Monday, September 17, 2007

Nancy Keefe Rhodes

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

It's extremely upsetting to learn of sudden & unexpected developments at the Warehouse Gallery. I understand that the upcoming exhibition with Yes Men was abruptly cancelled and, more disturbing, that Astria Suparak may be removed as director/curator. What a travesty that would be.

What I've heard in only a couple days' time from a number of faculty is that some have integrated the Yes Men into their classes especially for the SU-wide Justice Symposium project; others say they've included this group's material in their classes for a number of years now & frankly express bafflement over what the problem could be.

I've had occasion to interact with Astria since she's been here, & I've also seen how the arts community has responded to her presence. I've interviewed her & a number of artists in her shows for both Women's Voices Radio/WAER 88.3 FM & for the City Eagle weekly. She is always prepared, thoughtful, well-informed, & has ready a raft of supporting background material about her artists as well as the larger context in which her shows are mounted. She has set a higher bar for everyone.

Furthermore, the Warehouse's group shows have done something truly transformative in making Syracuse a real cross-roads. Bringing together artists from New York/Philadelphia/DC AND Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto has created an exciting mix, both for the artists themselves & for our community to witness. The Warehouse Gallery's website is frankly more informative & sophisticated & has more resources than the website of any other SU gallery - & it's the youngest. This activity has encouraged some people not to leave town, others to move here, & some long-time local artists who are nationally known to start showing locally for the first ime. Astria's work personifies "ripple effect" - & I'm afraid her removal will too.
I talk directly with artists, other gallery folks both on campus & off, area artists, & people who go to these shows, & people love what's happening here. They love the excitement, the spill-over effect in other arts, and they love that we're a cross-roads now instead of - as many people secretly fear & have long suspected - a backwater.

Chancellor Cantor, I have watched you take courageous & unpopular stands. Time & again I have opened the morning paper & read about something SU was actually doing & said aloud, "She really means it." I trust that you can take another look at this situation. We will really be making a mistake that will set a tone for the whole arts initiative if Astria is removed & bundled away in this sudden manner.

All best,

Nancy Keefe Rhodes

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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.