Saturday, April 13, 2019

About Those Nudes

With the work going on around the train station, the pair of mildly grotesque nude sculptures disappeared for a while amid the chain link fence and the other trappings of construction, but last evening they were right up by the curb, as if waiting to hail a cab.

Passing by on the way to riverfront park for a walk with Joey, I was reminded of an email exchange I had with a reader back in November. It began with her asking: "What about the two unpleasant statues at the Hudson station? They are certainly attention getters. Everyone I have talked to has had a negative reaction to them. Who exactly decides on the public art there?"

I had to confess I had no idea how those sculptures came to be at the train station, but the reader went on to say, "The conductor at the station told me he thought (he wasn't sure) that the statues were chosen by our arts council."

Now this is curious, because Hudson has never had an arts council, and Columbia County hasn't had an arts council for a few years now. Since 1982, however, the Greene County Council on the Arts has maintained display cases inside the train station.

Can it be that the public art for Hudson--at least for the Hudson train station--is being selected by the Greene County Council on the Arts? If that's not the case, just how is it being determined what sculpture gets displayed at this site and elsewhere in Hudson?
COPYRIGHT 2019 CAROLE OSTERINK

20 comments:

  1. What troubles me are the figures' low centers of gravity. Somehow that doesn't make the slog to or from Manhattan any cheerier.

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  2. Relieved to learn that I am not the only one who finds these sculptures ugly. They have some kind of connection to the John Davis Gallery in Hudson. I hope he reclaims them soon.

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  3. The art is not a permanent installation so why should anyone care. Art is supposed to elicit opinion and create controversy so it seems this installation has succeeded.

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    1. So relieved to learn at last what art is "supposed" to do, and to learn at the same time that I'm also not meant to care.

      But the fact that the art is temporary (how long is temporary?) offers no balm for whatever it is I'm supposed to experience from such ugliness at a train station.

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    2. Tim ... never miss an opportunity to say nothing.

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  4. "Mildly grotesque" is a perfect description for these two weird sculptures. What are we trying to say: "That train travel is bad for your mind and health?

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  5. These two sculptures are provided by my gallery and the artist, Bruce Gagnier, is one of the best sculptors in this country. He has many, many admirers. I know many people who were delighted to see them there. Just recently, Katie Holmes was photographed with them behind her and that photo went around the world. Positive comments too. They are very high quality work and people who know, appreciate them. John Davis

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  6. For me, these two figures by the widely acclaimed sculptor Bruce Gagnier are a welcome break from ongoing Amtrak Station construction. I'm always touched to find they've been moved to a new location. Gagnier's work is a visceral reminder of our humanity. Perhaps that's why they seem to have struck a nerve.

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  7. I’m no expert on train stations, but I doubt there are many with sculpture that can compare with Hudson’s now. I can understand being disturbed, being stumped at first glance by Bruce Gagnier’s figures. Give them a little time though: you smile. I’ve seen a number of people giggling in front of them—but that’s not a considered response. At first, you’re taken aback. They’re “ugly.” They’re “nude.” But, as a matter of fact, they’re not “nude.” They’re partly clothed. And what does “ugly” mean? Not young? Vulnerable? The figures’ centers of gravity are low. Lefty’s left arm almost drops to his ankles. But both Lefty and Pau are standing UP. They’re quietly dignified, quietly noble. Their presence is striking, but it’s not imposing: Lefty and Pau are just hanging out. I happen to know both John Davis and Bruce Gagnier. I know sculpture of this quality isn’t made by accident. I know getting it out into the world isn’t easy. I’m very grateful to John and Bruce simply for their generosity.

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    1. Thank You! Seeing these sculptures cheers me when taking the train and your thoughtful response is appreciated.

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  8. In my opinion they are beautiful, thank you John Davis for displaying those sculptures.

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  9. I am disturbed that they keep moving around the station. It's a great welcome to Hudson to have the esteemed artist Bruce Gagniers work here. Big thanks to John Davis and his gallery. Looking forward to them finding one place at the station.

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  10. When does the Beast become the Handsome Prince?
    It is when the eyes that behold him are filled with love.
    Art is like that--it reflects back to the viewer what the viewer can see. I know Bruce Gagnier. He is an exceptional sculptor. His work is deep and often beautiful. One may not see that right away. Have patience. Look harder. To have works like this greet me at the Hudson Station is a pleasure. They are a great addition to the uniqueness of our city.

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  11. I am thrilled to be greeted by the magnificent sculptures of Bruce Gagnier at the Amtrak station each time I visit Hudson. Hudson is lucky to have them! Thank you to
    the John Davis Gallery for allowing these spectacular sculptures to enhance this public space and enchant and welcome visitors to Hudson, a vibrant arts community.

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  12. Bruce Gagnier’s sculptures reference the human figure in a way that is tender, evocative, and humorous (at times) with a deep connection to the quality of the form it represents - much like Rodin. Thank you to the John Davis Gallery for a great addition to Hudson’s art community!

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  13. Reassurances that the artist is popular don’t reveal a thing about the art or its worth. But if it means that some people actually enjoy it then I couldn’t have guessed that before. If the figures evoke a world-view which some find sympathetic and light-hearted, then the same outlook is oppressive to people like myself, as heavy as the figures and their low center of gravity. It's like bathos as a coping mechanism, a wistful, sentimental take on the Humanistic struggle. How awful, but it takes all kinds and there's enough room for all. Enjoy. I'll just look away.

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  14. Just a single figure (waiting for Godot) might be more effective.

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  15. I agree with Perceptual Painter Collective. I too thought of Rodin and Les bourgeois de Calais when I first saw them.

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