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Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center Presents New Summer Art Exhibits
July 5 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center, located at 9 and 12 Vassar Street in Poughkeepsie, NY, proudly presents new and dynamic art exhibits in their Visual Art Galleries from July 5, 2023 to August 31, 2023. Featured in the Victorian Gallery at 9 Vassar Street will be the works of Onaje Benjamin, Shirley Parker-Benjamin, and Omar Parker, and at 12 Vassar Street will be David Vorves in the Hancock Gallery and Jill Ziccardi in the Reception Gallery. Free Public Art Opening Receptions will be held on Friday, July 7, 2023 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
The artistry of the Parker-Benjamin family will be on display in a diverse and visually engaging group exhibit. Onaje Benjamin, whose career spans five decades, is a natural creative serving as a community activist committed to social justice and human rights. In 2022, he was awarded a Creatives Build New York Guaranteed Income Award and in March of 2023 completed the Participatory Photography Training offered by PhotoVoice (London, England). He was also the first recipient of the Leilani Claire Outstanding Achievement in Photography awarded by the Woodstock Artist Association and Museum. Onaje is currently the Artistic Director of Ujamaa Studios located at the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center and displays his work extensively as well as designs custom picture frames. Shirley Parker-Benjamin is an interdisciplinary artist creating work across the genres of sculptural mixed media, assemblage, and installation. She explores the intersection between ancestral, spiritual, and metaphysical African/African Diasporic traditions and the feminine integrating found objects, natural materials, metals, minerals beadwork and fiber to convey her ideas. Shirley’s work has been exhibited regionally and internationally and her studio, Ezili Arts, is located at the Cunneen Hackett Arts Center. Omar Parker is a photographer based in Queens, New York who captures urban life’s essence through a lens. For 30 years, he has been drawn to all aspects of the urban environment—from graffiti’s vibrant expression to the interplay of people on the streets, including himself. “I document the raw energy and hidden beauty, seeking to immortalize the transient art of graffiti and the intricate stories behind human interactions,” comments Omar. “Through composition and timing, I aim to evoke emotions, challenge perceptions, and reveal the allure of urban life. Join me as we uncover the captivating narratives that shape our urban world.”
David Vorves is a self-taught artist living in the Hudson Valley, and has been painting for seven years. His work explores themes such as perception, memory, self-consciousness, and humanity, and is characterized by bold color, twisted form, and turbulent brushwork. “My ‘alla prima’ paintings evoke a feeling of fleeting permanence, and often take on a sort of sentience of their own,” comments Mr. Vorves. “I strive to create artwork that forces the viewer to look deeper within themselves, and to notice the people around them.” His exhibit at the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center, entitled “Tainted Nostalgia”, explores the memories we love to remember but hate to think about, the people and places that inhabit them, and how such memories ultimately are responsible for molding us into who we are today.
Jill Ziccardi’s artwork is influenced by nature and symbolism, domesticity, satire and American slang language that calls attention to our own absurd and harmful associations about being “female” and “male”. Mocking past and present stereotypes with humor and irony, her images expose the disconnect between the sexes, and the bias that is embedded in our common language and in our psyche. “As a young artist, I was inspired by a seemingly unremarkable 20 second experience when, one day, I stepped into an elevator full of men and one of them was discussing his affections for a woman he enthusiastically referred to as a ‘hot little tomato!’, Ziccardi recants. “The image of a sexy woman as a tomato amused me, offended me and ignited my sassy sense of humor…I grew up in an ethnic Italian family and the image of a tomato was especially meaningful for it was a term used to objectify and devalue ‘the female’.” This chance encounter opened up a Pandora’s box of ideas that Ziccardi is still executing and sourcing from today, and likely indefinitely. Her arsenal of images is commonly known and quite varied (Chick, Skirt, Bombshell, Prick, Nuts, Bunny, Tail, etc…) and is reappropriated from slang language and reclaimed as her own.
The Victorian Gallery at 9 Vassar Street is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Hancock Gallery and Reception Gallery at 12 Vassar Street are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm but visitors must call the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center Office at (845) 486-4571 for access. The 12 Vassar Street Galleries are also open during events at the VBI Theatre. Visit the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center website at cunneen-hackett.org for more information on the artists exhibiting their work in the Visual Art Galleries.
The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center is a 41-year-old non-profit organization whose mission is to meet the artistic and cultural needs of the Hudson Valley by showcasing professional and community artists in theatre, music, dance, and the visual arts, and to provide a variety of performance, exhibition, and office spaces. It is dedicated to keeping its rich historic legacy alive and preserving the two beautiful landmarked Victorian age buildings at 9 and 12 Vassar Street in Poughkeepsie, NY in which it operates.