Sunday, October 21, 2007

Renee Mulcare

To lose Astria Suparak as the curator of the Warehouse Gallery is devastating. She has been such a strong presence in the art community, and I feel, along with many others, that she has been wrongfully dismissed. This is unfortunate to say the least, for Astria's contributions here have been phenomenal, bringing about a stronger community for the arts as well as connecting the university to the city through her tenure at the Warehouse.

It is frustrating to know that SU and the city of Syracuse are losing a vital asset to building a strong art community and working towards Nancy Cantor's vision towards Scholarship in Action. The way that I have always understood Cantor's idea of Scholarship in Action, was that being "in action" one would be exploring differences, learning new things, and experiencing a wide variety of opportunities to expand our knowledge. This allowance of Astria to be dismissed, however severely diminishes the strong idea of Scholarship in Action. It seems to be a selective Scholarship in Action, almost as though Astria wasn't bringing the right kind of diversity to Syracuse, which doesn't seem to make any sense.

The bigger problem that I see with the whole situation is the lack in reasoning and explanation for Astria's dismissal. Jeff Hoone has provided nothing to the community as to why he felt that he should release Suparak from her position. His lack in an argument to back up his decision has yet to surface, and the fact that he has declined to shed light on the situation makes me question his status and position in the Syracuse art community. Frankly, I don't want him to be here. I've begun to lose trust already in his decisions and what he will do in the future. Why is it so hard to provide a legitimate reason? This lack of one makes me think that perhaps there isn't one. That should be a red flag warning. There would be greater issues at hand if this were the case. I do not know his reason, but I am still very much in doubt about him in general. To make such a drastic change as this deserves an explanation. Without an adequate explanation, Hoone is doing more than removing Astria. He has put himself in a situation in which he is losing credibility in his judgments. As someone that is in his position, I would think that putting yourself in a place where people are questioning your ability to do your job is not a place where you want to be.

This severe lack in information and explanation from the school and Hoone's position is disturbing. It makes me think that there is something bigger going on that is being left out, and it's extraordinarily frustrating. That is a horrible place to be in when you are that high up in the chain. It's a stupid move. There is no other way to say it. It's poorly thought, without reason, without anything to give credibility to the decision made regarding Astria. It's sad. It's really sad that this is what is happening and that it is like a horrible essay written in which they are trying to prove a point with nothing to back themselves up. I don't trust that, I won't trust that until something is explained.

Renee Mulcare
Film, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Syracuse University 2010


Jeff Hoone has replaced the Yes Men exhibition with Gary Schneider’s Genetic Self-Portrait, which opens on Nov. 15. Calls for a boycott of the exhibition, and Hoone's "new direction" for The Warehouse Gallery have already begun.

Genetic Self-Portrait
was completely funded from its inception in 1996 by Howard Stein’s Joy of Giving Something (JGS), Inc. Light Work, another arts organization Hoone controls, published the catalogue for this exhibition in 1999 (financed by Howard Stein). The entire exhibition - all 61 photographic prints - are owned by Stein.

In other words, this decade-old photography exhibition is replacing an original and much anticipated show by internationally-acclaimed anti-corporate activists, The Yes Men.

Meanwhile, the faculty of the School of Art and Design (Departments of Foundation, Art, and Design) and The Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University have boycotted the annual faculty exhibition at SUArt Galleries to protest the Suparak's dismissal.

A press release states: "The decision to remove Suparak from her position was made by the Executive Director of Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University. SUArt Galleries and The Warehouse Gallery are both members of CMAC. The dismissal of Suparak, a well-respected curator who has worked with many SU faculty members, is a great loss to this community. This action reflects the lack of dialog the administration of CMAC has with faculty, students, and the arts community - the constituents CMAC serves. While faculty respect the work of the individual spaces in this coalition, we do not support the current direction of CMAC."

Working together, the faculty and staff of these departments and the directors of Spark Contemporary Art Space have organized their own exhibition. It is hoped that this will bring together the many people involved in the local and university art communities. The one-night only "Ice Out: Art, Design, & Transmedia Faculty Exhibition, 2007" opens on THURSDAY, OCT. 25th, 7-9pm at Spark Contemporary Art Space, 1005 E. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY. Free admission + refreshments. Open to all.

Syracuse University is considering a new position for Suparak: Curator-in-Residence in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The details are still being worked out. If you support this idea, let the University know.


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.