Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Winter of Openings and Closings in Beacon NY

 The scene of VBG's final opening.
Beacon's December Second Saturday marked some beginnings and endings in Beacon, NY.  "One for the Road", a group show at the Van Brunt Gallery is the final exhibit for the gallery in a permanent space after some 8 years of operation (two of those years at the current location of 137 Main.)  The gallery is proper is going away, but a disembodied form of it will continue with occasional exhibits elsewhere - perhaps most frequently at the Upstairs gallery at Hudson Beach Glass where Carl is planning to organize an exhibition in January.  This current and final show at 137 Main St will remain open through December 30th.  With Van Brunt closing, the Back Room Gallery dons the mantle of  oldest permanent "gallery" in town (with the exception of the Howland Cultural Center).  Sometimes you simply can't predict these things.

That Saturday night I drove into town that from the South and spied a new apparently eponymous space called the Russell Cusick Gallery;  a cringe inducing drive-by of what I percieved from the car to be Thomas Kinkade-like paintings. Turned out they are photographic prints coated over(for some reason) with an impasto of clear acrylic medium.  Cusick's images of the Hudson Valley are featured in the Beacon Institute's gallery through March 6, 2011. 

My initial mission for the night was to check out the C. Bass International Fine Arts Co., a gallery located on the East end of Main St (498 Main), which opened stealthily in November and only came to my attention through an email from Karlos Carcamo who is represented by a piece in the inaugural show.

Astute fans of Gossip Girl might pick up on the allusion posed by the gallery's name.  Or maybe they won't. As stated in the initial press release, C. Bass Intl's projects "will encompass an interdisciplinary approach that references art history, cultural studies, material culture and popular culture."
The press release for the first exhibit was immediately distinctive for its language and the thoughtfulness behind the concept for the inaugural exhibit "Chapter 1: Ever after....", which concentrates on issues of appropriation.  The exhibition's installation itself is an appropriation of the manner of presentation of the Barnes Foundation. In this case, decorative/functional wrought iron pieces hand forged by blacksmith Gary Cheney Windham are dispersed throughout the gallery in and amongst the artworks (from the press release):  "The physical installation of the exhibition is reminiscent of the Barnes Foundation’s "wall ensembles" that include examples of decorative metalwork hung alongside masterpieces of painting such as Courbet’s Woman with White Stockings."
Artists featured in the exhibit are:  Peter Coffin, Elaine Sturtevant, Richard Pettibone, Wolfgang Berkowski, Andra Ursuta, Karlos Carcamo, George Wichelns and Cristina Leung.  This exhibition is open through Dec 29. There is no gallery website as of yet, but I have posted the first press release in a google doc. and will do so for future releases until I have a site to link to.
The gallery's next exhibit opening later in January will be a group show that addresses themes of revolution, protest, anarchy and utopia - framed through a lens inspired by a Jean Luc Godard film.  
I'm excited to see what gallery owner/director Cindy Smith will do with this space. I appreciate the level of intellectual rigor and spirit of experimentation I have gleaned from my conversation with her. I expect C. Bass to be a bright light in an otherwise dimming, dulling horizon for Beacon's visual art landscape. 

Chapter 1 Ever after...installation views 

In other news, after years of false starts and rumors of potential buyers, Beacon's old high school building which has been known as Beacon Studios for the past few years apparently has a flesh and blood new buyer and the sale is set to close this week (and perhaps has closed by the time this post is published.)  From what I gather, the new owner plans to develop a handful of pricey live/work condos while maintaining most of the occupancy of the artist studios currently in the building.  Like echos of yesteryear, it seems that future intentions of the prospective buyers include establishing a museum/art center of some sort in the building which would complement Dia:Beacon as an art destination.

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