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ashley norwood cooper

Artists’ Muse: 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments

Artists’ Muse: 13th,

14th, 15th Amendments

Sidney Waller looks over the artworks that incorporate the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, now on display at her Art Garage (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – When Sidney Waller first looked at Robert Seward’s submission to the “Dust Off the Constitution” project, she thought the red circles on his version of the 14th Amendment were wax seals.
“Looking at it closer,” she said. “I realized they were bullet holes.”

Waller, owner of the Art Garage on Beaver Meadow Road, partnering with Ashley Norwood Cooper, invited artists to submit works inspired by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which abolished slavery, granted citizenship to all people born in the U.S. or naturalized, and guarantees the right of citizens to vote.

“Ashley and I were both interested in current events, and she expresses her engagement and concern through her artwork,” Waller said.

The idea to focus on the constitution was inspired by Amy Snider, professor emerita, Art & Design Education at Pratt, who used to show her work at Waller’s gallery.

“Amy used to invite her neighbors to hand write amendments from the Constitution,” she said. “The average person only knows freedom of the press, freedom of religion and the right to bear arms, but this was a way of connecting with it.”

Snider died in 2018. A few of her early works are for sale at the gallery, with proceeds benefitting the NAACP.

Submissions were collected Friday, June 19, in a ballot box designed by Cooper. “Ashley thinks of life in America right now as a phoenix, rising from the flames,” she said.

More than two dozen submissions came in from artists across the region. “Louise Fishman had done a piece on the preamble and wanted to submit that,” she said. “So we put that on the wall as well. There were some really wild interpretations.”

Charlie Bremer, Otego, submitted his own spin on the 15th Amendment, which reads, “The right of citizens of this Earth shall not be denied or abridged by any nation or state on account of race, color, sex, spiritual belief or political view.”

“Some artists got really upset as they were writing them,” she said. “They could see the spirit of the law, written by white people, was so clear. But the creativity that came out was really a kinetic exercise of recognition.”

In addition to the Amendments, Cooper’s painting “Crying Man” is on display. “Her gallery in Seattle is selling prints of the painting, with all proceeds going to voting registration organizations,” said Waller.

Cooper also lit candles representing “Justice” and “Truth,” and purified the gallery with sage in a Native American ritual.

“I got a lot of emails from people who wanted to do it, but couldn’t come on the 19th,” she said. “But it was crucial that we do it on Juneteenth.”

Initially, the plan was that every artist who participated in the project would then draw a name from the ballot box and take that work home with them.

“We couldn’t bear to put them back in the ballot box,” said Waller. “We want to keep them on display.”
Currently, the plan is to keep the display at the Art Garage, by appointment, through the end of July, with potential for an additional show being discussed.

“We didn’t know what it was going to be until we did it,” she said. “But what we got was very exciting.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1

Benefit Concert By The

Butternut Valley Boys

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BENEFIT CONCERT – 6:30 p.m. Performance by The Butternut Valley Boys. Admission by free-will-offering toward on-going restoration. Lawn, Major’s Inn, Gilbertsville. 607-783-2967 or visit www.themajorsinn.com

O-COUNTY FAIR – 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. See best Otsego County has to offer. Daily shows, rides, more. Highlights include horse shows, tractor pulls, demonstrations, activities, music, more. Otsego County Fair, Mills St., Morris. 607-263-5289 or visit www.otsegocountyfair.org

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, JULY 13
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, JULY 13

Preview The 83rd

National Juried Art Show

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PREVIEW PARTY – 5 – 7 p.m. First look at 83rd Annual National Juried Art Exhibition and awards ceremony for CAA scholarship winners. Cooperstown Village Library. 607-547-9777 or visit www.cooperstownart.com

FAMILY FRIDAY – 7 – 8 p.m. Get out with the Family, participate in family obstacle course fun including tug-o-war, crawling, hurtles and more! 1 adult to 2 children please. Cost, $8/guest accompanied by a member. Green Space, Oneonta YMCA, 20-26 Ford Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-0010 or visit www.facebook.com/OneontaFamilyYMCA/

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, SEPT. 1
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, SEPT. 1

Balloons In The Park

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BALLOON FEST – 5-9 p.m. Enjoy an evening of food, music, hot air balloons with Fabulous Friday. Neahwa Park, Oneonta. Call (607)432-2941 or visit www.facebook.com/BalloonGlowFest/

ART RECEPTION – 5-8 p.m. Art exhibit with Anthony Hanakovic “The Baroque Period Revisited” working in Oil Painting, Etchings, Aquatints; Judith Lamb “Organic Matter, The Cycle of Life,” Oil Paintings; James Nefsey “Myths and Ancient Memories” photographs. On display thru 9/17. Community Arts Network of Oneonta, Wilber Mansion, 11 Ford Ave., Oneonta. Call (607) 432-2070 or visit www.canoneonta.org/calendar/

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, AUG. 15
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, AUG. 15

Art With The Artist

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ART DISCUSSION – 5 p.m. Artist Ashley Norwood Cooper discusses her ‘Deployment’ series painted while her husband was deployed in Afghanistan. The Art Garage, 689 Beaver Meadow Rd., Cooperstown. Call (607)547-5327 or visit www.facebook.com/TheArtGarageCooperstown/

LAKEFRONT CONCERT – 7 p.m. Scott Freeman Band, a quartet, plays a diverse repertoire of classical, jazz, oldies, Irish, and pop music. Weather permitting. Bandstand in the Lakefront Park, Cooperstown. richcooperstown.org/lakefront-concert-series/

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103