To Whom It May Concern:
I've copied below an email from Jeff Hoone regarding the "Come On" show. It
was written the day before the show opened in August, and it indirectly addresses the conjecture that Jeff fired Astria because of the subject matter of the show.
I think it's important to post this email because it shows that when some administrators objected to the exhibit, Jeff defended it. The obvious conclusion is that he did not fire Astria because of "Come On."
Like many other people involved in this discussion, I wish that better explanations were given for the changes at the gallery. Nonetheless, and tempting though it may be, blind speculation does not necessarily lead to the truth.
Lisa Jong-Soon Goodlin
From: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 1:08 PM
To: Matthew R Snyder
Cc: Elaine M.S. Quick; Barry L Wells; Laura M Madelone; Anastasia Lynne
Urtz; Colleen O'Connor Bench; Thomas J Walsh; Domenic Iacono; Eric F
Subject: RE: "Come On" information for new students
I would like to respond to the email I recently received from Matthew Snyder
concerning the exhibition that opens at the Warehouse Gallery this week titled Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze.
I find it troubling that certain conclusions were made about the exhibition
based solely on the exhibition announcement without considering the context
of the exhibition or the timely and important issues raised by the artists
in the exhibition. The exhibition includes work by three women artists in
their 20s and 30s who are inheritors of second-wave feminism whose work responds to our daily barrage of images that objectify young girls and women in the media. This is an issue that is very relevant to our student population and is consistent with our mission as an institution that embraces and encourages diversity in all its forms.
It was stated in the email that concerns about the exhibition ³is not with the art's appearance or content; rather, it is a question of timing, given that these potentially controversial materials will be juxtaposed with the development and student-welcoming events taking place in the Warehouse over the next few weeks.² I find this rationale odd to say the least, and again given the context of the exhibition it could certainly be part of ³student development² that places Syracuse University as a place that encourages the open and candid discussion of issues, ideas, and current events. The exhibition raises many questions of interest across many programs at the University including the LGBT Center within the Division of Student Affairs whose mission is ³To address current and pressing concerns of our day
related to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.²
Finally, while it is not included in the email from Matt Snyder, I understand that there are plans to have counselors available at the Warehouse this Saturday in case students who view the exhibition may be so inclined to seek our their comfort. I find it beyond comprehension to think that students who grew up with full access to the graphic realities of the Internet, MTV, and ³Girls Gone Wild² videos would be so affected by an exhibition of artistic renderings that they would need the services of
The mission of the Warehouse Gallery is to exhibit the work of contemporary artists whose work engages the audience in the important issues of our life and times. This exhibition and all the exhibitions in the Gallery are presented in a professional manner and provide contextual materials to aid the audience in a constructive process of engagement with the work in an educational and instructive manner. Contemporary artists will from time to time engage us with challenging work and ask difficult questions. I believe we are best served by engaging them in a dialogue rather than over reacting, ignoring or silencing their voice.
From: Matthew R Snyder
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 11:28 AM
To: Jeffrey Joseph Hoone
Cc: Elaine M.S. Quick; Barry L Wells; Laura M Madelone; Anastasia Lynne
Urtz; Colleen O'Connor Bench
Subject: "Come On" information for new students
I write to update you on a discussion of issues related to the Warehouse
Gallery's next exhibit, "Come On."
Late last week, members of the Chancellor's Cabinet and Public Affairs office raised questions about the exhibit. Their concern is not with the art's appearance or content; rather, it is a question of timing, given that these potentially controversial materials will be juxtaposed with the development and student-welcoming events taking place in the Warehouse over the next few weeks.
I understand that Tom Walsh, Eric Spina, Barry Wells, and Kevin Quinn have been discussing the issue at the Chancellor's request. As they are currently at the Chancellor's Administrative Conference at Minnowbrook, I have been asked to convey the following decisions to you:
-- The exhibit is to continue as planned, with the addition of a sign outside the gallery space indicating that the content is for mature audiences. Frank Olive, WG assistant director, has provided me with a very helpful briefing document on the exhibit; this has been shared with the Parents Office, Office of Orientation and Off-Campus Programs, and other administrative offices that may encounter students' or parents' questionsabout Come On during Syracuse Welcome.
-- The marketing materials for the exhibit that were to be placed in the ReadySet (new student welcome materials) will not be included after all. I am working with Bulk to arrange return of the materials to Elaine. If you would like to provide alternative materials--perhaps a general marketing piece/introduction to the Gallery--I would be happy to work with Elaine or someone else to include something in the ReadySet. The final package of the ReadySet is being assembled today and tomorrow, so we would need to move quickly.
Please let me know if you have any questions,
Matthew R. Snyder
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Syracuse University Division of Student Affairs
Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs
518 Crouse-Hinds Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
To Whom It May Concern:
Posted by Whats this? at 7:15 PM
City offers commission seat to dismissed Warehouse art director
September 26, 2007
By Megan Saucke
Astria Suparak's last day as director of The Warehouse Gallery will be Friday, but she might still play a significant role in the Syracuse art scene.
The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Suparak to the city's Public Arts Commission. Earlier this month, she was dismissed from her position at the gallery.
"Her appointment legislation was actually done before her being let go," said Ryan McMahon, Syracuse common councilor. "She still has something to bring to the art community, so we thought that it was appropriate to nominate her."
While Suparak said she would like to take part in the 11-member volunteer commission, she is not sure if she will be able to stay in Syracuse.
Jeffrey Hoone, executive director of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, took sole responsibility for dismissing Suparak on Sept. 7. He said firing Suparak is a part of restructuring the gallery's leadership, and that further details are confidential.
The Yes Men, a group of satirical imposters, whose act at the gallery was canceled earlier this month, said it will not exhibit at the gallery without Suparak.
"It's an honor to be respected by the city even if the university isn't going to," Suparak said Tuesday. She said the Public Arts Commission is an "important step" for the city of Syracuse.
The commission is responsible for creating a public art master plan "to enrich the visual and aesthetic environment of spaces within the City of Syracuse that are in some way accessible to the public," according to the Public Art Ordinance.
"It's clear that the city thinks Astria is important, and if the university doesn't make every effort to keep her here, they're making a big mistake," said Joanna Spitzner, a professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Suparak said she is waiting to see if the university will reinstate her. Failing to do so would be to "completely ignore the international art community and the community and its faculty, students, etc."
"I really don't know what the future holds for me. I've been trying to retain my position as director," she said. "If I can get a similar job with enough resources and staff to make an impact and make a difference, I would like to stay."
Despite receiving dozens of e-mails protesting the decision, Cantor continued her support of Hoone's decision to dismiss Suparak.
"This is a personnel decision and my role in that case is to make sure it was handled in an appropriate manner through our human resources department," Cantor said in an interview. "I assured myself that indeed there had been a process in place, and it had gone through appropriate channels."
Tom Sherman, professor of video and media theory, said as head of the gallery, Suparak was in line with the university's mission.
"In her job as a curator, she really did go out into the city and build bridges to the city like the university always talks about building," Sherman said.
Both Cantor and Hoone said the firing had nothing to do with censorship. But critics have raised questions concerning an exhibit called "COME ON: Desire under the female gaze," which is currently on display.
"This is specifically about working relationships in The Warehouse Gallery and restructuring The Warehouse Gallery going forth," Cantor said.
In mid-August, Hoone received an e-mail representing Cantor's cabinet that raised questions about the timing of the exhibit. In the e-mail, Matthew Snyder, director of communications and media relations for the division of student affairs, told Hoone that ads for the exhibit would be taken out of a packet given to incoming freshmen.
Hoone provided the e-mail to The Daily Orange on Tuesday after declining an interview.
Hoone always defended the decision to bring "COME ON" to the gallery, Cantor said, which features erotic sketches of men and women and exposure to genitals.
In his response to Snyder, Hoone wrote that the "work responds to our daily barrage of images that objectify young girls and women in the media. This is an issue that is very relevant to our student population and is consistent with our mission as an institution."
About 400 people attended the exhibit's opening on Sept. 20.
The Yes Men
The Yes Men, a group originally scheduled to come to The Warehouse from November to January, confirmed it will not exhibit without Suparak as the gallery's director.
"Astria was putting in the work to make up for the time that we didn't have," said Mike Bonanno, the group's co-founder. "So once she was gone, there was no way that we could expect to be able to do the show."
The act, which is controversial for its anti-capitalist statements, was canceled earlier this month, according to The Warehouse's Web site. Hoone said he didn't cancel the show and still wants the group to come.
Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum founded The Yes Men, currently based in New York City, in 1999.
The act wasn't able to attend the Seattle protest against the World Trade Organization, so it created a satirical Web site. When the site was mistaken for the real thing, it got invited to speak at conferences.
The Yes Men have since made many appearances impersonating people in power such as Halliburton executives and other CEOs. Bichlbaum describes it as "dramatizing the criminality that goes on."
"Students really connect with the issues that they're calling attention to and also the way they do it because it's fun, it's playful," professor Spitzner said. "But it makes you really think a lot about our society and the role that corporations play in it."
Posted by CNXY at 5:24 PM
Dear Chancellor Cantor and Mr. Hoone,
I am writing as an artist, Syracuse University student, and member of
the Syracuse community. Like so many of my fellow community members,
I am very confused and disheartened by the dismissal of Astria
Suparak from the Warehouse Gallery. Along with professors, students,
artists, and other member of the Syracuse Community, I have been able
to find no reason, logic, or solace under a unilateral and solitary
decision justified by trust and confidentiality.
Astria Suparak is an incredible resource for students, artists, the
Syracuse Arts Community, the global Arts community ,and the greater
Syracuse Community at large. She is connecting people, ideas, people
with ideas, forging discussions, and building community. There is no
greater proof of this than the outcry of support coming for her from
our community, and her recent, unanimous appointment to the
(volunteer) Syracuse Public Arts Commission. As you are well aware,
the arts is an incredible means for bringing people together. She has
done this. Ms. Suparak is an incredible individual and leader, who
as an individual has garnered the respect not only of artists,
students, professors, and individuals, but of the city of Syracuse
Chancellor Cantor and Mr. Hoone, I urge you to listen to our
Community and reinstate Astria Suparak.
If you have not already, please visit http://www.keepastria.com/ or
http://syracuse-warehouse.blogspot.com/ to see our community in
action. Or, you can simply google "Save Astria Suparak." Please be
sure to note the New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/
Thank you for your consideration,
Television, Radio, and Film '08, Newhouse School
Sculpture '08, CVPA
Posted by Whats this? at 10:56 AM
Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director, CMAC
Nancy Cantor, Chancellor
Eric Spina, Vice Chancellor/Provost
Carole Brzozowski, Dean of CVPA
I am writing in support (and defense?) of Astria Suparak retaining her position as Director and Curator at the Warehouse Gallery. As a New York state based artist, teacher, and curator it did not take long for me to realize the potential for culturally relative and artistically innovative dialogue and engagement between the Syracuse community and the wide-ranging field of art that came with Astria Suparak's hire at The Warehouse Gallery. I am familiar with the upstate New York art scene and follow its transformations, evolutions, setbacks, and growth despite the odds against it not "being" New York City" and not having a strong economic infrastructure.
I have been following Ms. Suparak's inventive curatorial projects and collaborations since 1998, and recently brought high school students attending the New York State Summer School of the Media Arts in Ithaca to the Networked Nature exhibition, where my above-mentioned sentiment for thoughtful relevant artistic dialogue was confirmed - happening before my eyes - and thus my bafflement at learning of Astria Suparak's dismissal from The Warehouse Gallery this month.
Decoding a quote on the gallery's mission from Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director, CMAC, is also baffling as it mirrors precisely what Ms. Suparak offered to The Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse University and the Syracuse community through her programming and local engagement:
"The guiding principle in the inception of the Gallery was the goal of positioning the arts as an important component of community
engagement by Syracuse University. As such, the Gallery has become an important venue for the exhibition of contemporary art. We have also defined its mission so that it can engage the community in a dialogue regarding the role the arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our life and times.
I am writing to assure you that we recognize the importance of the Warehouse Gallery and our commitment to strong and inspired
Leadership (sic) for it."
Surely Hoone's reference to his commitment to strong and inspired leadership “engaging the community in a dialogue regarding the role arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our life and times” does not refer to his own contribution to said leadership as far as the issue of Astria Suparak's dismissal is concerned. Furthermore, it is cowardly, unjust, and irresponsible to dismiss anyone without cause - doubly so if the opaque reasoning ("restructuring") is related to the artistic content of the curatorial projects.
Former Program Director, Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo
Professor, Department of Media Study, Queens College
Posted by Whats this? at 2:24 AM
To: Nancy Cantor, Chancellor; Eric Spina, Vice Chancellor/Provost; Tom Walsh, Senior Vice President; Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director, CMAC; and Carole Brzozowski, Dean of CVPA
I am writing to protest the unexpected dismissal of Director and Curator of the Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University, Astria Suparak. I have been familiar with Ms. Suparak's curatorial years for ten years. As freelance curator and more recently in her position at the Warehouse Gallery, Ms. Suparak has developed a reputation as a risk-taking and intellectually curious curator. She single-handedly put the Warehouse Gallery on the map with her energetic programming which must be a tremendous draw to the student and art loving population in that region.
Ms. Suparak's dismissal seems motivated by ideological differences which is truly unfortunate. But what seems highly unethical and unprofessional is the manner in which Ms. Suparak was let go. Certainly her track record in her position--the sheer amount of programs and the numbers of attendees--do not merit such treatment.
I hope you realize that Ms. Suparak has given the Warehouse Gallery a kind of visibility that the organization previously lacked. I stand in support with the large number of Ms. Suparak's colleagues and supporters in asking you to overturn this decision.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Posted by Whats this? at 2:22 AM
Dear Nancy Cantor,
It is with utmost urgency that I ask you to override Jeff Hoone's decision to remove Astria Superak as Director of The Warehouse Gallery. If this decision stands, you are threatening the very environment of collaboration and innovation that you have worked so hard to create. I understand there may be another vision for The Warehouse Gallery, but Ms. Superak's departure is leaving a scar that will not be easily forgotten. She has been far too successful in building relationships here in Syracuse to have them severed without repercussions.
What kind of message do you want to send? Firing your young liaison to the contemporary art world says those who are interested in innovative programming are not welcome here. I am a model graduate of Syracuse University- I came here from Philadelphia and stayed after graduating because I was so passionate about Syracuse's potential. After three years of working in the arts (Coordinator of Greenberg In Syracuse: Then and Now, which traveled to the Palitz Gallery at the Lubin House; Curator of Videohm at Ohm Lounge, Marketing and PR Coordinator of Delavan Art Gallery; Coordinator of Th3, The Third Thursday, etc.) I am sorry to say this decision has squashed my confidence in what I thought was an upward swing.
The arts here are delicate. Ms. Superak has done some favors for us through her presence here. This sentiment is echoed in the hundred testimonial letters written to Mr. Hoone over the past week from students, curators, professors and professional artists from as far and wide as Toronto, Montreal, Florida and Texas. You are certainly not doing any favors for us by allowing her to be fired. You, the Chancellor with such an inspiring vision, can and should step in to reverse Mr. Hoone's decision. Ms. Superak's level of support should be increased. A supervisor who understands Ms. Superak's vision should be assigned to The Warehouse Gallery. CMAC is supposedly a new model for the administration and operation of art centers and museums. This action sets a horrible precedent. Please realize this has become more than an issue in the Human Resources department. This is a sign of your commitment to forward thinking.
Thank you for bringing us this far. Please continue to support the innovation you have started.
Posted by Whats this? at 2:21 AM
It's incredibly disappointing and frustrating to hear that Astria
Suparak has been dismissed from her position at the Warehouse gallery.
Born and raised in Syracuse, I earned my BFA in Art Video at SU in
2000 before moving to the West Coast. As an undergrad, there was a
frustrating lack of opportunities and spaces for contemporary art
exhibits. Scattered DIY events never seemed to generate enough
momentum. It's been exciting to watch (from afar) the growing
contemporary arts presence in Syracuse over the last several years.
When I heard Suparak was going to be the Warehouse director, I was
very excited for Syracuse. I'd been impressed by her programs at
screenings elsewhere, and was certain that her enthusiastic efforts
would accelerate the Syracuse scene. From the acres of outrage
accumulated, it's obvious that the Syracuse community has similar
feelings. Suparak's dismissal is as unfortunate as it is unfathomable
Posted by Whats this? at 2:19 AM
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my support for Astria Suparak, and my dismay at
hearing that she has been dismissed without much explanation from her
position as curator at the Warehouse Gallery.
Astria, curated my work for the show Faux Naturel, and in all my
interactions with her, I have found her to be unfailingly creative and
professional. Her exhibitions at the Warehouse Gallery were fresh and
thought provoking, and did not fall into the possible formulaic pitfalls
that programming in galleries related to academic institutions are often
prone to. Her shows were original, and interesting to both audiences from
within academia, and art insiders as well as those who were not gallery
regulars. This is no easy feat. She has a gift for putting together an
engaging show that was still rigorous and thoughtful. Her energy and drive
were always accompanied by kindness and integrity. In working with her it
was clear to me how much she invested in the success of the gallery, and I
am greatly puzzled as to why the University of Syracuse would not wish to
continue to employ a curator who brings so much to her position. I hope
that in light of the feedback from so many people who have worked with
her, you will reconsider your decision.
Andrea Vander Kooij
Posted by Whats this? at 2:17 AM
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to express my disappointment upon hearing the news that Astria
Suparak has been asked to leave her position at the Warehouse Gallery.
I first met Ms. Suparak at the University of Manitoba where she had stopped
as part of an impressive tour across North America with a curatorial program
of exciting, new video work. Though few students had heard of Astria before,
the screening room was packed. Astria is tapped into the concerns and
interests of young artists and this was made evident in her curatorail
decisions and press materials.
I have since worked with Astria as an artist represented in a couple of her
touring video programs. These programs also toured extensively. Astria has
worked, seemingly tirelessly, to distribute and promote the work of young
exciting new artists – often these are artists who were driven entirely by
creativity and enthusiasm without any commercial participation in the art
I was invited to perform last March at the Warehouse Gallery, and Astria was
a professional and exciting host. I fear U of Syracuse will regret their
decision to let such an ambitious and creative visionary leave their
institution. Ms Suparak's work is consequential and important. Please
reconsider this decision.
Posted by Whats this? at 2:16 AM
Subject: Astria Suparak being fired!
I can't believe that Astria Suparak is being fired from her position as director of Syracuse University's Warehouse Gallery! Why? It's outrageous! She has brought wonderfully gifted artists to her venue! For example, Juliet Jacobson, one of the artists currently exhibiting at the Warehouse Gallery. Her large, beautifully executed graphite drawings are creatively engaging and extremely well composed! Astria Suparak must be able to continue her tenure at the Warehouse Gallery or the Syracuse art scene will experience a very major unwarranted loss!
Syracuse, New York
Posted by Whats this? at 2:15 AM
Dear Chancellor Cantor,
I am writing to praise Astria Suparak's work at the Warehouse Gallery and to address the termination of her position.
I've just returned home to Brooklyn from the opening of Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze, an exhibition I had the privilege of participating in. If "the guiding principle in the inception of the Gallery was the goal of positioning the arts as an important component of community engagement," as Jeffrey Hoone says in his letter, I can state unequivocally that this goal has been met. The artists, professors, and students that I met in Syracuse were galvanized around Astria's situation. It was the topic for conversation and it was igniting self reflection. People were talking not so much about what would happen at the Warehouse Gallery but about how this decision would reflect on the Syracuse art community. There was a lot of hope in the talk surrounding what the community could become with Astria as a key member.
I know that Astria went to lengths to give an account of my work as a substantive addition to the show. In the time leading up to the exhibition she and I engaged in an email dialog about 3rd Wave Feminism. Because of her earnest and enthusiastic comportment toward the question, I was allowed a radical redress of my own relationship to Feminism. From this engagement I learned how substantive a curator's role can be. The gallery's stated vision concludes saying every exhibition will articulate the voice of the individual artist. Astria's commitment to this goal allowed me new insights into my own work and political platform.
Because Astria has so clearly engaged the community in dialog and because my interactions with her as an artist have been so rich I urge you to reconsider the termination of her position. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Posted by Whats this? at 2:14 AM
I'm writing because I was just made aware of the news about Astria Suparak and the Warehouse Gallery.
Astria invited me to participate in Embracing Winter by screening one of my videos. I happily accepted because I had known Astria's past work over the years, and knew her direction guaranteed a great show. My girlfriend and I drove four hours out to Syracuse, and when we arrived, I was proud to see that the other artist's work in the show was amazing and everything was all installed with great consideration.
It was quickly clear that Astria's work had already made an impact. I spoke in Tom Sherman's class that afternoon, and later that night, many of his students trudged through 4 feet of snow to attend the opening at the Warehouse Gallery. I remember clearly from my own experience in college that getting student to attend a school related function after a day of classes is no easy feat. And there were also many other people who came out, including faculty, local residents, and local press. It was a dynamic mix of people, and a rewarding opening. Then the following day, Astria organized a lecture by artist Rudy Shepherd, which was also hugely thought provoking and well attended.
After returning home, one of the things that stayed with me from the whole experience was Astria's great enthusiasm for Syracuse, the school, the gallery, and most importantly the community. It was inspiring. She had given us a thick folder of everything going on in town and around the gallery, and also a personal tour pointing out all the important and historic places in Syracuse. Her talking about Syracuse make it feel like a place full of possibilities.
Well, I'll stop there and let you get on to the next letter. Needless to say it would be a huge mistake to let her go. But if you do, at least it will give all of us non-Syracuse people the hope of her heading up a program near us.
Posted by Whats this? at 2:13 AM
Dear Jeffrey Hoone, Nancy Cantor, Eric Spina and Carole Brzozowski,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the decision to remove Astria Suparak from her position at The Warehouse Gallery, and the subsequent cancellation of the exhibition of internationally recognized and respected, and not to mention one of the most exciting exhibitions to grace the City of Syracuse, The Yes Men. This error in judgment will not be contained locally. This is an embarrassment on the global scale, letting everyone know just how backwards thinking and allergic to progressive and positive programming Syracuse really is. On a personal note Astria has been one of the most inspiring, kind, helpful, supportive, and dedicated individuals I have ever met. The things which she has achieved at such an early age, and how quickly she has fostered growth and a sense of excitement in every facet of this struggling local art scene, has inspired and influenced me immeasurably. She brings a much-needed fresh perspective with an even hand. In short, Astria is exactly what Syracuse needs, she honestly is absolutely irreplaceable, and we will surely regret and reap the consequences of losing her if these efforts receive a cold shoulder. I implore you, reverse your decision, we have so much to gain from her presence and so much to lose in her absence.
My sincerest regards,
Spark Contemporary Art Space
Posted by Whats this? at 2:12 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.