Syracuse Cultural Workers 2020 Peace Calendar

From the Nov/Dec 2019 PNL #869

by Carl Mellor

Download a pdf of this article







The Peace Calendar published by the Syracuse Cultural Workers (SCW) is a dynamic work. Each year, SCW’s Calendar Committee begins the planning process without a preset format. Over several months, discussion and debate by committee members leads to a new calendar that fuses art and narrative, bridges history and current-day struggles, and celebrates community in many forms.


The 2020 calendar’s May page references the Port Chicago Strike of 1944, in which sailors refused to load munitions at a Richmond, CA navy yard. They took that action in response to unsafe working conditions: massive explosions on July 17, 1944 killed 320 sailors, most of them Black Americans. The page merges text and Dave Homer’s powerful illustration. August, meanwhile, features a Tucson Migrant Memorial Quilt which commemorates migrants who died trying to cross the border between Mexico and the US. This particular quilt incorporates names of the dead, colorful depiction of desert terrain, and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a pivotal figure in Mexican culture. Artists, activists, and quiltmakers made this and other quilts using clothing abandoned by migrants just before the final leg of their journey.


Culture and activism merge again in “Water Protectors,” seen on the April page. A photo taken in Minneapolis depicts activists Sergio and Maryanne Quiroz standing by a large mural which portrays their daughter and discusses the importance of water for all people. The mural sprang from collaboration between Good Space Murals, MN350a climate-justice group), and the Indigenous Roots Cultural Center. The Quiroz family is active at the center, which supports a robust youth group. “Gather Together,” Jen Bloomer’s mixed-media illustration for December, celebrates the wonder of a holiday-time meal for family and friends or as a bridge to people we don’t know well. It’s an intimate scene around a dinner table.


Finally, “Sacred Circles, Sacred Cycles” emphasizes a sense of the sacred in everyday life. There’s a photo of James Blunt’s stone installation on an English beach; he works with stones and other found objects. The image, on the January page, also pays homage to Marie Summerwood, an herbalist, deeply spiritual person, and long-time member of the Calendar Committee. She died during January, 2019.


The 2020 calendar is available for sale during Plowshares weekend, at the Cultural Workers’ storefront at 400 Lodi St. and by calling 800-949-5139, ext. 8.


Carl Mellor is a freelance writer who often writes about the visual arts.