Monday, September 17, 2007

Allison Fox

Dear Mr. Hoone,

I am writing in response to recent decisions made by CMAC regarding The Warehouse Gallery, specifically the choice to eliminate the role of director Astria Suparak and abruptly cancel the programming currently underway. This issue strikes me personally and professionally and I felt it important to share my experiences.

I am writing as a woman in the arts, a graduate student at Syracuse University, and as one of the directors of Spark Contemporary Art Space, a graduate student run, non-commercial gallery in downtown Syracuse. These roles have given me the unique opportunity to engage with The Warehouse Gallery and Astria Suparak in varied capacities.

I write in support of Astria and the pivotal role she has had in establishing one of the key venues for art and dialogue in Syracuse, The Warehouse Gallery.

I have had the privilege of attending each of the exhibitions she has organized and curated. The difference she has made in her relatively short time here in Syracuse is notable. There is an excitement in the air that has caused every one of my peers to take note, her capability as a director and curator has been the subject of many a conversation among those of us in the arts and within the student population. Her accomplishments as a young professional female in the arts are an inspiration.

Astria's work at The Warehouse serves as a glowing example of how a space can quickly come alive under the right leadership. In her relatively short time here in Syracuse she has filled a need in this community, started a dialogue that has engaged me as an artist, a student, and a gallery administrator. I have rarely seen so much excitement surface in response to gallery programming, her choices have touched on something important. Astria has been a hugely supportive figure for Spark Contemporary Art Space from the beginning of her time in Syracuse. She has also played a key role in establishing and improving upon Th3: The Third Thursday, Syracuse's first citywide art open. I know from my own experiences how hard it is to get people out to exhibitions and screenings, to get them engaged with what is happening in their community. Every opening reception at the Warehouse has been a full house.

Astria is in touch with what is happening in the art world, she brings a diversity and excitement to the city that is rare to see in Syracuse.

Her exhibitions are reminiscent of those seen in larger metropolitan areas such as New York City and Toronto. In the span of only one year she has managed to adeptly link local and international artists, the university, and the community. There is electricity in the air, some sign of life in a town that many often write off as incapable of sustaining substantial artistic life.

I realize I know very little about the decisions and motivations taking place at CMAC. I can only write from my own experiences, and my interactions with Astria have made a distinct impression. Her support of this community and her dedication to its development are irreplaceable. Having witnessed all that she has done, the choice to eliminate her role is beyond my understanding. The decision to halt the important programming already underway with no explanation creates questions about the role that CMAC plans to have in the university and community art scene. I hope you will reconsider your decision to prematurely halt the contributions that Astria Suparak has made to The Warehouse Gallery, the Syracuse University community, and the Syracuse art scene.

Allison Fox

MFA Candidate, 2008
Department of Painting
College of Visual & Performing Arts
Syracuse University

Spark Contemporary Art Space
Syracuse, NY

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Syracuse has lost one its greatest assets. Astria Suparak, Inaugural Director of The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University, was removed from her position as of Sept. 30th, 2007, despite widespread support from community members, students, faculty, and the international art community. This decision was made unilaterally by Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

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.