Claverack, New York
Local culture
30 May 2016 04:47PM
John Isaacs

In my years of producing and designing books on contemporary art, by happenstance a particular focus has been on women artists, wherein I’ve had the privilege of developing retrospective publications for such eminences as the dramatically determined Tacita Dean, the electric Natalie Edgar, the groundbreaking Gego, the seminal and sensual Carolee Schneemann, and the fantastically fertile Ruth Vollmer, each of whom has contributed a formidable and specifically female sensibility to the field.

It’s really only since Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) that, for example, Mary Cassat (1844-1926), Frieda Kahlo (1907-1954), Georgia O’Keefe (1887-1986), Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012), Agnes Martin (1912-2004), and Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), who were all unjustly considered, in their day, marginal, laid the foundation for women like Schneemann, Dean, and more lately, Susan Hiller, Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread, Louise Fishman, and—I might add—Marina Abramovic, to lay down the gauntlet and demonstrate that women have as much right, and imagination, and skill, and guts, and flare to challenge a long male-dominated sphere of human activity (so what else is new?).

I wrote yesterday about Judy Pfaff, whose Herculean abilities to fashion material match any masculine effort to do likewise. I wrote a while ago about Amy Stillman, whose unique abilities to meld abstraction and figuration in contemporary style perhaps exceed, in the final analysis, the achievements of even such macho masters as de Kooning and Philip Guston. I referenced recently the work of Yvette Mattern, who dreams up technically dazzling installations involving light that have been replicated all over the world, and I’m now recalling the potent, intensely female vision of local, but far from local, artist Portia Munson, whose work is about as female as it gets.

Women have a hard time in the art world, harder even maybe than in Hollywood. Which is why it’s so refreshing to find so many represented in this week’s crop of Hudson exhibits.

Carrie Haddad’s 25th anniversary show focuses, though not exclusively, on women. Dale Goffigon’s intimate landscapes alone are worth the price of admission (Vermeer meets Monet meets Joseph Cornell).

John Davis Gallery is showing a whole clutch of highly-trained women artists – Yura Adams, Dale Emmart, Jean Feinberg, Gail Goldsmith, and Sara Jane Roszak – whose work is eminently tasteful (though not necessarily groundbreaking), and Goldsmith, in my mind, is the standout. Her luridly plastic and outrageously ambiguous clay figures echo Aztec art, and clustered in Davis’s courtyard and carriage house gallery evoke the Xi’an terracotta army. Love them.

After so many advances in gender rights, I remain utterly confounded and disillusioned that women still get so sidelined in so many fields, especially because, at the end of the day, they clearly have more, or at least a different kind of wisdom than guys. I’d say it’s time for another revolution, and that’s about all I can say. Glad, though, that they are getting due acknowledgment in Hudson, even at the risk of belaboring the point.

Carrie Haddad Gallery, 622 Warren Street, Hudson (Daily, 11 – 5, except Sunday Noon – 5)
John Davis Gallery, 362 Warren Street, Hudson (Thursday – Monday, 11 – 5)

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