May 22nd 2015

Hudson River Schooled

by Glen Roven

Glen Roven, Emmy Award winner, is a composer, lyricist, conductor, pianist, translator and CD Producer.



I had a house in Rhinebeck, upstate New York, in the '80s, before Bard College had its very own Frank Gehry theater, before there was edible food on Main Street and certainly before nearby Hudson was hip and happening. Back then, Hudson, a dilapidated whaling town, was known for two things: crack and prostitutes.

Now, the crack is gone and the only prostitutes left are the Antique Dealers. (That's a joke, guys; don't get upset.) Lately, I've heard that Hudson can compete with Chelsea as the most fashionable place to browse and buy art, so last weekend I took Amtrak up the river to see for myself.

Boarding the train at Penn Station was a macabre experience as the female voice coldly said on the PA, "There will be no service on Amtrak between here and Washington. Please see an agent for a refund." But despite the somber start, the mood lightened as we left NYC and headed up the Hudson. From my years of doing this trip, I knew to sit on the left hand side of the train so that the views of the majestic Hudson were my scenic companion for the short two-hour ride into Columbia County.


My destination in Hudson was a solo-show at Galerie Gris featuring new work byFrank Tartaglione, an artist I've been following since I discovered him in 1979 at the Angus Whyte Gallery in DC. In the years since that show, Tartaglione became one of America's foremost decorative painters, designing and executing murals for the rich and powerful and working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Reagan White House. Throughout that period he continued to paint large abstract oils--very much in a different key from his representational work--but exhibited rarely in New York. There was were solo shows on the west coast and at the Merchant Ivory Foundation, and group shows at Chelsea's George Billis Gallery and elsewhere, but this was the first time I'd seen his work in some time.

The opening didn't start until 6 so I had planned a gallery walking tour for the first part of my weekend in the country.

Walking the short blocks from the station, I saw that the crack dens had miraculously transformed into Main Street USA, straight out of Disneyland. The clapboard houses were freshly painted, the window boxes in full bloom, and the fully restored federal brick mansions screamed, "Look at me, I'm gorgeous." Even the metal whale hanging above an entrance to remind visitors of Hudson's heritage had exactly the right amount of patina to show it had been lovingly restored. I have absolutely no problem with urban renewal, especially when it's all so tastefully done (thanks again, oh great decorators.) Of course one has to wonder what happened to the poor, but that's probably another article.

With a rainbow flag waving proudly up ahead, I knew I was in the right place and started my jaunt uphill Warren Street the main drag. On my last visit to Hudson many years ago, there were two fine Galleries, The http://carriehaddadgallery.com andJohn Davis Galleryjj, but since then the galleries have multiplied like art-loving rabbits and now one appeared just about every fifteen feet.

The angular ceramic sculptures of Cody Hoyt at the Jeff Bailey Gallery (127 Warren Street) immediately caught my attention. Hoyt began his career as a printmaker and transferred his skill into these gravity-defying, table-size sculptures that reference origami, the machine age and cubist space. The decorations on the work are formed by layering different colors of clay, slicing them up and then laying them on the ground; it's easy to see the influence of his work as a printmaker, as he seems to be "printing" with clay.


Perhaps the old and new Hudson do still coexist. I strolled past two older African-American gents gainfully playing chess in front of a uni-sex barbershop before I reached the J. Damiani Gallery gl(237 Warren Street) and discovered Joan Damiani's quasi realistic paintings of cars. I love the power of Carlos Alvarez's Los Angeles crashes and the crushed-car sculptures of John Chamberlain so I felt right at home. Ms. Damiani was not only the proprietor but the principle artist in the show, entitledThe Road Will Never Be the Same. In addition to her cars, she displayed beautiful works of Columbia County, my favorite, a buttery painting of a house on Warren Street. The street clearly casts sensuous shadows and Damiani captured them in her simple, yet elegant painting of a store with a green topped fire hydrant balanced by a flower pot in the window. This Hopper-esque street scene seemed to sum up both the old and new Hudson in one sweet painting.


The most expansive gallery on my visit--and the one which would fit comfortably on 19th Street in Chelsea--is the Caldwell Gallery (355 Warren Street) with its grey and white walls and black astro-turf floors. This is the only gallery I saw whose principal collection was the secondary market, paintings by artists who have passed and are now being sold again. This also made the prices at the CGH much higher than the other shops. Caldwell is a new addition to the community, having only been there a year, but what an astonishing addition. Exhibited at the front is a spectacular John Grillo, who died recently at 97. He was a student of one of my favorite artists, Hans Hofmann, and his effervescent explosions of yellows, oranges and the entire array of sunny colors eagerly recall his mentor but with a less formal brush and softer-edged geometric shapes.. My art walk was getting better and better! 



I next passed the Hudson Opera House where a student show was taking place. Hudson High School had arranged a mentoring program between its student artists and local arts professionals; by a happy coincidence, 16 year old Danny Gelles, a budding photographer, was partnered with Tartaglione, the artist I'd set out to see. After being dazzled by his architectural photograph of some sort of steel structure, (which I later found out was a section of the Eiffel Tower,) I couldn't help asking him about his mentor. "Frank," he said, "offered me a look into the abstract world."


And what a beautiful abstract world Tartaglione has created for his current show. My last stop was the afore mentioned Gallerie Gris, located at the top of Warren Street and one of the smaller galleries, but size wasn't an issue as Tartaglione's works blew the roof off. He had always circled representational elements in previous work, but here he seems to have abandoned completely any realistic conventions and instead explores expressionism with an emphasis on compositional content. In the biggest works, "Look up! Green" and "Look up! Blue," the energetic surfaces are united by rich saturated color that creates strong, structural effects. The planes of pigment build formal arrangements that feel vital to the visual experience of the work, and Tartaglione's embrace of abstraction is emotionally evocative without becoming narrative. Although I heard comments from the packed crowd about how the paintings reminded them of the towering banks of the Hudson bisected by the river, the images do not appear to refer to actual things, but respond to an observed visual world and communicate the pleasure of their own making.

These paintings are very lush, painterly and very inviting, the work of an artist at the height of his powers. Tartaglione applies mica in the final stages of creation, and the paintings glitter literally as much as they glitter figuratively. The Gallery quickly grew overcrowded, and I went in and out many times, but each time I returned I experienced a new sensation with the paintings. And each time I returned the red dots on sold works seemed to grow exponentially.



My preferences kept shifting, but my favorites were two paintings that hung opposite each other at the gallery entrance. One was an organic cardial-shaped mass divided into two sections, a darker side full of browns, greens and black, that shared the space with a lighter yellow, ash-blond field, with bursts of translucent white (hope?) floating above. Its companion piece described a more violent shape, and although the darkness was less intense, it had a more prominent space in the painting; it almost overwhelmed the lighter side, the white almost seeming to be attacked by the brushwork.


Tartaglione's works seemed to reflect the very emotions of life itself: happiness, anxiety, dare I say it, love(?) and yet a bit of darkness, a small shadow of doubt seemed to hover over the world. Sometimes that doubt was blacker than other times, but the life force, the force of the paint itself, was always triumphant.



To follow Glen Roven on Twitter, please click here.

To follow what's new on Facts & Arts, please click here.

For link to the CD on Amazon please click picture below.

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jul 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "--- Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. --- Author James Baldwin’s words, written in the America of the late 1950s."
Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in more deprived neighbourhoods tend to have worse physical health as adults compared to those raised in more affluent areas. This is the case even when researchers take into account family income and education, and whether or not parents have major illnesses. In order to address this health disparity, researchers need to understand how those living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods end up with worse health outcomes. Our team’s latest study has highlighted one potential way your childhood neighbourhood may influence your health for years to come. It might do so through changing how the activity of your genes is regulated."
Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Ruth Poniarski is a painter and the author of Journey of the Self: Memoir of an Artist (Warren Publishing, 2020), in which she tells the story of her decade long struggle with mental illness, a “spiraling malady” which led her into a “pattern of psychosis”. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Poniarski about her life and work, and how she eventually overcame her demons."
Jun 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "I know I’m good in a couple of things, really good in a few things, and that’s enough. My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me, it’s no problem. I need experts around me. It’s really very important that you are empathetic, that you try to understand the people around you, and that you give real support to the people around you."
Jun 27th 2020
An essay about the "the enormously influential 1940 'Head of Christ' painting by evangelical Warner E. Sallman" pictured below.
Jun 17th 2020
EXTRACT: "The diverse, non-human life forms that live in our guts – known as our microbiome – are crucial to our health. A disrupted balance of these contribute to a range of disorders and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease. It could even affect our mental health..... It’s well known that the microbes living in our guts are altered through diet. For example, including dietary fibre and dairy products in our diets encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. But mounting evidence suggests that exercise can also modify the types of bacteria that reside within our guts."
Jun 13th 2020
EXTRACT: "Bonhoeffer’s life holds an important lesson for us today, regardless of our religious affiliation or lack thereof. And simply put it is this: you are called upon; you are called on behalf of your neighbor. When you are called to be responsible that is not an obligation which you can decline, discharge or acquit yourself of – it is an infinite responsibility, a “forever commitment” as Charles Blow recently put it. And we all must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary when we are called."
Jun 11th 2020
EXTRACT: "People differ substantially in how much they’re affected by experiences in their lives. Some people seem to be more affected by daily stress, or the loss of someone close to them. On the other hand, some people seem to get through the same experiences relatively unscathed. Similarly, some people benefit strongly from counselling, or having a support system of close family and friends. Others seem better able to manage on their own. But understanding why some people are more sensitive than others isn’t just a question of how they were raised, and the experiences they’ve been through. In fact, previous research has found that some people in general seem more sensitive to what they experience – and some are generally less sensitive."
Jun 7th 2020
EXTRACT: " The root causes of anthropogenic climate change – which has led to the endangering of countless species across the globe – cannot be adequately grasped in isolation from the technological application of modern science. While Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was certainly justified in calling upon American legislators to “unite behind the science,” neither can we overlook the culpability of science in bringing about the environmental crisis. "
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The QAnon movement began in 2017 after someone known only as Q posted a series of conspiracy theories about Trump on the internet forum 4chan. QAnon followers believe global elites are seeking to bring down Trump, whom they see as the world’s only hope to defeat the “deep state.” OKM is part of a network of independent congregations (or ekklesia) called Home Congregations Worldwide (HCW). The organization’s spiritual adviser is Mark Taylor, a self-proclaimed “Trump Prophet” and QAnon influencer with a large social media following on Twitter and YouTube."
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The aim of my research for the Understanding Unbelief programme was to investigate the worldviews of non-believers, since little is known about the diversity of these non-religious beliefs, and what psychological functions they serve. I wanted to explore the idea that while non-believers may not hold religious beliefs, they still hold distinct ontological, epistemological and ethical beliefs about reality, and the idea that these secular beliefs and worldviews provide the non-religious with equivalent sources of meaning, or similar coping mechanisms, as the supernatural beliefs of religious individuals."
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Psalm 91, for example, reassures believers that God will protect them from “the pestilence that walketh in darkness… A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee”.............Luther was a devout believer but insisted that religious faith had to be joined with practical, physical defences against sickness. It was a good Christian’s duty to work to keep themselves and others safe, rather than relying solely on the protection of God. "
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Evidence from this study shows clearly that eating foods rich in flavonoids over your lifetime is significantly linked to reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk. However, their consumption will be even more beneficial alongside other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, managing a healthy weight and exercising."
May 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "It’s possible that the answers to questions like, “how do I live a virtuous life?” or “how do we build a good society?” are not the same as they were a few weeks ago."
May 2nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Strangely, those with strong beliefs tend to be admired. The human mind hates uncertainty, so it is comforting to be told what to think, and to form settled opinions. But it is not rational. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Apr 21st 2020
Extract: "Humans, Boccaccio seems to be saying, can think of themselves as upstanding and moral – but unawares, they may show indifference to others. We see this in the 10 storytellers themselves: They make a pact to live virtuously in their well-appointed retreats. Yet while they pamper themselves, they indulge in some stories that illustrate brutality, betrayal and exploitation. Boccaccio wanted to challenge his readers, and make them think about their responsibilities to others. “The Decameron” raises the questions: How do the rich relate to the poor during times of widespread suffering? What is the value of a life? In our own pandemic, with millions unemployed due to a virus that has killed thousands, these issues are strikingly relevant.
Apr 20th 2020
Extract: "If we do not seize this crisis as a moment for transformation, then we will have lost the war. If doing so requires reviving notions of collective guilt and responsibility – including the admittedly uncomfortable view that every one of us is infinitely responsible, then so be it; as long we do not morally cop out by blaming some group as the true bearers of sin, guilt, and God’s heavy judgment. A pandemic clarifies the nature of action: that with our every act we answer to each other. In that light, we have a duty to seize this public crisis as an opportunity to reframe our mutual responsibility to one another and the world."
Apr 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Death is the common experience which can make all members of the human race feel their common bonds and their common humanity."
Apr 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "A crisis such as this one demands that we exercise what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called the ‘public use of reason’ – as opposed to merely the ‘private use of reason’ where, briefly put, the expert, the specialist is tasked with resolving a defined problem. The private use of reason is sufficient when we are dealing with a problem that can be solved by simply applying the appropriate expertise...............The public use of reason asks: how we are defining the problem? Is our definition – our conceptualization of the problem – perhaps part of the problem itself? Is this pandemic solely a problem of public health, or is it also a problem of extreme economic inequality? ..............Since this crisis began, the greatest failure of the administration is not the denial, the lies, the lack of preparedness, but the inability to rally and unify the nation against this common threat, the lack of genuine leadership – Trump’s utter inability to bring the nation together."
Apr 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Rarely has an architectural experiment aroused such extremes of ire and admiration. One side is convinced the house is a masterpiece. The other expresses brutal condemnation of the entire project (leaky roof, danger of flooding, too-hot, too-cold interiors depending on the American Midwest weather).........Farnsworth encapsulated her personal ambiguity in her comment to a Newsweek interviewer: “This handsome pavilion I own is almost totally unworkable.” She told one journalist, “ … all I got was this glib, false sophistication. The conception of a house as a glass cage suspended in air is ridiculous.”