A blog about Hudson, New York

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Getting Syria

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Saint Simeon’s Column outside Aleppo. Copyright 2009 Peter Aaron

Talk about inspired real-estate staging! There are a number of examples of commercial  interests and brilliant  artistic talent combining to create works—or the display of works –that have great cultural impact: The first two Godfather movies come to mind, a big Broadway show like The Lion King perhaps, not to mention nearly every good movie every Hollywood studio ever made.  In Hudson, it took the need to rent out the beautiful ground floor space at 555 Warren Street, owned by Mark McDonald and formerly the locale of McDonald’s own store and then NP Trent, which just closed its doors, to come up with the ad hoc exhibition Under Siege: Monuments of Syria, a show of epic and now painfully relevant photographs by Peter Aaron and Lynn Davis. They were taken in 2009,  before the civil war in that besieged nation – and the destruction or severe damage of many of said monuments. (Aaron has arranged a “before and after” display on a table in the center of the room, the “after” shots taken from other sources.)

The Aaron  photographs, which are both black and white and in color, were recently on display in ArtSpace in Germantown; here, instead of being spread out over a couple of rooms next to a veterinary office, they fill out one side and the center of the grandly cavernous space in one of Hudson’s best buildings, whose walls have been painted an elegant medium tinted gray by the sponsor of the event, HOUSE Hudson Valley Realty’s James Male, beautifully offsetting Aarons’ and Davis’ images of the surprisingly photogenic nation.  (“I got a great reaction to the show in Germantown, despite it being in a defunct shopping mall next to the dump,” Aaron says.)  Davis’ hugely sized timeless black and white photographs of the Roman ruins of Syria are, as always, monuments in and of themselves; four of them more than adequately fill the wall opposite the one devoted to Aarons’ work.

The show will be open September 27-28 and October 4-5, from noon to 5 p.m, with an artists’ reception on October 4 from 5 to 8 p.m.  –Scott Baldinger

 

 

 

 

Where’s “Sid and Nancy”?

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Tonight and tomorrow  Basilica Hudson will be showing three films by director Alex Cox, including his well-known Repo Man, as well as two other works, Straight To Hell Returns and Walker,  the latter starring Ed Harris as a 19-century American soldier of fortune who became the dictator of Nicaragua. Walker was penned by Hudson’s own Rudy Wurlitzer (who is also famed for his screenplay to Little Buddha)  and both Cox and Wurlitzer will be available for extended Q&A’s.  An exciting event no doubt. Oddly missing though, considering the musical background of Basilica’s co-founder Melissa Auf Der Mar,  is perhaps the director’s most sensational effort– Sid and Nancy, about the life and sordid end days of The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious (played wonderfully by Gary Oldman) and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Choe Webb).  Just wondering….pourquoi pas?  — Scott Baldinger

 

 

Memories, Observations, Resentments

A dear Hudson fellow–  an intelligent, older but still “with it” kind of guy — recently expressed excitement about the upcoming NYC theater season previewed in this past weekend’s New York Times Arts and Leisure section. Pronouncements like these always inspire mixed feelings in me: excited interest on the one hand and, frankly,  feelings of sadness and resentment on the other, knowing that I’ll probably miss most, if not at all, of the new shows, living far enough from the source to make attending (not to mention covering for a major publication, which I used to do) too much of  a project.

So it was with some dread, and then relief, that I looked through the section. Two of the shows– revivals of The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Scott Ellis, and the great Bernstein/Comden and Green musical On the Town, directed by John Rando, are transplants of productions I had already seen (and reviewed very positively) — the first at The Williamstown Theater Festival and the second at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield.  I was fortunate enough to have seen the original production of another prominently advertised revival – On the Twentieth Century—a good Cy Coleman musical adaptation of the wonderful Howard Hawks/Ben Hecht film, Twentieth Century, as a youngin’ in 1978 . (It starred the late great Madeline Kahn, as  well as Kevin Kline, John Cullum, and even Imogene Coca and was directed, terrifically, by Harold Prince– while the new production stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher and is directed by the ubiquitous –and always dependable — Scott Ellis. Still, if need be, memories of the original will serve nicely.)  Ditto Hedwig and the Angry Inch (a thrilling discovery when it debuted starring its creator, John Cameron Mitchell, in 1998);  Side Show ( a stunningly dark musical about circus people that sadly flopped in its first incarnation in 1998);  and even A Delicate Balance. (The Gerald Gutteriez 1996 production of this Edward Albee play featured the luminous Rosemary Harris, plus Elaine Stritch, George Grizzard, and Elizabeth Wilson, and at the time, I thought  it couldn’t be beat; it is now being revived in a production starring Glenn Close, John Lithgow, and  Bob Balaban  —all favorites perhaps, but once again, if need be, I’m happy enough with  my memories).  The wonderful Helen Mirren, in  The Audience, playing Queen Elizabeth II once again, would no doubt be fun —but certainly feels like a retread, if not downright audience pandering. (The Queen is very available on DVD.)

Which only leaves Kenneth Lonergan’s  This Is Our Youth, Larry David’s  Fish in the Dark,  David Hare’s Skylight, Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, and older-running shows like The Book Of Mormon  and perhaps Kinky Boots to feel a twinge at the possibility of missing. Though who says I definitely will?  There’s always Amtrak and the TKTS booth—or, in lieu of that, going under the bed covers and watching Rehab Addict  — a TV show not about Lindsay Lohan  but a spunky woman who likes to restore old homes using everything original to the house,  which can –and perhaps should –be seen on the DIY network, particularly by certain individuals involved in what seems like WAAAY too many “revivals” in town.

Thinking of that today, I coincidentally ran upon this oddly phrased yet observant little sign posted on the street facing yet another suburbanized, Frankenstein-like production being patched together by Eric Galloway’s Galvan Foundation at Warren and Fifth Streets. Yes, it’s true,  I made recommendations and finally approved plans for it while on the Historic Preservation Commission, but, as theater people know, it’s sometimes hard to know how the pieces will come together until the curtain is about to rise, particularly when this “impresario” is involved –Scott Baldinger unnamed

A “Barn” Razing

Well,  no, it wasn’t exactly a barn, at least not of late, but the Cherry Alley garage of 518 Union Street, which fell victim to an electrical fire a few weeks ago. The building happened to be one of my alley faves: a tall corrugated metal structure, painted bright red and crawling with (poison?) ivy. Design-wise, I’d say it was a combination of early Frank Gehry and mid-career Morticia Adams,  and while its passing is certainly no General Worth-like loss, or anything to grieve over in particular, I do regret not having taken a photo of it while it was still standing.  (In fact, I think I did…but heaven knows where the hell it is.)

What struck me the most in recent weeks since its passing is its super-quick dismantling– so fast it seemed as if we were living in a community of hell-raising Amish all of a sudden.  By the time I had written my last blog post til this one, with quite some time in between,  the structure has gone from this (first image copyright and courtesy of Michael Weaver of the Register-Star and Columbia Page)

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to this:

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to this:

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to this:

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