Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Courtney Rile

Dear Jeff Hoone and Nancy Cantor,

It is in everyone's best interest for you to reverse your decision to lay off Astria Superak, Director of The Warehouse Gallery. To terminate Ms. Superak is an error that is being noticed and will be publicized within the local, national and international art communities. It sets a bad precedent that jeopardizes the positive developments that have happened in the last five years here in Syracuse.

Ms. Superak has done a wonderful job of constructing significant exhibitions on poignant subjects relative to the local community (Embracing Winter) and the international art community (most noteably, the upcoming Keep it Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men). She has regularly supported area exhibitions, been a role model collaborator, participated in local government meetings as the much needed voice of a downtown resident, etc. Astria has gone above and beyond her professional call of duty to engage her adopted community, establishing The Warehouse Gallery as surprising success here and abroad. I have witnessed this as a local artist, a former SU student, as Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator of Delavan Art Gallery and as a former coordinator of Th3, The Third Thursday.

Syracuse is getting closer to being recognized as a significant and important hub of the arts, but it is in a fragile condition. One twist of the economy or hesitancy from local government or Syracuse University administration can mean the end of any of the eight or so galleries that have opened here in the last five years. Your initial placement of Astria Superak as Director of The Warehouse Gallery was inspirational and raised the standards for Syracuse art. Regardless of your reasoning, removing Ms. Superak during the exhibition COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze and just prior to Keep it Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men sends a message that Syracuse University administration does not support innovative and controversial programming. SU has stepped forward as a leader for the arts and therefore sets the standard for the Syracuse community at large as well. This action lowers that standard to what is minimal and "safe." This action is a punishment to progress.

The damage is already being done. I suggest amending the message you are sending to people such as myself who are working to improve Syracuse. Immediately reversing your decision to remove Astria Superak and taking this opportunity to further support her efforts at The Warehouse Gallery is perhaps the only way to avoid an embarrassment to SU's reputation and the negative repercussions it will have within the local arts community. By firing Astria Superak, you are hurting the very community The Warehouse Gallery seeks to support.

Please take this opportunity to correct the error before it takes full effect.

Best of luck,

Courtney Rile

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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.