The Everson Museum of Art in downtown Syracuse was designed by renowned architect I. M. Pei and is one of the best-kept secrets in upstate New York. A work of art in its own right, this intimate setting of exposed concrete blocks is located among an area of low rise and historical buildings. For the week of July 4th, my family and I had the opportunity to discover this museum. In order to get there we had to drive by beautiful open fields and red brick barns. It seemed that along the way we were already able to envision the rural scenes by New York artist Edward Hopper with its bare open plains and architectural details.
As a Florida resident driving through a New York highway, I found myself looking for signalization that would help my family and I find the museum. However there seems to be a discrete law in the state of New York that discourages unnecessary signage and advertisement along the thruway. With a good GPS guiding us, this absence of printed fonts along the way made the trip definitely more pleasant.
After a few detours along downtown Syracuse and a failed attempt to find a brochure from the museum at an information center, we arrived with the help of several people’s directions. Luckily, because we were a combined group of adults, seniors, young adults and children we were able to acquire our entrance ticket at a reasonable family rate.
In the lobby, there is a spiral staircase leading to a second level where permanent and traveling exhibits are displayed. At first sight, this staircase seems to be the most essential architectural element. And after walking around the museum corridors and galleries, it seems to be a sort of spinal chord to the building because on the way it connects most spaces in the museum.
To explore the museum we started viewing the second floor, which had an exhibition, titled An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts and Gustav Stickley that runs until September 22, 2013. This exhibit includes costumes from the Sue Ann Genet Collection housed at the Syracuse University historic clothing collection established in the 1930’s. The delicate style from the 1910-1914 is carried through this exhibit with authentic examples of lingerie-like garments that are represented by delicate ruffles and chiffon fabric. Gustav Stickley’s furniture and other decorative art were also on display mirroring the influential simplicity of the Arts and Crafts period.
In the same floor next to the American Look exhibit, a selection from the museum’s permanent collection was on display. Large paintings by artists Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis as well as oil painting by Gilbert Stuart were some of the works of art representing a legacy in American art from different periods.
After spending sometime on the second floor, the welcoming atmosphere and architectural flow of the museum invited us to roam around freely through the different exhibition spaces. Later on we exchanged pictures of things we have seen or done while we were on our own. My kids and a friend had spent some time building clay sculptures in this interactive exhibit and I had been taking notes from the ceramic collection exhibit. As far as the number of visitors was concerned, that day there was a very small and selective crowd of people including a group of tourist coming from Asia. On the way back to our hotel room in the outskirts of downtown Syracuse, we enjoyed again the beautiful open plains and traditional front porches as our rest the day unfolded And as my youngest son said it over the phone when talking to a friend in Miami: “Dude we are in the middle of nowhere and it is awesome”