Hidden in Plain Sight
July 2020

We are in turbulence. Yes, in the midst of dangerous times and significant upheaval. It is hard to discern the importance of events. They unfold and thunder around us, sometimes sweeping us along or under. Do we participate in shaping them? CazArts Newsletter is here to be a gathering place for the arts, a place of conversation and local community.

This second edition of the Newsletter is focused around “Hidden in Plain Sight”. What is the role of an artist in these times? What is the role of Cazenovia Artists and arts organizations? The arts can bring beauty to our lives. They shine a light in dark places, helping us see better, and telling the story of our times from different perspectives. With the current revelations of racial injustice shining a spotlight on the torn & tearing fabric of this country, we reached back into Cazenovia’s history for wisdom and lessons, and visit with some past, present and future area artists.
Our Community
The Fugitive Slave Law Convention, with an estimated 2000 – 3000 participants, was held in Cazenovia in August of 1850. 
The Abolition Hall of Fame and the Gerrit Smith Estate in Peterboro are 9 miles down the road from Cazenovia. 
The Legacy of Peterboro Has Astounding Relevance Today 

An Interview with Alden Maxwell (Max) Smith
Saturday, June 20, 2020

Today I am a citizen of Madison County and a descendant of enslaved families that found their way to Peterboro and remained there. My father was born in Peterboro. I was acquainted somewhat with the history of Peterboro, but it was Hugh Humphreys who introduced me to my own heritage in the early 1990s. Then I became acquainted with the efforts of Donna Burdick, Norm Dann, Beth Spokowsky, and Dot Willsey who were the driving forces of recognizing Peterboro’s heritage and its legacy for today.

The Smithfield Community Association was incorporated in 1993 and within a decade volunteers had raised funds to repair the Smithfield Community Center, to acquire and stabilize the Gerrit Smith Estate, and to create the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum which was chartered by the NYS Board of Regents. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum honors antislavery abolitionists, their work to end slavery, and the legacy of that struggle, and strives to complete the second and ongoing abolition – the moral conviction to end racism.

These volunteers were not African Americans. They were citizens who asked, what tools do we have? What can we do to end racism? How do we influence people’s moral choice to embrace true egalitarian thoughts and actions? The actions of abolitionists were based in anti-slavery thought, meaning that one is opposed to slavery, and is actively trying to abolish it. The legacy of that anti-slavery attitude is encompassed in anti-racist efforts in recent weeks, meaning one is opposed to racism, and is actively trying to abolish it. This, then, demonstrates the moral conviction to end racism. These Peterboro people were twenty years ahead of what is happening in our country and world currently. They had the conviction that Peterboro’s abolition and Underground Railroad history resonates today. Is it relevant? Incredibly! Astoundingly!!

Max Smith is a founder and co-chair of the Peterboro Emancipation Day at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, former mayor of Oneida, a musical performer, and a descendant of enslaved families that came to Peterboro.

The Two Billie Band
William Smith & William Russel played for dances throughout Madison County 1870s
Max Smith is the descendant of Billie Smith
Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
On June 20th published this statement:

In the past the Art Park has not done enough to amplify the work of artists of color, and we have not looked critically enough at our role in shaping the arts at large. We believe that art is a visionary and critical tool for change, but not if the art always comes from the same voices and perspectives. We feel the call for action and the collective determination for change and we are listening. A commitment to social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement means putting equity into action. Going forward we commit to ongoing action and conversations about racism, power, and privilege within our organization, a process we have begun. Though we are small in size, we can have a big impact on the local and global arts community. We will post updates on this journey and we invite and thank you for your feedback, insight, and questions. We must rigorously imagine an Art Park that is more inclusive, equitable, and accessible. What we can imagine we can work to create.
Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Largest Public Art Work in Cazenovia

In 1933, for the auditorium of the new Central School, Cazenovia wanted a mural presenting the town in a historical perspective that would be an expression of civic pride. Lee Brown Coye won the commission to paint “The American Scene,” a giant mural that would encompass the entire auditorium.

The work started in 1933 funded by the PWAP, a federally funded program that was the forerunner of the WPA. With 3 murals completed, the PWAP funding finished. Cazenovia School Principal Lowe, community members and art students solicited funds and raised enough locally to commission 2 more panels.

In 1939 the painting was criticized as being too “modernistic”. There was criticism that the Eerie Canal panel did not portray a romantic setting and that the mule and driver were rough and grotesque, not heroic. Later that year, without fanfare or notice, the murals were whitewashed over.

Coye went on to be exhibited at the Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His work is represented in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Everson Museum in Syracuse, the Onondaga County Historical Society, Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, the Morrisville State College Library, SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University, and private collections. At some point Coye decided that he did not want to create art for museums, which would be seen primarily by a few wealthy patrons, and instead put most of his work into magazine illustrations for greater public circulation.

The murals were whitewashed over. Are they still there hidden under layers of paint in the High School auditorium?
Video: Kim Waale at Cazenovia College
Hidden In Plain Sight: an Artist

CazArts: Kim Waale tell me who you are?

Kim: I am a professor at Cazenovia College in Art and Design, I am the Department Chair of the division of Art and Design and I’m an artist. I’ve been teaching art in Cazenovia for 31 years. 

CazArts: Tell me about the building that you work out of. So many local artists and most people in the community have never been in this facility.

Kim: The Jephson Center. The college took over that property in the 90s, I guess it’s been three years now since it was fully renovated. It was gutted at first just a shell, and now it’s a really great creative, state-of-the-art studio facility. It has two levels, first level is all 3-D including a ceramic studio, woodshop, formed glass studio, small metals studio; on the second floor there’s a digital lab, a really nice painting and drawing studio, and a lovely seminar/lecture room.

CazArts: What if someone wanted to come and see the facilities or take a course?

Kim: People are more than welcome to come and see, as soon as this pandemic is over or at least there’s a reprieve. Now, they will be expected to wear masks and do social distancing, to enter any of the college buildings. Courses that are part of the regular schedule are open to community members, I would actually really like to encourage people to take the evening small metals jewelry course.

CazArts: So now tell me about the Gallery Show that you just opened?

Kim: As soon as Jephson campus was renovated we decided to host a yearly public springtime exhibition. This year because of COVID 19 it’s in virtual space. The theme this year is “Fake Nature”. A majority of the work was made while the students sheltered in place this spring because everybody had to leave campus.

CazArts: Why should people see this show?
Kim: because it’s really creative and really really inventive and really fun and you know it deals with all the ways in which we are becoming more and more comfortable with representations of the natural world instead of interacting with the natural world.

CazArts: “Hidden in Plain Sight” is the theme for this month’s Newsletter, last thoughts?

Kim: Well, I think the college is in many ways (and this is frustrating) kind of a hidden gem. It’s amazing: fully 1/3 to 1/2 of the student body are majoring in Art & Design. it’s a really great creative community, you know we have three buildings on campus that are totally dedicated to art and design, that’s huge, huge, yeah, hidden in plain sight! Exactly.

CazArts: Kim, how can people see the Fake Nature Exhibit or get a hold of you if they want to see the Jephson Center Art Studios?

Kim: Click on: Fake Nature Link or email me at 

Cazenovia Counterpoint
is daringly & carefully producing this year's festival
July 6 - August 15

Society for New Music and Caz Counterpoint Enliven our Community

On the cusp of celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2021, the all-volunteer Society for New Music (SNM) has contributed markedly to the vitality of the arts and its practitioners in Central New York. It has enriched the quality of life and the economic prosperity of the region. Since 1971, SNM has sponsored performances, new compositions, multi-age educational opportunities, and youth programs.

Neva Pilgrim, Caz Counterpoint founding member and long-time program advisor spoke with CazArts. Neva has forged a noteworthy musical career in her own right, including numerous concert and operatic performances, more than 20 CD’s and serving as an Artist in Residence at Colgate University for many years.

CazArts: What has gratified you the most about your service to SNM, Caz Counterpoint and Central New York? 

Neva: CNY is a great place to live and raise a family. I’m part of a group of musicians and composers who decided we could build a network in Upstate NY devoted to cutting-edge music. And we’re still here! The arts community is compressed in places like Brooklyn, whereas in CNY we have miles between us, yet we’re a community who work together and inspire each other. And we collaborate with other arts organizations, rather than compete. SNM has commissioned a regional composer every year since inception; four of these have won Pulitzer Prizes and others have been Pulitzer finalists.

CazArts: What does the term “new music” mean?

Neva: We consider “new music” to be new classical music, but music on our programs ranges from jazz/new music to world music, soundscapes that may or may not include acoustic instruments . . . . Christopher Cresswell, a Caz native, has had several of his soundscapes performed since he was a real “young” composer. SNM [also] commissions and premieres new opera, e.g. “Eleanor Roosevelt”, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage”, and now “Libba Cotton", and new music with dance like the Vision of Sound program.

CazArts: What was the genesis of Caz Counterpoint, and how has it evolved over the years? 

Neva: It has evolved organically & very democratically. Those on the board have good ideas, as do our Society Players and composers. There are lots of well-trained, talented people who live here. The ideas put forward are discussed, developed, and implemented. One might say this is “ground-up” arts, rather than “top-down”. . . . Dorothy Riester was responsible for bringing new music to Cazenovia. She and Bob invited us to perform at their amphitheater and their many friends attended. We did that for a couple of summers, and also performed at the home of Sarah and Howland Auchincloss. Because SNM’s board is a mix of professionals from the region, there are always visual artists on the board, and some of them thought these concerts should expand into a festival which would include an art exhibit. Caz Counterpoint is a showcase for creative regional artists, which is why it’s subtitled “Festival of the Expressive Arts.”

CazArts: Service to young musicians and audiences has been a central theme to your educational outreach. 

Neva: SNM has . . . been involved in nurturing young composers, so it was [a] natural extension of that to give the prize-winning musicians in CNY an opportunity to perform on Rising Star lunch hour programs, plus having a young composer write a short work which they could premiere. Several of the prize winners were also composers, like pianist Gregg Welcher, violist Sachin Shukla, now in grad school at Rutgers and undergrad at Northwestern, respectively. They wrote works they premiered, as did pianist John Liberatore, who was a Rising Star in HS (Auburn, NY), then in college at S.U., who went on to earn his doctorate at Eastman, and in 2014 won SNM’s Israel Prize, awarded to a 30 and under composer native to NYS or studying here. He is now on the Notre Dame music faculty, and has well reviewed recordings out of his music.

Twelve years ago, composer Diane Jones, who lives near Cazenovia, suggested we have a Young Composers Corner [YCC]. She led the YCC the first year before her schedule at WCNY-FM became too busy. But YCC continues. We already have eight very talented Middle School and HS students signed up for it . . . . Normally these mentoring sessions have been at Caz Library, always a terrific partner. This year to accommodate social distancing, it will be given online.

CazArts: How has the pandemic affected the organization in terms of programming, administration and funding? 

Neva: We had to postpone a couple of concerts, held the annual Benefit online via ZOOM complete with “live” performances by performers and composers. Over 90 people attended and the emails that followed were so enthusiastic! We were about to hire a half-time administrator when the pandemic shut everything down. So far we’re still getting some grants, but they are about 1/3 of what they were last season. For more information about the year-round activities of SNM and the upcoming Caz Counterpoint summer series--beginning with the 4th of July annual village parade and running through August 1 and 2-- please refer to the SNM website. Various village venues, including Lakeland Park, the Cazenovia Public Library, Lorenzo State Historic Site, and the Farmer’s Market will be host to this year’s exciting programming. Counterpoint Events CazArts Calendar
Spotlight on Caz Counterpoint “Rising Star”

Jon Mokry, A 2020 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School
During this summer’s Caz Counterpoint, Jon will be presenting during the festival’s “Young Composers Corner.” 

Jon’s interest in composition began early, at about the age of 8. As Jon notes, “I would write short piano melodies, record them on Finale and bring them to piano lessons to play. My piano teacher at the time fostered my interest in composition and encouraged me to perform them in studio masterclasses. As I progressed, I started writing and arranging for large and chamber ensembles such as orchestra, concert band, marching band, and woodwind quintet.” Within a couple years, Jon then began to also study and play the bassoon. Throughout out his musical career, he has distinguished himself by participating in numerous NYSSMA solo festivals (on bassoon, voice and piano) and in many summer programs including Encore Coda, NYSSSA and Interlochen; he has also played in All County, Area All State and All State ensembles. SNM has also featured Jon in “Pop-Up” concerts, co-sponsored by the Symphoria Youth Orchestra and the Setnor School of Music.

A new chapter in Jon’s life will open this fall as he continues his studies at the Mannes School of Music in New York.

CazArts extends the very best wishes to Jon and encourages our supporters to experience the “Young Composers Corner” and all facets of 2020 Caz Counterpoint! July 22nd, 7–8 pm Jon will be performing new compositions at the Rising Stars POP UP concert at Lakeland Park, in conjunction with Caz Chamber of Commerce.

Lakeland Park limited to 150, social distancing & wearing masks
Resources for the Arts
A by-product of the pandemic is that so many exhibits and gallery shows have gone virtual. This has created an opportunity for artist to more readily exhibit their work throughout the United States. This website is just a great listing of places to enter your work! Thanks to Cheryl at Edgewood Gallery for turning us on to this site.

Take yourself to a great Museum, here are links to virtual tours and visits:

CazArts Newsletter:
Editor: Geoffrey Navias
Copy editor: Kristi Andersen
Production, lay-out, distribution: Shawn McGuire
Interviews & articles this month: Barbara Bartlett Dot Wilsey Geoffrey Navias
Source material from: Donna Durrance Burdick, Town of Smithfield Historian Luis Ortiz: The Life & Art of Lee Brown Coye Wikipedia Carolyn Homes alerted us to the mural at the High School All inquiries, feedback, ideas for future articles: 
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