Before you are sequestered indoors by icy winds and winter weather from the Arctic, I suggest peeling yourselves away from Breaking News to seek out the public art around town in vacant buildings and deserted public spaces. I feature three works that make a mile walk, but I encourage you to take a few hours to complete it – pack a lunch, turn your phone off, take a deep breath.
A good place to start would be 7th street park (as long as you ignore the eye sore of a water fountain). Anyone who has been to the park has surely noticed the building on the north side of the park at 704 Columbia Street and thought, Ok y’all, what’s going on here? What’s going on here is that Austerlitz resident and owner Steven Stollman has brought to life an iconic bit of activist NYC history in his exhibition The Mulberry Street Gang which is on view until further notice.
A commentary on the current political climate and underlying corruption, The Mulberry Gang is an exhibition of larger than life reproductions of portraits and underground publications about New Yorkers in the 1890’s who dared to challenge political corruption as the status quo. All the featured figures have a connection to the intersection of Mulberry Street and East Houston including Stollman himself. He was a shop owner for 35 years whose shop at 49 East Houston was eventually demolished after he sold the building to developers in 2008. The Mulberry Gang was first exhibited in the empty lot of 49 East Houston in 2017.
Throughout his life, Stollman has immersed himself where information, the vehicles of delivery and the public space intersect. Twenty-five years ago, he helped underground publications from ten different cities make their way each week to many of the 1500 news stands on New York City sidewalks. Over the years he collected old issues of the iconic Puck Magazine which was created in the Puck Building sharing the intersection of Stollman’s shop. He helped facilitate NYC bike messengers, critical mass bike rides, pedicabs. He still sells automats! (fun fact: Applestone Meat Co contacted Stollman re automats before it opened its 24 hour automat meat store located on Green St).
Stollman is currently working on a second exhibition Going Nowhere Fast which was previously exhibited at the Municipal Art Society about 30 years ago in NYC. It originally comprised of thirty-two 7ft tall panels. This exhibition will be on display on the sides of the building next month and show alongside The Mulberry Gang.
If you’re wondering if Stollman would be open to collaborating with local art groups and projects in Hudson, the answer is absolutely. His contact information is on his building and his websites. He is open to proposals so have at it!
Next, I suggest you pack a picnic and mosey over to Oakdale Beach about half a mile away. There you’ll find Daniel Rothbart’s extraordinary installation Flotilla: A Floating Sculptural Installation in Oakdale Lake on view until October 31, 2020. Flotilla is a series of metal and glass floating sculptures that interact with their environment as they calmly rotate and move with the wind and the water. They also reflect the changing light. It is incredibly meditative and relaxing to view.
Though foreign objects to the lake, they look as if they are in their natural habitat. The longest sculpture, originally shown in Venice in 2007, a chain of glass orbs framed in aluminum, peeking out from the water, follows the line of the road behind it. The other sculptures are taller and emulate the shapes and gestures of the bushes and trees in the landscape. Aside from the sculptures themselves that may move slightly with the wind, what is mesmerizing are the reflections of the sculptures. I could imagine when the water is really still, each reflection creates a symbiotic symmetry with its original. The day I went, there was a moderate breeze that created a steady ripple in the water. What resulted was almost an impressionist image and at times an abstract image of each sculpture. Nearby there are picnic tables, a sandy beach, a long dock where you can relax and watch his sculptures quietly float and move with nature.
Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Rothbart remembers visiting the ocean and finding curious glass orbs and aluminum floats in the water. Apparently, these were used by the Japanese fishing industry and found their way across the ocean to the shores of Oregon. He was always amazed how such fragile objects could make its way across 5000 miles of rough ocean waters. Those sentiments are echoed in Flotilla as it is exhibited during a global pandemic.
Finally, make your way back to Warren St (0.7 miles), grab a coffee and drift over to the über cool work, The Naked City, created by Hudson artists Pauline DeCarmo and Tom McGill, a collaboration for The Window Installation Series of The 405 Project located at 405 Warren St and on view until January 2021.
The artists indicate they wanted to create a work with “an urban vibe.” It’s obvious they created something well beyond that. The Naked City is originally a triptych painting and the image displayed spans both storefront windows including the door and it is chockful of urban iconography, detailed, expressive figures, some in action and outlines of faceless figures lurking in the foreground. The artists wanted to create “a sense of place” where people live “seen and unseen.” The actions are reminiscent of fun summer days in the city. The portion across the door is intense because there are overlapping scenes of men documenting what they observe creating a sensation of being watched and hovering over the scenes is a bright yellow means of escape, all this literally hanging in front of a means of entry.
The faceless figures add a haunting element to the piece because they are watching the other figures enjoy the city. They look like chalk outlines of murdered bodies found at a crime scene. People always talk about the “energy of a big city” but there is also a lonely, seedy underbelly; a dark reality of violence. The most curious faceless figure is the one sitting and holding a small espresso; the only figure facing the viewer. It is almost as if this figure is in a different dimension as it sits on one of the lines that is used throughout the work as a tool to delineate the different spaces. This figure turns that line-as-tool into an object as if it is creating its own space and thus a separate art within the greater piece. It’s brilliant.
The 405 Project was started this summer by Hudson resident Thais Glazman. It aims to bring the voices of “Black, Latinx, Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ identifying artists” to the sidewalks of Warren Street. For now Glazman is concentrating on the storefront windows but eventually envisions the interior as an alternative arts space for “art-based public events.” At the moment the works are selected by invitation but The 405 Project is open to hearing proposals that help advance its mission. Feel free to reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.