocked with news of the dismissal of Astria Suparak, director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery. A campaign of blog entries, letters, e-mails, and letters to the editor in support of Suparak has been launched.
Suparak was the first director of the contemporary art gallery, which is affiliated with Syracuse University and housed at 350 W. Fayette St. While she was terminated earlier this month, Suparak will remain on the job until Sept. 30.
At the end of June, Suparak said her boss Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University, told her a reorganization was planned and she would report to Domenic Iacono, director of SU Art Galleries. She was told her position would remain unchanged.
On Sept. 7, Suparak said she was informed she was being "let go" during a four-minute meeting with Hoone. She described the meeting as having a "complete lack of clarity" and "decisions were very opaque."
"I'm taken aback by what seems to be dramatic decisions," Suparak said.
On Tuesday, Hoone said a personnel change has taken place. In a press release, he stated that conversations with Suparak began six months ago and included discussions with CMAC personnel and the human resources staff "that involves confidential issues and issues related to overall long-term goals and objectives."
Hoone said the gallery will continue with its mission and work with the community. "We'll go in the direction contemporary artists take us," he said by phone.
He said there will be "no gap" in the gallery's programming. Hoone also denied rumors of the cancellation of the November exhibit, "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With The Yes Men." "We are working with the artists to see if we can go forward with the exhibition."
Attempts to contact The Yes Men were unsuccessful.
Mick Mather, special projects coordinator at Cultural Resources Council, has worked with Suparak on two downtown public art projects and community outreach efforts.
"She's young, smart, very good at what she does," he said. He has been impressed to have "someone so forward-thinking."
Her departure will disrupt the connections she has forged with younger artists who are producing emerging art forms - electronica, technology and short films, Mather said.
"That is something that's going to be stunted," he said.
As with any "corporate behemoth," Mather said, a six-month paper trail is common when an employee is terminated. Of the process, he said, "it's never really transparent enough for the person who's going or the community."
Suparak, 29, said she accepted the position as director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery in June 2006 because it offered the ability to create a new contemporary art space from the outset.
She acknowledged that there had been some difficulties. "I thought we had dealt with each one effectively." She pointed to the success of her five major exhibitions, collaboration with international artists, media attention and turnout of 300 to 400 guests at opening receptions.
Suparak will host a Thursday reception for the current exhibition, "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze," considered by some to be controversial for its sexual content.
Hundreds turn out to support curator
Friday, September 21, 2007
Sean Kirst, Post-Standard Columnist
Hundreds of people were out walking Thursday evening on West Fayette Street. They stopped at the Delavan Art Gallery. They moved in and out of a jammed house at The Warehouse Gallery. They crossed the street to see an exhibit at the Redhouse.
Once they got there, they could not miss the big message that Redhouse managing director Natalia Mount wrote in chalk on the facade:
“Fight 4 creative freedom! Down with censorship!”
Mount said she wrote those words on general principle, and to demonstrate some new innovations at the Redhouse, where the staff wants to find a way to use chalk for spontaneous public art.
But Mount said she also wrote that message as a tribute to Astria Suparak, director and curator of Syracuse University’s nearby Warehouse Gallery, who learned this month that she is losing her job.
“I cannot imagine, for Astria, how this must feel,” Mount said. Jeffrey Hoone, who fired Suparak, says censorship was not the issue. He said the decision was based on personnel matters that are impossible to publicly discuss.
The appeal of The Warehouse, he predicted, will only grow stronger. “We’re really looking to the future with this gallery,” said Hoone, executive director of SU’s Coalition of Museums and Art Centers. The jagged feelings over Suparak’s release, he said, are “something we need to get through in order to build that space.”
The decision has brought the arts community to a boil, and incited open rebellion by some members of the SU faculty. Many maintain the firing is related to Suparak’s willingness to go out on the edge in such shows as "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” which includes male genitalia and homosexual intimacy.
Yet Courtney Rile, marketing and public relations director at the Delavan, said Suparak also has a “poignant” touch, and that her shows often focus on communal themes.
“She did one (show) called ‘Embracing Winter,’ and it had a 17-foot mitten,” Rile said. “Come on. Everyone in Syracuse can embrace that, and knows what it means.”
As for Suparak, 29, who mingled Thursday with supporters, she said she was “treated horribly” by Hoone, and that he told her that her work did not meet his standards.
What was lost on no one, on either side of the divide, was the way Thursday’s outpouring rose toward meeting the original vision for The Warehouse. When SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor proposed turning an old downtown furniture warehouse into classroom and gallery space, she spoke of a bond between the campus and the city that would bring life to dormant downtown streets.
That vibrancy was evident Thursday. Rile, of the Delavan, rode along as a guide on an “art bus” that brought dozens of art lovers from Rochester to Syracuse for a gallery tour, a new connection scheduled to routinely link galleries in the two cities. At the packed Warehouse Gallery, many locals in the crowd said they came in support of Suparak.
The real question is what happens on West Fayette Street, once she’s gone.
Kate Clark, who chairs the public arts task force of the community group known as 40 Below, said Suparak’s commitment to the city extended beyond SU. Clark said Suparak was a regular at city-coordinated Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today meetings for downtown, and that she provided hands-on advice for the “totem” project that turned old parking meter holders into totem poles.
“For me,” Clark said, “Astria has been a huge leader in the public arts in Syracuse.”
Mount and Marianne Dalton, gallery director at the Redhouse, spoke with regret of how Suparak’s departure will cost Syracuse a visit from the Yes Men, a group that identifies its members as “imposters” who run carefully orchestrated spoofs that lacerate international corporate policies.
The Yes Men, Mount said, could have drawn a curious mainstream crowd to the gallery district. They announced this week they will not come if Suparak is gone.
“It’s unbelievable, as a curator, to think about having your vision severed like that,” Dalton said. She said that Suparak “put us on the map.”
Many visitors said the university, if it had substantial grounds for the firing, should offer a detailed public explanation. Both Hoone and an SU spokesman said they can’t do it. But they said the debate proves how much the community has grown to care about The Warehouse, energy that Hoone contends will not leave with Suparak.
“In an odd way,” he said, “what this shows us is that we’re right on target to fill the need.”
Sean Kirst is a columnist with The Post-Standard. His columns appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Suparak: Stay or go? The campaign to save Astria Suparak’s job at The Warehouse Gallery has gathered many messages of support at syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com. Columnist Sean Kirst would like to know your feelings on the decision. Contact him by visiting his blog and forum at www.syracuse.com/kirst, by e-mailing him at email@example.com, or by writing to him in care of The Post-Standard, Clinton Square, Syracuse 13221.
The Astria Suparak firing: Up or down for West Fayette?
September 21, 2007 12:10AM
Sean Kirst, Columnist
I had a few thoughts as I watched hundreds of art lovers Thursday night moving from The Delavan to The Red House to The Warehouse, along West Fayette Street.
I thought of how this would have been unimaginable 20 years ago, when The Warehouse was a warehouse and The Redhouse was a battered old tavern.
I thought of how incredible it would be, in this budding gallery district, if those chipped and battered railroad bridges were handed over to teams of artists as enormous examples of public art.
I thought of how much this district might achieve if this $56 million investment on the Near West Side comes to be.
And I thought of the irony of how this great burst of energy on a downtown street was potentially a form of a goodbye, touched off by the firing of a person hired with the mission of helping to generate that energy.
Astria Suparak, curator of The Warehouse Gallery, has been dismissed by the university. Jeffrey Hoone, the university official who dismissed her, said he is constrained from speaking publicly of the reasons, constraints that go with any personnel decision. In that void, angry members of the arts community contend that Suparak was let go for reasons from censorship to institutional jealousy at her success.
You can read many of those arguments in this blog, much of it assembled by Joanna Spitzner, an assistant professor at SU and one of those organizing support for Suparak.
I lead off the reader response with this note from Lonnie Chu, an instructor at SU and a community activist in Eastwood.
And I look forward to hearing your thoughts, one way or another, regarding West Fayette - and what happens after Suparak.
Posted by sean on 09/21/07 at 12:32AM
A note from Lonnie Chu of Eastwood, whose e-mail first alerted me to the breadth of the reaction to Suparak's firing:
I am outraged that Astria Suparak would be dismissed so suddenly and with so little transparency to the community. But I am not alone. I have been following with great interest the incredible number of letters of support, heartfelt and well written, that have been appearing on the Syracuse Warehouse blog
(http://syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com/) They come from not only Syracuse, but from other cities, other states, even other countries.
Astria is a treasure that the city and the university need to support and nurture, for she is a one-woman Connective Corridor, making art fun, accessible, perhaps troubling, but always exciting.
There have been a number of themes expressed by those writing in. I'd like to summarize some of them here.
- Astria is a curator of international renown and unimpeachable professionalism. Letters of support have come in from students, professors at Syracuse University, and other places such as New York, Troy, Toronto, Montreal and Texas A&M University. She is highlighted in FlashArtonline.com "The World's Leading Art Magazine":
Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go.
- Astria is a magnet that has attracted people to live in the city and artists to do shows here. In fact, "The Yes Men" agreed to come here because of Astria and have thus canceled their November exhibit because of her dismissal. It is not the Warehouse, it is Astria in the Warehouse that is attracting these artists. Without her, they don't want to be here. We can look forward to an exodus of those who came because of the excitement her work has generated and we can go back to getting used to being known as a "loser city."
- Astria has the skill and takes the time to build relationships with community members, organizations and businesses. She's been active in the downtown TNT and she and her visiting artists use the services and products of local vendors.
- The Warehouse Gallery does not just happen. It takes vision and connections like Astria's to make all of this happen. If she is made to leave, all of her work stops. Relationships will have been severed, trust will have been betrayed. Once that happens, it's very hard to start it up again. To paraphrase one writer, if you dynamite this span in the bridge that is the Connective Corridor, the whole thing can collapse. Astria's work has inspired hope in city residents. Take that away, and much of the progress we've been making can reverse itself.
- The timing of this dismissal does not bode well. Just when the most recent show, "COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze" is opening, and just when The Yes Men are about to come to town, Astria is suddenly fired. As one writer pointed out, it is very ironic that we learn of her dismissal on the same day as the Newhouse III dedication. Emblazoned on the outside wall of that building are the words of the First Amendment of the Constitution that protect freedom of speech. Yet Astria was made to change the original title for "COME ON" - apparently a "feminist gaze" was not acceptable. Now the appearance is that the entire theme is unacceptable. This may not be the case, but the impression it gives the outside world is seriously detrimental to Syracuse.
Caroline Szozda, Gallery Manager of the Delavan Art Gallery, expresses eloquently why Astria's dismissal is such a loss to Syracuse:
"Since opening in 2006, through Astria, the Warehouse Gallery has helped become a cornerstone of the area art scene going well beyond just the visual arts. In a very short period of time, it has gained a solid following from the students, artists and the community at large. She has been able to put together exciting, interesting events and exhibitions that most people would never suspect would/could happen in Syracuse. Through her work, she has helped enrich, rejuvenate and energize the people and community around her."
It is not too late to reinstate her. Syracuse does not have to be the loser any more.
September 21 2007 at 12:09pm
[...] I'm writing here in response to your coverage of the arts community's response to the firing of Astria Suparak. I wanted to address something else briefly about the current show at the Warehouse. Besides bringing together artists from the northeast US centers and Canada so that Syracuse is an exciting artistic cross-roads, this show in particular is an exciting reflection of national trends in women's art.
Beginning last year, the Feminist Art Project (now based at Rutgers) began a series of events, symposiums, landmark exhibitions and traveling shows to commemorate the growth and current status of Feminist Art from the 1970's onward. While the uninformed (and the hostile) might think that "feminist art" is passe, out of date, a decades-old ancient history, these events suggest something else entirely.
Last winter, the Museum of Modern Art's week-long symposium on the future of feminist art was packed. Then the opening of the Sackler Center of Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, which unveiled the new permanent home of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" and opened with the show "Global Feminisms," featuring younger women artists from around the world. There's been the WACK! exhibition on the West Coast, and the year-long celebrations in Washington DC of the 40th anniversary of the National Women's Art Museum. These events have revealed a lively and crowded field of women artists, and a mainstream museum and gallery structure that still under-represents them.
As a project of Women's Voices Radio/WAER 88.3 FM, Joan Burstyn and I undertook a project last winter to produce a series of shows that would link this national activity with CNY artists' work and concerns. Joan and I attended part of the MoMA symposium. Following up that trip, I returned to the Brooklyn Museum for the opening of the Sackler Center and the Global Feminisms show of younger artists. We produced four hour-long installments of "Visual Arts Near and Far" that aired on Women's Voices, boiled down from many hours of interviews with women artists, art educators, curators, collectors, & critics.
My point is that "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze" is right in tune with this surge of national activity. We know this because we went out of Syracuse to find that activity, interview people and look at work. And Astria Suparak brought a piece of that to the heart of downtown. "Come On" is a terrifically important and contemporary show to have in Syracuse and, far from being a fringe production, it's right in the flow of traffic of current larger art thinking and practice.
Nancy Keefe Rhodes
by syrakatzmeow, 9/22/07 13:42 ET
Re: Astria Suparak by sean, 9/22/07
In regard to the firing of Astria Suparak - Maybe you should be looking into the way that Jeff Hoone became "king of all art" of Syracuse. For many years, I was witness to the shoddy treatment afforded members and visitors to Community Darkrooms by Mr. Hoone, while those who could "contribute" to his cause (his own climb up the ladder of success) were were welcomed with open arms, and ingratiating gestures. For example, upon Nancy Cantor's selection as Chancellor, he pulled strings as fast as humanly possible to secure a painting for the University in her name by her favorite artist Sol LeWitt, and who knows what else. The next thing we knew, he is given dictatorial control over all art shown at the University - and then he went for the EVERSON! Thank goodness that Sandra Tropp had the backbone to stand up to this shameless comer!
It should be obvious to anyone who has seen the kind of tripe that Mr. Hoone has served up for years at the photography, and now, art galleries at SU that the main reason behind his having fired Ms. Suparak is that she has the kind of vision and ability to bring truly innovative, cutting-edge work to Syracuse that has eluded him. He was never qualified for this "king of all art" position - and HE is the one who should be released - and possibly replaced by Ms. Suparak!?
Yes Men cancel show at Warehouse
By Melinda Johnson, Arts editor
September 20, 2007
One of the major exhibits this year at The Warehouse Gallery has been cancelled because of the termination this month of the gallery's director, Astria Suparak.
The Yes Men - who are variously described as social activist art or performance artists, anti-corporate activists - have cancelled their November exhibit, "Keeping It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With the Yes Men."
"The reason we cancelled The Warehouse exhibition is because we'd only agreed to do it because of Astria's discretion, persistence and inventivity," wrote Andy Bichlbaum, one of the principals of The Yes Men, in an e-mail.
In his electronic message, Bichlbaum stated that The Yes Men rarely do art shows because it's "too time-absorbing." The exception is "when they intersect with some other more important activity in a direct way."
The Yes Men express their art and activism during encounters with unsuspecting people. They have impersonated politicians, corporate executives and speakers while delivering their political messages.
Besides The Warehouse Gallery exhibit, The Yes Men were to give a lecture and a feature-length film on their activities was to be screened. All of these programs were to be part of Syracuse University's year-long Syracuse Symposium. This year's theme is justice.
On Wednesday, Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees The Warehouse Gallery as the executive director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at Syracuse University, said The Yes Men had not notified him of cancellation of the exhibit.
But, if that is the case, he said an exhibit of contemporary art would be installed in place of The Yes Men at the gallery, which is part of Syracuse University.
"We'll continue with our commitments that we've made to the community about the gallery and to look forward," he said.
News: Dismissed Warehouse curator named to new Public Arts Commission
Posted by civen
September 24, 2007 5:35PM
The Syracuse Common Council on Monday approved its appointments to the city's new Public Arts Commission.
Appointed were three city residents: Tere Paniagua, senior editor for the Point of Contact Gallery; Matt Waltz of the Central New York Community Foundation, who is also a musician; and Astria Suparak who was told Sept. 7 that she would lose her job as director at Syracuse University's Warehouse Gallery.
The council had originally decided to hold Suparak's appointment after it learned of her dismissal, but decided Monday that Suparak's qualifications went beyond her role at the Warehouse, said Council President Bea Gonzalez.
The council approved her appointment, and the others, 7-0, with two councilors absent. The commission, which will have 11 members after Mayor Matt Driscoll makes his appointments, is charged with reviewing public art proposals and formulating a Public Arts Master Plan.
Sunday, September 23, 2007:
Conservatism is Alive and Well at Syracuse University
September 19, 2007
On the same day that Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. delivered a keynote address on the First Amendment at Syracuse University, members of the University’s Administration are engaged in a deceitful whitewashing campaign. Call it “Operation: Obfuscation,” or “Operation: Let’s See How Long We Can Stonewall Before Everyone Forgets What Is Actually Going On.” (Anyone who has followed the last seven years of Bush Administration doublespeak will recognize this strategy). After recently censoring The Warehouse Gallery’s current exhibition, “COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” and canceling the upcoming exhibition by internationally-acclaimed, anti-corporate social activists, THE YES MEN, Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of Syracuse University's Coalition of Museum and Art Centers is (mis)informing people (through the aid of an auto-response form letter) that the show will go on as originally planned. This is an outright lie. The Yes Men have made it abundantly clear, to Hoone and to others at the university, that the SHOW WILL NOT GO ON.
“Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men,” curated by outgoing Warehouse Gallery Director Astria Suparak, was scheduled to open TWO MONTHS from now. The real reason for Hoone’s cancellation of this major exhibition, which would’ve been the first of its kind anywhere in the world, has nothing to do with a “new structure and a revised and broader position for leadership of the Warehouse Gallery.” It has everything to do with old school taste, individual greed, conservative university politics, corporate power, and capitalist imperatives.
Did anyone really think Chancellor Cantor would stop at HillTV?
Warehouse Gallery Director, Astria Suparak, is on the chopping block for COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze, an art exhibition that explores "the dimensions of [female] desire".
According to the Warehouse Gallery press release, COME ON reveals what is not represented in popular culture and provides a counterbalance to the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream heterosexual male sensibilities.
A favorable review by Post Standard's art critic, Katherine Rushworth, describes the show as "not for the sexually repressed." Rushworth writes, "if you can get past the ubiquitous presence of the male sexual organ you might just be coaxed into thinking about gay sex, intimacy, morality and the fleeting nature of romance."
Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Jeff Hoone, Executive Director, Museum & Arts Centers, when confronted with ubiquitous imagery created for female sensibilites, had only one thought: CANCEL!
Hoone, presumably with Cantor's blessing, had already asserted his big ubiquitous authority over Suparak, forcing her to remove the word "feminist" from the title of Come On.
Remove the word "feminist"?
Apparently the word feminist is far too offensive for the sensibilities of Hoone and Chancellor Cantor (and also perhaps Rush Limbaugh?)
Unfortunately for Suparak (and for all of us) Hoone and Chancellor Nancy Cantor are so uncomfortable with a feminist come on that they have completely canceled Suparak's next show, The Yes Men , and fired Astria Suparak to boot!
Fired for personnel reasons? Or censored for personal reasons? Shame on these bullies.
The future of Astria Suparak at the Warehouse Gallery remains uncertain. The University, the Warehouse Gallery and the city of Syracuse, all stand to lose if Suparak is forced to leave.
-- D. Wilson
Blog Post: Cardoni
September 21, 2007
Dear Jesse Frasier,
Could you please post the poll question “Should Astria Suparak be retained/reinstated as Director of The Warehouse Gallery?”
I would vote YES to that wholeheartedly, which would mean Jeff Hoone would have to reverse what has clearly shown itself to be a wrong administrative decision on his part, as demonstrated by the virtual unanimity—or at least overwhelming preponderance—of pro-Astria postings from Syracuse U., Syracuse artists, and professional colleagues across the country.
But I don’t necessarily see grounds for Jeff’s resignation in that, which would just mean two valued contributors to our field would be out of jobs. (I would, however, join in calling for Jeff’s resignation if this really did turn out to be about censoring the Yes Men show, or controversial shows—or even just funky ones!—as a general policy.)
From their own blog comments, there seem to be people in Syracuse, unfortunately identifying themselves only as “Anonymous”—which I feel is cowardly, by the way—who obviously just don’t like Jeff, and would just as soon see him gone, on this pretext or any other that might arise. But I think our goal should be Astria’s reinstatement, and not Jeff’s resignation.
And I have no basis on which to vote for the dismantling of the CMAC, just because Jeff made the wrong call in this case, or might even be the wrong guy for the job. SUNY at Buffalo (a.k.a. UB) has a Director of UB Art Galleries, Dr. Sandra H. Olsen, who is a great administrator, supportive of her curator’s initiatives, and courageous in her support of provocative and controversial exhibitions of contemporary art in both university and community contexts. So such a structure can work, as long as it’s directed by the right leader, as UB’s is.
Whether Syracuse U.’s is appears seriously in question.
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Blog COMMENTS: Cardoni
September 19, 2007 12:43 PM
Ed Cardoni, Hallwalls said...
I'm intrigued by the comment of Anonymous (the first one on today's date). Not being part of Syracuse's art scene, but of Buffalo's, I'm not in a position to judge the validity of Anonymous's characterization of Jeff Hoone as "the Art Tsar." However, I DO know that for an arts community to have an "Art Tsar," or for anyone to aspire to be a community's "Art Tsar" would be a bad thing. (I guess I'm an Art Bolshevik that way, though not to the point of execution by firing squad.)
More to the point, I, too, have admired Lightwork, and Jeff's founding and directing of it, for many, many years. Its support for and programming of exquisite photography and photography publications by important emerging and established American and world photographers (including some controversial ones) is of national and international stature, and is unique, even among centers of photography. Buffalo's own equally excellent CEPA is, for example, very different from its fellow photo gallery down the Thruway, just as CEPA and Hallwalls, though born in the same place and time, started out and have grown up very differently, though we still work together very well.
So I very much agree with Anonymous here: it would indeed be a bad idea to make the Warehouse a second Lightwork in Syracuse, "Lightwork 2" as Anonymous calls it, if that is what Jeff is up to or has in mind, even remotely or unconsciously. As an Upstate NY colleague, I would very much discourage Jeff from using his position as Executive Director of Syracuse U.'s Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, i.e., an administrator (though he apparently has every authority to do so), to put his own curatorial stamp on the Warehouse, let alone shows he has already curated for Lightwork. I find it works better for administrators (which I am, too) to let curators do their thing without executive interference. And my own more informed curators here at Hallwalls, and my many more informed colleagues across the country, are quickly convincing me that the Warehouse has its own strong curatorial identity, that it is Astria Suparak's vision (and the artists she has invited to show there) that has given it that identity, that it has been a tonic for Syracuse's contemporary visual art scene (and SU's arts departments), and that it would be sorely missed were it changed in the way some people, including Anonymous, fear.
September 19, 2007 1:15 PM
Ed Cardoni, Hallwalls said...
P.S. Actually, I should've clicked on Anonymous's "hard and long" link first. It appears I was mistaken in believing Jeff was a founder of Lightwork; apparently he was hired in 1980, "only" 27 years ago (long enough!), but 7 years after Lightwork's founding in 1973, a year before Hallwalls' founding in 1974.
1980 was slightly before my time in the field (though not by much), so Jeff was director of Lightwork well before I got to Hallwalls, which was my entry into the field.
Public Statement by THE YES MEN
September 22, 2007
Thanks for all the support and encouragement regarding the canceled Syracuse show. We should make it clear that the only reason we agreed to do the show in the first place was because of Astria Suparak's curation and dedication to making it happen.
When Jeff Hoone contacted us last week to ask if we would mount the show despite her firing, we told him that we would not.
Surprisingly, this did not stop him from communicating to the press that we were going to do the show, which seems to have resulted in a bit of confusion.
In closing, just to be clear: we will not do the show in Syracuse without Astria. We are a bit baffled about why it was canceled in the first place, but the only man to ask about that is Mr. Hoone, and from our limited experience with him, extracting the truth may require something of an expert in that kind of activity, and we certainly want no part in that.
The Yes Men
Posted by Whats this? at 1:13 PM
At the time of Suparak's dismissal, Hoone also canceled her forthcoming exhibitions, including "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," due to open in November 2007.