Sunday, September 23, 2007


Syracuse Gallery Director's Dismissal Sparks Protests


Published: 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


John Massier

[ excerpted from HERE. ]

Shitstorm Hits Syracuse!

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.

[ excerpted from HERE. ]

Sherry Miller Hocking

Dear Jeff and Chancellor Cantor,

I was very disappointed to learn of the dismissal of Astria Suparak from her position at the Warehouse Gallery. I am clearly not alone.

While I have not had the pleasure of meeting her personally, Astria is held in very high regard by the media and arts communities throughout the State.

When Astria was appointed to the position at the Warehouse, we all applauded the Syracuse area for its acute understanding of the importance of supporting contemporary curatorial practices and challenging exhibitions which embody Astria’s cultural and arts practices.

I urge you to reconsider your decision not only for the good of the Syracuse area but for all of us.


Sherry Miller Hocking
Assistant Director
Experimental Television Center

Tom Sherman

Dear members of the Syracuse University and City of Syracuse community:

On September 18, 2007, SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Carole Brzozowski stated publicly that she believed “that this decision was based on personnel issues and not based on artistic direction, curatorial programming or previous, ongoing or planned exhibitions at the Gallery.” While I disagreed with her analysis, it bothered me even more that Dean Brzozowski had once again used the “confidential personnel issue” defense in connection with the dismissal of Astria Suparak by Jeffrey Hoone. SU’s administration, from Hoone to Chancellor Cantor to Dean Brzozowski have been in corporate lock-step in deflecting questions about this contested firing.

SU’s administration, by using this ‘confidentiality defense’ in tandem with phrases supporting Hoone (Chancellor Cantor’s form letters say she can’t discuss Suparak’s termination but in the same breath she states “I trust his [Hoone’s] leadership”) systematically and unfairly create doubt about Suparak’s performance without offering a shred of evidence against her. Every time Hoone or Cantor or Brzozowski use the confidentiality defense in correspondence that simultaneously backs the decision to dismiss Suparak, they are impugning Suparak’s reputation, implying that she has done something warranting her dismissal.

The corporate/Syracuse University policy of using “confidential personnel issues” to shield individuals involved in personal disputes or ideally to protect people’s reputations, also serves as a means for the corporation to prevent the press or other interested parties from interfering in the corporation’s business. Hoone is the Executive Director of CMAC, a Syracuse University operation not governed by a board of directors. Hoone reports directly to the C.E.O. of the corporation, Chancellor Cantor. Hoone’s corporate business, in this case the dismissal of Suparak, is an effort to gain complete control of the Warehouse Gallery’s programming.

Jeffrey Hoone has actually been quite transparent in explaining his decision to get rid of Suparak in his public communication. To quote Hoone: “It is my responsibility to develop the right mix of organizational structure, skills, talent, teamwork, and substance in order to achieve those goals [Hoone is speaking of his own goals as there is no representation of SU’s faculty, students or the broader Syracuse community governing CMAC and Hoone]. Hoone adds: “I have made a decision to move forward toward achieving those goals with a new structure and a revised and broader position for leadership of the Warehouse Gallery.” One doesn’t restructure an organization because an employee is under-performing in the eyes of the corporation’s administration. These ‘restructuring’ efforts are designed to exert more control over the content of shows at the Warehouse Gallery.

The aforementioned confidentiality defense, designed to shield individuals when disputes arise within a corporation, may also be used intentionally to deflect the scrutiny of those who believe a corporation, in this case Syracuse University , is acting unwisely in dismissing an over-achieving employee. What well-run corporation would dismiss an excellent employee, in this case a Director and curator hired for her vision, for doing what she said she was going to do, with resounding success, when she applied for the job? In fact the only time Jeffrey Hoone has had any input from the community on his decisions is when an eight-person hiring committee advised him to hire Astria Suparak. Now that Hoone has made his decision to reform his goals and restructure CMAC and the Warehouse Gallery in order to support his dismissal of Suparak, let there be no debate about what this ill-advised decision is based on. Hoone, and the administration that backs him, wants control of the content of the exhibitions mounted at the Warehouse Gallery. Make no mistake, this Warehouse fiasco is about the content of Astria Suparak’s current exhibition (COME ON: desire under the female gaze), the scheduled but unrealized Yes Men show that Hoone himself cancelled when he fired Suparak, and the promising shows proposed by Suparak for balance of the second year of programming at the Warehouse Gallery.

I ask that Astria Suparak be retained by the University and given the freedom and resources to execute the exhibition schedule she proposed when she was hired. Her proposed exhibition schedule was good enough for the administration to bring her to Syracuse and get her started, and her exhibitions have been embraced enthusiastically by this community and by those far beyond. This community of the University and City has the maturity and intelligence to see through and reject this pre-emptive, conservative corporate act of censorship carried out by Jeffrey Hoone and the administration of Syracuse University . Astria Suparak is being censored if this decision to dismiss her is not reversed. The autonomy and rights of this curatorial position must be reinstated. The content of Suparak’s exhibitions is the reason behind her dismissal.


Tom Sherman
Professor, Art Video
Department of Transmedia
Syracuse University

cc: Jeffrey Hoone, Chancellor Cantor, Vice-Chancellor Spina, Dean Brzozowski


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.