Saturday, December 31, 2005

Scene: Former SU Student Calls Syracuse Home

(Rile just moved away from Syracuse a few weeks ago. Below is a tribute to her work in this community).

Courtney Rile flutters past the vibrant abstract art hanging in her spacious university-area apartment. She diverges for only a moment to lead her Akita mix, Bella, out onto the balcony before pausing to say, “It’s like this weird, strange obsession that I can’t get rid of.”

Rile is referring to stacks of the Daily Orange student newspaper that that lay dormant throughout her home. Beginning in 2002, while a junior in the art video program at Syracuse University, she helped to compile the Daily Orange’s 100 year anniversary text. This required her to read hundreds of articles about Syracuse, and, as an artist, she took special notice of the cultural material.

The printouts may lie limply by, but the information contained in the uncountable syllables of pseudo newsprint come alive as they bubble over Rile’s parted lips. She spews forth so many facts about the history of Syracuse’s arts and culture scene that it is hard to imagine she only entered the community a few short years ago. It’s even harder to realize that she stayed.

Yes, Courtney Rile is a mover and a shaker. But unlike the majority of Syracuse’s young professionals, she hasn’t yet danced her way out of upstate New York. Rile, 22, is one of the few SU graduates who remain in the city after commencement and one the fewer who have made a conscious effort to learn about and improve her adopted city.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Rile, is not inclined towards a sedimentary lifestyle. By the age of 15, she had known 11 different Pennsylvanian homes. By the time she enrolled in SU, she had already been through two other colleges, including short stints at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and Montgomery County Community College, where she received her Associate in Arts degree.

“It takes the utmost concentration to stay in one place,” Rile said.

In her short time here Rile’s closeness to the scene has garnered attention from a number of influential arts community members, including Syracuse University Professor Johanna Keller.

“She impressed me very much as someone who is intensely involved in the Syracuse arts scene and has a fabulous view about how the arts could develop,” Keller said.

As well as being an editor for the DO anniversary assignment, throughout her two year study at SU, Rile curated and work-studied at Light Work Community Darkrooms, curated at the local Spark Contemporary Art Space Gallery, completed numerous original artistic works, had a video in the inaugural Syracuse International Film and Video Festival and developed an independent study that resulted in the ongoing “Paradox Project.”

Now past its conceptualization and initiation stages, the Paradox Project is an intensive research undertaking that sets out to evaluate the condition of the Syracuse arts scene. The idea came partially from Rile’s involvement with the DO anniversary book and also from her desire to identify problems within the landscape of Syracuse culture.

One part of the project, a survey directed towards artists, appreciators and organizations, prompted Rile to work directly with employees of the Cultural Resources Council, including Kendra Lawton.

“When I first met her I was impressed by her enthusiasm and her sort of dedication to the community and her ideas for what she wanted to do and what she thought she could do to help both artists and the different organizations here,” said Lawton.

Lawton hopes the completed surveys will give the CRC a sorely needed data base that will identify the needs and wants of their constituents.

It was also through the Paradox Project that Rile began her tenure with a local arts organization, The Institution of a Now Culture or ThINC. This not-for-profit group helped Rile by providing encouragement for her ambitious venture.

When she graduated in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Rile began grant writing for ThINC and in Spring 2005 she became project coordinator for the Clement Greenberg In Syracuse: Then and Now exhibition in ThINC’s sponsored Company Gallery.

Former Executive Director and founding member of ThINC, Jacob Roberts, worked closely with Rile during her direct involvement with the organization. He describes his initial reaction when he met her at a Light Work exhibition.

“I could immediately feel that she was different. She had a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy. And she was already outside of this, ‘I’m a student and I’m going to be in a student bubble.’ She was a woman of the world,” Roberts said.

Both Rile and Roberts have since moved beyond ThINC, but they continue to have strong ties to each other and the establishment. Rile premiered her most recent ThINC work during Roberts’ birthday party at the newly opened Ohm Lounge on August 8.

The 25 minute documentary/promotional video for ThINC spanned the 5-year history of the organization, equipped with grainy visuals, eclectic sounds, moving imagery and insider commentary.

The video first is especially significant because Ohm is in the process of expanding its services to offer video art. Guess who the owner picked to curate the video installations? None other than Courtney Rile.

The offering, called Videohm, will feature a specific genre of video art--non-narrative, moving imagery pieces--that will fit the general ambiance of the hip bar environment.

Ohm owner and former ThINC board member, Rich Pekala, said the creation of Videohm was not originally in the scope of their plan when they bought the Franklin Street location last summer, although the building did come equipped with two 40-inch flat screen plasma television sets.

When Rile approached them with the idea soon after they began development, Pekala immediately jumped on the bandwagon. As a friend of Rile’s, Pekala had viewed her original video, “Beat the Paint,” at the Syracuse International Film Festival in Spring 2004. “After seeing her film I knew she was the right person for the job,” Pekala said.

Videohm is just the most recent or Rile’s resume toppers. Her father, James Rile, says that he expects his daughter’s ambition and involvement in programs like Videohm to help her in the future.

“I still don’t know if she’ll make a living as an art major, but if anyone can do it, she can because she’s self motivated,” said her father.

The question of whether Rile will continue a career in the arts in Syracuse is yet to be answered. However, judging from her many endeavors, Rile is making a move beyond just studying Syracuse history; she is becoming a part of the story.

4 Comments:

Blogger Herr Murdur said...

Julie,
Nice blog, punk biotch. It was such a pain in the ass to register so I could comment that I forgot what my comment was gonna be! Oh now I remember, it was "Fuck Blogger and their registration process! Yea!" I guess I'll have to make a real comment later. PEACE

7:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Murdur said...

Oh okay now I remember. I was gonna ask what happened to that Courney chick. Where'd she go? She belongs in Austin, TX or something. Too slick, hip and sophisticated for this town.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Herr Murdur said...

This is Justin BTW. How you like all my commentspam? Not too friendly huh? BOO YAH ;O
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7:02 PM  
Blogger cantspeakitgood said...

Dude, I think your the one who's too totally tres sophistique for this little big city. Who's the punk biatch now, biatch, huh, huh? Go eat some fruit and climb a tree ya monkey fuck. Oh, and see you at work tomorrow.

9:52 PM  

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