Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mixed Media Artist to Demonstrate at Gallery 54

From Potsdam, NY to Point Loma in San Diego, to Skaneateles. From the Tree of Life, to Between Heaven and Earth, to the Japan Bird Project it's hard to pigeon hole (pun intended) Warner Varno and her art. The word “beautiful” might suffice, yet somehow it even comes up short.

Warner Varno
Warner and her art, mixed media on canvas, are featured at Gallery 54 throughout the month of January and into mid-February. On January 27 besides the impressive pieces on exhibit and available for purchase, Warner will demonstrate the techniques that resonate in her work between 12 and 3 pm.

She began creating her art during study halls and her lunch period while still a high school student at Jordan-Elbridge High School. However, she says it wasn't until she was studying fine art and anthropology at SUNY Potsdam that she became truly engaged in learning. “ I was learning so many different things at such a rapid pace as a double major; I really needed to process all the thinking through my art, all my questions and feelings about what I was learning as well,” she says.

Her attraction to art was found, in her words “. . . in a pull to process the world around me and what I was learning through making the work. I ask questions as well as record events and information and ‘write’ stories through my artwork. Making art for me is how I process my internal and external world, it is how I ask questions, analyze and record new information, and sometimes to gain a level of 'understanding' I would not have access to otherwise.”

Most recently,” she notes, “I have found 'play' to be a highly attractive quality of my art making process as well as the element of surprise. I surprise myself now more than ever, letting go of some control and allowing the work to puzzle itself out to a feeling of completion.”

Warner describes her work, especially the larger pieces, “as ‘bone gardens’ of a sort,” adding “but I am also a storyteller. I am interested in layering both the media and the subject matter, almost weaving these elements together, sometimes literally and sometimes using transparency. I paint about life cycles and like to envelop all of that inside something I feel is beautiful in its own peculiar way and also celebratory of the lived experience of being human.”

Some of her work exhibited at Gallery 54 originated in a show titled Bright Wings, held at Point Loma in San Diego. Another element, The Japan Birds Project, is a fund raising project for Time for Art class scholarships. Warner has 50 Western Bird Designs currently available and 50 Eastern designs are in the works.

During the demonstration, Syracuse Salt Company will also provide tastings of their variety of culinary salts.

Gallery 54 is an upscale venue for Central New York artists that showcases and sells unique, inspired, and timeless art in a diversity of mediums.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Gallery 54 artist featured in Auburn Citizen

A Denver, Colorado-based art enrichment program is opening a second branch on Mary Street in Auburn. 
Central New York native Warner K. Varno, a master teaching artist and founder of Time for Art, said she's starting off the new year with a soft opening, but she has big plans for the program's future. Classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media and recycled art for those in kindergarten through sixth grade will start after school Mondays and Wednesdays in January, in addition to a Saturday studio time.
Central New York native Warner Varno is a master
teaching artist and founder of Time for Art, a 
Denver, Colorado-based art enrichment program. 
Varno is opening a second branch of Time for Art 
on Mary Street in Auburn.
Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen
Varno is lifting the new business off the ground as the sole art teacher, but she plans to pull in others as the program grows. She hopes to make Time for Art a nonprofit organization, too. Much of what she's working to establish in the Auburn location comes from the work already happening in Denver — summer camps, after school programs, studio time for all ages to work on projects. She's also developed scholarship programs for families.
"Especially people pulling in from rural areas around Auburn, I want them to be able to afford it and get high quality instruction, and not just from me," she said. "It's a slow incremental thing. We're here, but we're not ready to go. We have to go through this phase of transition."
The transition involves the 23 Mary St. location called The Shop. Julie Varno, Warner's mother, cut and styled women's hair there for 53 years. It started in 1964 as Joy and Julie's, a salon with Joy Tripiciano. Julie took it on solo from 1988 to 2015 before Janiece Oliver came on board, cutting men's hair. The city of Auburn granted a variance to convert the shop into an art school this year, but Oliver will continue cutting hair there at least until the summer, Varno said. 
Born in Auburn, Varno grew up in Elbridge and now lives in Skaneateles. It was a while before she circled back to her old stomping grounds, however. After finishing up her degrees in fine art and anthropology at SUNY Potsdam, she worked at Fort Drum conducting a cultural resource survey for Native American artifacts. She left the Army base to paint furniture at MacKenzie-Childs. 
In 1998, Varno headed west, spending some time in Colorado and California. She took an archaeology job in the Sacramento area, while displaying some of her work in an all-women's art studio called Matrix. Through a grant from the gallery, Varno found art in a new light — through education. Bringing art and literacy to a local school, Varno found herself reading to children, many of whom did not speak English.
"We used art to understand the book they were supposed to be reading, and it was so cool," she said. "Art was the language, and a little bit of performance and a lot of visual art. That's when I returned to Colorado and would get the master's and focus on teaching art in schools."
Varno got her teaching license from the University of Denver, specializing in kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum and instruction with a focus on art and visual culture. Visiting multiple schools, Varno found that many students did not have art opportunities, and what classes were available were pitifully short, she said.
In 2006, Varno opened Time for Art in Denver. Her friend and colleague Ippy Farnam is running things there while Varno is getting the Auburn location up and running. Besides the Mary Street space, Varno has also been teaching art and yoga classes at the Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center, and displaying and selling her own art in the Skaneateles shop Gallery 54.
While there are some existing art programs in the area, Varno said what sets hers apart is its more playful nature combined with high-quality art lessons. She incorporates yoga into her classes, using breathing exercises to get children ready to make their masterpieces. 
"The yoga is really like to prepare and just connect with the breath, and get ready to make the art," she said.
As for the art part, Varno compares her teaching style to the old master painters during the Renaissance, teaching apprentices about their own experiences. This is why Varno is looking forward to bringing in other artists to teach, she said, so students can broaden their skills, scope of work and approaches to creation. 
Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Award-winning Wildlife Photographer Featured at Gallery 54

Diana Whiting photography is in the spotlight

Award winning nature photographer Diana Whiting will be the December Guest Artist at Gallery 54 in Skaneateles, NY. Beginning with an opening reception from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, December 1, many fine art photographs resulting from her dedication and creativity will be available for viewing and purchase.

A Skaneateles resident and business owner (Headquarters Salon), Diana will be on hand to speak with gallery guests about her photographic experiences that date to 1993. “I come from a family of artists and as a child was encouraged to pursue my artistic leanings. So,” she adds, “when I bought my first professional camera I promised myself I would grow into it.”

Through photography she was able to develop her own voice. In her landscape and intimate nature photographs she's attracted to things that evoke rhythm and simplicity. “When I photograph wildlife,” she says, “I want to tell their stories.” Diana is known for spending hours studying wildlife in order to be able to understand the story her photos will convey.

She feels rewarded by the actual connections that she develops with her wildlife subjects. “I enjoy being accepted by wildlife and not influencing or changing their behavior,” she says. That acceptance has become “so many windows into other worlds.”

Her awards are numerous dating to the Michael Fawcett Award for a photo titled Stone Canoe in the “Journal of the Arts” in 2007. In 2010 she garnered second place in the National Audubon contest as well as a second place prize from the National Wildlife Federation. Other recognition has come her way from Nature Photography Magazine, the Adirondack Museum, and the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.

Light refreshments will be served with Toro Run Winery offering wine tastings. This show opening will also feature the music of Chris Molloy and his famous Blue Harp.

Gallery 54 is an upscale venue for Central New York artists that showcases and sells unique, inspired, and timeless art in a diversity of mediums.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

CNY photographers shine

Gallery 54 guests and CNY Photo Expo entrants gather for
this year's awards presentation.
The opening for this year's edition of Gallery 54's CNY Photo Expo turned out to be a rousing event. Right from the 5 pm start the gallery was jam packed with photographers, friends, family and no one knows how many others excited to see the annual exposition.

This year's expo was designed to mirror Gallery 54's focus on showcasing Central New York art and artists.  In addition, the gallery reached-out to three noted CNY photographers – Phil Spitz, Norm Schillawaski, and Chris Murray – as judges. They had more than a hundred entries to review before selecting the images for this year's month-long exposition.
First Prize Winner Rachael Thompson receives her award.

Another new wrinkle was the addition of cash prizes. Teresa Letkiewicz walked away with the $150 grand prize for her photo of Syracuse University's Dick Clark Studios. Rachael Thompson was on hand with her parents and twin sister to claim her First Prize check of $100 for an image titled "Keeping it Clean." Sue Armstrong's photo captured at a recent "Syracuse Air Show" earned her a Second Place check for $75 and the Third Place prize was accepted by Sherry Dans for an image she titled "Homer Rainbow" along with its $50 check.

Teresa Letkiewicz receives her Grand Prize check for
an image taken at the Dick Clark Studios on Syracuse
The Expo will continue until November 28 so everyone still has time to enjoy this year's exposition.

Then the gallery will begin to make room for the very special wildlife photography of Skaneateles Photographer/Artist Diana Whiting, this year's guest artist for December.

Looking ahead to the opening for her show put December 1 on your schedule.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Gallery 54's CNY Photo Expo

Okay, we've enjoyed a great autumn, so now maybe it's payback time. The weather forecast for the coming weekend (November 3-5) is cool and rainy. Still, that's doesn't mean we can't enjoy Central New York.

Here's an idea that are sure to add a little "sunshine" to your weekend.

This is an iPhone photo that doesn't do justice to the
work of so many fine photographers. Stop by
tomorrow evening and see for yourself.
Begin your weekend Friday evening with the opening reception for the 2017 CNY Photo Expo. Why not join us from 5-8 pm at Gallery 54, 54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles.

Most, if not all, the photographers whose award winning images make this show will be on hand. I'm even expecting the judges who made the selections to join us.

The highlight of the evening will take place at about 6:30 pm when cash prizes will be awarded to Grand Prize, First, Second and Third Prize winners. You'll love their work and more importantly you'll love the opportunity to meet so many wonderful photographers all in one place.

Of course there will be wine, snacks and music all evening, too.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tomorrow's Photographers Today

Homer Rainbow by Sherry Dans
The traditional First Friday celebration in Skaneateles will offer a glimpse of the future beginning November 3 as Gallery 54 marks the opening of a month-long exhibition of photographs from the winners of this year's Central New York Photo Expo.

This year's CNY Photo Expo was open only to photographers who reside in CNY and to their images of CNY subjects. From 5 to 8 pm this years winners will be on hand to discuss their work and the experiences they enjoyed in creating them.

Gallery 54 is proud to be able to introduce so many photographers whose work is new to much of the Central New York community,
Syracuse Air Show by Sue Armstrong
according to Tom Dwyer, one of Gallery 54's owners and it's resident fine art photographer. Dwyer helped coordinate this year's contest. He commented “this reception offers Central New Yorkers the opportunity to not only meet some really talented local photographers but to also purchase prints of their prize winning efforts as well as framed editions.

Mid-evening, cash awards will be presented to Grand Prize winner, Teresa Letkiewicz; First Place winner, Rachel Thompson; Second Place winner, Sue Armstrong and Third Place winner, Sherry Dans.
Keeping it clean by Rachel Thompson

This year's judges, photographers Phil Spitz, Norm Schillawaski and Chris Murray, all recognized leaders in the CNY photographic community, will also be joining the celebration.

The gallery will feature the music of Chris Molloy and his blue harp, along with wine tasting from Skaneateles' own Anyela's Winery. As usual, refreshments will be served.

Gallery 54 is an upscale gallery of fine art and fine craft, located at 54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, NY.
SU by Teresa Letkiewicz

November gallery hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10-5; Friday and Saturday, 10-6. 315-685-5470.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gallery 54 Features Kew Garden Artist

The Kew Gardens, botanical gardens in southwest London, are not only the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world, they are also where artist Christi Sobel served an internship in botanical illustration in England. Gallery 54 is pleased with the opportunity to introduce Christi to the Central New York community as its guest artist for October.

Christi Sobel
 A selection of Christi's latest creations will be exhibited and Christi herself will be on hand to greet our guests from 5 to 8 pm, Friday, October 6.

Christi traces her creative interests to her childhood when she started drawing mushrooms and horses. She subsequently trained in scientific illustration, what she refers to as “that obscure field which melds science, natural history, and fine art” obtaining a bachelor's degree in biology and art at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. In addition to her internship with the Kew Gardens, she completed grad school in science illustration at UC Santa Cruz, in California.

Her work reflects what she finds “beautiful and interesting in the Creation around us,” she says, “bringing attention to the details that might otherwise go unnoticed.”

Her show at Gallery 54 will feature acrylic paintings on boards. She noted that she “likes to let the wood grain and organic shapes show and become part of the design.” Christi closely observes the natural world and credits her love of travel and the way she is able to absorb the environment around her with helping her capture her impressions and feelings about the places she visits.

Art is an organic process which is always evolving,” she says. She's inspired by what she finds striking in the natural world and the ability of her art to bring attention to unnoticed and colorful detail in clean elegant design. She finds it particularly rewarding to raise environmental awareness and communicate meaningfully through her art.

Gallery 54 is an upscale venue for Central New York artists that showcases and sells unique, inspired, and timeless art in a diversity of mediums. This show opening will also feature the music of Jane Zell along with wine and light refreshments.