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
Monday, September 17, 2007
Did anyone really think Chancellor Cantor would stop at HillTV?
Posted by Whats this? at 10:45 PM
I heard the unfortunate news of the dismissal of Warehouse Director Astria Suparak and the cancelation of the exhibition "Keeping It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men." I write this letter in support of Astria Suparak in her position as Director of the Warehouse Gallery.
I am a new faculty at Syracuse University. When I began looking at university positions, the Syracuse University position stood out for a number of reasons. One was that Astria Suparak was employed as a curator in the Syracuse area. Her reputation preceded her. Knowing that she would bring high quality, cutting edge artwork to central New York, aided in my feeling that this was an artistic community I wanted to join.
I have also been impressed with the variety of artists Astria has brought to the exhibitions. I teach in the Fiber/Material Studies program within the Department of Art and seek opportunities for my students to explore the overlaps between what they are doing and other disciplines. With each of her programs Astria has incorporated artists from different disciplines: electronic art, fiber art, video, photography, bio art, to name a few. By showing all of these kinds of artwork side by side, the exhibitions stress an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about art -- which I believe is extremely important for the growth of students and for breaking down barriers between and stereotypes about artistic disciplines. Astria is also the first and only curator at SU who has contacted me in regards to the educational potential of exhibitions curated at SU. She is pioneering connections within our community.
In addition, the exhibits bring current topics that are relevant and challenging into a space allowing for discussion, reflection and inspiration. As an instructor, I was looking forward to the exhibition of the Yes Men. Their work reveals the potency of art to affect change in the world. I had intended to use the exhibition as first-hand experience for Fiber students of artists who use intelligence, perseverance and a variety of media (costume, performance, electronic media, sculpture) to affect change in ways they are passionate about.
In closing, I view Astria Suparak is an asset to the artistic community of central New York and believe it will be a detriment to the community if she leaves.
Department of Art
School of Art and Design
Posted by Whats this? at 10:38 PM
I am writing to express my concern about recent developments at the
Warehouse Gallery, a Syracuse University affiliated public art gallery.
In the past few weeks it was announced that the Warehouse Gallery would
be canceling the upcoming retrospective of the renowned artist/social
activist group The Yes Men and dismissing the Warehouse Gallery's
Director Astria Suparak.
Astria is an acclaimed, visionary curator who has put together extremely
impressive shows at the Warehouse Gallery. I have followed her
curatorial career for years and have been continuously impressed with
her insightful work, professionalism, and her ability to curate
cutting-edge artists from the top of their fields.
When my partner was recently offered a position as Assistant Professor
in the Art Department at Syracuse University, Astria's presence at the
Warehouse Gallery was one of the deciding factors that made us choose
Syracuse over other areas where we had received job offers. I am a
professional artist and musician and felt that by moving my studio to the
Syracuse area, I would be joining a cutting edge, progressive, and
forward-thinking art community as exemplified by Astria and the excellent
shows she has put together at the Warehouse Gallery.
The near-simultaneous dismissal of Ms. Suparak and cancellation of the
Yes Men retrospective sends a dark message to the art community in
Central New York. The message is that young, innovative, progressive
artists are not welcome at the Warehouse Gallery, at Syracuse
University, or in the Syracuse arts community as represented by the
Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University. I find
this message disturbing in the extreme.
Posted by Whats this? at 10:37 PM
September 17, 2007
I am writing as a concerned citizen of Syracuse regarding the dismissal of Astria Suparak as Director of the Warehouse Gallery.
The CMAC executive seems very out of touch. Unfortunately it appears that the executive has also distanced the Office of the Chancellor from the artistic community, both at the University and in the broader community, keeping you out of touch and poorly informed.
Astria Suparak has built tremendous support in the University community. She has done this not only with exciting innovative programming but also by reaching out to faculty from many disciplines, convincing them that the Warehouse Gallery is an important extension of the classroom.
Astria has also reached out to me, a member of the general audience for the Warehouse Gallery exhibitions. I live in Syracuse and actively participate in the cultural life of the city. I have been following the Warehouse fiasco through discussions with a many people in the community.
I believe that you, Chancellor Cantor, convinced us that Syracuse is a good city, a city worthy of hope and investment. So I am bewildered by the decision to fire Astria Suparak because this young woman has picked up the gauntlet you threw down.
Astria Suparak is a valuable and tireless advocate for the city of Syracuse, attending countless meetings,sitting on many 'downtown' committees, adding her energy and committment to the goals that you, Chancellor Cantor, initiated.
Suparak shares your vision of urban renewal through the arts. She also epitomizes the young creative class that so many cities are anxious to attract (Astria also works and lives in downtown Syracuse).
How did the CMAC executive convince the Chancellor's office that this dynamic young Asian American woman should be fired? And fired in the middle of an exhibition season that several faculty had built into curricula and also supported financially.
Perhaps your office was unaware of the strong links forged by the Warehouse Gallery to both the University and to the city under the leadership of this energetic young woman.
The decision to fire Astria Suparak was both ill-founded and poorly timed and should be reconsidered. I sincerely hope that you will find a way to reverse this decision and to reinstate Astria Suparak as Director of the Warehouse Gallery.
Posted by Whats this? at 7:40 PM
Dear Mr. Hoone,
I am writing to express my support for Director of the Warehouse Gallery, Astria Suparak.
Astria is a curator whose work is followed, noticed and considered important, fresh and smart. I’d known of her work as a programmer years before we met in person, and as part of my own research as a programmer, she was one of the contemporaries whose work I looked toward, not just to stay current, but for new ways of looking at things I had seen before. Astria’s ability for presentation and fresh context make not just the works themselves accessible, but bigger thoughts and concepts as well.
The ability to assemble and present difficult and challenging work is a skill that I hope Warehouse Gallery will not overlook in Astria. Since so much of what we get from the art we see is what we make of it, progressive and visionary curators and gallery spaces is necessary.
I will continue to follow Astria’s work wherever she ends up; she is a professional whose work will continue to be of importance. It would seem a tragedy to the local community and to the esteem of your organization to lose her.
Posted by Whats this? at 7:39 PM
To whom it may concern,
I am writing in support of Astria Suparak. The recent
decision to cancel the Yes Men exhibition and the possibility of the removal of Astria alarms me. The work she has done here has been invaluable to me as
a graduate student. Her work has been pivotal in my understanding of the place of feminist discourse in the contemporary art world. By extension, this has helped me to understand my own place in the art world.
I do not presume to understand why exactly this decision was made, but I can tell you how it will be perceived. Syracuse will have the reputation of a place of intolerance. We are already a city that does not have much culture. There isn’t much here to draw anyone to visit, or to stay once a degree is earned.
I say this bluntly because apparently this isn’t evident. That someone as valuable as Astria would be dispensed with shows how little this is understood. Other repercussions seem obvious, what message does this send to the person to fill her position? What does this say to students, faculty and the community at large? It implies that this community cannot handle difference.
In addition to these concerns, Astria is on my thesis committee. I have been looking forward to working with her. Without her input, I will miss out on an irreplaceable perspective.
I ask that these decisions be reconsidered, for the community and for the university.
Sculpture, Studio Arts, VPA
Posted by Whats this? at 5:08 PM
Mr. Jeffrey Hoone
September 17, 2007
Dear Mr. Hoone,
My name is Carolyn Tennant, and I am the Media Arts Director at Hallwalls in . I write to you today with great concern regarding both the recent decision to terminate Astria Suparak as Director of The Warehouse gallery, but also the cancellation of the upcoming Yes Men exhibition at The Warehouse Gallery.
I have known of Astria Suparak's curatorial practice for quite some time, but have had the privilege to know her personally and professionally since 2002. Astria's dedication to her work as a programmer and to the work which she represents has been a great inspiration for myself and countless others. So when I learned that she had taken the position as Director at The Warehouse Gallery, I was ecstatic. Not only was I excited for myself and for Hallwalls as potential collaborators, I was thrilled because her energizing presence would be invaluable to the Upstate contemporary arts scene. Although I did not do so then, it appears that maybe I should have made it quite clear that I applaud the foresight of those responsible for bringing Astria to
Many individuals like myself, as well as organizations such as Hallwalls, recognize that Astria's presence in is absolutely indispensable, which makes it very difficult to process how someone with such assets can be dismissed so suddenly and without warrant. I am distressed for the students, the faculty, the community at large—for those who have already been moved by her work at The Warehouse Gallery and will miss her participation in the community, as well as for those who would have been inspired to create art and motivated to invest in the arts and arts institutions such as The Warehouse Gallery. To dispossess the community of an engaged and dedicated arts advocate, who despite her short tenure in has done amazing work in Upstate New York and continues to do internationally acclaimed work for the field, appears duplicitous.
Although I have not yet expressed my concern regarding the cancellation of the Yes Men exhibition, I must also acknowledge my own shock as well as the confusion of countless others in the field of contemporary art. Why one would want to deprive the community of an exhibition of this internationally acclaimed arts group—the first retrospective of its kind with the potential to tour and give yet more international visibility to the Warehouse Gallery—is incomprehensible. Because of this bizarre move to cancel such a crucial show, and due to the lack of transparency in this rapid decision to relieve Astria of her position, I am led to assume the worst. I wonder if you might please facilitate a dialog that might shed some light on these concerns? As you have no doubt witnessed, I am not alone. Many in the fields of contemporary visual and media arts, as well as activists and tactical media artists, will soon pose the same questions and express the same distress.
. She is someone who has an amazing track record of international work and who is connected to many exciting and significant contemporary artists, and this hiring has proved a savvy move indeed. In addition to her vital work with the University faculty, staff and students, The Warehouse Gallery has garnered international acclaim and its programs have gone on to tour outside of . What an impressive first year!Media Arts Director
Posted by Whats this? at 2:20 PM
Dear Mr. Hoone, Ms. Cantor, Mr. Spina and Ms. Brzozowski,
I am writing to express my support for the Director of the Warehouse Gallery, Astria Suparak. Her work within the art community in the city of Syracuse and of has been beneficial and significant. Astria is a passionate, responsible individual with complete dedication to her work. Please reconsider her absence from the Warehouse Gallery.
Expansion of the arts has been an important part of University's reach to the community, and the exhibitions at the Warehouse Gallery. Thanks to Astria's hard work, it is the perfect connection between downtown and the university. The shows directed by Astria have been relevant to current events surrounding . For example, the show "Embracing Winter" fell in the middle of February, when the community of can connect best with the art work. Also, the current show "COME ON: Desire Under the Female Gaze", which featured a video about the rock band Poison, overlapped with the New York State Fair where Poison put on a live concert. It is precisely this care and awareness of relevance both in the city and in contemporary art.
Please re-evaluate the actions taken against Astria Suparak, because she is an essential part of this community.
Thank you for your time,
MFA Department of Transmedia
Experimental Film and Media Workshop
Posted by Whats this? at 2:18 PM
Nancy Keefe Rhodes
Posted by Whats this? at 1:35 PM
Posted by Whats this? at 1:21 PM
Special Projects Coordinator
Cultural Resources Council
Posted by Whats this? at 1:20 PM
Posted by Whats this? at 1:19 PM
and for over 12 years. I have also worked within Montreal's cultural sector since 1999 as the Director of Articule artist-run centre, and currently as Curatorial Assistant for the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery at . This exposure to both sides of exhibition practices has made me well aware of the challenges involved in the production and dissemination of visual art. Astria in mid-August to install part of my work, I was greatly impressed by the Gallery's professionalism in making sure each aspect of the exhibition was sufficiently met.
, and by artists and cultural workers at large, it is obvious that Astria and The Warehouse Gallery play a vital role not only within the University, but increasingly within the Syracuse community at large. To pull the plug on the incredible amount of work Astria and The Warehouse Gallery have done - all in the interest of engaging the local community - would be a grave error in judgement. I urge you to please reconsider your decision.
Posted by Whats this? at 1:18 PM
Dear Mr Hoone,
Several alarming events have recently come to my attention that have
caused me considerable concern. I was recently informed that a dear
friend of mine Astria Suparak is in danger of losing her position as
director of the warehouse gallery and that an extremely significant
exhibition at the gallery has been canceled.
It is with great conviction that I have to let you and others who are
in a position to manage such matters know that you are making a grave
error in judgment.
As former director of Spark Contemporary Art Space and an active
member of the Syracuse art community for 3 years it was my pleasure to
introduce Astria to the city as a guest curator in 2006. I was honored
to host her because I knew that her profile exceeded the capabilities
of our small student run gallery. And yet, as I knew then and I know
now, Astria is a very strong supporter of local community and believes
in bringing disparate geographies and social groups together, not
tearing them apart. She is the type of person that inspires everyone
around her to make great things happen. In essence, she is exactly the
type of person that Syracuse so desperately needs.
For these reasons it was my pleasure to introduce Astria to the
Warehouse gallery search committee, and it was my delight to discover
she would act in the capacity of director.
Since that time I have left the city to be a practicing artist in
Toronto, but I continue to go out of my way to return to the warehouse
gallery when I visit Syracuse and when I travel anywhere near the city
limits. Furthermore it has been an absolute pleasure and sometimes
shock to hear from curators and artists here in Toronto and on trips
to Buffalo, New York City, Philadelphia and beyond about "How hot
Syracuse is right now". You have to understand the significance of
these words. You must know that Syracuse hasn't been hot or
significant in any way since David Ross was curator at the Everson.
And believe it or not, you are currently in the presence of another
David Ross, Astria Suparak is the type of Curator that you are going
to kill yourself for not having cherished.
Case in point, the canceled exhibition in question. The Yes Men are
one of the most relevant group of American artists living today. A
quick look at the exhibition histories of major national and
international museums will turn up their name frequently (I first
discovered them at MASS MoCA). Indeed, I spoke recently with Claire
Schneider, curator at the Albright Knox in buffalo where I am
currently exhibiting. She told me that she had recently been asked to
make a presentation at this year's CAA on the topic of Collectives and
Collaboration in contemporary art. She spoke of a distinct interest
internationally in this type of art making and that she was very
excited to research and present the topics and strategies these
artists are working with. I don't need to tell you The Yes Men were
one of the first such groups that came up in our discussion.
You are about to cancel the most significant show in Syracuse history
since Nam June Paik had his retrospective at the Everson.
I urge you to reverse whatever decisions you have made regarding both Astria and her programming choices. Indeed, I'd like to encourage you take this as an opportunity to increase funding, promotion and attention for the Warehouse gallery and to honor the excellent work
Astria has done in only 12 short months as director.
Ask yourselves how many other members of the Sryacuse community have done as much, ask yourselves whether you can afford to lose even one of them.
I trust you know the correct answer to these questions.
Please call me if there is anything I can do to further convince you of Astria's or the Yes Men's considerable merits, there are many more, 416 895 ----.
MFA, Syracuse University, 2006
Posted by Whats this? at 1:02 PM
Dear Mr. Hoone,
I am writing in response to recent decisions made by CMAC regarding The Warehouse Gallery, specifically the choice to eliminate the role of director Astria Suparak and abruptly cancel the programming currently underway. This issue strikes me personally and professionally and I felt it important to share my experiences.
I am writing as a woman in the arts, a graduate student at Syracuse University, and as one of the directors of Spark Contemporary Art Space, a graduate student run, non-commercial gallery in downtown Syracuse. These roles have given me the unique opportunity to engage with The Warehouse Gallery and Astria Suparak in varied capacities.
I write in support of Astria and the pivotal role she has had in establishing one of the key venues for art and dialogue in Syracuse, The Warehouse Gallery.
I have had the privilege of attending each of the exhibitions she has organized and curated. The difference she has made in her relatively short time here in Syracuse is notable. There is an excitement in the air that has caused every one of my peers to take note, her capability as a director and curator has been the subject of many a conversation among those of us in the arts and within the student population. Her accomplishments as a young professional female in the arts are an inspiration.
Astria's work at The Warehouse serves as a glowing example of how a space can quickly come alive under the right leadership. In her relatively short time here in Syracuse she has filled a need in this community, started a dialogue that has engaged me as an artist, a student, and a gallery administrator. I have rarely seen so much excitement surface in response to gallery programming, her choices have touched on something important. Astria has been a hugely supportive figure for Spark Contemporary Art Space from the beginning of her time in Syracuse. She has also played a key role in establishing and improving upon Th3: The Third Thursday, Syracuse's first citywide art open. I know from my own experiences how hard it is to get people out to exhibitions and screenings, to get them engaged with what is happening in their community. Every opening reception at the Warehouse has been a full house.
Astria is in touch with what is happening in the art world, she brings a diversity and excitement to the city that is rare to see in Syracuse.
Her exhibitions are reminiscent of those seen in larger metropolitan areas such as New York City and Toronto. In the span of only one year she has managed to adeptly link local and international artists, the university, and the community. There is electricity in the air, some sign of life in a town that many often write off as incapable of sustaining substantial artistic life.
I realize I know very little about the decisions and motivations taking place at CMAC. I can only write from my own experiences, and my interactions with Astria have made a distinct impression. Her support of this community and her dedication to its development are irreplaceable. Having witnessed all that she has done, the choice to eliminate her role is beyond my understanding. The decision to halt the important programming already underway with no explanation creates questions about the role that CMAC plans to have in the university and community art scene. I hope you will reconsider your decision to prematurely halt the contributions that Astria Suparak has made to The Warehouse Gallery, the Syracuse University community, and the Syracuse art scene.
MFA Candidate, 2008
Department of Painting
College of Visual & Performing Arts
Spark Contemporary Art Space
Posted by Whats this? at 12:24 PM
Posted by Whats this? at 10:46 AM
From: Nancy Keefe Rhodes [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sun 9/16/2007 11:38 AM
Subject: Mayday Mayday Mayday
Dear friends & colleagues,
This is extraordinarily upsetting & I hope you will join me in supporting the Warehouse & Astria Suparak's position there in any way you can. That may be letters as Joanna Spitzner has suggested, or phone calls and/or showing up on Thursday to the next opening. A visible presence on Thursday will be extremely important.
As you will know if you think about it, much more is at stake here than the Warehouse - & good lord, that's enough of a risk right there - & how this community responds to this will set a course in how the arts fare in CNY. You can [build] all the Connective Corridors you want but if we let them dynamite this span the bridge will tumble.
Posted by Whats this? at 12:07 AM
September 15, 2007
Dear Jeff Hoone, Nancy Cantor, Eric Spina and Carole Brzozowski,
I am writing on behalf of Astria Suparak and the future of the Warehouse Gallery. I am dismayed to hear of the news that Astria is being let go and that the upcoming exhibition of the Yes Men is cancelled.
I am not sure that I understand the nature of Astria's dismissal. I have known her professionally for the last six years. We have invited her to RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and to Troy on three different occasions for video presentations and more. Last year the Arts department invited Astria to be one of two visiting outside critics for our MFA students' review. This is a position we offer only to curators, artists and scholars whom we admire and trust to give honest and responsible feedback to the students. She did a great job advising students and assessing their works, and conducted herself completely professionally.
I visited the Warehouse Gallery this summer and saw the installation of the Networked Nature exhibition – which I quite liked. Astria and I discussed her plans for the upcoming year and we spoke of future collaborations between our institutions. I have admired her choices for shows thus far and was delighted to see her progress. She seemed to be taking her job extremely seriously, offering the community of Syracuse (and beyond) an opportunity to engage in the best of contemporary art practices. Everyone I spoke with was surprised Astria had moved to Syracuse initially, but we were delighted to have her as part of the upstate community and to have her oversee the Warehouse's curatorial mission. It seemed like a great gift to the entire community!
Astria's energy and commitment has been evident to me for years. When she toured her DIY video collections, she was extremely responsible to the artists who participated by posting all the press and comments she received while on tour with the work. She was also responsible to the audiences walking them through the different artists' conceptual approaches with the use of humor and a kind of unassuming "smarts." She is socially conscious and driven to make contemporary art work assessable – a rare trait in someone her age. I witnessed her presenting her video compilations on two different occasions in Troy, once at RPI and once through RPI at the Sanctuary for Independent Media. I also participated in yet another video tour showing my own video work – so I understand first hand how Astria "treats" artists. Participating in this tour was one of the most interesting projects for me as I actually "heard" from my audiences through Astria's postings. It was a real contribution to my understanding of my work.
I have been a resident of NY State for the last thirty-five years. During that period I have split my time between upstate and NYC. I attended Colgate University for my undergraduate work, and was influenced by the video art programming of David Ross and then Richard Simmons at the Everson Museum in Syracuse. Seeing this work at the time was life altering for me, as I ultimately attended graduate school in experimental film and video, a career I am committed to through to the present. I see Astria's programming at the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse a similar project that could influence numerous young students throughout the region to make a commitment to a career in the arts.
Currently I am the Head of the Arts Department at RPI. I am actively engaged in curating through our iEAR Presents series, the BioArts Initiative exhibition program, the Sanctuary for Independent Media and more. I understand the kinds of coalitions that are needed in upstate NY to allow for works to travel and circulate between institutions – as budgets dwindle and are exhausted. Our collaboration with Warehouse Gallery would allow for a kind of arts circulation that is essential to the upstate area. Also, academic universities need public venues that challenge our expectations and extend our classroom teaching practices. With Astria's leadership, the Warehouse Gallery presented just such a project.
I must also mention, that the cancellation of the Yes Men exhibition upsets me personally as one of the Yes Men team is a member of the RPI Arts faculty. Exhibitions (such as the Yes Men) are one way to really build alliances between university centers and departments and to support faculty's art practices. The sudden cancellation of this exhibition is both insulting and appalling both to the participants, and to professional arts faculty throughout the State.
Please understand that Astria Suparak has a large public following and many supporters. Please make your decisions transparent as it is important for us all to know why you have made this decision which at this point appears gratuitous, irresponsible and impulsive. I do not support your decision and am wondering why such a positive addition to the Syracuse and upstate community has been so blatantly dismissed and mistreated.
I await further information about the situation from you all. Thank you.
Kathy High, Head/ Arts Department
cc: Dean John Harrington, Humanities and Social Sciences/RPI,
Igor Vamos, Associate Professor RPI/Arts
Posted by Whats this? at 12:00 AM
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.