Sunday, July 31, 2016

4 Ethical Brands You Can Totally Rock This Summer

Below is a article that features one of the artisans from Gallery 54, Renee Stawicki of Songbird Sewing Co.  Be sure to stop into Gallery 54 and see Renee's work, to full appreciate it.

Being born into a society that values low price tags and high fashion, it can be difficult (and let's be honest, nearly impossible) to keep up with the trends of an ever-changing fashion industry. After countless hours of shopping, hands tired from perusing through racks, back aching from bending over to try on those delicious new Steve Madden sandals from the 2016 summer collection, there is no better feeling than finding a great deal on, well, anything. But what are you really paying when you find that perfect floral sundress for $7 at the mall? Too often we buy items that are cheap, easy, and have a low impact on our everyday lives without giving a second thought. What we, as a society, neglect to question is what happens on the other side of the transaction. Most of the products we purchase in the U.S. are still made by the hands of slaves, both domestic and international. Sure, an inexpensive dress sounds good to your wallet, but by supporting mass producing companies without researching the origin of their products, you are also supporting the sale and use of slaves in the industry. So how can you combat these unethical practices? Shop consciously! Here are four brands that slay when it comes to creating a more socially sustainable fashion industry.

1. rePURPOSE Accessories

With an array of hair accessories, scarves and apparel, rePURPOSE has become a powerful platform for combating human sex and labor trafficking (while taming my crazy summer hair). The brand was founded by Jessica Burt and features products that are all domestically hand-made by refugees. All of their beautiful products are created from fair trade and thrifted fabrics. And the best part? 100 percent of the profits made are sent to three organizations that benefit the cause: Exodus RoadMake Way Partners, and The Thirst Project.

2. Alex and Ani

This well-known and loved jewelry brand was founded by Carolyn Rafaelian and continuously creates innovative, energy-packed pieces with eco-conscious roots. From Alex's Lemonade Standto Global Fund, the Charity By Design collection at Alex and Ani has donated to non-profits all over the world. And as if you need another reason to hit up their website, all of the jewelry is made right here in the United States!

3. Songbird Sewing Co.

*Swoon.* Let's talk about handbags for a minute. Whether you're in the market for a new wallet, clutch, or tote, Songbird Sewing Co. has got you covered. Founder Renee Stawicki creates each unique piece in her home studio, which guarantees that your products are being made with love and fair labor. Songbird Sewing focuses on small batch orders and selling one-of-a-kind accessories to match every outfit.

4. LuLaRoe

Founded by DeAnne StidhamLuLaRoe is an apparel brand that does nothing but impress. Made from the softest material you will ever feel (yes, you heard me right) the bold printed leggings, skirts, dresses, and tops are a must-have for fashion lovers of every age. Produced without the use of slave labor, the brand has become a success across the country, offering loyal fans the opportunity to sell LuLaRoe themselves.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mentalist/Artist is August Guest Artist

 Renowned singer Tony Bennett told Gallery 54's guest artist for August painting “. . . will help you with all aspects of our life . . . I paint every day and you should as well.” Fortunately Bob Lawson, mentalist and abstract painter, took Bennett's advise to heart.

Lawson's artistic roots are definitely in Central New York having apprenticed working with scenic design for the Famous Artists Theater in Fayetteville, NY as a youth. “The idea of creating something that would bring people happiness was always what gave me the most satisfaction,” he says.

Lawson loves abstract because, “it gives me the freedom to express what I feel inside and to truly create from scratch.” While many of his friends are realists and very good at painting what they see, he enjoys the opportunity to create something “that has never been seen before I painted it.”

In addition to his paintings that have been regularly exhibited at Gallery 54, August will also feature free standing “sculptures”. “I have so many people,” says Lawson, “who have loved my work but didn't have wall space for more of it.” His abstract sculptures became free standing pieces that are paintings that stand alone on a table or on a shelf in different sizes and shapes. He call this his “Off the Wall Series.”

Lawson points to one of Syracuse's great artists, the late Jans Junga, who he took water color classes from, as one of his inspirations for the work he does today. He also studied art with John Morrow of Ogdensburg, NY.

I love to paint, to have something in my mind and to be able to put it on canvas and make people react in a positive way, to make people happy, to reach that innermost place inside them . . . that gives me joy,” he says, adding “To me, this is the most rewarding thing in life.”

That also explains why Lawson likes doing his theater shows. “I get do take people on a journey into places they have never been, to see things they have never seen or done before, amazing things, pretty much like art,” he adds. Lawson was mentored by the late Joan Fontaine, who opened many doors for him in theater including his opportunity to become a technical adviser to the TV show, The Mentalist for six years.

Gallery 54 is in pretty elite company as it features Bob Lawson's art. He also has work in such prestigious venues as the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Fine Art in Tarpon Springs, FL; the Wandering Eye Gallery in Ybor City, the National Historic Landmark City in Tampa, FL as well as the Galeria Berata in Venice, Italy. In addition, Lawson's work was part of the set for the major motion picture, The Bastards, starring Owen Wilson. His work was also part of Joan Fontaine's collection auctioned for charity by Christies in New York.

Lawson's show, titled The Colors of My Mind will open at Gallery 54 on the First Friday of
August, August 5, with a meet-the-artist event from 5 to 8 pm. It will continue on display throughout August.

Light refreshments will be served. Gallery 54 is an upscale gallery of fine art and crafts, located at 54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, NY.

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