Hudson, New York
Local culture
12 August 2014 04:45PM
John Davis


On Thursday, August 14, a group of six artists will exhibit paintings, photosgraphs and sculpture in the Main Galleries, Sculpture Garden and Carriage House. The work will be on display through September 7 with a reception for the artists on Saturday, August 16 from 6 to 8 pm. Gallery hours: Thursday-Monday, 11-5.


“The images in this exhibition are pulled from music, literature, imagination, and life experiences. The figures I sculpt and paint live somewhere outside of mainstream America, often in Maine, Western NY State, or someplace in the Southwest. These characters might be saints, sinners, losers, winners [as per R. Robertson of the Band W.R.S Medicine Show]. For me painterly figurative work, is a reason to paint more and deeply. I’m trying to achieve a ‘rightness’ [that hopefully isn't academic] in this work, that hopefully gets revealed in process. What can I get away with as far as believable form and narrative that tells about my own feelings about life? My guides are Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Russell Banks, Jim Harrison’s novel ‘Brown Dog’, early 20th century recordings, blues, country, hillbilly music made by rather anonymous artists. Of course other visual artists guide me also, David Park, Joan brown, Diebenkorn, Guston and Max Beckman who always keeps me coming back for more. The list goes on. My locations are almost always outside. I was a landscape painter in Maine for about 10 years, and my figures like elbow room and light, room to be themselves, to enjoy their freedom, tomfoolery, or vision quests.”


“Inspired by my reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and looking at natural rock formations, these figures and backs are about coming into being, including an unwieldiness that seems central to the human condition. My figures end up being larger than life size, I think because that feels intimate to me, the way a body close at hand looks and feels– very present and touchable, but unknowable.

“I like to make things in plaster because it is so versatile– wet and dry, plastic and stiff, good for modeling, carving and construction. Casting into bronze is thrilling and adds a permanence that is like a promise.”


“Imagery in these paintings is essential but I use it without intended narrative. It’s more about creating a state of anticipation and surprise, situating the viewer in an unreliable space, architectural or natural. Almost everything is recognizable but unfamiliar. It looks like the rules have been changed.”


“Two nude Irish men show up at a mood party- one has his penis floating in a container of tapioca pudding. The other has his embedded in a pear. The host, normally their wealthy client at the office, is disturbed, asks them if they misunderstood mood party to mean nude party… They answer the host no, they aren’t confused- “I am fuckin-dis-custurd and my friend is deep-in-diss-pear”

“All my works result from inquiry, perverse, vulnerable curiosities, quests for knowledge and deeper, unverifiable connections. Like this joke, I make fictions that may be an improvement on the real story, latent stories, more bearable, more laughable, without displacing the tragedy or the absurdity of our lives. Vulnerability makes the obvious ambiguous, and the ambiguous overt not just its inversion of how we understand power, not by powers rejection, but by the absurdity of asserting another possibility, a rhizome mutant version of power. The frame of hypothetical fiction that is painting is, in my mind, oppositional to representation or truth, making it the ideal space for trouble, risk, unsanctioned pleasure and inquiry. There are no guarantees here, or elsewhere, and that’s the shared joke. In painted worlds fictitiously emphasized, we may access more interesting truths, and be made aware of the fantasy that all myths permeate. Each work is like a child that just won’t stay off stage when the band is playing. Embarrassed but joyous, the most difficult thing is to ignore the separation, the void between us and others, or other things, and to remain as long as possible on the enigmatic, ambivalent, and reversible side of thought.”


“I used to take pictures of people and places that impressed me and stood out. It didn’t matter that I did not have a personal connection as I trusted in the impression. These pictures I considered stolen as I usually did not know my subjects and took the pictures discreetly. Then I started taking more personal pictures about different aspects of my life. This work was overly personal. The current work is a meeting place between my subject and myself; not all about the subject or all about me, but rather a picture made from the joining of subject and object.”


“I have these dolls and dollhouses. I arrange the figures in various rooms and without barely lifting a finger – stories unfold, or sometimes – no story – just a moment. I paint what comes up. Afternoon sunlight tells one story, lifting a hand to a forehead another. It’s obvious and surprising (to me) at the same time, It hardly seems like I can take credit for it.”

Matthew Blackwell
Maud Bryt
Judith Simonian
Angela Dufresne
Ruth Lauer Manenti
Kathy Osborn

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