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A Spark in Town: Your Hot Spot for Contemporary Art and CNY Music

A Spark in Town: Your Hot Spot for Contemporary Art and CNY Music

The process of “making it”, “getting seen” or “getting heard”, is harder for young artists than ever. In the past, garnering an exhibition space or getting on a stage only was a matter of talent and creativity, and work ethic. “ Today, everything is about your resume, and an artist’s resume looks like a list of the places they’ve shown. It’s really hard to build a reputation without exhibits.” nods Kendall Harter, a graduate student who currently acts as a co-manager of Spark Art Space, a non-traditional vessel/art gallery/music venue that has quickly become a trusted source of creativity in the CNY  music and arts scene.
Here, in this strange, small, art chasm, university students and local artists alike have a chance to show their art on their own terms. The process is simple and neat. A request is submitted, and for the fee of $200 a day or $1,000 a week, artists are given free reign of a space. Under an agreement, it is acceptable to paint the walls, drive nails into the plaster, and even throw wild concerts—provided that renters return the space to its former condition afterwards.
Legend has it this modest hole-in-the-wall on E. Fayette Street was conceived by frustrated Syracuse University MFA students in the mid nineties, and management has been handed down by students over the years. Today, the space is helmed by a small group of volunteers from the university’s art, museum studies, arts leadership, and even music programs. They all serve as champions of the vibrant CNY music and arts community.

Iain Standing, a student in Syracuse University’s  Bandier program serves as the gallery’s newest booking volunteer, and voices excitement about the gallery’s versatile potential for showcasing new art and music. Often, university students turn to the house parties on Westcott Street Euclid or Euclid Avenue to hear popular student bands, stifling the life of local and indie CNY music. Standing believes that Spark could offer a promising alternative for a student audience. “Spark’s really important to the community,” he states, “and I really want to encourage students to use it.”

The music selection at SPARK, on the other hand, has been far from homogenous. While any given weekend can feature popular Syracuse University Bands such as Harryhausen, Wisconaut, and Pizza Party, specialty events featuring multidisciplinary collaborations and influential out-of town artists have also come to fruition. October featured Brooklyn Indie Pop upstart Katie Von Schleicher, whose music from her quietly introspective yet cathartic debut  Bleaksploitation,  set the scene for an incredible show that was equal parts intimate and raucous. “When a space sets a tone you ought to rise to, that often makes for a unique set,”she stated.

“And if there’s something to look at while you’re playing, something visual to play to, even better.” Hopefully the fluid interaction between music and visual art will fuel CNY music and arts for years to come.

About The Author


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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