A blog about Hudson, New York

Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Note From Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham 

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To say that it is not my usual habit to comment on the dizzying variegations of the world of tradesmen is hardly an understatement. Indeed, it is usually something that I dutifully avoid, being happily unaware of trends when it involves the of exchange of money for goods and far more preoccupied with my work at our local hospital and the unending crises that family always seems to be throwing at my rather aching feet.

The auction of English, Continental & American Furniture, Fine Art and Decorations at Stair Galleries on June 28, however, has compelled me to break my silence about such matters.  Focusing, among other things, on the glories of the furniture, objets, and art of the middle and late Georgian eras and slightly beyond, it is nothing less than an antidote to the vulgarity of the modern age. (I can’t help recalling that appalling day when they switched on all of the newly installed electric lighting at Downton Abbey; it felt as if I was suddenly thrust permanently into the Gaiety!).  It is hard to imagine furnishing a venerable country estate without at least a few of these, but from what people tell me, it’s all going for what, in common parlance, is called “a song.”  (As it seems often the case, other, far later period styles are more in vogue at the moment.)  There is an especially impressive focus on the remarkable craftsmanship of the work produced during the lengthy range of George III, a good friend of our great grandfather and a man with a quite sensible and down-to-earth nature, excepting a notorious but brief period of illness and what my daughter in law and her fellow country folk have been taught in their school books.

Indeed, perhaps reflecting George III’s pragmatism as regent, this was a time of greater simplicity and functionality, at least in furniture design. At the auction, there are numerous comely examples from this period, which lasted quite a long time (1760-1820, god be praised!): a George III walnut chest, which sits atop a  chest/secretary; a fine, light-toned pair of George III inlaid satinwood console tables; a rare George III mahogany mechanical kneehole desk; a pair of George III mahogany hall chairs with a family crest; and a pair of mahogany knife boxes in the Palladian manner, perfect to place on a sideboard in your dining hall. Preceding George 111 was of course George 11, and during this time, while the rest of the world was going mad for rococo, our level-headed  nation was producing work such as a George 11 mahogany reading stand, handsomely simple but with a flourish of playful curves at its feet.

There is also fine work closer to our own age, among them a pair of Victorian carved oak hall chairs, sturdy and practical but with a shape of originality and inherent style and taste. Although it took some time for us Europeans to learn how to make porcelain, our nation – due to the admirable efforts of the British East Indian Company – was able to obtain some of the finer products of such decorative yet utilitarian items from lands far away, including a pair of Chinese blue and white porcelain moon vases. Like nearly all of the items to be bargained for during the auction, even these foreign pieces speak volumes about the admirable efforts of our ever-expanding British empire.

Full Disclosure: A fellow named Scott Baldinger, who is a rather loquacious scribbler, even for an American (particularly during teatime, when he partakes in a larger than usual quantity of scones and clotted cream) provided helpful aid in the writing of this quite — for me — unusual project. He tells me he also penned a little something about it for Stair Galleries as well…which could be read here.  

 

Parade Preferences

All I can say about this year’s joyous Hudson Pride parade, for which spectators seem to have clearly outnumbered those for last week’s Flag Day event, is that I’d much rather have the guns at left pointed at me … IMG_0912than those shown below (pic courtesy of Carole Osterink’s The Gossips of Rivertown). – Scott Baldinger

 

 

 

 

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Concepto Hudson, Jeff Bailey, NOBO, two branches of Retrospective, and this weekend the R Wells Gallery, not to mention big chunks of Valley Variety and other sophisticated venues. There have been so many openings of serious new art galleries in the upper and lower parts of Warren Street in recent months (bringing the total to over twenty in the town) that one might begin to wonder if this actually means something. Even though we might still need a cobbler, grocer, and even a picture framer more at this point, it’s a healthy development, happening as it is in previously sedate retail areas of Warren Street and bringing even more young Brooklyn types here, at least at openings. (Maybe one of them will open one.)

Many of the new galleries in Hudson have so far had hip, skilled, freshly representative takes on what’s happening out there in the art world, the style du jour seeming to be “finding your inner child”  – or at least not telling him to quiet down and go to his room. As it turns out, my favorite shows currently running happen to be more adult in spirit, and, coincidentally, are in galleries that have been here for a slightly longer bit of time. There’s Mark Wasserbach’s exhibition of sculptures at McDaris Fine Art, and most particularly, Color as Environment  at Hallam + Bruner – a selection of works by color field artists who came to the fore in  the 60’s 70’s and 80’s, including Ilya Bolotowsky, David Roth, Walter Swyrydenko, Robert Goodnough, and Hudson’s very own Myron Polenberg – which is nothing less than an abstract dazzler.

David Roth’s work (one of which is pictured above) is particularly dominant here. When people think of geometric art like Roth’s, as well as Wasserbach’s large-scale metal sculptures, perhaps the furthest thing that comes to mind is an evocation of nature. But, in essential ways, such art can be as much an accurate representation of the natural world  as the most detailed figurative painting. Roth’s geometric screen prints, paintings, and drawings present nature at its most fundamental level – an artist’s intuition of the mathematical and quantum physics as known and most recently discovered by physicists at Cern and around the world:  the laws of gravity, spectrums of light, and subatomic forms and electromagnetic forces that are the very foundation of everything we see around us and, and in fact, are what we are ourselves. The impulse of Roth and perhaps his fellow artists in Color as Environment and currently at McDaris as well, is to reduce – or rather expand – natural elements into purely lined and colored works of beauty. Their efforts are not only graphically appealing but, drawn large, a  recognition that, as physicists have recently discovered, everything on earth, even a multi-formed leaf, consists of purely geometric fractals, and beyond that, a mysterious world of unpredictably moving particles. They represent not necessarily what we see right off but the unseen world lying underneath the world we see.  – Scott Baldinger

Separated At Birth

When I first arrived in Hudson over ten years ago, I was struck by the number of people who looked exactly like some of the musical theater icons I would occasionally run into in New York City. There was the man, whose name I can’t recall and who left town soon after meeting him, who was a dead ringer for Adolph Green, the lyricist/book writer, with Betty Comden, of musicals such as On the Town, Singing in the Rain, The Bandwagon and Bells Are Ringing.  When I told him who he reminded me of, he said “Yeah everyone says that,”  a statement that put Hudson in a very good light to me –“everyone” around here actually knew who Adolph Green was and what he looked like?…Hmmm perhaps I could make my home in this odd Brigadoon-like place.

To this day, I still see a guy who reminds me of Jerome Robbins, the ingenious but famously ill-tempered director/choreographer; coincidentally his Hudson lookalike seem as steadfastly chilly as his late Upper West Side counterpart. (Even after seeing this Hudson man weekly for almost ten years, I’ve never received a “hello”  in return to mine, while even Robbins did nod back at me once in a Korean grocery.)  Then there’s the lovely woman seen below who looks just like Elaine Stritch.  To her, “I’d like to propose a toast…” as “The Ladies Who Lunch,” the Sondheim song that the actress made famous (and vice versa), starts out — just for her being able to be her as well as someone else I adore.

Since then, just like the musical icons themselves, their Hudson doppelgangers have been appearing fewer and far between. But there are plenty of others worth pointing out who bring to mind note worthies from other media, of which I’m equally fond.  — Scott Baldinger

Honey Wilde                Elaine Stritch

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Reynolds (Mid-Hudson Cable President)/  Lon Chaney in London After Midnight

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Damara Rose (musician)        Mia Farrow

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Linda Mussmann  (TSL Co-director)  Fred Mertz (William Frawley)

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Mark Schafler (Helsinki Hudson co-owner)   Ed Koren drawing

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