So last week Amber and myself (Alicia) went down the booming metropolis of Syracuse, NY to visit our current artists-in-residence at SPARK Contemporary. Ursula Handleigh is a recent graduate from the Photography program at OCADU, and Adrienne Crossman is also a recent graduate from OCADU, of the Integrated media program.
Syracuse was originally a huge manufacturing hot spot, but it’s population peaked in the 1950’s, and the industry began to falter around the 1970’s. Syracuse’s economy has faced challenges over the past decades as the industrial jobs have left the area. The number of local and state government jobs also has been declining for several years. Syracuse’s top employers are now primarily in education (Syracuse University) and health care.
It was very beautiful in a run down way: so many interesting buildings (loads of 60’s modernist architecture), hand painted signage and the amazing kinds of textures that start happening after years of layered and chipping paint.
We checked out the Everson Museum of Art (built in 1968 and designed by I.M. Pei), ArtRage (which was an amazing gallery with a focus on community-based practices and social justice) and Community Folk Art Centre (showing some really great textile work).
Kid’s Photobooth at the Everson- complete with different masterpiece backdrops and costumes! The guard was not impressed with us.
We also checked out a vegan eatery with 42 different kinds of ‘milk’shakes, a couple thrift stores, a delicious Mexican restaurant and of course, some of the best bbq we’ve ever had at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a local favourite.
We also went out one night to Trexx, a dance club that hosts a ‘college night’ on Thursdays. Beautiful drag queens, a laser light show, a constant stream of fog from the smoke machine and a weird photobooth
(pictured below) was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Ursula and Adrienne have been hard at work, and are coming up with some interesting work that reflects the aesthetics and tones/textures of Syracuse. They have also been drawing inspiration from the 200 year old Victorian home they are staying in. We are very excited to see what they end up showing at XPACE in the fall! Stay tuned.