Fall is traditionally the time of year when a city’s galleries and museums come fully alive after the respites of late summer. Ithaca, with its compact but vital exhibitions scene, is no exception.
The easiest way to get a feel for our local downtown art spaces is to attend one of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s “Gallery Night Ithaca” events, held on the first Friday of every month. The “night” (running from 5 to 8pm) features numerous opening receptions, held in both formal galleries and more casual venues. Most are within quick walking distance of the Commons. (See the Gallery Night website, https://gallerynightithaca.wordpress.com/, for more details.)
A member-run cooperative founded in 1989, the State of the Art Gallery (at 120 West State Street) is Ithaca’s oldest independent gallery. This month brings “Textures: Patty Brown and Ileen Kaplan (September 4 through 29) featuring abstract-leaning work by two members. Next month (October 2 through 27) will pair landscapists Diane Newton and Patty Porter. November (October 30 through December 1) will feature new members while the following month (December 4 through 29) will be an annual open-call juried show.
Over on the opposite side of the Commons, The Community School of Music and Arts and the Ink Shop Printmaking Center (both at 330 East State Street) form a comparable cultural anchor.
A venerable arts school, the CSMA puts on regular exhibitions in its front lobby. Carrying over from last month, their current “Faculty Show” (through September 27) features work from their diverse and talented teaching staff – many of them rarely exhibited in town.
Following a short vacation, the Ink Shop will be reopening to the public with “Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku: Contemporary Tokyo Printmakers and Mid Century Modern Architects from Geidai” (September 6 through October 30). Featuring graphic art from architects and printmakers at the Tokyo University of the Arts, the show was headed by Shop member and University alumna Kumi Korf. A “Talk Print” event featuring show artists will be held on September 7 from 3 to 5 pm.
The Shop will also be putting on “20/20 Hindsight: 20 Years in Prints and Books” (November 1 through January 24), a celebration of two decades as Ithaca’s independent printmaking studio. The exhibit will feature work by current and past members, students, and collaborators.
Both Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery (1170 Gannett Center) and Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (114 Central Avenue) are putting on what promise to be eclectic exhibitions of contemporary art organized around distinctly au courant topics.
At the Johnson, contemporary curator Andrea Inselmann is known for her thematic extravaganzas – put together every few years – typically featuring a funhouse-like “post-medium” approach. As often in the past, “how the light gets in” (September 7 through December 8) will fill all of the museum’s temporary exhibitions spaces. According to the publicity material, this will be “an exhibition about the movement of people across the globe and the welcome cracks that develop in our notions of borders and nation states.”
Handwerker director Mara Baldwin brings a kindred sensibility to her post. Opened last week, “ambiguous territory: architecture, landscape, and the postnatural” (August 28 through December 15) a travelling show curated by David Salomon, Cathryn Dwyre, Chris Perry, and Kathy Velikov. It aims to “highlight…the synthetic and surprisingly efficient ability of art and design to reveal what is ubiquitous but often invisible in our cultural and physical climates.
And – almost off the map – there’s Corners Gallery in Cayuga Heights (903 Hanshaw Road), another important destination for the art curious. Owned and run by Ariel Bullion-Ecklund, the frame shop cum gallery dexterously balances local and non-local art. Representing the former, Kadie Salfi’s “Sweet Tender Love” (September 5 through October 5) will be “a nostalgic celebration of her grandparents,” explored through a Warhol-esque “mix of photo-based imagery, collage, painting, ceramics, and marble.”
Ithaca’s Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts provides annual retreats for New York State artists and writers. ”Intricate Universe: Thea Gregorious/Paula Overbay/Jayoung Yoon” (October 8 through November 23) features Saltonstall alumni whose work, in various media – fashionably – explores intricate process and microcosmic imagination.