A blog about Hudson, New York

Monthly Archives: August 2010

Occasional Voices, Other Rooms

3 Forty Seven Antiques and LightingNietzsche once wrote that life is a process of becoming. And so — if one wants to take a broader view of its erratic upkeep and progress— is the cityscape of Hudson itself. It can be quite a show for its fans: chic and miraculously transformed one day and eternally stuck in down at the heels splendor on others. At the same time a handful of boarded up, empty faves—the Pocketbook factory, the former Allen Street School, the planned hotel at 4th and Warren, the train depot on State and 7th Street to name just a few—bring a downbeat existential cast to the drama as we continue to pass by, each time with hope and wonder (and the feeling that we’re growing old), as nothing continues to happen year after year. On rare occasions one of these buildings might be suddenly converged upon by workers, who proceed to perform a strip tease in reverse, erecting scaffolding, tearing down walls and then, just as suddenly, disappearing. After that all work ceases and everything falls back into unoccupied limbo.

Every once in a millennium, such as at the gorgeously restored Club Helsinki, the edifice interruptus comes to a wonderful climax.  But it’s often the town’s quirkier smaller structures that give us a chance to see something clean up real good,  real —relatively— fast.  Two making nice headway caught my eye the other day: the niftily streamlined former gas station/City Glass/John Doe shop at 347 Warren (above), soon to be an industrial-style lighting and furniture store, and the picturesque pile of bricks on City Hall Place seen below, a former back-street bar that simply must have had a Some Came Running type neon sign over its corner entrance.  Even in their process-of- becoming states, both look good enough to eat— or at least eat in some day. Scott Baldinger


Local Treasure

When you go to see Edward Avedisian’s retrospective at Carrie Haddad (622 Warren Steet), you just may not want to leave. What greets you in the front room of the gallery and continues most gratifyingly into all of the others, is a blunt, joyous yet skillfully calibrated explosion of 60s/70s -era fields of color, thickly ladled in acrylic yet carefully, formalistically controlled.  While many of these paintings and drawings were made forty plus years ago, it’s hard to imagine they could have looked any fresher or more accomplished than they do today.

Avedisian, who moved to Hudson in the seventies and lived here until his death, at age 71, in 2007,  is less familiar than other artists who worked in a similar vein at the time, such as Frank Stella and Morris Louis, a fact that  only makes the exhibition more of a pleasant surprise. It will run from August 14 through September 19.

— Scott Baldinger

Cool Stuff

Whenever the demonic heat of the summer lets up a bit, as it did this weekend, it’s physically possible to engage in one of the town’s favorite aerobic (and social and cultural) activities: walking up, down and around Warren Street, checking out the window displays outside and the latest wares inside at one or another of its talented retailers.

The following are a sampling of the many photogenic items from one such  “workout.” A single piece from a rotary farm tiller, above, at David Dew Bruner (610 Warren Street/ 914-466-857) is a great looking example of found art; it costs $200. (David has also managed to fit a massive plaster horse from the 1920s, once used for a veterinarian’s office; an exhibition of paintings by David Roth; and the wonderfully macabre sculptures of Lee Musselman, among many other striking items, into his cozy space.)

Not so much “found art” as art found are a few busts by the noted midcentury sculptor Walter Rotan, $350 each at Mark’s Antiques (612 Warren Street/ 518-701-5382). And below right, for free,  a fabulous window display at Lisa Durfee’s Five and Diamond vintage clothing store (502 Columbia Street/518- 828-1557),  heralding the new season of Mad Men,  the year’s most talked about and retro-stylish show.  I can feel the burn!

— Scott Baldinger

On (and Around) the Waterfront

Like an old-world patriarch willing to give away his spinster daughter to any deep-pocketed suitor who comes along, no matter how desultory, many of Hudson’s village elders (and various youngins) have over the years been willing to entertain less than ideal proposals for its neglected waterfront. Which isn’t all that surprising: once the inspiration for gorgeous landscapes by Hudson River School painters but now littered with ungainly relics from a long-extinct industrial past, the area no doubt requires a little extra effort to be able to envision its potential as a beautiful, even lucrative destination.

When plans for a massive cement plant nearby were defeated a few years ago, there was hope that the necessary collective consciousness had been raised. But a whole new proposal has shown that this isn’t the case. With the support of much of the local government, there is now a proposal to build a truck route, a lot of it through scenic countryside and wetlands, from limestone pits on the city’s borders to a hulking shipping depot (see pic below) right next to an attractive (if sadly truncated and overshadowed) greensward that the city recently built. The building of this road, critics say, will lead to a dramatic expansion of mining in the hills to the east and industrial-scale shipping on the river’s banks below, thereby muscling out for perpetuity all but token recreational and environmental uses that most see as the real economic future of the region. But what the hell? It’s “all just a swamp” anyway, as one of these elders, an elected official, exclaimed during a recent public hearing.

“This town sometimes has a real self-esteem problem,” says Peter Jung, whose Valley Alliance, with Sam Pratt,  is leading the opposition to this plan. “People just don’t seem to realize the amazing resources we have here, and the enormity of what’s at stake.” The best way to demonstrate all of that, Jung realized, is to simply pack a lot of people into his Subaru and drive them around. Which is what he is willing to do — so give him a ring for a simultaneously wondrous, eye-opening, and hackle-raising grand tour. (To contact Peter, call 518-755-4350)

— Scott Baldinger

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