Where to Find Art in Syracuse

These galleries fuel inspiration and creation and offer a range of artistic opportunities — from student-run venues to those devoted to the African diaspora, controversial subjects, and social engagement.

Words and Images by Megan Callahan

Spark Contemporary Art Space

Nestled on a dimly lit corner, the Spark Contemporary Art Space oozes a cigarette-smoke-and-denim-jackets kinda vibe. The dingy exterior and fogged windows are less than inviting, but if you brave the cold exterior and step inside you’ll find bright white walls, bursts of laughter, and the reverberations of a jam band swelling through the walls. “In terms of it as a visual art venue, it is a great opportunity for students to test new work in an environment where they know there is a good and supportive audience,” says Spark coordinator and sculpture graduate student Jack Honeysett. “It’s like incubation for experimental works.” The space doubles as the only student-run art space in the Syracuse area and a popular music venue. It features artists of every medium and skill level, genging from undergrad printmakers and photographers to sculpture professors and professional illustrators. Operating since the mid-’90s, Spark, can be rented to anyone who’s interested and the line’s always out the door.

Address: 1005 E. Fayette St.
$: Day rate range from free to $200 depending on program, free entry.
Hours: Show Specific

The Everson Museum of Art

If the building delivers as much interest to you as the art inside, check out the Everson Museum of Art. Designed by famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei the building is a self-proclaimed “work of art for works of art.” His other credits include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Inside, visitors can expect to see American modern and contemporary art, ceramics, and experimental video art. But it’s not all art all the time. “We do art classes for children and adults, summer camps, and a ton of fun social programming to get people to come and enjoy the museum,” says Community and Public Relations Manager Renee Storiale. With an emphasis on social programming, such as the outdoor summer film series Film Under the Stars, Vintage Pop-Ups, and Murder Mystery at the Museum, the Everson seeks to be more than framed canvases and clay pots.

Address: 401 Harrison St.

$: 6  (with student ID)

Hours: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, 12 to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 12 to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 to 5 p.m.

Apostrophe’S

A former frame shop houses the gallery and studio space of two 2015 SU sculpture alumni who wanted to create an opportunity for other artists. Holly Wilson and Allison Kirsch searched for a studio to double  as an apartment and stumbled upon what appeared to be a hopeless space. But hidden beneath peeling wallpaper and leaky pipes were great structural bones, which they quickly remodeled and opened as a contemporary gallery. “We really wanted to use the space to work with people and give them a chance to actually do the whole run-through of setting up for, installing, having a show, and then deinstalling it all,” says co-owner Kirsch “This opportunity is a learning experience.” Unlike most private galleries in Syracuse, Apostrophe’S provides a longer turnaround per show — about a week between each one — making the space valuable for installation and performance works. In one show, an artist lived in the space for a week as part of a performance piece. (Cheap housing, anyone?)

Address: 1100 Oak St.

$: Day rate range specific to each show, free entry.

Hours: Wednesday, 2 to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 12 to 2 p.m.

Art Rage

As a non-profit gallery that focuses on social justice and environmental art, Art Rage knows how to push the art envelope. With exhibits ranging from the exploration of GMOs to Black Panther pride, Art Rage thrives on presenting works that challenge visitors. It was founded on creating change through progressive artwork and uses complementary programming to enhance viewer experience such as movies and performance art. “We realize that not everyone is going to go out to see visual art exhibitions. It’s kind of not an average thing people do. But more people will see these movies, or plays, and doing those things connects them to the exhibitions and gives them a well rounded experience,” says SU. alumna and Art Rage Community Engagement Organizer Kimberly McCoy. Art about change, art about resistance, art challenging the status quo — what’s not to like about that?   

Address: 505 Hawley Ave.

$: Free

Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 2 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m.

Community Folk Art Center

Consider this space a testament to Black creativity. SU African-American Studies Professor Herbert T. Williams founded CFAC in 1972 to showcase African Diasporan artists, ignite dialogue in the community, and cultivate creative expression. It meets and exceeds those expectations. “It’s about the global spread of culture, because what we find is that we ultimately have more in common than we don’t,” Executive Director Kheli Willetts told The Daily Orange in February 2015. With multiple studio spaces for ceramics, dance, and theater, as well as after-school programs, CFAC appeals to a broad range of audiences. It’s one of the oldest and longest continually running African institutions associated with the university. So, what’s art without culture? And what’s culture without art? CFAC seems to have it figured out.

Address: 805 E. Genesee St.

$: Free

Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.