Thursday, September 27, 2007

Press Anthology

as of September 27, 2007

Syracuse Gallery Director's Dismissal Sparks Protests, September 21, 2007

INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest, September 21, 2007

THE MAG: BREAKING NEWS, September 21, 2007

R.I.P For Syracuse Arts Scene?, September 20, 2007

Save Astria!, September 24, 2007

ArtsBeat: Claims of Censorship in Syracuse, September 25, 2007

Art Directors Firing Stuns Syracuse, September 19, 2007

City offers commission seat to dismissed Warehouse art director, September 26, 2007

Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go, 18 September 07

Shitstorm Hits Syracuse!, September 21, 2007

Arts, Briefly: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest, September 21, 2007

Astria Suparak and the boundaries, September 21, 2007

Art community stunned by curator's termination: campaign of blogs, letters, e-mails in support of Astria Suparak has been launched, September 19, 2007
as of September 27, 2007

Hundreds turn out to support curator, September 21, 2007
The Astria Suparak firing: Up or down for West Fayette?, September 21, 2007
Forum: Astria Suparak, 9/22/07

Yes Men cancel show at Warehouse, September 20, 2007

News: Dismissed Warehouse curator named to new Public Arts Commission, 9/24/2007

Editorial Cartoon: Widescreen Cammuso, Sunday, September 23, 2007:


Conservatism is Alive and Well at Syracuse University, September 19, 2007

Did anyone really think Chancellor Cantor would stop at HillTV?

BLOG POST: CARDONI, September 21, 2007

BLOG COMMENTS: CARDONI, September 19, 2007 12:43 PM



Syracuse Gallery Director's Dismissal Sparks Protests

September 21, 2007

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The dismissal of the director of an art gallery associated with Syracuse University has spurred protests from local art professionals and university personnel, reports the New York Times.

Astria Suparak, director of the Warehouse Gallery since its founding last July, was told on September 7 by Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, that her employment would be terminated effective September 30. She says she was not given a reason beyond the restructuring of the gallery, although she adds, “My aesthetic is very different from his. I’m interested in street art, riot grrl, and D.I.Y. aesthetics." University officials deny that the dismissal has anything to do with the exhibitions Suparak mounted, but people in the college town’s arts community believe otherwise. Many have protested her dismissal at

INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest


The ouster of the founding director of an art gallery overseen by Syracuse University has drawn protest from academics and art professionals there, reports Nadja Sayev for the New York Times. The director, Astria Suparak, of the Warehouse Gallery, said that Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, had told her on September 7 that she would be dismissed effective September 30. She said he did not give a reason beyond saying that the gallery was being restructured. Carole Brzozowski, the dean of [the College of Visual and Performing Arts at] Syracuse University, said the content of gallery shows organized by Suparak had nothing to do with her dismissal. But people in the arts at Syracuse, including university art teachers, asserted that the ouster was related to risk-taking or innovative exhibitions she had organized since becoming the director last year. Suparak said of Hoone: “My aesthetic is very different from his.”

The MAG: Breaking News
September 21, 2007

Syracuse's arts community has been rocked with news of the dismissal of Astria Suparak, director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery, which is affiliated with Syracuse University. A campaign of blog entries, letters, e-mails, and letters to the editor in support of Suparak has been launched.


Blog: Food and Musings in Syracuse, New York

R.I.P For Syracuse Arts Scene?
September 20th, 2007

Surprise - the blog has taken on a deathly look. This is because the powers that be at Syracuse University have seen fit to dismiss Astria Suparak, who had been doing highly impressive work to vitalize the Syracuse art scene, not only on behalf of the university, but also with the intent of increasing connections between the university, Syracuse artists, and the Syracuse community as a whole.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ve likely noticed that I try to find positive aspects of living in Syracuse, pass along what I’ve found for your enjoyment, and encourage your comments. I strive to maintain a positive tone; after all, there are many naysayers here, and I very much want our town to grow and prosper, despite its apparent lack of vision and self-esteem. But truthfully, I sometimes get completed frustrated, as I am today. Just when it seemed that Syracuse was beginning to “get it” and get the right people to help our city, hopes may be dashed yet again.

It’s not clear exactly why they dismissed Suparak, as all the facts aren’t in, so to speak. But in a way, that’s just the point - there’s been no explanation to the community and university population: the people that are most affected by this unfortunate decision. Because the administration has kept silent, we can only speculate. Maybe Suparak’s programming, which actually included some somewhat controversial content designed to challenge perceptions, offended some timid souls. Maybe she’s not a natural political player, a problem in a bureacracy full of fiefdoms jockeying for position.

What is clear is this - now that she’s been dismissed, letters of support are pouring in from an impressive contingent of arts luminaries all over the US and beyond. And once again, Syracuse is being viewed as a Loser City, not just by its residents, but internationally. Way to go!!!!!

David Chu

Bad Lit
Blog: Underground Film and Indie Comics

Save Astria!
September 24, 2007

Astria Suparak is a phenomenal film and art curator. I caught a couple of her exhibits at past New York Underground Film Festivals, but for the past year she’s been the Director of the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, NY. I was actually gearing up to write a post on her current exhibit “Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze” and a special screening next month.

However, today I just learned that Astria is being forced out of her post. Not much reason has been given about her letting go, but apparently it seems extremely abrupt. She’ll be out of her job at the end of the month. A lot of grassroots Syracuse support to re-instate Astria has popped up, so if you want to learn more and maybe do something to help I’ll just direct you to two websites devoted to the cause: Keep Astria! and Syracuse Loses Again. Currently there’s no info on Astria’s official site, but check that out, too.

- Mike Everleth
Los Angeles, CA

The Buffalo News

ArtsBeat: Claims of Censorship in Syracuse

(Former curator Astria Suparak in the exhibition "Faux Naturel" at Syracuse University's Warehouse Gallery in 2006.)

September 25, 2007
By Colin Dabkowski

There's a fiery situation bubbling up in Syracuse that should be of vital interest for anyone concerned about censorship in the arts. A young curator, Astria Suparak, has been fired by Syracuse University from her position as director of the Warehouse Gallery, a position to which she was named in 2006.

Accusations are being traded back and forth over the firing, which the university characterizes simply and cryptically as "a personnel issue." Hundreds of Suparak's supporters, however, claim that the firing was the result of her unconventional and risque curatorial approach, especially as it applies to the gallery's current show "COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze," which Suparak programmed. That the exhibition contains pictures of male genitalia and other potentially "unpleasant" elements is prompting many to speculate that Suparak was fired because her approach was rubbing university officials, like Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Jeffrey Hoone, director of the University's Coalition of Museum and Art Centers.

The most surprising thing about this case so far is the fact that hundreds of people have taken Suparak's side. They have, as is unimaginable for even larger issues in more apathetic communities, actually taken to the streets, as Suparak's supporters did on Sept. 20, to express their frustration over this incredibly unpopular move by the university.

As we've seen in Buffalo with the surprisingly vitriolic debate over the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's decision to sell off important parts of its treasured collection, when the integrity or quality of our artists and institutions comes into question, people rise up and get angry.

The best we can hope, for our community as well as Syracuse's, is that the powers that be listen intently and act according to the public they serve.
THE Daily Orange
Art Directors Firing Stuns Syracuse
Megan Saucke
September 19, 2007
The sudden firing of The Warehouse Gallery's director left many in the Syracuse University community shocked and dismayed.
For most, including the dismissed director, Astria Suparak, the decision was mysterious and unexpected.
"I haven't talked to one person who wasn't shocked and appalled," said Allison Fox, a College of Visual and Performing Arts graduate student.
Recent SU graduate and former intern at the gallery Katie Skelly called the decision "unthinkable. … I really can't imagine what she could have done to make them fire her."
Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, took responsibility for Suparak's firing.
"Nobody else made this decision for me," Hoone said. "I made this decision in consultation with the human resources department."
Suparak, who has worked as curator and director of the gallery since June 2006, was given notice this past week. Since then, e-mails have been flying back and forth among faculty, students, artists and curators from all across the country trying to figure out what Hoone's reasoning could be.
The future of an upcoming exhibit by The Yes Men, a group of activists, has been in question since the announcement of Suparak's termination.
The Warehouse Gallery Web site stated that the exhibit had been canceled. This provoked a public outcry, especially from professors who had invested in it financially and had already incorporated the exhibit into their curriculum.
Hoone announced that he plans to work to keep the exhibit on the schedule and that he never canceled it in the first place.
Suparak, however, believes otherwise.
"He definitely told me it was canceled, and I asked very specifically," Suparak said.
Either way, there is a question whether The Yes Men will even do the show anymore without Suparak as director.
"I don't think they're going to come here without Astria," says Joanna Spitzner, a professor in the Foundation program at VPA. Hoone "hasn't developed that relationship with them."
"This is a bad decision that's really going to have serious implications for the future of the city's cultural life and spirit," said Tom Sherman, a professor of video and media theory.
Sherman said the firing has more to do with the current exhibit, "COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze," than The Yes Men. He said the original title of the current show contained the word "feminist," and Hoone demanded it be censored out.
Suparak agreed that Hoone did not want the word in the title of the exhibit. She said she had to change the title two additional times because Hoone didn't like the revised title.
Hoone denied that there was any controversy surrounding the exhibit.
An informational postcard about the exhibit was withdrawn from the prepared packages for first-year students at the last minute. The decision to do so was made by members of the Chancellor's Cabinet and Office of Public Affairs.
Suparak said she was surprised by this action because the design had been specifically approved for the packages.
The question of why Suparak was fired has still not been directly answered.
"I was not given a reason when I was fired," Suparak said. "He told me that he had high standards, and this was really confusing to me because I really feel like I've done a lot with my time here."
Hoone said legally there are things he cannot disclose. When asked to be more specific about Suparak's shortcomings to justify his decision, he began discussing window displays.
"This is personnel change," Hoone said, "in order to get the best mix of people and resources together to do that."
Supporters in Syracuse and across the country have mobilized in support of Suparak. A letter-writing campaign started at
Suparak's supporters said she has fulfilled the gallery's mission beyond expectations. VPA professor Spitzner said Suparak has an "ability to connect with really interesting artists."
In fact, some have moved to the Syracuse area because of their desire to work with Suparak.
"I was looking for a job already, but meeting her really convinced me to take the job at Syracuse," said Frank Olive, assistant director at The Warehouse Gallery
Students also said she was doing a great job in enriching their experiences.
"She's definitely making this place younger, hipper, which we need desperately," said Stephanie Koenig, a VPA graduate student.
The blog, which was created in response to her firing, has an outpouring of support from the community. Many posts have mentioned surprise that Chancellor Nancy Cantor has not come out in support of Suparak.
Jan Pottie, a personal friend of Suparak's, said Suparak is very involved with committees having to do with Syracuse's art community such as the Public Arts Task Force and the Public Arts Commission.
Those supporting Suparak said her dedication and involvement in bridging the gap between the university and the downtown community runs parallel to Cantor's own vision of the Connective Corridor.
"Astria is organized, conscientious and precise," Pottie said. "But what really sets her apart is that she treats every exhibition as a work of art in and of itself, often adding elements of her own to enhance the experience of the audience."
"Imagine Syracuse actually has a good football team for once, and we have a really good coach, and then suddenly that coach is fired," gallery intern Skelly said.
"Clearly what The Warehouse Gallery has been to this community has been very active and dynamic and valuable and that is completely recognized," Ann Clarke, VPA associate dean, said.
The overwhelming support for Suparak has not made Hoone doubt his decision, however unpopular.
"I feel very confident in the decision," he said.
Suparak, on the other hand, is devastated by the decision.
"I had been working on the next two years of programming, and that was very exciting for me," she said. "It's too bad that everything's been canceled by what seems to be the position of one person."

City offers commission seat to dismissed Warehouse art director
By: Megan Saucke, Posted: 9/26/07
Astria Suparak's last day as director of The Warehouse Gallery will be Friday, but she might still play a significant role in the Syracuse art scene.

The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Suparak to the city's Public Arts Commission. Earlier this month, she was dismissed from her position at the gallery.

"Her appointment legislation was actually done before her being let go," said Ryan McMahon, Syracuse common councilor. "She still has something to bring to the art community, so we thought that it was appropriate to nominate her."

While Suparak said she would like to take part in the 11-member volunteer commission, she is not sure if she will be able to stay in Syracuse.

Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, took sole responsibility for dismissing Suparak on Sept. 7. He said firing Suparak is a part of restructuring the gallery's leadership, and that further details are confidential.

The Yes Men, a group of satirical imposters, whose act at the gallery was canceled earlier this month, said it will not exhibit at the gallery without Suparak.

"It's an honor to be respected by the city even if the university isn't going to," Suparak said Tuesday. She said the Public Arts Commission is an "important step" for the city of Syracuse.

The commission is responsible for creating a public art master plan "to enrich the visual and aesthetic environment of spaces within the City of Syracuse that are in some way accessible to the public," according to the Public Art Ordinance.

"It's clear that the city thinks Astria is important, and if the university doesn't make every effort to keep her here, they're making a big mistake," said Joanna Spitzner, a professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Suparak said she is waiting to see if the university will reinstate her. Failing to do so would be to "completely ignore the international art community and the community and its faculty, students, etc."

"I really don't know what the future holds for me. I've been trying to retain my position as director," she said. "If I can get a similar job with enough resources and staff to make an impact and make a difference, I would like to stay."

SU's decision

Despite receiving dozens of e-mails protesting the decision, Cantor continued her support of Hoone's decision to dismiss Suparak.

"This is a personnel decision and my role in that case is to make sure it was handled in an appropriate manner through our human resources department," Cantor said in an interview. "I assured myself that indeed there had been a process in place, and it had gone through appropriate channels."

Tom Sherman, professor of video and media theory, said as head of the gallery, Suparak was in line with the university's mission.

"In her job as a curator, she really did go out into the city and build bridges to the city like the university always talks about building," Sherman said.

Both Cantor and Hoone said the firing had nothing to do with censorship. But critics have raised questions concerning an exhibit called "COME ON: Desire under the female gaze," which is currently on display.

"This is specifically about working relationships in The Warehouse Gallery and restructuring The Warehouse Gallery going forth," Cantor said.

In mid-August, Hoone received an e-mail representing Cantor's cabinet that raised questions about the timing of the exhibit. In the e-mail, Matthew Snyder, director of communications and media relations for the division of student affairs, told Hoone that ads for the exhibit would be taken out of a packet given to incoming freshmen.

Hoone provided the e-mail to The Daily Orange on Tuesday after declining an interview.

Hoone always defended the decision to bring "COME ON" to the gallery, Cantor said, which features erotic sketches of men and women and exposure to genitals.

In his response to Snyder, Hoone wrote that the "work responds to our daily barrage of images that objectify young girls and women in the media. This is an issue that is very relevant to our student population and is consistent with our mission as an institution."

About 400 people attended the exhibit's opening on Sept. 20.

The Yes Men

The Yes Men, a group originally scheduled to come to The Warehouse from November to January, confirmed it will not exhibit without Suparak as the gallery's director.

"Astria was putting in the work to make up for the time that we didn't have," said Mike Bonanno, the group's co-founder. "So once she was gone, there was no way that we could expect to be able to do the show."

The act, which is controversial for its anti-capitalist statements, was canceled earlier this month, according to The Warehouse's Web site. Hoone said he didn't cancel the show and still wants the group to come.

Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum founded The Yes Men, currently based in New York City, in 1999.

The act wasn't able to attend the Seattle protest against the World Trade Organization, so it created a satirical Web site. When the site was mistaken for the real thing, it got invited to speak at conferences.

The Yes Men have since made many appearances impersonating people in power such as Halliburton executives and other CEOs. Bichlbaum describes it as "dramatizing the criminality that goes on."

"Students really connect with the issues that they're calling attention to and also the way they do it because it's fun, it's playful," professor Spitzner said. "But it makes you really think a lot about our society and the role that corporations play in it."

© Copyright 2007 The Daily Orange
Flash Art:

Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go

18 September 07

Astria Suparak is being dismissed from her post as Director of The Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, New York. Originally hired in 2006 to run and develop the gallery, which is financed by the university and located in downtown Syracuse, Suparak has been embraced and celebrated by the local arts community for her programming. Her exhibitions have included Come On: Desire Under The Female Gaze, Faux Naturel, Embracing Winter, and Networked Nature. For reasons unclear, Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University has decided to terminate Suparak's position. As stated in a newsletter, "Faculty, students, artists and arts organizations are baffled by this decision." The local community is fighting to see Suparak stay and have begun protesting the decision by sending letters to Jeffrey Hoone.

Before going to Syracuse, Suparak worked for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY; Liverpool Biennial, U.K.; IMPAKT Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands; EYEBEAM, New York, NY; Yale University, Hartford, CT; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; and LTTR Art Journal, amongst many other organizations for art and new media.

Blog: the coming week's events at hallwalls contemporary arts center, buffalo, ny; other local listings; sundry filler material
Shitstorm Hits Syracuse!

September 21, 2007

Young curator Astria Suparak generated a great deal of excitement during her first year as Director of The Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, NY. The recent news that she would be deaccessioned from her position in a "restructuring" move has upset and incensed a lot of people, in Syracuse and across the country. No one gets it and no one can imagine what Suparak might have done to merit her dismissal. Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, has taken full responsibility for the firing but has failed to detail any justification for the dismissal, falling back on the politically-convenient trope that there are issues he is unable to legally disclose.

I've met Astria, but don't know her personally. I have, however, in the past year, heard NOTHING BUT raves and bottomless enthusiasm for the program she developed at Warehouse and the energy she has injected into the local scene. It's disappointing, to say the least, to see the fantastic forward momentum of a young curator be interrupted so suddenly and emphatically.
New York Times
Arts, Briefly: Gallery Director’s Dismissal Ignites Syracuse Protest
Nadja Sayej
September 21, 2007

The ouster of the founding director of an art gallery overseen by Syracuse University has drawn protest from academics and art professionals there. The director, Astria Suparak, below, of the Warehouse Gallery, said that Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees the university’s art centers, had told her on Sept. 7 that she would be dismissed effective Sept. 30. She said he did not give a reason beyond saying that the gallery was being restructured. (In a telephone interview, Mr. Hoone said he could not discuss Ms. Suparak but that he was revamping the gallery’s leadership.) Carole Brzozowski, the dean of Syracuse University, said the content of gallery shows organized by Ms. Suparak had nothing to do with her dismissal. But people in the arts at Syracuse, including university art teachers, asserted that the ouster was related to risk-taking or innovative exhibitions she organized since becoming the director last year. (Many have posted protests of her dismissal at Ms. Suparak said of Mr. Hoone: “My aesthetic is very different from his. I’m interested in street art, riot grrl and D.I.Y. aesthetics.” A sign at the entrance to the gallery’s current show, “Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” reads, “This exhibition contains work generally intended for mature audiences.” Ms. Suparak said it was posted at Mr. Hoone’s behest. NADJA SAYEJ
phoenix and salamander
Astria Suparak and the boundaries

September 21, 2007
It sounds like a band.
Astria Suparak, founding director of the Warehouse Gallery , a contemporary art gallery overseen by Syracuse University, my alma mater, has been dismissed by Jeffrey Hoone, overseer of the university’s art centers. His explanation is that the gallery is being restructured. Carol Brzozowski, dean of the Crouse College of Visual and Performing Arts, my college, states that the content of the shows Suparak curated had nothing to do with her dismissal. Sure. Most folks in the know say differently, that it was Ms. Suparak’s choice of topics for exhibitions. The New York Times quotes Suparak as describing her aesthetic as “…street art, riot grrl and D.I.Y.” An article in the Syracuse New Times, my old favorite (my friend J used to sell classified ads for them, weren’t they personal ads, J?) describes her latest exhibit, “Desire Under the Female Gaze” in this manner:
“Female artists explicitly express desire, fantasy, disappointment and pleasure in a variety of mediums to counterbalance the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream media.” Got all that? if not, just check out the website. At Mr. Hoone’s request, a sign posted at the entrance to the gallery currently reads “This exhibit contains work generally intended for mature audiences.” Oh quick, Mr. Hoone, save us from ourselves! Thank you so much for that edifying sign. I expected it to be about our love of shoes and shopping.
What rankles me about this (and here let me state that I agree with the faculty and students that assert that this is due to choice of show content and not ‘gallery restructuring’), is that if we cannot explore the more controversial aspects of art (and here let me state that I HARDLY consider this topic - female desire and mainstream sexuality - controversial) at a relatively liberal and private university, where can we explore it? And how can we assert that an artistic, educational institution is a place of inspiration, revelation and innovation if we restrict it at its rawest edge?
Of course, this exhibit is most likely not the straw that broke the uptight camel’s back. I don’t wonder that it was more likely shows from the past, or perhaps even shows from Astria’s lexicon that were never intended to be in Syracuse. (Many totally fascinating, by the way - check out her past exhibits on her website.)
All this stinks of corporate ties and money, money, money. Who is Syracuse University displeasing by keeping Astria and her partner Brett Kashmere on the payroll? Or is it a case of the right person for the job being offed in order to give her position to someone who brings more corporate money with them? It will be interesting to see who fills Astria’s sizeable, forward thinking and extremely funky shoes. I predict a safer, extremely calculated and dry replacement. Who is male.
Astria will be fine. She is a tremendous art mind, and her talents will be welcomed many many places where the powers are fearless and wise. That is where she belongs.
We, as students, faculty and alumni of Syracuse University and Crouse College, will not be so fine. We are discovering our pride in the limitless possibilities we were charged to develop sullied by the arbitrary boundaries enforced by a small group of people who have not our artistic freedom as a priority but corporate bargaining and abuse of power. Our trust and faith is broken. Where is S.U.’s spirit? Why are you no longer brave?
If you’d like to learn more about this situation, and voice your opinion, please check out the blog:
Art community stunned by curator's termination: campaign of blogs, letters, e-mails in support of Astria Suparak has been launched.

By Melinda Johnson. Arts editor
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Syracuse's arts community has been rocked with news of the dismissal of Astria Suparak, director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery. A campaign of blog entries, letters, e-mails, and letters to the editor in support of Suparak has been launched.
Suparak was the first director of the contemporary art gallery, which is affiliated with Syracuse University and housed at 350 W. Fayette St. While she was terminated earlier this month, Suparak will remain on the job until Sept. 30.
At the end of June, Suparak said her boss Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) at Syracuse University, told her a reorganization was planned and she would report to Domenic Iacono, director of SU Art Galleries. She was told her position would remain unchanged.
On Sept. 7, Suparak said she was informed she was being "let go" during a four-minute meeting with Hoone. She described the meeting as having a "complete lack of clarity" and "decisions were very opaque."
"I'm taken aback by what seems to be dramatic decisions," Suparak said.
On Tuesday, Hoone said a personnel change has taken place. In a press release, he stated that conversations with Suparak began six months ago and included discussions with CMAC personnel and the human resources staff "that involves confidential issues and issues related to overall long-term goals and objectives."
Hoone said the gallery will continue with its mission and work with the community. "We'll go in the direction contemporary artists take us," he said by phone.
He said there will be "no gap" in the gallery's programming. Hoone also denied rumors of the cancellation of the November exhibit, "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With The Yes Men." "We are working with the artists to see if we can go forward with the exhibition."
Attempts to contact The Yes Men were unsuccessful.
Mick Mather, special projects coordinator at Cultural Resources Council, has worked with Suparak on two downtown public art projects and community outreach efforts.
"She's young, smart, very good at what she does," he said. He has been impressed to have "someone so forward-thinking."
Her departure will disrupt the connections she has forged with younger artists who are producing emerging art forms - electronica, technology and short films, Mather said.
"That is something that's going to be stunted," he said.
As with any "corporate behemoth," Mather said, a six-month paper trail is common when an employee is terminated. Of the process, he said, "it's never really transparent enough for the person who's going or the community."
Suparak, 29, said she accepted the position as director and curator of The Warehouse Gallery in June 2006 because it offered the ability to create a new contemporary art space from the outset.
She acknowledged that there had been some difficulties. "I thought we had dealt with each one effectively." She pointed to the success of her five major exhibitions, collaboration with international artists, media attention and turnout of 300 to 400 guests at opening receptions.
Suparak will host a Thursday reception for the current exhibition, "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze," considered by some to be controversial for its sexual content.

Syracuse Post-Standard

Hundreds turn out to support curator

Friday, September 21, 2007
Sean Kirst, Post-Standard Columnist
Hundreds of people were out walking Thursday evening on West Fayette Street. They stopped at the Delavan Art Gallery. They moved in and out of a jammed house at The Warehouse Gallery. They crossed the street to see an exhibit at the Redhouse.
Once they got there, they could not miss the big message that Redhouse managing director Natalia Mount wrote in chalk on the facade:
“Fight 4 creative freedom! Down with censorship!”
Mount said she wrote those words on general principle, and to demonstrate some new innovations at the Redhouse, where the staff wants to find a way to use chalk for spontaneous public art.
But Mount said she also wrote that message as a tribute to Astria Suparak, director and curator of Syracuse University’s nearby Warehouse Gallery, who learned this month that she is losing her job.
“I cannot imagine, for Astria, how this must feel,” Mount said. Jeffrey Hoone, who fired Suparak, says censorship was not the issue. He said the decision was based on personnel matters that are impossible to publicly discuss.
The appeal of The Warehouse, he predicted, will only grow stronger. “We’re really looking to the future with this gallery,” said Hoone, executive director of SU’s Coalition of Museums and Art Centers. The jagged feelings over Suparak’s release, he said, are “something we need to get through in order to build that space.”
The decision has brought the arts community to a boil, and incited open rebellion by some members of the SU faculty. Many maintain the firing is related to Suparak’s willingness to go out on the edge in such shows as "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” which includes male genitalia and homosexual intimacy.
Yet Courtney Rile, marketing and public relations director at the Delavan, said Suparak also has a “poignant” touch, and that her shows often focus on communal themes.
“She did one (show) called ‘Embracing Winter,’ and it had a 17-foot mitten,” Rile said. “Come on. Everyone in Syracuse can embrace that, and knows what it means.”
As for Suparak, 29, who mingled Thursday with supporters, she said she was “treated horribly” by Hoone, and that he told her that her work did not meet his standards.
What was lost on no one, on either side of the divide, was the way Thursday’s outpouring rose toward meeting the original vision for The Warehouse. When SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor proposed turning an old downtown furniture warehouse into classroom and gallery space, she spoke of a bond between the campus and the city that would bring life to dormant downtown streets.
That vibrancy was evident Thursday. Rile, of the Delavan, rode along as a guide on an “art bus” that brought dozens of art lovers from Rochester to Syracuse for a gallery tour, a new connection scheduled to routinely link galleries in the two cities. At the packed Warehouse Gallery, many locals in the crowd said they came in support of Suparak.
The real question is what happens on West Fayette Street, once she’s gone.
Kate Clark, who chairs the public arts task force of the community group known as 40 Below, said Suparak’s commitment to the city extended beyond SU. Clark said Suparak was a regular at city-coordinated Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today meetings for downtown, and that she provided hands-on advice for the “totem” project that turned old parking meter holders into totem poles.
“For me,” Clark said, “Astria has been a huge leader in the public arts in Syracuse.”
Mount and Marianne Dalton, gallery director at the Redhouse, spoke with regret of how Suparak’s departure will cost Syracuse a visit from the Yes Men, a group that identifies its members as “imposters” who run carefully orchestrated spoofs that lacerate international corporate policies.
The Yes Men, Mount said, could have drawn a curious mainstream crowd to the gallery district. They announced this week they will not come if Suparak is gone.
“It’s unbelievable, as a curator, to think about having your vision severed like that,” Dalton said. She said that Suparak “put us on the map.”
Many visitors said the university, if it had substantial grounds for the firing, should offer a detailed public explanation. Both Hoone and an SU spokesman said they can’t do it. But they said the debate proves how much the community has grown to care about The Warehouse, energy that Hoone contends will not leave with Suparak.
“In an odd way,” he said, “what this shows us is that we’re right on target to fill the need.”
Sean Kirst is a columnist with The Post-Standard. His columns appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Suparak: Stay or go? The campaign to save Astria Suparak’s job at The Warehouse Gallery has gathered many messages of support at Columnist Sean Kirst would like to know your feelings on the decision. Contact him by visiting his blog and forum at, by e-mailing him at, or by writing to him in care of The Post-Standard, Clinton Square, Syracuse 13221.

Syracuse Post-Standard

The Astria Suparak firing: Up or down for West Fayette?
September 21, 2007 12:10AM
Sean Kirst, Columnist

I had a few thoughts as I watched hundreds of art lovers Thursday night moving from The Delavan to The Red House to The Warehouse, along West Fayette Street.
I thought of how this would have been unimaginable 20 years ago, when The Warehouse was a warehouse and The Redhouse was a battered old tavern.
I thought of how incredible it would be, in this budding gallery district, if those chipped and battered railroad bridges were handed over to teams of artists as enormous examples of public art.
I thought of how much this district might achieve if this $56 million investment on the Near West Side comes to be.
And I thought of the irony of how this great burst of energy on a downtown street was potentially a form of a goodbye, touched off by the firing of a person hired with the mission of helping to generate that energy.
Astria Suparak, curator of The Warehouse Gallery, has been dismissed by the university. Jeffrey Hoone, the university official who dismissed her, said he is constrained from speaking publicly of the reasons, constraints that go with any personnel decision. In that void, angry members of the arts community contend that Suparak was let go for reasons from censorship to institutional jealousy at her success.
You can read many of those arguments in this blog, much of it assembled by Joanna Spitzner, an assistant professor at SU and one of those organizing support for Suparak.
I lead off the reader response with this note from Lonnie Chu, an instructor at SU and a community activist in Eastwood.
And I look forward to hearing your thoughts, one way or another, regarding West Fayette - and what happens after Suparak.
- Sean

Posted by sean on 09/21/07 at 12:32AM
A note from Lonnie Chu of Eastwood, whose e-mail first alerted me to the breadth of the reaction to Suparak's firing:
I am outraged that Astria Suparak would be dismissed so suddenly and with so little transparency to the community. But I am not alone. I have been following with great interest the incredible number of letters of support, heartfelt and well written, that have been appearing on the Syracuse Warehouse blog
( They come from not only Syracuse, but from other cities, other states, even other countries.
Astria is a treasure that the city and the university need to support and nurture, for she is a one-woman Connective Corridor, making art fun, accessible, perhaps troubling, but always exciting.
There have been a number of themes expressed by those writing in. I'd like to summarize some of them here.
- Astria is a curator of international renown and unimpeachable professionalism. Letters of support have come in from students, professors at Syracuse University, and other places such as New York, Troy, Toronto, Montreal and Texas A&M University. She is highlighted in "The World's Leading Art Magazine":
Syracuse Arts Community Unwilling to Let Dismissed Curator Go.
- Astria is a magnet that has attracted people to live in the city and artists to do shows here. In fact, "The Yes Men" agreed to come here because of Astria and have thus canceled their November exhibit because of her dismissal. It is not the Warehouse, it is Astria in the Warehouse that is attracting these artists. Without her, they don't want to be here. We can look forward to an exodus of those who came because of the excitement her work has generated and we can go back to getting used to being known as a "loser city."
- Astria has the skill and takes the time to build relationships with community members, organizations and businesses. She's been active in the downtown TNT and she and her visiting artists use the services and products of local vendors.
- The Warehouse Gallery does not just happen. It takes vision and connections like Astria's to make all of this happen. If she is made to leave, all of her work stops. Relationships will have been severed, trust will have been betrayed. Once that happens, it's very hard to start it up again. To paraphrase one writer, if you dynamite this span in the bridge that is the Connective Corridor, the whole thing can collapse. Astria's work has inspired hope in city residents. Take that away, and much of the progress we've been making can reverse itself.
- The timing of this dismissal does not bode well. Just when the most recent show, "COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze" is opening, and just when The Yes Men are about to come to town, Astria is suddenly fired. As one writer pointed out, it is very ironic that we learn of her dismissal on the same day as the Newhouse III dedication. Emblazoned on the outside wall of that building are the words of the First Amendment of the Constitution that protect freedom of speech. Yet Astria was made to change the original title for "COME ON" - apparently a "feminist gaze" was not acceptable. Now the appearance is that the entire theme is unacceptable. This may not be the case, but the impression it gives the outside world is seriously detrimental to Syracuse.
Caroline Szozda, Gallery Manager of the Delavan Art Gallery, expresses eloquently why Astria's dismissal is such a loss to Syracuse:
"Since opening in 2006, through Astria, the Warehouse Gallery has helped become a cornerstone of the area art scene going well beyond just the visual arts. In a very short period of time, it has gained a solid following from the students, artists and the community at large. She has been able to put together exciting, interesting events and exhibitions that most people would never suspect would/could happen in Syracuse. Through her work, she has helped enrich, rejuvenate and energize the people and community around her."
It is not too late to reinstate her. Syracuse does not have to be the loser any more.
Lonnie Chu

September 21 2007 at 12:09pm
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.

Nancy Keefe Rhodes
Syracuse Post-Standard
by syrakatzmeow, 9/22/07 13:42 ET
Re: Astria Suparak by sean, 9/22/07

In regard to the firing of Astria Suparak - Maybe you should be looking into the way that Jeff Hoone became "king of all art" of Syracuse. For many years, I was witness to the shoddy treatment afforded members and visitors to Community Darkrooms by Mr. Hoone, while those who could "contribute" to his cause (his own climb up the ladder of success) were were welcomed with open arms, and ingratiating gestures. For example, upon Nancy Cantor's selection as Chancellor, he pulled strings as fast as humanly possible to secure a painting for the University in her name by her favorite artist Sol LeWitt, and who knows what else. The next thing we knew, he is given dictatorial control over all art shown at the University - and then he went for the EVERSON! Thank goodness that Sandra Tropp had the backbone to stand up to this shameless comer!

It should be obvious to anyone who has seen the kind of tripe that Mr. Hoone has served up for years at the photography, and now, art galleries at SU that the main reason behind his having fired Ms. Suparak is that she has the kind of vision and ability to bring truly innovative, cutting-edge work to Syracuse that has eluded him. He was never qualified for this "king of all art" position - and HE is the one who should be released - and possibly replaced by Ms. Suparak!?


Yes Men cancel show at Warehouse

By Melinda Johnson, Arts editor
September 20, 2007

One of the major exhibits this year at The Warehouse Gallery has been cancelled because of the termination this month of the gallery's director, Astria Suparak.

The Yes Men - who are variously described as social activist art or performance artists, anti-corporate activists - have cancelled their November exhibit, "Keeping It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With the Yes Men."

"The reason we cancelled The Warehouse exhibition is because we'd only agreed to do it because of Astria's discretion, persistence and inventivity," wrote Andy Bichlbaum, one of the principals of The Yes Men, in an e-mail.

In his electronic message, Bichlbaum stated that The Yes Men rarely do art shows because it's "too time-absorbing." The exception is "when they intersect with some other more important activity in a direct way."

The Yes Men express their art and activism during encounters with unsuspecting people. They have impersonated politicians, corporate executives and speakers while delivering their political messages.

Besides The Warehouse Gallery exhibit, The Yes Men were to give a lecture and a feature-length film on their activities was to be screened. All of these programs were to be part of Syracuse University's year-long Syracuse Symposium. This year's theme is justice.

On Wednesday, Jeffrey Hoone, who oversees The Warehouse Gallery as the executive director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at Syracuse University, said The Yes Men had not notified him of cancellation of the exhibit.

But, if that is the case, he said an exhibit of contemporary art would be installed in place of The Yes Men at the gallery, which is part of Syracuse University.

"We'll continue with our commitments that we've made to the community about the gallery and to look forward," he said.

News: Dismissed Warehouse curator named to new Public Arts Commission

Posted by civen
September 24, 2007 5:35PM

The Syracuse Common Council on Monday approved its appointments to the city's new Public Arts Commission.

Appointed were three city residents: Tere Paniagua, senior editor for the Point of Contact Gallery; Matt Waltz of the Central New York Community Foundation, who is also a musician; and Astria Suparak who was told Sept. 7 that she would lose her job as director at Syracuse University's Warehouse Gallery.

The council had originally decided to hold Suparak's appointment after it learned of her dismissal, but decided Monday that Suparak's qualifications went beyond her role at the Warehouse, said Council President Bea Gonzalez.

The council approved her appointment, and the others, 7-0, with two councilors absent. The commission, which will have 11 members after Mayor Matt Driscoll makes his appointments, is charged with reviewing public art proposals and formulating a Public Arts Master Plan.

Editorial Cartoon

Sunday, September 23, 2007:

Conservatism is Alive and Well at Syracuse University

A. Thomas
September 19, 2007

On the same day that Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. delivered a keynote address on the First Amendment at Syracuse University, members of the University’s Administration are engaged in a deceitful whitewashing campaign. Call it “Operation: Obfuscation,” or “Operation: Let’s See How Long We Can Stonewall Before Everyone Forgets What Is Actually Going On.” (Anyone who has followed the last seven years of Bush Administration doublespeak will recognize this strategy). After recently censoring The Warehouse Gallery’s current exhibition, “COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze,” and canceling the upcoming exhibition by internationally-acclaimed, anti-corporate social activists, THE YES MEN, Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of Syracuse University's Coalition of Museum and Art Centers is (mis)informing people (through the aid of an auto-response form letter) that the show will go on as originally planned. This is an outright lie. The Yes Men have made it abundantly clear, to Hoone and to others at the university, that the SHOW WILL NOT GO ON.

“Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men,” curated by outgoing Warehouse Gallery Director Astria Suparak, was scheduled to open TWO MONTHS from now. The real reason for Hoone’s cancellation of this major exhibition, which would’ve been the first of its kind anywhere in the world, has nothing to do with a “new structure and a revised and broader position for leadership of the Warehouse Gallery.” It has everything to do with old school taste, individual greed, conservative university politics, corporate power, and capitalist imperatives.
Did anyone really think Chancellor Cantor would stop at HillTV?

Warehouse Gallery Director, Astria Suparak, is on the chopping block for COME ON: Desire Under The Female Gaze, an art exhibition that explores "the dimensions of [female] desire".

According to the Warehouse Gallery press release, COME ON reveals what is not represented in popular culture and provides a counterbalance to the ubiquitous imagery of sexualized female bodies created for mainstream heterosexual male sensibilities.

A favorable review by Post Standard's art critic, Katherine Rushworth, describes the show as "not for the sexually repressed." Rushworth writes, "if you can get past the ubiquitous presence of the male sexual organ you might just be coaxed into thinking about gay sex, intimacy, morality and the fleeting nature of romance."

Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Jeff Hoone, Executive Director, Museum & Arts Centers, when confronted with ubiquitous imagery created for female sensibilites, had only one thought: CANCEL!

Hoone, presumably with Cantor's blessing, had already asserted his big ubiquitous authority over Suparak, forcing her to remove the word "feminist" from the title of Come On.

Remove the word "feminist"?

Apparently the word feminist is far too offensive for the sensibilities of Hoone and Chancellor Cantor (and also perhaps Rush Limbaugh?)

Unfortunately for Suparak (and for all of us) Hoone and Chancellor Nancy Cantor are so uncomfortable with a feminist come on that they have completely canceled Suparak's next show, The Yes Men , and fired Astria Suparak to boot!

Fired for personnel reasons? Or censored for personal reasons? Shame on these bullies.

The future of Astria Suparak at the Warehouse Gallery remains uncertain. The University, the Warehouse Gallery and the city of Syracuse, all stand to lose if Suparak is forced to leave.

-- D. Wilson
Blog Post: Cardoni

September 21, 2007
Dear Jesse Frasier,

Could you please post the poll question “Should Astria Suparak be retained/reinstated as Director of The Warehouse Gallery?”

I would vote YES to that wholeheartedly, which would mean Jeff Hoone would have to reverse what has clearly shown itself to be a wrong administrative decision on his part, as demonstrated by the virtual unanimity—or at least overwhelming preponderance—of pro-Astria postings from Syracuse U., Syracuse artists, and professional colleagues across the country.

But I don’t necessarily see grounds for Jeff’s resignation in that, which would just mean two valued contributors to our field would be out of jobs. (I would, however, join in calling for Jeff’s resignation if this really did turn out to be about censoring the Yes Men show, or controversial shows—or even just funky ones!—as a general policy.)

From their own blog comments, there seem to be people in Syracuse, unfortunately identifying themselves only as “Anonymous”—which I feel is cowardly, by the way—who obviously just don’t like Jeff, and would just as soon see him gone, on this pretext or any other that might arise. But I think our goal should be Astria’s reinstatement, and not Jeff’s resignation.

And I have no basis on which to vote for the dismantling of the CMAC, just because Jeff made the wrong call in this case, or might even be the wrong guy for the job. SUNY at Buffalo (a.k.a. UB) has a Director of UB Art Galleries, Dr. Sandra H. Olsen, who is a great administrator, supportive of her curator’s initiatives, and courageous in her support of provocative and controversial exhibitions of contemporary art in both university and community contexts. So such a structure can work, as long as it’s directed by the right leader, as UB’s is.

Whether Syracuse U.’s is appears seriously in question.


Edmund Cardoni
Executive Director
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Buffalo, NY

Blog COMMENTS: Cardoni

September 19, 2007 12:43 PM
Ed Cardoni, Hallwalls said...
I'm intrigued by the comment of Anonymous (the first one on today's date). Not being part of Syracuse's art scene, but of Buffalo's, I'm not in a position to judge the validity of Anonymous's characterization of Jeff Hoone as "the Art Tsar." However, I DO know that for an arts community to have an "Art Tsar," or for anyone to aspire to be a community's "Art Tsar" would be a bad thing. (I guess I'm an Art Bolshevik that way, though not to the point of execution by firing squad.)
More to the point, I, too, have admired Lightwork, and Jeff's founding and directing of it, for many, many years. Its support for and programming of exquisite photography and photography publications by important emerging and established American and world photographers (including some controversial ones) is of national and international stature, and is unique, even among centers of photography. Buffalo's own equally excellent CEPA is, for example, very different from its fellow photo gallery down the Thruway, just as CEPA and Hallwalls, though born in the same place and time, started out and have grown up very differently, though we still work together very well.
So I very much agree with Anonymous here: it would indeed be a bad idea to make the Warehouse a second Lightwork in Syracuse, "Lightwork 2" as Anonymous calls it, if that is what Jeff is up to or has in mind, even remotely or unconsciously. As an Upstate NY colleague, I would very much discourage Jeff from using his position as Executive Director of Syracuse U.'s Coalition of Museums and Art Centers, i.e., an administrator (though he apparently has every authority to do so), to put his own curatorial stamp on the Warehouse, let alone shows he has already curated for Lightwork. I find it works better for administrators (which I am, too) to let curators do their thing without executive interference. And my own more informed curators here at Hallwalls, and my many more informed colleagues across the country, are quickly convincing me that the Warehouse has its own strong curatorial identity, that it is Astria Suparak's vision (and the artists she has invited to show there) that has given it that identity, that it has been a tonic for Syracuse's contemporary visual art scene (and SU's arts departments), and that it would be sorely missed were it changed in the way some people, including Anonymous, fear.

September 19, 2007 1:15 PM
Ed Cardoni, Hallwalls said...
P.S. Actually, I should've clicked on Anonymous's "hard and long" link first. It appears I was mistaken in believing Jeff was a founder of Lightwork; apparently he was hired in 1980, "only" 27 years ago (long enough!), but 7 years after Lightwork's founding in 1973, a year before Hallwalls' founding in 1974.
1980 was slightly before my time in the field (though not by much), so Jeff was director of Lightwork well before I got to Hallwalls, which was my entry into the field.
Public Statement by THE YES MEN

September 22, 2007

Dear People,

Thanks for all the support and encouragement regarding the canceled Syracuse show. We should make it clear that the only reason we agreed to do the show in the first place was because of Astria Suparak's curation and dedication to making it happen.

When Jeff Hoone contacted us last week to ask if we would mount the show despite her firing, we told him that we would not.

Surprisingly, this did not stop him from communicating to the press that we were going to do the show, which seems to have resulted in a bit of confusion.

In closing, just to be clear: we will not do the show in Syracuse without Astria. We are a bit baffled about why it was canceled in the first place, but the only man to ask about that is Mr. Hoone, and from our limited experience with him, extracting the truth may require something of an expert in that kind of activity, and we certainly want no part in that.

Best Wishes,

The Yes Men

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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.