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Downtown pioneer and sculptor, Carol Cole, creates "green" work for CNY shows:

As an unemployed TV producer who "did pottery on the side" in the early 70s, Carol Cole didn't foresee being a pioneering founder of the arts and crafts cooperative that endures today, in modified form, as Armory Square's Eureka Crafts and its two-year-old toddler offspring, Eureka East, outside Manlius. Then she visited a new venture called Village Square in the basement of the old E.W. Edwards department store on Salina Street, crafters got paid to make their wares in public, talk to visitors and, if they sold anything, they could keep the money.

Cole said she wasn't a very good potter, but she "had a big old kick wheel, I sat under a spotlight and talked to kids. I had to be there 50 hours a week. You know, you get pretty good, so I decided I wanted to be a full-time artist."

The Village Square experiment eventually broke up, but Cole joined a smaller cadre -- woodworker Bill McDowell, toymaker Tom Cunningham, art teacher/potter Tina Parker and others -- who set up shop in the building that now houses Empire Brewing, moving to Eureka's present location on Walton Street in 1983. Eureka Crafts, now owned by Parker and Cunningham, was established in 1986, 10 years after Eureka Studios.

Parker said Eureka hosted a show of Cole's work a dozen years ago. Now there's a window display at Eureka downtown and 11 large pieces in the Manlius gallery, sculptures from Cole's recent solo show "Transformations" at Colgate University's Longyear Museum. Parker drove to Hamilton for the opening and invited Cole back to her old stomping grounds.

Where has Cole been?

Cole left Syracuse when her husband finished his SU PhD and got a university teaching job in Philadelphia. She quickly found another artist-friendly situation in an old brick building rehabbed into studios. There she moved on from clay to paper pulp, used like clay, built upon a Styrofoam armature, embedded with found objects, painted to resemble old wood, leather, rusty iron or bronze patina. Her work is paradoxical. Looking heavy and old, inspired by ancient Moroccan doors, Etruscan and New Guinea-style shields, Mayan and African totems, it's new, amazingly light and "elegant but made from trash." Hair brushes, a round floor-polisher brush, red tufts, bottle caps, beads, shell casings tinted turquoise, strips of studded leather belts, brass eggs, a piece of vertebrae, sea urchin spines and computer parts -- these are Cole's re-cycled "art supplies."

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