Just imagine the bones of Henry Hudson sloshing around in the freezing depths of North American waters for 400 years - and then washing up on the banks of the Hudson River in 2009. How might his life be celebrated? And what sort of monument could adequately mark his final burial? To contemplate that end, an outdoor sculpture project is being launched by the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild to create a number of memorials around the grounds of Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony in Woodstock. "Ahoy! Where Lies Henry Hudson?" will involve 22 local architects who have been invited to find creative ways to proclaim the significance of this anniversary within the context of the 400 years of European occupation that followed Hudson's discoveries. These memorials will provide the opportunity to reflect upon all aspects of Hudson's achievements.
Additionally, a general call is out for all area poets, dancers, musicians and actors to contribute their talents to performances that will accompany the exhibition on five dates between June and October. June 13 marks a Grand Opening with sea chanteys and other nautical programming for an afternoon of outdoor performances at Byrdcliffe. On July 11 and August 8, the focus will be interpretations of Henry Hudson's life and legacy in song, poetry and dance. "Ahoy! Architects at the Helm," a symposium, will introduce the exhibition participants at the Kleinert/James gallery on September 13, and will include brief interlude performances. Finally, special programming for children and teens will be offered on October 12 as "Ahoy! Explore Henry Hudson & Christopher Columbus' Voyages" takes the stage.
Performers are invited to adapt this historic narrative in any number of ways - celebration, satire, humor, tragedy - as it may be remembered and contemplated today. For example, what have the subsequent influences of Hudson's discovery been upon the area's ecosystems, resources, social relations, commerce and indigenous populations? How can the rich history before Hudson's arrival - when the Mohican name for the river was Muh-he-kin-ne-tuk - be acknowledged? What is the ongoing legacy of Dutch colonization in the area? How can the region's history, in all its facets, be brought to life for school-aged children, as well as the general public? This is a chance for you to contribute effectively to the body of historical knowledge in uniquely creative ways.
The four-month-long celebration is being overseen by Linda Weintraub, whose curatorial expertise was honed during her ten years' directorship of the Edith C. Blum Art Institute at Bard College. Weintraub's experience as an author, teacher (at Oberlin College as Henry Luce professor of Emerging Arts) and curator of more than 50 exhibitions, both national and international, will be well-exercised as she organizes this project. The lineup of notable architect/participants includes Solange Fabiao, Michael McDonough, Nancy Copley, Matt Bialecki, Alan Neumann, Evan Stoller, Peter Franck & Kathleen Triem, Richard Miller, Barry Price, Les Walker, Byron Bell, Todd Rader & Amy Crews, Randy Gerner & Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore of Interboro Partners and Rick Wall; James Stuart Polshek, Alan Baer and Frances Halsband will act as advisors for the project. In addition, local town historians throughout the region will contribute to the educational and outreach components of the exhibition, and the project will be part of a statewide initiative of the Quadricentennial Commission.
In 1609, Henry Hudson was employed by the Dutch to find a passage from Europe to the spice-growing islands in the Far East. He'd made this attempt twice already for England, his home country. Each voyage stalled his search for a Northeast Passage and sent him back - more experienced, but still unsuccessful. Unable to find continued backing in England for another expedition, he turned to the Dutch for support for another voyage over the top of Russia. According to biographer Ian Chadwick, Hudson averted a possible mutiny from his crew by turning the ship toward warmer waters and the New World. It was then that the explorers ended up on the East Coast of this continent, sailing in and around what are now Nova Scotia, Chesapeake Bay and finally 150 miles up the Hudson River, where the waters became too shallow to navigate.
Hudson faced persecution when he returned to England, but continued to pursue the goal of finding that passage to the riches of the Far East - to his own detriment. And in 1611, on yet another push - this time into what is now called Hudson Bay - his crew mutinied and threw him, his son and a few others off the ship. Abandoned now, it is thought that Henry Hudson died on those waters. Or did he? Chadwick's research proposes a few alternate endings - all speculation, of course, but intriguing anyway; see www.ianchadwick.com/Hudson. All of this leaves Hudson's life and death open to interpretation: exactly what Weintraub hopes will inspire some innovative performance art this summer.
If you have talents that you'd like to contribute to "Ahoy! Where Lies Henry Hudson?" during the celebration, please contact Weintraub for further information and performance proposal forms at email@example.com or (845) 758-9289. The performance call closes on March 31.