For several years I heard talk of the Hudson River Valley and its plethora of contemporary artists, galleries and museums, so I perked up when the Collectors Circle trip was officially announced for August. Temporarily without a curator, our group was fortunate to have Graham Boettcher guide us through a most memorable long weekend of amazing art, good food and great company. Though there were so many incredible visits to galleries, studios, and exhibits, I can only mention a few highlights here.
As expected, we started out Thursday morning in full gear with lunch in the van on our way to the Porches Inn, situated directly across the street from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. MASS MoCA occupies a former 19th century cotton factory consisting of an impressive 16 acres of exhibition and performing arts space. There were many highlights here, but most exceptional was the experience of walking into Nick Cave’s installation, Until, a title taken from Cave’s version of a familiar phrase in America: “guilty until proven innocent.” The dazzling space hung with twirling metallic ornaments and a central crystal cloud hiding a packed garden with black-face lawn jockeys. The effect is delightful, until the viewer notices the handguns and uneasily grasps the artist’s message: “Is there racism in heaven?”
Another MASS MoCA highlight was surely James Turrell’s Into the Light. Difficult to describe, this experience of light transforms one’s reality so that the participant enters an environment entirely made of color. All surfaces, including walls and floors, disappear and are replaced by ever-changing shades of sherbet. The feeling was as if we were stepping into a new, beautiful reality, completely sober.
Saturday our group was fortunate to tour Jack Shainman’s gallery, The School, in Kinderhook NY, where we were treated to a private tour led by Mr. Shainman himself. This gallery alone is worth a special trip to the area. The rock-star treatment we received is a perk enjoyed by Collectors Circle travelers!