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SALTQuarters Artists Introduced to the Community
The Near West Side Initiative (NWSI) has announced the two artists who have been selected for residencies in the SALTQuarters Artist-in-Residence Program.
The artists, John Cardone of Syracuse and Peter Edlund of Brooklyn, were introduced and welcomed by the community during the grand opening of the SALTQuarters Building, located at 115 Otisco Street on the Near West Side. The event also celebrated the opening of an exhibition from the Movement on Main design competition.
Cardone’s yearlong residency includes a materials budget of $15,000, and Edlund’s six-month residency includes a materials budget of $7,500. The two will share an apartment and dedicated studio space at SALTQuarters. Cardone will start his residency on June 1 and Edlund on July 1.
“Both of these artists, John and Peter, completely understand what the Near West Side Initiative is trying to accomplish with SALTQuarters. We want a place that will be vibrant, fun and where the arts are used as a way to encourage community dialogue and conversation,” says Maarten Jacobs, director of the NSWI. “By having these artists as our first artists-in-residence, in addition to all the great other artists in the neighborhood, we are really starting to see residents participate in their neighborhood in new and untraditional ways.”
The NWSI was funded this year by ArtPlace, a national foundation focused on creative placemaking, to transform the former Sherman’s Restaurant at 115 Otisco St., a once-vacant restaurant/bar, into a hub for artists and creative individuals. The $400,000 grant was one of 47 that ArtPlace released to support creative placemaking initiatives nationwide.
Over the past year, the 4,000-square-foot SALTQuarters building has been transformed into two apartments, three art studios and a gallery space in the front of the building to showcase the work of Cardone and Edlund and the work of other local artists.
The artists were selected by a jury that included Zeke Leonard, Dorene Quinn, Brendan Rose, Carole Horan, Yvonne Buchanan, Marion Wilson, Jacobs and Isaac Rothwell.
Cardone, a 2012 graduate of SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture, is no stranger to the Near West Side. He was a youth counselor with Say Yes to Education as an undergraduate and has served as program coordinator at 601 Tully and for the MLAB.
“In my four years working in the Near West Side, I’ve seen dozens of cultural trends that I wish I could change, but change involves confrontation and destruction of the old,” says Cardone. “Instead we should do what artists are meant to do in the first place, and that is to create new culture.”
Cardone plans to draw upon his experience studying arts and cultural identity in Senegal to embark on a mission to collect and construct a new visual language for the Near West Side—one that stems from the roots of its culture but also grows beyond it.
“Working closely with neighbors, I will start by focusing on those things that are neglected and in need of repair. Whether they be crumbling sidewalks, decrepit bus stops, a broken fence or a porch that needs mending, each material’s renovation becomes a crafty opportunity to inject symbolism and meaningful expression. With the right treatment, these decaying pieces of urbanity could become vibrant new mosaics, totems or sculptures, each bearing an aesthetic that grows organically from the culture of the neighborhood’s inhabitants and not from its creators/custodians,” Cardone says. “Like a folklorist, I will attempt to channel the spirit of a community into a tangible alphabet of symbols than can be shared and manipulated by all.
“While some cities put flags on lampposts, telling you quite definitively into which neighborhood you are entering, I would prefer to provide the Near West Side with a vocabulary to define itself, to draw its own boundaries and to tell its own story,” he says.
Edlund has been researching Algonquian and Iroquois languages since 2005 to understand the origin of place-names in the Northeast, “words that have become an underlying part of our geography, but whose original meanings and sources are for the most part lost,” he says. Based on that research, Edlund has created landscape and botanical paintings that translate these names in an ongoing series titled “Forgotten.”
His SALT project will have two components: a street sign installation that would translate the street names of Native American origin in the Near West Side neighborhood, and an exhibition of his “Forgotten New York” paintings.
“Otisco Street runs the length of the neighborhood and is crossed by six streets with either Iroqouis or Algonquian names,” says Edlund. “At these six intersections, I would install a set of street signs which would include both images and words translating the names.”
For example, at the intersection of Otisco and Wyoming, the Otisco sign would read “Water-Much-Dried-Away” and would have a simple graphic of a dried stream bed. The Wyoming sign would read “At-the-Great-River-Plain” and would have an image of a river and surrounding flood plain. In addition to these six street signs, there would be six others, three for “Erie”(Long-Tails/Cats) and three for “Onondaga” (At-the-Mountain), which would be placed at important intersections along the respective streets in the area.
Edlund also envisions a walk-around event through the neighborhood. “As a painter, I spend most of my creative time alone. This project would allow me to interact creatively with civic organizations, graphic designers, sign fabricators with the Department of Transportation, Syracuse University and the Onondaga Nation,” he says.