SYRACUSE — Starting Sept. 7, SUNY Oswego in Syracuse will exhibit the work of nearly two dozen artists participating in the “Picture 81” project to document, artistically, the before, during and after of the end-of-life viaduct that bisects the city.
Fayetteville photographer Willson Cummer moderates the Picture 81 group on Facebook. He invited people to contribute photos, paintings and drawings, said Amy Bartell, SUNY Oswego’s coordinator of community art exhibitions, with an eye to mounting the juried exhibition that will run through Nov. 1 at the college’s campus at 2 Clinton Square in Syracuse.
“I’ve long been interested in the architecture and presence in Syracuse of Interstate 81,” Cummer said. “It’s clearly the largest structure in the city and plays an interesting role by both allowing for vehicle transportation and physically dividing the city. When I learned that the highway would be demolished and replaced with another structure, perhaps very different, I thought it was important to document and explore what’s there now. I thought it would be interesting to set up a Facebook chat group where artists could share their work and examine the work of others.”
The Picture 81 group and the exhibition are not about the controversial issues surrounding what’s next for I-81 — and for the city — when the old viaduct comes down, Bartell said.
Instead, the project documents, to this point, what it’s like to work, play and drive in the community with such a dominant structure in place, she said.
At least 200 people have joined the Facebook group and artists have contributed pieces — mostly photos — to its gallery as candidates for the SUNY Oswego in Syracuse exhibition.
Images show trees jutting skyward between massive bridges, neighborhoods and structures existing side-by-side with the viaduct, a game of basketball convening with the superhighway as a backdrop, a barbecue grill smoking away in a bridge’s shadow, a stack of goods representing someone who is apparently homeless, parking lots accommodating cars underneath the spans, an aerial view showing heavy traffic traversing crisscrossed roadways and many others.
A free, public reception for the exhibiting artists will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13, in the branch of Tyler Art Gallery in the Atrium building on Clinton Square.
SUNY Oswego in Syracuse is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Call 315-312-2315 for information on evening and weekend hours.
For more information on the exhibition, contact Bartell at 315-312-2855 or [email protected]