Friday, November 2, 2007

Daily Orange -- Eddie Jacovino

[Reposted from here]

Suparak may return as VPA curator, liaison for arts

By: Eddie Jacovino

Posted: 11/2/07

After a controversial firing in late September, Syracuse University is entertaining the idea of rehiring Astria Suparak.

The news comes after a month of public outcry since Suparak's dismissal as director of The Warehouse Gallery.

Suparak said she has been in negotiations with the university on what SU is calling a "consulting arrangement," and lawyers from the two parties spoke Thursday. Vice Chancellor Eric Spina could not comment on the negotiations, saying they concern a specific personnel matter.

Within a week of leaving SU, Suparak filed a proposal to create the position of curator in residence at the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

According to the proposal, Suparak would still act as a liaison between the school and outside artists and agencies, though she would likely not have a gallery to manage.

"I feel like we've broken though a bit in finding out more information," she said. "I'm really glad that they're receptive to it and that they're looking at it."

The breakthrough follows a successful boycott by VPA professors last week, which resulted in the cancellation of an exhibit at the Schaffer Art Building.

A letter was also sent Tuesday to members of SU's Board of Trustees, which is scheduled to meet today.

"It is imperative that we recruit and retain talented individuals who can contribute to the creative environment of the university and the city to which it is connected," the letter read. "Syracuse University can show itself an innovator in the arts by making every effort to keep Suparak in this community."

The letter, authored by the Committee to Keep Astria, had 23 signatures, said VPA professor Joanna Spitzner, a leader in the group. Most of the signatures came from members of the arts community outside of SU.

Spitzner said the letter and the boycott are examples of Astria's supporters keeping the issue relevant after flooding the inboxes of Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of SU's Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC), in the days following Suparak's dismissal.

"They're being responsive. It's just a slow process," Spitzner said. "We're trying to be patient, but still keep the pressure on."

Word of Suparak's dismissal broke in the weeks before her last day on Sept. 30. She had been director of The Warehouse Gallery since 2006.

Hoone took full responsibility for the firing, which he called a "personnel change." He was supported by Cantor, who said the proper avenues were taken.

But Suparak said her file at human resources doesn't contain a performance review or any document referring to personnel issues.

Instead, her dismissal is considered a layoff.

"We stand by CMAC as the right vehicle to enable the active and engaged interaction with the arts that we want, and Jeff Hoone as the right leader of that organization," Spina said in an e-mail Thursday.

He added that he has been speaking with Hoone and VPA leaders about the future of the coalition, and they expect to have productive meetings with members of the Syracuse community.

If SU accepts Suparak's proposal as it is written, she would report directly to Ann Clarke, associate dean of VPA, and not to Hoone. Clarke did not return efforts to contact her.

In a second statement, written Oct. 18, Suparak said the VPA curator's position would be an opportunity for her to take advantage of her position on the city's Public Arts Commission.

She was voted unanimously to the commission by the Syracuse Common Council days after the university said she would be losing her job at SU.

Suparak said she is serving on the volunteer commission while collecting unemployment and doing freelance work for art magazines. Last week, she was in Pittsburgh, working for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

© Copyright 2007 The Daily Orange

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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.