Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lonnie Chu

Dear Chancellor Cantor,

I am writing to express my shock and dismay at the dismissal of Astria Suparak, not as a member of the Syracuse University community, but rather as a resident of the Eastwood neighborhood in the city of Syracuse. While my career is centered on teaching at S.U., my spare-time passion is for my community. I have been a TNT facilitator, I have several community blogs (Walkable Eastwood, the Eastwood Chamber of Commerce, Sunnycrest Park Association), I own a number of rental properties in the city, and I have run an email group for Central New York landlords and investors since 2001. I am vitally interested in the economic wellbeing of this city. And I feel that the dismissal of Astria Suparak is one of the worst blows to this city since the promise of the "urban renewal" of the '60's resulted in destroyed neighborhood communities.

We investors and homeowners believed you when you said there would be a connection from the university to the city. We applauded you when we were able to become involved in the many projects that help this connection to form. We got excited when we saw the art scene develop so quickly in the past year. Even out in the "hinterlands" of Eastwood, we are thrilled to see what's happening downtown, for it affects our neighborhood positively. Astria has made many contacts with area businesses and her work has been a boon to the economic wellbeing of the city. As one landlord/investor has said on the Syracuse-Warehouse blog, there's now an actual pulse in the area!

Astria has been at the heart of much of that pulse. She is not going to be easily replaced, and the work she has started will not continue on its own without her, for something important is at stake: trust between the community and the university. The Connective Corridor and the promise it holds for Syracuse is, first and foremost, a bond of faith in the reliability and responsibility that the university must show the city. If this seemingly irrational and arbitrary decision to dismiss Astria is not reversed, that trust will have been broken. All succeeding efforts will be tainted by this experience. We, the residents of this city, will forever be asking, "Will they pull the rug out from under us this time, too?" It takes an enormous number of volunteer hours, even on the part of community members, to make art happen in a public way. Please, do not betray our faith in the university, for once Syracuse's reputation suffers at a national and even international level (as it is already doing, thanks to this debacle), we will continue to lose the bright, creative people, both young and old, that we so desperately need to keep this city growing in a positive direction. I trust you will understand this and do the right thing.


Lonnie Chu, MA
Syracuse University, 1998

179 Nichols Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13206

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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.