The show of which I'm speaking is the annual Hudson Valley Artists overview that fills the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY-New Paltz, set to open this coming Saturday, June 13. The curator who's got everybody abuzz this year is the Dorsky's own Brian Wallace, who in a few short years has not only gotten a handle on who's who, artswise, from Troy south to Yonkers, but has also gained an enviable sense of what the region needs to define itself, year in and year out, better than many of the outside curators whom the Museum has brought in to handle its Hudson Valley show in previous years.
So what's the bar that everyone has been trying to limbo under this year - the theme that Wallace has utilized to line up a sampling of regional talent? Think green, and the many ways in which our nation, state and area's increasing environmental consciousness has emerged to shape all we see, from health care to aesthetics. But also think in terms of that sense of place and interconnection that so many have been noticing about Hudson Valley art and artists since...well, Thomas Cole and his purported School.
"Hudson Valley Artists 2009: Ecotones and Transition Zones," which opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery at the Dorsky this Saturday, June 13 (and stays up until September 6), seeks to feature artwork, performances, gallery talks and other activities from 24 area artists that connect global issues such as sustainability, ecological awareness and bioethics to the Hudson River Valley landscape, according to Wallace. "In selecting the artists in the show, I wanted to play off the emphasis of art in and of the region and to show that there is an emphasis on the environment in historical styles of art such as Hudson River School painting, as well as in the art being produced by the artists among us now," says Wallace of what he's brought together. He defines the term "ecotone" as a place where overlapping natural and social ecologies - the river and the mountains, the cosmopolitan and the rural - exist in fragile tension. "These artists work in their own mini-environments, and there is a great diversity among them even as they take from and share ideas with other artists."
The artists included are Michael Asbill of Accord; Robert Capozzi of New Paltz, the recent MARK collaborative made up of Capozzi, Lorrie Fredette of West Camp, Dylan McManus of New Paltz, Laura Moriarty of Rosendale and Jill Parisi of High Falls, which created a documented "Exquisite Corpse" of works that just showed in Finland; Ryder Cooley of Chatham; Dick Crenson of Pleasant Valley; Simon Draper of Cold Spring; Dana Duke of Roscoe; Beth Humphrey of Saugerties; Heather Hutchison of Saugerties; Tanya Marcuse of Barrytown; Susan Miller of Sparrowbush; Wayne Montecalvo of Rosendale; Itty Neuhaus of Fishkill; Franc Palaia of Poughkeepsie; J. Gilbert Plantinga of New Paltz; Emily Puthoff of Kingston; Jill Reynolds of Beacon; Ryan Roa of Newburgh; Camilo Rojas of Millerton; Thomas Sarrantonio of Rosendale; and Ida Weygandt of Germantown.
The exhibition, first in a series of five major art exhibitions that will make up the museum's "Art & the River" celebration of this year's Quadricentennial, will also be including a host of accompanying components. These will include Draper's oversight of the forward-thinking and innovative "Habitat for Artists" project that's seeing the construction of repurposed temporary studios throughout the New Paltz area all summer; a June 27 benefit concert for that project with folk legend Dar Williams; a June 28 river walk-and-talk with Asbill, a noted educator and rising conceptual sculptor; and monthly artist talks culminating with a roundtable community discussion of the Habitat for Artists project on September 24.
The Dorsky, and Wallace, are also now key components of New Paltz's new Third Saturdays involvement in the Art along the Hudson coordinated cultural events. Keep up with what's happening at www.newpaltzarts.org or www.artalongthehudson.com. For more on the new Ecotones show and this Saturday's June 13 opening reception, visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum or call (845) 257-3844.