Sunday, September 16, 2007

Joanna Spitzner

September 14, 2007

Jeffrey Hoone
Executive Director
Coalition of Museums and Art Centers
Syracuse University
350 West Fayette Street
Syracuse, NY 13202

Dear Jeff,

I am quite dismayed to learn that the exhibition "Keeping It Slick:
Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," planned to open in November
at the Warehouse Gallery, has been so abruptly cancelled. I urge you to
reconsider this decision. The exhibition in particular, and the
programming at the Warehouse Gallery in general, has a great deal of
support in the University and the city arts community.

I find it quite unusual for an exhibition to be canceled at such a late
date. Astria Suparak had contacted me along with many others about this
exhibition in July. My department was planning to contribute funding to
this exhibition and concurrent events, as were others. I have presented
the work of the Yes Men in my class for several years and looked forward
to opportunity this show would have offered to my students. Their work
engages in important questions, such as the role of corporations in our
society, and the possibilities of performance and creative media as a
method of inquiry. The exhibition promised to provide a unique
opportunity to examine the work of The Yes Men since its formation.

As someone who, in the past, has worked extensively in non-profit
exhibition spaces, I feel that I have an understanding of the process of
developing arts programming. I find it to be incredibly unprofessional
to cancel an exhibition two months before its scheduled opening. This
has derailed much work by your staff, the artists, and faculty. The
planning involved in mounting such exhibitions is integral to building
upon the arts community here. That no explanation has been offered
raises many questions about how decisions are made, what kinds of art
are supported, and what role the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers
at Syracuse University intends to play in the arts community.

The Warehouse Gallery has been a much-needed and welcome addition to
this community. In a relatively short period of time, it has launched
several thought-provoking exhibitions of national importance. Last year,
it presented a series of exhibitions that explored our relationship to
our environment by presenting a range of work that touched on ideas of
the natural, the artificial, and the climate. This programming has
garnered strong attendance as well as recognition in the local press.
One of its exhibitions, "Faux Naturel," traveled to the Foreman Art
Gallery in Quebec. Astria Suparak, the Director of the gallery, has
shown that she is able to present creative works with a great deal of
intelligence and passion, while at the same time she has fostered a
diverse network of artists and creative individuals. Her work and that
of her staff has been important to both Syracuse University and the city
of Syracuse. These communities have expressed that a rich cultural
community is vital to its existence. The Warehouse Gallery has
contributed to this landscape, providing a place for artistic and
intellectual inquiry. Its successful programs have shown that Syracuse
can support contemporary art that is not often seen in a city of this

I ask you to re-think your decision to cancel the Yes Men exhibition. I
feel this decision undermines the positive efforts of your staff, the
many departments that support this exhibition, and the diversity of the
arts community in Syracuse.


Joanna Spitzner
Assistant Professor
Department of Foundation
School of Art and Design
College of Visual and Performing Arts

cc: Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Vice-Chancellor-Provost Eric Spina, Dean
Carole Brzozowski

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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.