Continuing my roadtrip north of the city, I headed west from the Berkshires to Hudson and Beacon, two more towns that have absorbed many exhausted Brooklyn artists who have decided to join art communities elsewhere. In Hudson, John Davis has notably expressive solo painting shows by Matt Blackwell, Judith Simonian, Kathy Osborn, and Angela Dufresne. Jeff Bailey, settled in his new blue clapboard townhouse down Warren Street from Davis, offers "Tossed," a clever group show co-curated by artists Jennifer Coates and Rachel Schmidhofer. And in Beacon, I finally made a visit to Matteawan, Karlyn Benson's smart young gallery that often features Brooklyn artists.
[Image: Matt Blackwell, Pulling your Leg, 2007-2014, acrylic & oil on canvas, 36 36 inches.]
John Davis: I love the "Buy Art" sticker in John Davis's window. (BTW, that's a Katherine Bradford above it.) Matt Blackwell has the main gallery, where he presents a manic variation on painterly representation that he hopes reflects a deeper existential attitude. "What can I get away with as far as believable form and narrative that tells about my own feelings about life?" he asks. Wild, far-fetched paintings of people, muscle cars, and implausible scenarios line the walls of the upstairs and downstairs galleries making it hard to stop looking.
In the carriage house, Angela Dufresne presents a slew of small and mid-size paintings, many of which (like the one above) depict TV and movie actresses. "There are no guarantees here, or elsewhere, and that’s the shared joke," she writes. "In painted worlds fictitiously emphasized, we may access more interesting truths, and be made aware of the fantasy that all myths permeate."
On another floor, Kathy Osborn (you might recognize her work from her New Yorker covers) props three paintings on wooden chairs, creating an enigmatic scene that might become the subject of one of her small-scale Hopper-like interiors. She arranges dolls and dollhouses in various model rooms. "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.”
The imagery in Judith Simonian's new paintings is more abstract than it has been in earlier ones. She herself says that a representational dimension remains essential to her work but now is without narrative intent. "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.” I've always like sea metaphors, particularly the idea of dropping anchor, which can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook.
At Jeff Bailey, "Tossed" is a delightful, er, salad bar of a show that includes diverse work by co-curators Jennifer Coates and Rachel Schmidhofer, Holly Coulis, Steve DiBenedetto, David Humphrey, Irena Jurek, Alisha Kerlin, Wayne Koestenbaum, Austin Lee, Joshua Marsh, Scott Penkava, Alexander Ross, Lisa Sanditz,and Michelle Segre. "Salad makes promises, punishes, disappoints and redeems," the curators promise. "Salad can make you thin, it can make you sad, it can make you love yourself, or it can banish you to bitter, soggy purgatory..."
Steve DiBenedetto's picture of a crouton!
And don't forget to check out the garden out back, featuring real plants (!) and Allen Glatter's wonderful curvy metal sculptures that look like line drawings in space.
At Matteawan, Karlyn Benson has organized "Booksmart," a show that riffs imaginatively on books and book formats. Artists include Theresa Gooby, Brece Honeycutt, Björn Meyer-Ebrecht, and August Ventimiglia.
Brece Honeycutt's handmade book (it seems her books are everywhere this summer), Björn Meyer-Ebrecht's freestanding sculpture/book holder, and August Ventimiglia's collages comprising the underlining in used books.
On my way back to the city I stopped at the Garrison Arts Center to see "Salon des RefUSE," an inventive group show curated by artist Thomas Huber. All of the pieces in the show repurpose found objects and industrial materials. I love Chris Albert's tower of used paint rollers (image above). Look for Albert's work in a solo show at Matteawan in the near.
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