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Hudson, New York
Local culture
10 November 2014 12:28AM
John Isaacs

On the 300 block at Caldwell Gallery Hudson, the work on display, and for sale, is in a different league. Jay Caldwell’s gallery would be at home on 57th Street, with its revolving displays of late Nineteenth to mid-Twentieth Century works by obscure masters, not to mention luxurious seating in the upstairs space. The current show (titled 4 x 6) of four works each by six minor mid-century virtuosos is genuinely appealing, in particular the eccentric but folksy portraits by social realist Gregorio Prestopino, and a series of lovely abstracts by Carl Holty, on whom Hans Hofmann’s influence looms large. (Through December 22)

Downstairs at Caldwell, you’ll find a treasure trove of other pieces, most dramatically, a spectacular 1869 family portrait by the prolific Irish genre painter George O’Neill. And if you love Monet (who doesn’t?) but can’t afford one (not even one percent of the one percent can), you might consider Theodore Earl Butler’s “Farm Orchard in Winter, Giverny” at a mere $35,000 (Butler was married to Monet’s stepdaughter).

Renata Metelska’s Renata Fine Arts, now inhabiting the much missed Culture + Commerce space on the 400 block, offers another dose of thirties nostalgia with a series of decorative portraits by Urszula Tekieli. These are clearly inspired by those of her celebrated fellow Pole, Tamara de Lempicka, renowned for her unconventional, frenetic, and indulgent lifestyle as much as for her portraits of European royalty and Hollywood stars. Widely regarded as an Art Deco icon, Lempicka mined the pictorial innovations of cubism and Léger to forge a style uniquely her own. Tekieli’s interpretations of her subjects lack the drama of de Lempicka, and are more in the mold of Modigliani, veering towards the two-dimensionality and muted tones of Far Eastern portraiture. Extremely elegant, they are a little too derivative for my taste, though not to the extent of the Jackson Pollock lookalikes on the opposing wall, which make for a curious juxtaposition. Nonetheless, Ms. Metelska is to be commended for providing another Hudson venue for distinctive work at relatively affordable prices.

Photos:
Gregorio Prestopino, “The Junkman’s Serenade”, c. 1935, at Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Carl Holty, “Female Bather by the Sea’, 1935, at Caldwell Gallery Hudson
George O’Neill, “Hide and Seek”, c. 1869, at Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Theodore Earl Butler, “Farm Orchard in Winter, Giverny” at Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Works by Urszula Tekieli (2012) at Renata Fine Art

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