Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paul Lloyd Sargent


I am writing this letter to show my support for Astria Suparak, the current Director of the Warehouse Gallery. The decision to remove her from her position as the Director and Curator is not to the advantage of the gallery, the Syracuse art community, nor the city at large. I say this as someone with an interest in contemporary art and in the future of upstate NY. As an artist, I know Suparak through colleagues and through her ambitious, innovative, and challenging curatorial work. Thus, I am very disappointed to hear that my hometown, or at least the management at the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University, does not support her vision and direction within such an important emerging institution.

It is no secret that central NY has long suffered a flight of young, creative, energetic people. While in graduate school in Chicago in the late 1990s, I even witnessed a televised ad campaign to lure “creative types” like me back to the area. I grew up in Syracuse, attendedNottingham High School, and graduated from Hamilton College, just a few exits down the Thruway, in Clinton. I return to the region regularly, as my parents still live in Syracuse and my own artwork increasingly focuses on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. I was excited last year to learn about the Warehouse Gallery and hopeful that Suparak would, as its curator, bring with her the kind of imagination, energy, and creativity missing so long from the Syracuse art scene. This is the very kind of development that will draw people like me home (we’re certainly not coming back for yet another shopping mall).

In the past, Syracuse has played an important role in cutting-edge art movements. Any fan of Bill Viola or Nam June Paik knows how important the Everson Museum was for the emergence of the medium of video art. A curator like Astria Suparak, if allowed to take the risks necessary to experiment in her position, can also bring contemporary notoriety to the region. Based upon shows already mounted and those in the planning stages, it would appear from my point of view that Syracuse is already benefiting from her undertakings: works represented in just the first year of exhibitions at the gallery are excellent examples of interesting, smart, critical contemporary production. It has been enough that those within my own sphere of emerging artists and cultural critics, extending from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to artist lofts in Brooklyn and even to international art and media festivals, are starting to take notice. By removing Suparak now, CMAC is poised to undermine her work and to dismantle what is swiftly becoming a reputation within the contemporary art world of which Syracuseshould be proud.


Paul Lloyd Sargent
The Paley Center for Media
25 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
T 212-621-6664/F 212-621-6765

[formerly The Museum of Television & Radio]

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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.