May 12, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
Editor’s Note: After this story was posted, new information came out that the venue for the VersuS Art Gallery opening had been switched to the Southside Convention Center at 2610 South Salina Street from 7 p.m. to midnight. Initially, it was scheduled to be at 248 Lincoln Ave at the corner of Bellevue.
The event is free, and all the information in the story below is accurate. Empire will be serving beverages and Lost & Fondue will still provide the food.
In a text message to The Eagle, Jonathan Cantrell, co-curator, explained what happened. He said the city raised some questions as to how many people can safely be in the space at one time. He said he decided to make the Lincoln Ave. space a gallery but it’s listed as industrial office space. He said a gallery can accommodate more people, but he doesn’t want to exceed the legal number. He added he’s working with the city on a resolution, but it won’t happen until after the grand unveiling.
Here is the original story:
It’s an unassuming, run-down building bordering the city’s southside at the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Bellevue (this has been switched to 2610 South Salina Street, the Southside Convention Center), but thanks to the work of a few people, it will become the area’s newest art gallery.
On Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight, VersuS is holding its version of opening day, with an exhibit that features 30 artists — all local — and five local musicians. Harmani Owens, Ty Marshal, Kristie Hayes, Eddie Colleli, Amelia Beamish, Alexey VS.,and TJ Minotaur are just a few of the artists that will be there. It’s completely free and open to everyone.
“Together, we wanted to create a cross-section of the talent that’s in upstate with a focus on showing off Syracuse,” Michael John Heagerty, co-curator, said.
Along with the art and music, Empire Brewing will provide some adult beverages, while Lost & Fondue will provide the finger foods. The booze and food will be free.
Jonathan Cantrell, founder and director of VersuS, has been renting the property for a year with his partner Abigail Henson, and they hope to one day own it. Cantrell, along with Heagerty, are co-curating the event. Together, the three have started a place they hope will blossom into a showcase for artists. Heagerty said they plan to have a new exhibit every eight weeks, but that’s not set in stone. There is no entry fee for the artists.
Heagerty gave The Eagle a tour of the new venue on May 10 and explained the operation. He also said he was the one who mapped the place out, deciding what artist would set up where.
“I have a lot of experience working with run-down buildings,” he said, referring to the work he put in at the Gear Factory. “When I first saw it, I started planning it out in my head, pairing this artist with that, deciding what will go where.”
It’s easy to miss the place. You will see a big lit-up sign with the letters “VS,” and that’s how you know you’ve arrived. There is a free parking lot kiddie corner to the building, which sits next newly planted beds of flowers, which the VersuS crew helped plant.
It’s certainly an unusual place for an art show, as the building used to be an adult learning center, but now is a concrete cave with exorbitant raw space, something Heagerty says is attractive to artists. It’s also in one of the neighborhoods that’s, well, not the nicest in the city.
“That’s the point,” Heagerty said. “We want to bring people to parts of the city where they wouldn’t have any reason to be otherwise.”
As for the turnout, Heagerty said that if 100 people, including the artists and bands, come through the door, then he’ll “consider this a successful exhibit.”
Heagerty said he and Cantrell were at a jazz bar one night, bouncing name ideas back and forth. Heagerty took a step back and said VersuS. That was it; the name was chosen. He said the word can have many meanings, like conflict or fighting, which “represents the area where the exhibit is.”
Heagerty spoke about some grand plans for the building’s future.
“This didn’t happen overnight,” he said. “There is an exponential plan to expand this into a campus. One day, we hope this will become an artist-in-residency program. It’s perfect for it.”
For more information about VersuS and Saturday’s event, please visit facebook.com/skillVScraft, or find them on Twitter @skillVScraft.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.