Posts Tagged ‘ new york ’

Hanging the art: How artists get featured in Ithaca

Alice Combs "Fierce Shapes" in Waffle Frolic in Ithaca, New York.

Alice Combs “Fierce Shapes” in Waffle Frolic in Ithaca, New York.

Previously published on Premiere, Ithaca’s Art and Entertainment Publication. 

Allison DeDominick sits down with her newly adopted black kitten, Giacomo Puccini, as Italian opera plays softly in the background. Her living room hosts an array of artwork from around the world; Italy, France and the United States. Her personal work is in the process of getting framed. After traveling to Italy, DeDominick returned to Ithaca to help other artists, like herself, blossom in a city already known for its natural beauty.

DeDominick owns her own business, ARTe, that works with non-traditional venues like cafes, restaurants, wineries and public spaces to curate art exhibits on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

When DeDominick saw local artist Alice Combs’s work at Gimme! Coffee in October 2012, she contacted her right away.

“She’s somebody who maybe doesn’t see themselves as an artist first, but I think she should,” DeDominick said.

Combs never originally saw herself pursuing a career in art. She graduated from Cornell University in 2008 with a degree in Biology.

“I was always interested in art, I just never took it seriously,” Combs said.

The Community Arts Partnership in Ithaca is an outlet for local artists like Combs. CAP provides different services, assistance and grant opportunities to artists or art organizations, in addition to public programs supporting art in Tompkins County.

Since 1992, CAP has helped to distribute more than $2.7 million in grants and fellowships to artists, arts organizations and community projects. In 2013, CAP awarded $226,128 in arts grants. Their artist registry features 121 local and regional artists to date.

“Sometimes the artist walking through our door has years of experience but is new to town. Other times the artist is fresh out of school and exploring ways to spread his/her wings artistically,” said John Spence, Executive Director of the Community Arts Partnership. “Robin Schwartz, [CAP Program Director] can help make connections and introductions to like-minded artists.”

CAP hosts the Ithaca Art trail two weekends in October, in which local artists opened their studios to visitors and buyers. The organization also hosts two artist markets. The Ithaca Artists Market was held this summer at the Ithaca Farmers Market, and the Winter Fine Art Market takes place December 14 at the Holiday Inn on South Cayuga Street.

Additionally, the Awesome Indie Art Market took place in Downtown Ithaca December 6-8, which showcased more than 40 different artists.

“In a nutshell, we tried to bridge the gap of artists that you do not always get a chance to see and combine it with music, food and other art ideas; just a space and a chance to be creative,” said Alice Muhlback, one of the Awesome Indie Art Market’s coordinators.

Combs now attends the San Francisco Art Institute pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Painting. Combs made the decision to actively pursue art after taking two painting courses. DeDominick was instrumental in getting her series, “Fierce Shapes,” featured in Waffle Frolic until the end of the December. The piece is inspired by the way letters can occupy negative and positive spaces, made with black and red acrylic ink at a 45 degree angle.

While she was always interested in art from a young age, living in Ithaca made for making art an interest into a career, Combs noted.

“There are a lot of opportunities for showing your work in shops or galleries. It’s a pretty vibrant community for such a small town,” Combs said.

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Alexandra Leslie and John Vogan are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and johncvogan@gmail.com. 

Sideshow performer sets up solo act in food truck industry

Previously published on Premiere, Ithaca’s Art and Entertainment Publication. 

On the chilly morning of Dec. 3, steam pours from the open hatch of the Circus Truck as J.P. Vico prepares breakfast burritos for two of his regular customers. Vico’s is just one of eight food trucks in Ithaca currently dishing up mouthwatering cuisine from their mobile kitchens.

Click here to see what's cooking in Ithaca!

Click here to see what’s cooking in Ithaca!

Crepe Photo Courtesy Mark Anbinder

As the name suggests, the truck is a symbol of not only his passion for cooking, but also sideshow performing, Vico said. When it gets dark enough, he projects old black and white films showcasing circus performances for customers to enjoy while they chow down on alla vodka pasta — a ‘velvety homemade tomato cream sauce accented with vodka’ — or a seitan (gluten wheat) reuben sandwich.

Vico is left with a bad taste in his mouth, however, due to the city’s lack of a mobile vending permit policy hindering his operation. He and other truck owners have been left to negotiate with private property owners for places to set up shop. When a new building development forced him out of his original location on the corner of Seneca Street and State Route 13, he moved to the parking lot outside the Finger Lakes Beverage Center on West Green Street.

“The only reason this truck has even survived here a couple months is because the people who already knew about it from before [keep coming back],” Vico said.

Though Vico sits alone in the West Green Street parking lot, others are also caught in the food truck dilemma.

Amanda Beem-Miller, co-owner of The Good Truck, offering a Mexican-inspired menu that features seasonal and local ingredients, is one of the founding members of the Ithaca Food Truck Association, which began a year ago on Dec. 15.

“My business partner and I had spent years cooking for other people, and we really wanted to do our own thing,” she said. “This was the most economically viable way to have our own business.”

Without a permit in place, mobile vendors are barred from operating on city streets and property, with the exception of a special permitting process for The Commons.

In the meantime, The Good Truck owners, along with other food truck proprietors, worked with the city to create a pilot program that allows for vendors to operate at specific times on public property. This led to the weekly Food Truck Round Up at Thompson Park on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.

“There’s a philosophy in business, especially in food, that the more choices there are, the more people we can get to come,” Beem-Miller said.

Mark Anbinder, a food writer and editor of 14850 Dining, agreed. He said he understands the brick and mortar restaurants’ concerns of increased competition, but thinks there is a benefit to be gained by boosting an area’s attractiveness with more variety.

“It’s also true, maybe especially in Ithaca’s neighborhoods, that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ When there are attractive eateries in an area, people get used to going there for food, so for example I don’t see the Circus Truck taking away from Maxie’s and On the Street, even though they’re in the same area. I see it as one more option that makes people think of heading to the West End for food,” Anbinder said.

A vote on the pending permit proposal is planned for the Board of Public Works meeting on Dec. 9.

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John Vogan and Alexandra Leslie are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at johncvogan@gmail.com and adleslie13@gmail.com. 

Ithaca Farmers Market Celebrates 40 Years

The Ithaca Farmers Market has several locations, aside from its main market at Steamboat Landing.

The Ithaca Farmers Market has several locations, aside from its main market at Steamboat Landing.

Kristof Ostlund and his crew set up his burrito stand, Solaz, at the Ithaca Farmers Market in 15 minutes, but they don’t start serving until every member of the crew has eaten. Ostlund makes a burrito about every 35 seconds; six hours at the Saturday market means Ostlund and his crew use over 700 tortillas.

Ostlund is one of over 160 vendors at the award-winning Ithaca Farmers Market, which celebrated its 40th anniversary October 27. The Ithaca Farmers Market hosts local produce, baked goods, crafts and wine vendors that sell on one or all of the five market days.

The Ithaca Farmers Market began with a collection of vendors coming together to sell produce in the parking lot of Agway on South Fulton Street. Since 1973, the market has moved five times and expanded to four separate locations besides the main market at Steamboat Landing.

The biggest challenge the market currently faces is making space for all the vendors at Steamboat Landing, and for visitors in the parking lot. Open five days a week, 52 weeks a year, the market often attracts well over 5,000 people a day.

“Now we have a pavilion at a major waterfront site and we’re one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and one of the most important markets in the area too,” said Aaron Munzer, Assistant Manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market.

Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York said, “The Ithaca Farmers Market has set an example – the quality of products, the relationships with consumers as a whole – they’ve really served as a role model [for other farmers markets].”

There are markets in other towns, but the Ithaca Farmers Market was a success here because farmers found Ithaca had a large, reliable customer base where people regularly wanted to purchase their produce. The Ithaca Farmers Market is among 600 farmers markets in New York State.

While this may not be different from other farmers markets, it is important for farmers to have direct access to consumers and sell at retail prices because it “provides farmers with a higher profit margin than more traditional marketing outlets,” according to research done by the Farmers Market Federation of New York.

The Ithaca Farmers Market does not solely cater to organic growers, it plays a big part in the local food movement, as all of its vendors must have products grown and raised within 30 miles of the main market at Steamboat Landing, as set by the IFM Board of Directors.

“We don’t really have a role in the organic food movement, but I would say we are part of the local foods movement and I think that’s almost more important,” Munzer said. “Buying locally keeps the economy vibrant and healthy and folks are able to have viable farms.”

Ostlund gets organic black beans for his burritos from Potenza Organic Produce in Trumansburg, and other produce from his neighbor at the weekend market.

“Some products are local and some aren’t,” Ostlund said, “It just depends on the time of year and what’s available.”

While some market locations in Ithaca close in the upcoming weeks, the Ithaca Farmers Market remains open year-round. Ostlund is one vendor who sells at a few markets several weeks out of the year, but in his off-season from January to March he does income taxes for H&R Block.

“Doing somebody else’s taxes is like some huge puzzle you have to solve, it’s really neat. Doing your own taxes sucks,” Ostlund said as he made a customer’s burrito.

Solaz has been at the farmers market for 24 years, but from 1993 to 2001, Ostlund owned Coyote Loco, now Agava Restaurant, on Pine Tree Road in Ithaca.

Though Coyote Loco is now closed, Ostlund said he never gave up his booth at the market “because this is where the fun is.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Sara Webb are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and sara3webb@gmail.com.

The apple doesn’t fall far at Littletree

A sign welcomes visitors to Littletree Orchards in Newfield, NY.

A sign welcomes visitors to Littletree Orchards in Newfield, NY.

Though their stand was not in the usual spot at the 31st annual Apple Fest this weekend, the line to buy apples, cider and donuts from Littletree Orchards stretched beyond the stand and into Seneca St.

A small farm run by the Steinkraus family in Newfield, NY, Littletree Orchards has been around since 1973 and is home to more than 10 thousand apple trees sporting sixty different varieties of fruit.

The Steinkraus’ youngest daughter, Amara, is no stranger to Apple Fest. Since she was born, Amara has lived on the farm and been working there since age 13. Steinkraus, 24, previously studied at Cornell University, but left to become Assistant Orchard Manager.

Steinkraus said Apple Fest is the busiest weekend of the year for the orchard and she spends the days leading up to it pressing apples into more than 1,800 gallons of cider.

Steinkraus’ orchard also makes cider donuts, which are in high demand at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market and Apple Fest every year. Steinkraus said her mother, who originally came up with the idea to make donuts, spends 12 hours a day each of the three-day festival churning out hundreds of donuts. Steinkraus says she buys the donut mix from a supplier in Rochester and they add their apple cider to it, but eventually plan to make their own recipe.

In addition to running the orchard, Steinkraus has been thinking about incorporating two of her other passions on to the farm. She plans to host various live music acts, but also wants to begin producing hard cider.

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Alexandra Leslie and Lewis Kendall are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and lewda.kendall22@gmail.com.