Friday, September 21, 2007

Harrison Willis

Dear Mr. Hoone, Ms. Cantor

The issue in question here is not whether you are
dedicated to improving the arts community here in
Syracuse, as you have certainly done so with all that
you've done for Lightworks. The issue in question is
your motives in terminating Astria's position as
curator of the Warehouse gallery.

I would love, for once, to hear from someone who has
those vital points of funding and contact (as you do
in Tom Walsh, and Mr. Menschel as well) that a
University or Corporation so desperately desires, lay
an answer straight to those in the community they
"serve" about why something unjust is being done,
instead of cloaking themselves with the legal baby
blanket of "confidentiality."

I would love to hear something other than bullshit. I
would love to receive a letter from you, or Nancy
Cantor, that isn't an automated safeguard intended to
escort you through this "rough patch" while beloved
and talented members of our arts community fall under
a singular opinion with no checks or balances on the
power you currently possess. I would like to know why
it is your final word who is and who isn't allowed to
remain staffed in the museums run by our university. I
would love to know what qualifies you to be the end
all say all of a highly diverse and mature community
(which, by the way, can assuredly handle a little
sexuality and a little controversy, something it in
fact needs very much to grow) when there are denizens
of more qualified, unbiased, and open minded
individuals who could easily perform the job.

I would love for you to first explain why CMAC exists
in the first place. Before seeing Astria dragged
through the coals I had never heard of CMAC, and at
this point with the current decisions I'm seeing it
carry out as an "umbrella executive" of the museums in
syracuse, I have nothing but bad words for it. I would
love to know why the warehouse gallery is better off
under such a totalitarian power structure rather than
existing as an autonomous art space.

In short, I would like to know why your singular
opinion of Mrs. Suparak, whatever your "confidential"
vendetta may be against her, overrides the resounding
voice of the syracuse arts community in deciding
whether or not she stays or goes. All of the money in
Manhattan, from all of the power brokers the
university and yourself are able to milk for money,
wont buy back the reputation Syracuse is building for
its arts community. In fact, if this decision is not
constructively reversed, no matter how much you claim
to support the arts, the warehouse, and this
community; no matter how much bankfat you can muster,
this area will become permanently bankrupt in the eyes
of the arts internationally.

Please, please, PLEASE, think about what you are


- Harrison Willis


cultural flotsam said...

Great letter. Thank you for going straight to the heart of the matter. The community's outrage and the gross unfairness of this is evident. Let's hope Hoone picks up the slack and either comes clean with his reasons or actually recognizes that he has made a mistake.

David said...

Great letter, Harrison!
I like the straight talk. It's interesting how self-congratulatory SU has been recently. They've got their impressive, MIT-like brand new building that they're boasting about to anyone who will listen. They make a huge deal about their Justice forum, apparently dealing with big international issues.

But oops, they're eerily silent about Astria's firing. Pretty convenient, isn't it? And oops, they're totally silent about how multitudes of their own instructors get no benefits. Gee, I guess that's how they're paying for all that nice, shiny new stuff.

Nancy Cantor has done some good things. She's made some real efforts to bring positive changes. And I see that she's the first to make sure she gets credit and praise, much of it admittedly earned. But if she has any real leadership at all, it will be revealed in the way that she handles problems. Being silent, circling the wagons, and hoping her minions will make them go away isn't at all impressive. But it is normal ivory tower, top-down, political bullshit.

Hoone must really be her boy. A pattern seems to be developing that Cantor is highly vocal about any achievements, but whenever any controversy or tough decision comes along, she outsources the decision to an underling to insulate herself.

If they are misguided enough to go through with Astria's dismissal, look forward to getting someone who is a "good team player", a careful political maneuverer, someone who artistically plays it totally safe - someone who will not ever deign to disagree with Hoone, whether they're a woman, minority, or anything else.

In a word - docile. And Syracuse will return to its former goal of mediocrity.


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.