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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Carrie Haddad and other Hudson galleries

Kahn & Selesnick, Oak-Man Falls 2015, archival inkjet print
I drove over to Hudson last Sunday to meet a friend for a pizza at Baba Louie's (it was delicious) and check out the Photography show at Carrie Haddad Gallery. Haddad typically focuses on painting, but her gallery (the longest-standing in Hudson at 25 years old) has always shown photography as well, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to enjoy a contemporary showcase for the medium.

Gain Peachin,untitled collage 2015
We were not disappointed, as the exhibition featured a wide array of traditional and postmodern styles, ranging from Jerry Freedner's bucolic Catskills landscapes to Newbold Bohemia's tacky domestic dramas and Gail Peachin's clever, tiny cutouts.

K+S, Charlotte - Apricot 2015
The show includes 12 artists but gives the lion's share of space to the duo Kahn & Selesnick, whose elaborately detailed fantasies have evolved from neo-antique sepia prints to richly colored inkjets. Just a few of K&S's new works are monochrome, and those work very well, but here we see mostly color among the 20 images presented and, frankly, it is a bit distracting. That's because the pictures still evoke timelessness, yet the coloration in most of the prints is noticeably 21st-century.

Among the black-and-whites, we get shades of steam-punk macabre (think Joel Peter Witkin), while the color images of various individuals floating in a shallow pond surrounded by flora and ephemera lean more in the direction of a nursery rhyme.

Stephanie Blumenthal, Light Blue Square 2015, archival inkjet
My favorite work in the show is by Stephanie Blumenthal, who alters highly detailed black and white pictures of bare trees and vines by overlaying blocks of color, with solid black highlighting on the naturally calligraphic gesture of the vine forms. This crossing over of media (that digital tools do so well) is a rich vein in contemporary photography, and will offer continued opportunities for artists to innovate for decades to come.

What I particularly like about Blumenthal is the simplicity or her approach, creating a pure marriage of three strong sensibilities: lushly detailed photography, color-centric painting, and calligraphic line. The resulting series of pictures (which augment each other effectively) takes the viewer to a place of deep observation that is at the heart of all the arts.

Eric Lindbloom, Pine Woods #28 2003, gelatin silver print
I also loved seeing several small, square silver prints by Eric Lindbloom, not only for the nostalgia factor but because they are so beautifully seen and crafted. These date back a number of years (from 1999 to 2009), as does with much of the rest of the work in the show, for which I will register a mild complaint. It's one thing to do a retrospective, or to bring out previously unseen art from the past - but in my opinion it's a no-no to present stale art in a feature exhibition.

The other photographers included in Photographs (which has been extended through Feb 14) are Birgit Blyth, Jeri Eisenberg, Lisa Frank, David Halliday, Robert Hite, and Joseph Maresca.

Michael Theise, Safe-Keeping, oil on panel
While in town, we decided to check out a few galleries we hadn't seen before. One of them, Peter Jung Fine Art, is open only by appointment or chance; the lights were on, so we jumped at the chance to stick our noses in. And what a place! Three floors of comfortable, neatly organized space bristling with antique and contemporary paintings (plus a few photographs) of very high quality, warmed by the very personable Jung, another longtime Hudsonian (he arrived in '92). Though he emphasizes 19th-century landscape paintings, Jung was also featuring the recent trompe l'oeil work of Michael Theise, among many other living artists.

We extended our immersion in painting with a stop at Gallery Gris, where a solo exhibition of abstract oils By Kylie Heidenheimer that was scheduled to end on Dec. 21 was still hanging. The gallery specializes in color abstraction, which is a weakness of mine as well, so I greatly enjoyed this new discovery. Heidenheimer and the other gallery artists (whose works we glimpsed in the back room) are first-rate examples of the genre, and co-owner Todd Gribben was a gracious host. I will be back.

Kylie Heidenheimer, Sweep 2015, oil on canvas

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