A Few Good (and some Adonis-y) Men in Hudson

Some call the city of Hudson “Upstate’s downtown.” After a trip to this lovely and mini size city you can easily pick up how the city earned this title. Cool coffee shops with suggestive names (e.g. Swallow Coffee), chic secondhand stores that turn your garbage into someone else’s treasure, unexpectedly sudden live music on the street, a gourmet creamery that is assertive with its sorbet selection (and again with a suggestive name e.g. Lick) and many promising art spaces including the coming soon Marina Abramović Institute are all checked on this list.

Warren Street, where the “fun” happens, is the home to many art galleries, so much so that you may need a whole day solely devoted to see all of them. Carrie Haddad Gallery on the east side of Warren Street is one of these galleries. As my metabolism is used to New York-style gallery hospitality, which means only an exposure to the strong smell of Asian food that the gallerina is having for lunch, my body almost showed weird reactions to Carrie Haddad’s extra friendly nature for the visitors of her gallery.

Men of Mark Beard

Men of Mark Beard (all images courtesy the artists and Carrie Haddad Gallery)

After overcoming this shock, I was able to comprehend the current exhibition, The Man Show, a group show, exploring aspects of masculinity through contemporary art works by different artists such as David Konigsberg, Allan Skriloff, David Austin and many others. This torso-centric concept reminded me of two previous exhibitions from last year with similar concepts; Nude Men at the Leopold Museum in Vienna and The Naked Man in the Ludwig Museum in Budapest (obviously Central Europe can’t get enough of its wursts).

Similar to these previous museum shows, The Man Show also focuses on the presentation of male identity and examines the idea of “being a man” in today’s society. Different from those museum shows, however this one does not solely focus on male nudity although it still strips down the whole idea of masculinity.

Jacob Fossum Sealing Room, 2012, oil on wood panel

Jacob Fossum, Sealing Room, 2012, oil on wood panel

Jacob Fossum’s paintings twist the Renaissance era concept of “being a painter” by mixing it into today’s mundane and even banal realities. An 18th century Spanish style painting and a selfie for a gay hook-up website meet somewhere in the middle between kitsch and campy in Fossum’s paintings as the artist makes references to his Mormon upbringing and today’s pixilated online reality in these humorous and well-painted works.

Mark Beard, Five Gymnasts, oil on canvas

Mark Beard, Five Gymnasts, oil on canvas

Mark Beard, on the other hand, plays his cards safer and offers the viewers what can be called as “eye candy.” Young men performing their athletic duties such as wrestling or boxing as their ripped bodies shine under the bright sun, unveiling their abdominal muscles, constitute Beard’s subject matter. If you can’t make it to Hudson, don’t worry; his similar style murals also grace the walls of Abercrombie & Fitch stores all around the US offering tired tourists a nice break from their shopping spree.

Robert Flynt, untitled (BK; 4 sisters), 2002, unique-image chromogenic photograph

Robert Flynt, untitled (BK; 4 sisters), 2002, unique-image chromogenic photograph

For me, where there is sensual, there also has to be the creepy. Robert Flynt’s photographs fill this quota with their ambiguous yet strongly present natures. Placing the male form onto some found photographs from the previous century, Flynt creates a few question marks about the relationship between these photographs and the male figures located onto them. In the big picture, these artworks invite the viewers to think about the written history that is believed to be created mostly by men.

This show and few others at different Hudson galleries are a good reason to discover this small city. Don’t forget to walk to the end of Warren Street where the Hudson River is waiting for you with its glorious presence and possibly strong stream.

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