Unnecessary beauty

New Paltz’s Dorsky Museum unveils Hudson Valley Artists 2011 exhibition this Saturday

by Paul Smart
June 23, 2011 10:50 AM | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hannah Raine Brenner-Leonard, valley, 2010, sumi ink on paper, 20 x 32 inches; courtesy the artist
Hannah Raine Brenner-Leonard, valley, 2010, sumi ink on paper, 20 x 32 inches; courtesy the artist
What role does beauty play in our lives? And what does it mean when the same artists keep arising in group shows demonstrating the best of our region, no matter the stated theme?

Something’s happening here in the Hudson Valley, and we’re going to venture to surmise what it all means, folks. While the New York art scene continues to grapple with its business grip on global art world collector funding, true talent has begun looking for inspiration, working and now showing elsewhere. The constant push for witty variations on the idea of all that’s new have left many career artists free to pursue what they do regardless of the limelight. And the results are both refreshing, for our culture as a whole, and inspiring, for those content to follow their own Muses.

This Saturday, June 25, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art opens its eagerly awaited annual overview of Hudson Valley art via what now seems to be the great museum curator Brian Wallace’s ultimate statement: “Hudson Valley Artists 2011: Exercises in Unnecessary Beauty.” Featuring works by 24 artists who live and work in the region, Wallace has focused on those “who dare to address that most elusive of qualities: beauty,” with art that tends to utilize both beautiful images and craftsmanship while also raising questions about what is the idea and/or ideal of beauty.

“Beauty is a theoretical construct, a know-it-when-you-see-it essence, a goal and a goad, an absolute, a relative and ineffable characteristic, an historical battle zone,” Wallace has said of his goals with this show – beyond showcasing the best of the Valley’s best, many of whom have shown in these compendia before or gotten known for the breadth and depth of their aesthetics in other solo and group shows over recent years. “For some, it sits, seldom used and heavy, yet still lending weight to the whole enterprise; for others, it’s like a pair of vise-grips: often used, but never acknowledged. For still others, beauty is an indistinguishable unit – both means and finished product.”

Media used includes video installations, photography, painting, sculpture and multi-media work “that depicts and makes references to Nature, to the process of art-making, to the social and political setting in which art is made and encountered and to the work of other artists.” Participating artists, selected from more than 250 applicants, include Paul G. Stewart of Columbia County; Hannah Raine Brenner-Leonard, Charles Geiger, Lynn Itzkowitz, Tanya Marcuse, Bill Schuck, Charles Stein and Joy Taylor from Dutchess County; Jim Holl from Greene County; Timothy Englert from Rockland County; and Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Karen Capobianco, Amy Cheng, Vincent Connelly, Dave Hebb, Sue Horowitz, Roman Hrab, Charise Isis, Michael Joyce, Iain Machell, Gilbert Plantinga, Susan Sammis, Scott Serrano and Harry Wilks from Ulster County.

Gallery talks by artists participating in the exhibition will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, Saturday, September 24 and Saturday, October 15. A special fund will also be utilized to buy up to $3,000 worth of art for the Dorsky’s permanent collection out of the show.

The event’s opening runs from 4 to 6 p.m. this Saturday, June 25, with many involved then running north to Catskill for the “Masters on Main Street” openings occurring there later the same evening. Talk about a Valley-long arts scene coming to fruition!

The Dorsky Museum is located at the center of the SUNY-New Paltz campus. For more information, call (845) 257-3844 or visit

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