On Oct 12 and 13th 2019 the first open studio event was held in Hudson. The weather cooperated, and individuals and small cohorts ambled from Washington Street to Allen, from Worth Ave to 1st St. About 50 Hudson artists opened their studios to whomever happened in; the event was aleatory for the both the viewers and the artists.
Some of the spaces were “staged” to be sort of a mini-opening, but I found the working studios to be the most fascinating. Delectable and curious art supplies were strewn about, like they are. Studio types and circumstances ranged, some spacious, others shared and/or cramped in a NYC kind of way. The conversations that one could have with the artists ranged from politics, to flights of fancy, to serious discussions of technique.
This was an opportunity for a straight-forward look at the artwork, in situ, with the artist present. These were interactions not taking place in “white cubes”, and sans curators and gallerists. The semiotics at this studio walk were one-on-one, viewer and raw art/artist.
Many of the studios were on Warren Street–up a flight of stairs. This made being a grown-up visual trick-or-treater easier. However, there were interesting differences. I entered Sita Gomez’s studio through her garden. Here there is a strategically placed painting of the wild goings-on at the St Medard cemetery in Paris–rounded women consorting. The studio itself had a faintly Parisian feel, and for a few moments I felt transported there.
Some of the studios were tucked away in alleyways. Maria Manhattan showed her extraordinary ceramic vases in a studio along an alleyway–pieces resembling the necks of waterbirds, or pitcher plants. She pointed out the other artists showing on the wall and floor of that space. This graciousness of artists directing the viewer to the work of other artists happened frequently at this event.
In the anteroom of Jane Ehrlich’s space, there is a set of paintings with dark backgrounds (the depths of the sea?) with scattered swaths of bright color (creatures below the photic zone?). As you walk with her through to the working part of her studio she states, as an aside, that her new paintings are “disappearing”. These canvases have subtle background colors which recede beneath translucent, layered, crisscrosses of white. They are disappearing–maybe sunk into a chalky sediment, or wrapped in gauze, or receding into a skewed plaid fog. The fact that these paintings were created post-the bathyspheric paintings makes them all the more interesting. That kind of juxtapostion may be seen in a studio, but doesn’t often make it into a gallery show unless it’s a retrospective. Also, of note, Jane Ehrlich organized and masterminded this Open Studio event.
Lydia Rubio’s studio is a labyrinthine archaeology of time–upstairs to diaphenous colors on large canvases affixed with clips in the hallway (recent), downstairs to black & white paintings on board (see this blog/”Tarnished Nature, Erasible Art” for more about these), and intricate hand painted books about travels. Rubio then walked us out of the studio to a garage–a hushed space with several gorgeous azure and cobalt blue paintings. There was also one large older work, The Landscape of Reflection 1999, (the night = water), depicting a mountainous landscape in Cuba. These mountains sprout a profusion of streams and rivers, and the night sky was not just those retinal blues, but included strokes of a deliciously perverse brown umber which told the truth about the real night sky. Stunning, all the more so because of the unexpected setting.
Just down the street, at the studio of Tery Fugate-Wilcox, were drawings and a few compact examples of his larger polygonal sculptures–geometric shapes tried by the elements. Placed about were statements of his thoughts, including “without art we are nothing but monkeys with car keys” His formal ideas are profound, his writings provocative and funny, and this short visit was, I hope, a teaser for a longer conversation.
There was a huge range of work, and many more studios than can be detailed in a short blog. Art studios are highly personal spaces, potentially revealing the artist’s mind. A working studio is one of the lynchpins of making the art possible. The Open Studio event was good use of an afternoon well spent and afforded the privilege of seeing art in its living context. I look forward to the next one, and hope there is some way of working out caravan tours (or the like) so that the artists living in the backwoods around Hudson can likewise share their artwork and studios in this open way.