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Ruth Harasta: Retrospective

July 19, 2015 by pegjohnston

            Artist Ruth Harasta’s lifetime of art will be the subject of a special four day retrospective exhibit at the Cooperative Gallery 213 from July 30-August 2nd, 2015 as part of the gallery's Fifth Weekend series. “Harasta’s art stands the test of time,” commented Peg Johnston, President of the gallery, “and this is a wonderful opportunity to see her body of work.” The gallery has special hours for the Ruth Harasta: Retrospective: Thursday July 30th, 5-8 pm; Friday July 31st from 3-9 pm with a reception from 6-9 pm; Saturday August 1 from 12- 8 pm; and Sunday August 2, 12-5 pm.

                  Cooperative Gallery member Nancy Ryan is Harasta's daughter and an accomplished artist who will also be exhibiting along with other family members, Dori Murnieks, and Audrey Ryan.  Ryan and her siblings have recovered several of her mother's work for this show. Many pieces of her work were damaged during the flooding, but the gallery will be filled with abstract pieces as well as drawings, prints, and fashion illustration from Harasta’s tenure as a fashion illustrator at Fowler, Dick and Walker Dept. store.

                  The Cooperative Gallery is sponsoring special exhibits and events in the months that have 5 weekends in them. The Cooperative Gallery, a popular stop on the First Friday Art Walk, located at 213 State Street in Binghamton, is open on Frist Friday 3- 9 pm and regularly Fridays from 3-6 and Saturdays from 12- 4 pm. See also Facebook at Cooperative Gallery 213 and sign up for the weekly e-newsletter at or on the Facebook page.

Ruth Harasta Biography

                  Ruth Harasta was born August 17, 1926 to Doris M. and Warren E. Pratt. She lived on her family’s farm on Oakdale Road in Johnson City until 1945 when she married John Harasta. They raised four children in the home that John built a short distance from her parents.

            A keen interest in art motivated Ruth to develop skills in drawing and painting.  Self-educated in the area of visual arts, and a lover of books, she studied the works of old and modern masters. Her personal artistic interests were based largely in the abstract expressionist movement and she produced large works on canvas in this genre.

            In the late 1950s she was hired at Fowler Dick and Walker department store where she worked as a fashion illustrator until the store’s closing in 1980.

            Local memberships included the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, the Stevens Square Gallery and The Artists Guild. In the 1970s she became interested in printmaking and began attending classes at SUNY Binghamton. At that time she became a member of Manhattan Graphics in New York City. She enjoyed exhibiting in a number of solo and group shows locally, national, and internationally. She was proud to have participated in nearly every Mini Print International, an annual exhibition put on by the Studio School and Art Gallery.

             In 1989 Ruth became an employee of the Discovery Center of the Southern Tier, where she painted numerous exhibits until her retirement in April of 2006.

            In 2008 Ruth suffered a near fatal accident from which she never fully recovered. She passed away on February 2, 2015.




Sing the Body Electric

July 18, 2015 by pegjohnston

Glenda Blake's exhibit, The Body Electric takes as its inspiration the Walt Whitman poem, I Sing the Body Electric, and she thoughtfully reprinted the poem in poster size.  It's a long poem and, written in 1855, it seems bold in its sensuality, but also in its praise of not just men's bodies (Whitman was a lover of men), but also women's bodies. 

This excerpt is a good example of Whitman's love of the male body:
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.


His description of women's bodies is erotic:
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.

He goes on to say:

Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.


  The poem also tackles slavery from the sheer physicality of the commonness of humanity.
Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not express’d in parlors and lecture-rooms?)

Heady inspiration for an artist. Glenda clearly has immersed herself and her talent in the human figure. As someone at her show remarked, "you know how the body works!" It's a good show to spend some time with, to notice your own body and the feel of weight and strength and pressure.

It's only up one more week --Friday 3-6 and Saturday 12-4 and by appointment. Also appearing with Chuck Haupt's engaging black and white photos of London. Will be time well spent.

(poetry quoted from the Poetry Foundation

Year Round Farmer's Market

July 15, 2015 by imc-editor

Photo: proposed farmer's market building, architectural drawing

County Exec Debbie Preston has declared the land behind the Cooperative Extension "the perfect place" for a year round farmer's market, but once again she is putting lipstick on a pig. The Cooperative Extension site was a late substitution when the Otsiningo Park location was held up due to finds from the archaeological dig on the site. But neither site is available by walking and the Cooperative Extension site is really only accessible by car, and there are not that many parking spaces at that. In a town that is a food desert in many places, and has many abandoned lots and underused buildings  a more sustainable location could have been available. Several alternative sites come to mind:  Binghamton Plaza, or opposite in the Colonial Plaza where the County Land Bank has taken possession. Or, the old Lumber Yard site off of Lester Ave. across from CFJ Park which has plenty of space, is in the middle of everything, on two bus lines, and with the development currently planned for Johnson City this would fit right in.  Even more promising now that the EJ Victory Building has been secured by the County Land Bank.

But, the county was in danger of losing the money due to a deadline, so they grabbed the Cooperative Extension site.

Sustainability was a buzzword for the Ryan Administration but you won't hear it in the halls of either the county or the city. Sustainability means that we don't rely on automobiles if there are alternatives, that we encourage safe walking and biking. Also, that re-claims land or buildings not being utilized. If you have traveled up Front St. lately you know that the traffic is fierce and that there are no sidewalks or bike paths. Not sustainable to say the least.

Another missed opportunity to do the right thing. And a mistake we will be living with for a long time.

Roberson to host 2015 Regional Art Exhibition

July 8, 2015 by imc-editor

Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony Sunday Afternoon

(Binghamton, NY)  Roberson Museum and Science Center will present a tremendous showcase of regional artists with the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony for its 2015 Regional Art Exhibition Sunday, July 12 from 1-4pm.  The announcement of awards will take place at 3pm.

The works of more than 40 regional artists are featured within the exhibition in categories including sculpture, photography, painting, and more.  

Roberson’s Regional Art Exhibition is a juried exhibition comprised of original works from artists residing within 150 miles of Binghamton. Works accepted into the exhibition were selected by an outside Juror.   The Juror for the 2015 Regional Art Exhibition is Mark Schaming, Director & Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Museum.

First, second, and third place cash awards and certificates will be presented to selected artists during the Opening Reception.

Works in the Regional Art Exhibition will be on display at Roberson through October 25, and many of the pieces are available for purchase.

Roberson Museum and Science Center
30 Front Street
Binghamton, NY 13905


July 6, 2015 by NewEarth

We are here in Binghamton near the hub of the extensive rail network that slices through our communities, near our homes and schools to condemn the rundown of the rail system and its use to transport dangerous materials so close to our homes and schools, endangering the lives of our children, the public and rail workers. We are demanding better safety for all. Rail fatalities are escalating out of control, said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) back in 2008. There were 19 rail deaths that year. The accidents, deaths, and injuries have been increasing ever since. Since 2010, there were 87 reported rail accidents, such as derailments and collisions; then last week the derailment and fire in Tennessee forced the evacuation of over 5,000 and exposed many to the flammable liquid chemical Acrylonitrile. Here in Broome County, where more than 60% of the population lives within two miles of track, mandatory evacuation, chemical exposures and deaths could be much higher in the event of such an accident in this area. • Causes – collisions, derailments, broken rails, braking failures, bridge collapses, inadequate maintenance, ‘jumped the tracks’, and engineer fatigue are among the causes cited by government agencies, such as the National Transportation and Safety Board. Railroad workers have long been fighting against the rail industry's push for: reduction in crew size, general cut-backs in staffing, reduced inspections of track and equipment, operation of excessively long and heavy trains, draconian attendance policies that limit time off work, reduced time off between work shifts, and other unsafe practices. • Impacts – deaths, injuries, massive fires, mass evacuations, highway closures, transportation disruption. • Threats to health and the environment. Many of these trains are carrying hazardous materials. We in the community are not informed of what is passing our homes and schools. In the period since 2000, the following materials have escaped from trains involved in accidents: liquid fertilizer, municipal waste, coal, ore, asphalt, chlorine, ammonia, crude oil, diesel fuel, argon gas, magnetite, vinyl chloride, crude oil from Bakken shale (STOP THE OIL TRAINS!), napthalene, and other unspecified hazardous materials. We need the following: • The full disclosure of the Broome County Health Dept. and Broome County Emergency Services evacuation and treatment plans in case of a rail emergency. • The full disclosure by all railroads passing through Broome County of their insurance coverage in the case of such accidents. • The immediate infrastructure repair of railroad structures that are controlled by the Industrial Development Authority, especially but not limited to walkways and underpasses. • We have a right to know what materials, such as dangerous and hazardous waste, pass through our community. Such information should be regularly announced in local media. • The public should be consulted on the use of this area for transporting dangerous materials. • Rail companies should recognize the Railroad Workers themselves as leaders in the implementation of health and safety standards to be paid by the companies • The enforcement and appropriate fines from OSHA, Dept. of Labor & the EPA when RR companies are found in violation of regulations. • We call on public re-investment in rail systems to provide a safe, reliable system of transportation for the public. Whatever happened to the Bullet train?? Citizens for Train Safety Contact Information: Richard Sprout,, 607-238-6892

Redlining to Riots

July 4, 2015 by imc-editor

This is a great article from the Washington Spectator, a news and analysis newsletter. Read and subscribe!

A pattern has emerged—in Oakland, New York, Cleveland, Baltimore, the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, and beyond. Police claiming to feel threatened kill unarmed black men. Protests follow, sometimes including violence. The Department of Justice finds a pattern and practice of racially-biased policing. The city agrees to train officers not to use excessive force, encourage sensitivity, prohibit racial profiling. These reforms are all necessary and important, but ignore an obvious reality that the protests are not really (or primarily) about policing.

In racially isolated neighborhoods where jobs are few and transportation to job-rich areas is absent, where poverty rates are high and educational levels are low, where petty misbehavior and more serious crime abound, young men and cops develop the worst expectations of each other, leading to predictable confrontations.

In 1968, following more than 100 urban riots nationwide, almost all in response to police brutality or killing by police, a presidential commission concluded that “[o]ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal” and that “[s]egregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.” The Kerner Commission added that “[w]hat white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”

Read more:

Photo by Robert C. Johnston

5 radically conservative fast food companies

June 24, 2015 by imc-editor

These food chains are owned by far right-wingers who've funded conservative super-PACs.
For all the Oreo Cookies out there – companies that support gay rights, if only because doing so is good for business – there are plenty of food companies that have not come around on progressive social issues. In fact, a number of food companies are owned by far right-wingers who’ve spent significant money opposing gay rights, abortion rights, and other important causes and funding attack ads against left-leaning politicians.
The companies in question include many popular chain restaurants that you may eat at occasionally, or even all the time. It’s wise to know where your dining dollars are going.

To that end, here are five food chains that are helmed by owners who support right-wing politics.

Listed are Chick-Fil-A, Carl's Jr., Domino's Pizza, White Castle, and Waffle House

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