Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nancy Keefe Rhodes

[ Original posting here.
The Post-Standard, September 21 2007 at 12:09pm ]


a note from a reader:

Dear Sean,

[...] I'm writing here in response to your coverage of the arts community's response to the firing of Astria Suparak. I wanted to address something else briefly about the current show at the Warehouse. Besides bringing together artists from the northeast US centers and Canada so that Syracuse is an exciting artistic cross-roads, this show in particular is an exciting reflection of national trends in women's art.

Beginning last year, the Feminist Art Project (now based at Rutgers) began a series of events, symposiums, landmark exhibitions and traveling shows to commemorate the growth and current status of Feminist Art from the 1970's onward. While the uninformed (and the hostile) might think that "feminist art" is passe, out of date, a decades-old ancient history, these events suggest something else entirely.

Last winter, the Museum of Modern Art's week-long symposium on the future of feminist art was packed. Then the opening of the Sackler Center of Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, which unveiled the new permanent home of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" and opened with the show "Global Feminisms," featuring younger women artists from around the world. There's been the WACK! exhibition on the West Coast, and the year-long celebrations in Washington DC of the 40th anniversary of the National Women's Art Museum. These events have revealed a lively and crowded field of women artists, and a mainstream museum and gallery structure that still under-represents them.

As a project of Women's Voices Radio/WAER 88.3 FM, Joan Burstyn and I undertook a project last winter to produce a series of shows that would link this national activity with CNY artists' work and concerns. Joan and I attended part of the MoMA symposium. Following up that trip, I returned to the Brooklyn Museum for the opening of the Sackler Center and the Global Feminisms show of younger artists. We produced four hour-long installments of "Visual Arts Near and Far" that aired on Women's Voices, boiled down from many hours of interviews with women artists, art educators, curators, collectors, & critics.

My point is that "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze" is right in tune with this surge of national activity. We know this because we went out of Syracuse to find that activity, interview people and look at work. And Astria Suparak brought a piece of that to the heart of downtown. "Come On" is a terrifically important and contemporary show to have in Syracuse and, far from being a fringe production, it's right in the flow of traffic of current larger art thinking and practice.

Thanks,
Nancy Keefe Rhodes

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BACKGROUND

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.