Alice Combs “Fierce Shapes” in Waffle Frolic in Ithaca, New York.
By John Vogan & Alexandra Leslie
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.