Art is so inspiring. Beyond the visual appeal, art reveals a glimpse into the various perspectives of others. While some focus on politics and current events, others draw inspiration from history, music, and beyond. There are certainly lots of galleries and museums nearby that are showing diverse work of artists from near and far. Here’s a brief summary of some of the exhibitions on view in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Go get inspired!
Art Omi, Ghent, NY
Ghent, NY, is home to Art Omi, which presents large-scale works in nature, as well as indoor exhibitions in a 1,500 square-foot gallery space. The Sculpture & Architecture Park offers more than 60 works on view by artists and architects. Through January 8, 2023, Allana Clarke: A Particular Fantasy is on view at Art Omi’s Newmark Gallery. This marks the first solo institutional exhibition for the Trinidadian-American artist. Clarke is renowned for using materials such as sugar, cocoa butter, and hair-bonding glue to construct works that confront histories of colonialism and Western standards of beauty. Covering the artist’s practice over the past ten years, A Particular Fantasy takes its title from groundbreaking theorist, activist and poet Audre Lorde’s essay “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger” (1984). In it, she describes her anger as a “molten pond at the core of me.” Clarke quotes the Lorde essay in her video Of My Longing & My Lack (2019), in which the narrator describes struggling to overcome internalized, generational hatred “because I am not some particular fantasy of a Black woman.”
The exhibition presents a selection of Clarke’s celebrated wall-hung sculptures as well as large-format photographs that depict fragmented frames of the artist’s body. A video Weaving De/Construction (2012) is also on view. Clarke received her BFA in photography from New Jersey City University in 2011 and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Practice from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2014. She is an assistant professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Art Omi, 1405 County Rte. 22, Ghent, NY, artomi.org.
Carrie Chen Gallery, Berkshires, MA
From November 12, 2022 to January 14, 2023, the Carrie Chen Gallery is exhibiting Suzanne Kiggins: Harmonica – a solo exhibition that presents new paintings from the self-taught Brooklyn-based artist. In Harmonica, fantastical imagery is rendered with heightened emotion, creating a fully realized “through the looking glass” type of world. Kiggins’ unconventional use of perspective, bold color palette, and emphasis on highly impactful emotion – rather than realism – are reminiscent of the fauvist and naive art movements. Her paintings evoke both Henri Rousseau’s imaginative portrait landscapes, and the thrilling mystery of Camille Bombois yet Kiggins’ style is wholly original.
Fusing technological motifs and animal imagery, Kiggins utilizes energetic movement to convey the tensions of modern life. Her paintings can be exuberant or tempestuous, but they are always captivating. “Suzanne’s work reveals hidden truths about everyday life, which we can all relate to. Each painting is precise and defined. Yet as a whole, Harmonica is unified by its amusing, cheerful qualities,” said Carrie Chen, chief curator and gallery owner of her namesake space.
Kiggins works primarily with acrylic and gouache on paper, wood panel, and canvas. She draws inspiration from everyday experiences and imagery, as well as dreams and the feelings and moods they evoke. Her work has been displayed extensively throughout New York. In addition to a solo exhibit at Secret Project Robot in Brooklyn, Kiggins exhibited in group shows at ArtPort Kingston; Flux House at Governor’s Island; The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn; The Wassaic Project, and SPRING/BREAK in Manhattan.
A private reception will be held at the Carrie Chen Gallery on Saturday, November 12, from 3 to 5pm. Spaces are limited, so those interested in attending are asked to kindly RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases, occupancy will be limited at the reception. For the safety of the community, visitors must provide vaccine records and must be properly masked at all times in the space. The Carrie Chen Gallery is open every Saturday to Wednesday from 11 am to 5pm by appointment only.
Carrie Chen Gallery, 281 Main Street, Level 3, Great Barrington, MA, carriechengallery.com.
MassMoCA, North Adams, MA
A lively center for making and enjoying evocative art, MassMoCA embraces all forms of art – from music to sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new, boundary-crossing works of art that defy easy classification. The museum is currently hosting several exhibitions, EJ Hill’s Brake Run Helix, which just opened on October 30. For his first solo museum show and largest exhibition to date, Hill created a massive installation that incorporates freestanding sculptures, paintings, a stage for performances, and a rideable sculptural installation inspired by the form and function of roller coasters. Hill’s practice focuses on everyday experiences that intermingle public struggle, endurance, trauma, and joy, whether within athletics, religion, the American education system, or amusement parks. Hill has often incorporated his physical presence by performing as part of these projects.
Hill explains that “my body holds the echo or remnant of something,” and works towards a future that elevates those who are frequently not seen and heard. In the United States, amusement parks were contested sites throughout Jim Crow-era desegregation efforts for equitable access to pleasure, leisure, and recreation. For Hill, roller coasters are public monuments to the possibility of attaining joy – which, as he notes, is “a critical component of social equity.”
On December 17, Jason Moran’s Black Stars: Writing in the Dark will debut at MassMoCA. A visual artist, composer, and musician, Moran has said of his artworks, “these pieces emerge from my performance practice. My body in relationship to the piano and to bodies in the audience.”
While experiences of live music vary from venue to venue, the embodied exchange between performers, instruments, and audience members – in the form of sounds, movement, and even touch – is central to experiences of live music across spaces throughout history. Black Stars: Writing in the Dark encourages visitors to explore their own physical and historical proximity to the physical acts of making and witnessing live music. As Moran has said, “Where do we sit to be moved? I sit up close.”
The exhibition brings together Moran’s works on paper and two sculptures from his STAGED series. It examines venues that showcased contemporary jazz as a revolutionary music. Drawing on the photographs and documentation preserved through Black jazz musicians’ archives, as well as oral history interviews, Moran created installations modeled on spaces that shaped jazz in the 20th century.
It includes Moran’s STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 alongside his newest installation, STAGED: Studio Rivbea, commissioned for his exhibition at MASS MoCA. Moran’s new STAGED pays homage to the canvas-covered walls, parachute-draped ceiling, and reflective surfaces of Beatrice and Sam Rivers’ loft, as well as to the musicians and audiences who shared the space. STAGED: Studio Rivbea points to the ways that their quest for emancipation – both musically, and more broadly – reverberated far beyond Studio Rivbea’s walls.
Moran’s exhibition juxtaposes these reflections of the role of performance spaces in shaping jazz music with physical residues of Moran’s own performances. While Moran’s richly-pigmented works on paper initially appear to be abstract compositions, they in fact register the movements of the artist’s fingers across piano keys. Each work holds the keys’ memory of a performance from their perspective, temporally compressed into a visual gesture. The exhibition was curated by Alexandra Foradas.
MassMoCA’s campus features complimentary parking, affordably priced cafés, a full-service restaurant, ice cream, great coffee, and an innovative micro brewery that spotlights locally malted grains and hops grown in the Berkshire valley. Advance, timed tickets are recommended for all museum visitors. Walk-ups are welcome. Tickets can be purchased online via the museum’s website (listed below). Fall and winter hours are from Wednesday through Monday, from 10am to 5pm.
MassMoCA, North Adams, MA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA, massmoca.org.
Thomas Cale, Hyde Park, NY
Artist Thomas Cale has a new studio space in Hyde Park. In recent years, his style has gone through quite a transformation. In February, 2020, the prolific painter fell ill, but was unaware of his diagnosis. This was before the general public was immersed in the COVID-19 pandemic. “My style changed dramatically and I spent the next two years painting about the state of affairs in the world and the pandemic,” said artist Thomas Cale. Since then, Cale has created over 100 new paintings.
Cale was born in the steel town of Johnstown, PA, also known as Flood City. The grit of coal and steel from his childhood home shows up in his current abstract work. Dark charcoal lines, smudges, revealing reworks, and paint-overs are mixed with quickly applied areas of color, dripping washes of paint, and twisted exaggerated figures. Cale’s expressive lines and brush strokes reflect the intensity of his approach and the passion of the characters that are represented.
Living and working in New York for more than 20 years, Cale continues to use human emotion and empathy as the basis of his raw, neo-expressionist style. Using this energy to focus on a broader human experience, his new work expresses images and ideas that seem to be created in a frantic and random way. Faces, words, and abstract shapes are scattered across the surface. Symbolizing how the brain collects information and develops feeling before opinion, Cale shares his imagery in an effort to communicate on a deeper level with his audience.
Cale has shown mainly on the East Coast and has had multiple solo shows in New York. As a member at The Art Society of Kingston (ASK), Cale frequently exhibits his work there. He is currently being represented by Two Two – a new gallery in Las Vegas.