Opening Night at the Everson

"Three Graces" make debut at Everson Museum Opening Night

"Three Graces: Polly Apfelbaum, Tony Feher and Carrie Moyer" made their appearance at the Everson Museums Opening Night reception where the three artists discussed the meanings behind their work.

In Greco-Roman mythology, the three Graces were minor deities personifying joy, wonder and beauty.  These qualities were believed to comprise the core of creativity in Classical history.  Since then, artists have been painting and sculpting these divine figures.

 Now, the Three Graces have descended upon Syracuse, at The Everson Museum of Art, located at 401 Harrison St.  Curated by Director Elizabeth Dunbar, “Three Graces: Polly Apfelbaum, Tony Feher, and Carrie Moyer” featured these New York City-based contemporary artists for the first time together.  The mediums used to explore ideas of beauty, joy and wonder will vary and speak to each artist’s expertise.  Expect to see art objects ranging from glittering traditional painting and varicolored textiles to found-art installations.

“I think people are going to see something very different from what they’re used to seeing [at The Everson].”
-Steffi Chappell

 The Everson hosted an opening night reception for the exhibition from 5-7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25th.  The artists spoke about their work and mingled with viewers.  There was also be live music, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.

Director Dunbar has created a new and unique “abstract experience of color and beauty” previously unseen at The Everson, said Steffi Chappell, Curatorial Assistant to Ms. Dunbar.  Not only have these artists never been shown at the museum — they are coming with homework assigned by Dunbar in hand.  Each artist has created original works inspired by the museum’s architecture and permanent collection.  Polly Apfelbaum will mix her textiles with over a hundred colorful ceramic pieces, as well as featuring her paintings and prints alongside the two Morris Louis paintings the museum owns.  Tony Feher’s installation will draw on the titanic forms and capacious spaces of the building’s architecture.  Carrie Moyer will focus on incorporating her own work with abstract artists who were prominent at the time of The Everson’s debut in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For Ms. Moyer, she sees her work and the work of her contemporaries as embodying a new ethos in the making of art.

“Artists are filtering abstraction through their own experiences instead of through some big, art historical idea,” said Moyer.  “It represents a shift towards the artist as a kind of experiential presenter.”  This is important to maintaining the general public’s interest in seeing and supporting art.  In the parlance of our times, “relatability” may be a rejuvenating factor for art appreciation. 

Museum attendance has decreased dramatically in the past few decades, but contemporary art is still alive and well and as relevant as ever.  Especially to communities like Syracuse that don’t have the benefit of having a large enclave of artists living in the city.

“Syracuse is not a large city,” said Professor Jeehee Hong of the art history department at Syracuse University.  “There is an intellectual group that is focused on the campus of the university.  This becomes a complicated problem.  When you think about who will come and who will be interested in this type of exhibition it’s actually very limited.”

This concern may have influenced Dunbar to include the Joy, Wonder, and Beauty photo contest as an adjunct to the exhibition. This contest was open to the general public and was judged by a panel of professional artists located in Syracuse. 

The exhibition is definitely worth a visit for its novelty and originality.  Chappell expressed excitement for the reception and is quite proud of the “colorful, abstract, and beautiful” art that is being brought to the museum.  “I think people are going to see something very different from what they’re used to seeing [at The Everson].”

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