Wow I’m impressed. The good folks at Helsinki Hudson have snagged one of my favorites: Duncan Shiek, an artful pop singer-songwriter (Phantom Moon and “Barely Breathing,” an early hit that I recently heard playing on the loudspeaker at ShopRite) who is also a Tony Award- winning composer of youthful yet luscious- sounding musicals (Spring Awakening and most recently The Nightingale, which work-shopped this summer at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater. Both were collaborations with lyricist Steven Sater, who will not be coming up, sorry to say –he’s in Los Angeles working on a new musical with Burt Bacharach.) Sheik will be performing December 17 at 9, and the tickets are a mere $18. –Scott Baldinger
Let’s just say that someone gave you a wall and told you to fill it up overnight with a good collection of art. And on a very limited budget. You could do a lot worse than scoping out the galleries of Hudson, where, during a recent tour up Warren, I found numerous reasonable artistic efforts at prices that ranged from $25 dollars to only a few times more than the cost of a newfangled one-cup coffee-brewing machine.
A logical place to start is the Terenchin Gallery (533 Warren), where a series of three colored drawings by John Rudge, a contemporary of Francis Bacon, is only $700. At the newly arrived Roshkowska Gallery (538 Warren), there is a bin of unframed prints and drawings off to the side of the impressive early “nonobjective” paintings of a fellow named Emil James Bisttram. (Another bin, this one labeled Holiday Specials, is at J. Damiani, 237 Warren.) If you have nice shelving or coffee table, the Davis Orton Gallery (114 Warren) has a show of self-published photobooks that span the under $100 range, and there’s a lot of cool new art pottery by ceramicist Robert Pesce at David Dew Bruner (610 Warren). –Scott Baldinger
Granted, life in Hudson is an endlessly fascinating and fun- filled adventure. But there are moments when the eye, mind (and henceforth, the body) tend to wander, if only right outside city limits. Fairview Plaza (the first of four dreary commercial expanses spreading one after another into former farmland) has a number of establishments worth ignoring the evils of suburban sprawl for: Chinatown restaurant, ShopRite, Fairview Wine and Spirits, and now Planet Fitness, a national chain doing a fairly sharp modernist renovation of a former (General? Yankee? ) Dollar store right next to (the blandly postmodernist) Peebles. It’s opening in December and will be cheap, with lots of new equipment so, short of it turning out to be a charnel house, I’m ready and rarin to go. –Scott Baldinger
The dismantling of the original Asylum Building on State and 7th, originally reported in The Gossips of Rivertown (Carole –come home soon!) has ceased. Here is a shot of the building in its current state –the original roof, cornice and top floor windows have been removed but some facsimile thereof (a Galloway specialty tailor made to send preservationists into intensive care) seems to be taking their place. How it will end up is anybody’s guess. —Scott Baldinger
A lot of the divisiveness that surfaced during the Hudson mayoral race suggests that, among certain quarters, there is far less faith in the new “creative” economy—one based on aesthetic, environmental, and cultural forces—than in the older industrial one, even though the former led to a stunning revival of the town in the last decade or so and the latter essentially abandoned it decades before that. (Or wanted to usurp it completely with oversized projects like the St. Lawrence Cement Plant.)
It’s true that the creative economy tends to be small in scale, comprising mostly of individual mom and pop (or mom and mom and pop and pop) stores and b&bs. When you put it all together, however, it comprises an ensemble that not only brought the city’s tax base up from close to zero but also resulted in one of the most dazzling renaissances in all of upstate (bringing restaurants, clubs, and thousands of tourists here). The ability of the vintage and antiques retail trade, which can hang on a thread even in the best of times, essentially spun magic out of thin air, through taste and appreciation for everything beautiful yet unacknowledged all around us, rescuing a neglected town in the process.
While looking good in a pinch is a great first step in getting yourself up, dusting yourself off and starting all over again, it’s always great to see signs of a diversifying business base. Two fabulous examples, which grew from the mother starter dough of the decorative arts trade: Lotus Energy, the solar and renewable energy systems company at 703 Warren Street, and Digifabshop, a self-described “digital fabrication company that specializes in residential and commercial woodwork, furniture, sculpture, reproductions and prototyping.” Lotus does consulting and installation of solar systems and helps with the application for state and federal tax credits. (Customers can get up to $12,250 back from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority alone.) Digifabshop, hidden away in the former L B furniture building near the waterfront, is something I didn’t know anything about before reading the following article in last week’s Home section, A Minimalist Loft, With Touches of Chipotle. I almost feel nachas for Hudson when I see work that looks so good. —Scott Baldinger