Water is fast becoming a major topic of discussion the world over as our access to it becomes threatened by climate change, pollution, and, increasingly, privatization. But in the Hudson Valley it has been a topic, and a contentious one, going back to the beginning of the 20th century when the State of New York took an entire valley by eminent domain to create the Ashokan Reservoir in order to supply New York City with water. The valley comprised ten thousand acres which was home to two thousand people, five hundred homes, thirty-five stores, eleven churches, ten schools, and five railroad stations all of which had to be relocated to make way for the reservoir. So it is appropriate for the Hudson Valley to host an art exhibition around the theme of water. The exhibition comprises seventy-eight exhibitors and is on at the Muroff Kotler Gallery in Vanderlyn Hall at SUNY Ulster (aka UCCC), in Stone Ridge.
The exhibition was juried by Catskill-based artist Portia Munson, best known for her Pink Project installation and, more recently, her mandala-like compositions with flowers. The art exhibits are organized by dominant color, a surprising but well-conceived decision that creates unity among what is a very diverse body of work, and it makes for good visual flow. The exhibition is primarily comprised of two dimensional works and sculpture, with a few exceptions represented by video installations. Indeed the first thing that greets you on arrival is Cate Woodruff’s “Aegean Sea,” a shimmering video of the titular sea projected into a mirror and reflected onto the floor – it is a delightful welcome and sets the tone for the exhibition.
After stepping around, or into, Woodruff’s “Aegean Sea”, you will find yourself facing, on the opposite wall, Josephine Bloodgood’s striking painting “Shadow and Rock in Wake” of a figure whose shadow, as the title suggests, is cast into the wake of a wave. Also worthy of note is Tasha Depp who has two paintings on show: “Splashy Hair” and “Super-soaker Leo,” the latter is part of her “trash art” series, that is: images painted on packaging materials. In this painting, the cardboard container for a water-gun serves as the “canvas.” Directly below Depp’s painting is Claire Lambe’s mixed media “Fall Ophelia” in whose depths is, just discernible, the outline of a figure. Lambe employs layers of textured paper, maps, and, in this case, organic elements, with acrylic paint and glazes to create the effect of an autumn woodland pool. On the right-hand wall is Darla Bjork’s “Water Series #3,” a very nice example of the use of encaustic. For print-making, see Matthew W. Zappala’s woodcuts, I thought the “Songs of Wandering Aengus,” was particularly good (this is to the left of the gallery entrance). Further along that wall are Maria Cristina Brusca’s art history-inspired ink drawings, for example: “The Infanta Margarita at the Theater of The Millennium.” In this drawing, Brusca has the infanta from Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” floating on her side on a flooded stage.
There are quite a number of interesting photographs among the exhibits, look for Tim M. Smith’s nicely abstracted “Family,” two of Carole Ferraro’s “Reflections” series, Stewart Maurer’s “Ice Melody,” and George S. Gati’s “Street Sweeper under Waterfall.”
On the left-hand side of the gallery there is a video projection by Jared Handelsman. It is high on one wall over a door and works well there despite what might seem like a less than ideal spot. The video is called “Solar Reflections on Kiskaton Creek,” but the effect of is of exploding supernovas. Sue Horowitz and Lenny Kislin were among the few whose works are sculptural in the traditional sense of being three dimensional objects. Horowitz’s small but charming sculpture, “Sea Samples,” takes the form of a line of clam shells with parts of maps affixed or transferred to one half of each shell with beeswax. Lenny Kislin’s submission is a witty piece appropriately called, “He Who Controls Water Controls The World.” The sculpture is of a group of antique brass faucets set below a relief bust of a dignitary, presumably he who controls of the water.
This is one of the few art exhibitions you can go to and, regardless of what is in your pocketbook, take a work of art home with you in the form of a copy of Linda Weintraub’s artist’s book. The book, entitled “Water Water,” is twelve pages of words to do with water. Each set of words has its own heading, for example: Body Fluids, Water Diseases, Colors of Water and Water Pollutants. The words are arranged in a manner that reflects the movement of water and they visually flow from page to page.
Also playing throughout the opening hours of the gallery is the documentary film, “Deep Water: Building the Catskill Water System,” by Tobe Carey, Robert Dupree and Artie Traum. For those unfamiliar with the story of how New York City came to have the Ashokan Reservoir as a significant source of its water supply (as a relative newcomer to the region I counted myself among them), this is a real eye-opener and watching the video was a humbling experience. The video is also available to be viewed online.
The Muroff Kotler Gallery hours are limited and are tied to the college’s schedule so it’s best to plan your visit accordingly.
The featured image at the top of the article is entitled, “Frozen River Channel” by Carla Goldberg, mixed media on plexiglass. Photo courtesy of the Muroff Kotler Gallery.
The exhibition “Water” runs through April 19.
Gallery hours are:
Monday through Friday, 11 am — 3 pm, and by appointment. Closed Good Friday April 6, Open Saturday, April 14 from 12-4PM. The show closes on Friday, April 20.
For more information, contact:
Susan Jeffers, Gallery Coördinator, 845 687 5113,
or email: email@example.com
Jon Parrish, a native of Florida, divides his time between New Paltz, New York City and Miami. Jon is a self-confessed culture vulture and an avid photographer who specializes in maritime subjects.