Back in October Delevan Center based artist & homegirl Linda Bigness invited me to help her take a month off from her duties as curator of the gallery spaces at the historic Mohegan Manor in Baldwinsville. At first I thought she was just offering to let me show my paintings but indeed she wanted me to run the whole train for a station or three. Presented with the idea of actually curating the space the instant thought was of a two person exhibition of paintings by myself and fellow Syracuse artist Ty Marshal.
Ty is the artist in residence and galleries curator for The Tech Garden, not only as a thank-you for including me in two of the exhibitions he curated last fall -- "Phonography: Cell Phone Photography" and the first "Five" showcase of local artists ready to bust loose -- but because I knew he was reliable, professional, punctual, had work ready to go on need and has been a trusted friend & advisor during my professional regrowth. Probably most importantly by getting me past the hangup I'd had about the Syracuse arts scene, which I had always viewed from a self-imposed marginalized perspective until this fall. That is over, and this is my first exhibition effort since having the page turned.
The centerpiece of my contributions, which I am now referring to as Wonderland #28: The Syracuse Door. Also known as The Practice Door and Door #1. Literally being the first of three efforts at painting my soup can landscape motif onto a blank closet door skin. And ultimately done as a practice run for the Golden Artist Colors commission from December 2012, where I drew & painted on two similar doors at the Golden Foundation Artist Residency studios barn for a promotions project they had undertaken. Above is the practice door's final state, arrived at just before 8am the morning the show was installed.
Last weekend my dad put his formidable skills as a woodcrafter to good use in his fully equipped workshop to help prepare the door to hang on any standard plaster/drywall wall. I'd sweated the details for about two months, he polished it off in less than 20 minutes.
The madness I assembled to unleash on the poor Mohegan Manor, a very down to earth but upscale establishment which has a lounge, dining area, banquet hall (very nice!), and a sushi bar in the basement. I'd been instructed that the work had to be inarguably professional looking with attention paid to presentation. I had been itching for a display opportunity for just the landscape pieces I've been working on for a while and the door was a sucker bet.
But I played a hunch and picked out a baker's dozen of zombies & cosmonauts, excluding any featuring projective vomiting, drug use, graphic gore and sexual references. Idea being to put them up in the lounge's bar area where folks would have a drink or two then encounter "Zombie Dad Reluctantly Digging Out A Few Dollars For Gas Money". At forty to seventy five dollars each they can potentially be an impulse buy that won't require an OK from the wife.
Syracuse based artist Ty Marshal with some of his Pink Cloud paintings, which I thought would work marvelous juxtaposed against the landscape pieces.
Flanked by Ty Marshal paintings & pleased as punch to have the Syracuse Door up on the wall thanks to some timely help by the maitre' d. There's still another door painting back at home! and Golden Artist Colors still has one. And you know what? I hope they ask to keep it. Or at least have it on display for a while to help promote the materials to tours at the plant. No rush, none at all guys! Like seriously, what a resume score that would be.
Steve Nyland at left, Ty Marshal at right.
The original "Landscape With Soup Cans & Trees" painting from 2009, the early version of what became the "Wonderland" theme. The story behind the motif is that in 2008 I took up painting and drawing again after a six year hiatus. Like with any activity one needs to stay in practice with I'd literally forgotten how to paint. To teach myself I started with the most basic of forms: Letters, soup cans, simplistic trees, sketchy cheesy landscape forms, and eventually the small round table & folding metal chairs that had populated my drawings during the 90s.
On a whim one day I started combing the elements and found it to be pleasing to my bent for surrealist concepts. The soup cans also played a post modernist role as an Andy Warhol reference, though to my surprise viewers did and continue to read them as oil cans or drums of toxic waste. And this fall when pressed to come up with a motif for a mural sized painting on the spot with five hours to complete it I chose this, a theme I'd been intending to get back to. I have not stopped painting it since! and my contribution to the exhibition was to be the results of that exploration in the hopes someone or two might want to take one home and help me have the chance to paint some more of them.
Our only casualty from the day: When swiveling one of the spots for a better light spread the bulb slipped out. Other than that it went off without a hitch and I got labels up for everything except Ty's work and four of the smaller zombie fragments up in the lounge.
Ty Marshal at left, Steve Nyland at right. The table with legs is usually covered with a cloth and floral display, the banquet table for an event they were hosting the next day.
Looking from the gallery space back towards the sushi bar.
Now upstairs in the lounge area adjacent to the bar with the zombie, cosmonaut and small Pink Cloud paintings display. Hung em up with thumbtacks and in all it took about half an hour to get the arrangement just right.
Just happened to bring the bar painting along on a whim, more as a potential replacement for the zombies if the management found them a bit much. Then noticed a nail on that wall ... ;D
A bar, right around the corner from the bar.
The piece which gave the show it's collective title, and check what's on that device next to the green X. Didn't even notice it at the time ;D
So, there we have it. With #18 looking sharp under that spotlight.
Victory Pizza scored on the way home.