Monday, September 17, 2007

Jo-Anne Balcaen

Dear Jeffrey Hoone, Chancellor Cantor, Eric Spina and Carole Brzozowski,

I have just been informed of the recent decision to dismiss Astria Suparak from her position as Director of The Warehouse Gallery, and to cancel upcoming programming, including an exhibition by The Yes Men. I find this news shocking and very disappointing.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Astria and The Warehouse Gallery, where my work is currently being shown in the exhibit titled Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze. Throughout the entire process, including my weekend stay in Syracuse in mid-August to install part of my work, I was greatly impressed by the Gallery's professionalism in making sure each aspect of the exhibition was sufficiently met. Astria was a delight to work with, and shows considerable thoroughness in her curatorial practice. Her programming vision shows evidence of a well-informed and thoughtful mind. She has the ability to present work that is accessible and thought-provoking, and which faculty and students clearly rely on as a link to current artistic practices. This exhibition is my first in the U.S., and I was pleased that it was such a positive experience. The Warehouse Gallery is a stunning exhibition space, and its' staff is among the best I have worked with. I have been exhibiting my work professionally across Canada and Europe for over 12 years. I have also worked within Montreal's cultural sector since 1999 as the Director of Articule artist-run centre, and currently as Curatorial Assistant for the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia University. This exposure to both sides of exhibition practices has made me well aware of the challenges involved in the production and dissemination of visual art. Astria exceeded my expectations on all levels.

Reading the letters of support written on her behalf from various faculty at Syracuse University, and by artists and cultural workers at large, it is obvious that Astria and The Warehouse Gallery play a vital role not only within the University, but increasingly within the Syracuse community at large. To pull the plug on the incredible amount of work Astria and The Warehouse Gallery have done - all in the interest of engaging the local community - would be a grave error in judgement. I urge you to please reconsider your decision.


Jo-Anne Balcaen
7034 St. Urbain
Montréal, Québec
H2S 3H5

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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.