Tech Garden's Star Trek vs. Star Wars exhibit celebrates the science fiction sagas

The worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars meet at the charmingly unconventional Syracuse art exhibition.

The white-walled warehouse hallway was littered with little treasures, from sewn blankets to painted Vans, giant canvases, and marker drawings. The Tech Garden's latest exhibition, Star Wars vs. Star Trek: A Logical Choice, is a celebration of two of science fiction’s most iconic franchises. The exhibit, located at 235 Harrison St. in Syracuse, is full of diverse creations from dedicated fans, including metal work, skateboards and even pizza peels.

Photo: Annika Hoiem
Star Trek's Spock is depicted in "Retro-Spective" by Luis Eduardo and Martin Gamito.

The exhibit is the perfect expression of true fan-hood. Artists of all ages and talents submitted work that reflected and often recreated their favorite moments and characters. 

According to curator Steve Nyland, the submitted artwork was judged by himself, and a curatorial committee for the show comprised of Syracuse-area artists Carrie O’Brien, Missy Zawacki and Suzanne O’Donnell. The criteria was based on the piece's relevance to the topic, the artist's use of materials and execution, presentation and a fun factor. The best works in the show made him want to go out and buy toys, Nyland said via email.

“Dark and the Light” by Casey Landerkin, which received an honorable mention, painted the newest Star Wars characters with precision and a comic-book flair. Sandra Carr’s incredibly life-like mixed media painting on wood of Princess Leia won "Best in Show," capturing her strength and poise. In fact, many other paintings chose to emphasize the strong female characters present in science fiction, particularly Rey, a recent addition to the Star Wars’ franchise. Other artists chose to take the characters into a completely different realm, creating a pop-art-style Spock with 3D glasses or a tattoo-like print of Darth Vader and roses.

While some artists strictly focused on one or the other, other artists chose to meld both worlds. The exhibition’s runner-up, “Let the Vulcan Win” by Stephen J. Wameling II, shows Chewbacca and Spock facing off in the Millennium Falcon’s obscure chess-like game. The acrylic painting, “U.S.S. Enterprise Versus Star Destroyer” by Ryan Wood, puts the two battleships in a never-before-seen galactic battle. “Legacy Wars” by Aaron Z. Lee shows J.J. Abrams as the referee for a boxing match between George Lucas and Gene Roddenbarry, lifting Lucas’ arm high, revealing his personal answer to the exhibit’s question.

The most notable thing about the exhibit was its diversity. The art mediums, artists, and their subjects were all vastly varied, making for an engaging and dynamic showing. Together the pieces exuded pure fun and joy, harkening to a younger self often left behind during the grayer winter months of Central New York.

The Tech Garden’s display excels at being charmingly unconventional, while harkening to a deeper lessons and truths.

“I grew up on both franchises and the ideas they sold to us shaped who I am," read the display’s explanation by its curator, Steve Nyland. "Not the space ships or the bizarre adventures, I mean the ideas behind Star Trek and Star Wars. Star Trek appeals to the cerebral side, with philosophy and insight into the human animal’s quest to learn, understand, and score with girls in foil suits. Star Wars by contrast plays into our spirituality: The Force that binds us all is very real, and those who master its use can work miracles so long as they do rather than try.”

The exhibit's closing reception, which is open to the public, is on April 7 at 5 p.m.

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