Hudson Valley Art Scene

Arts & Culture

Arts and culture are what define the Hudson Valley.
The communities along the river are cultural wellsprings, with an abundance of performances, like music and dance, and creative communities for artists and writers. The region also boasts world-class theaters and museums, like Dia:Beacon, Bard’s Fisher Center, and the Bardavon. The region’s vibrant culture can only be matched by the Hudson Valley’s history, still evident in the form of its historic buildings, streets, and landmarks.


A Very, Very, Very Fine Haus

New Paltz’s Haus of Peculiar Brings Family, Advocacy, and Art to the Local Drag Scene
Nearly nude bodies and fully beat faces in a wild rumpus finale set to Lady Gaga concludes another group performance at BSP in Kingston—but the heartbeat of Hudson Valley drag lies beyond the stage and back home. For those involved in the scene, drag takes on a unique and personal meaning for each individual. For New Paltz-based troupe Haus of Peculiar, drag is a homecoming: It means artistic expression, a safe space, and a warm dinner cooking on the stove in a place where you're loved, supported, and appreciated by your chosen family. “There’s not a big queer family moment happening in drag houses, at least not as widely as one might think,” 26-year-old performer Venus says, reflecting on what sets the Haus, where a number of queens and performers reside, apart. “Here you kind of get that and the added bonus is—we do drag.” At “Loosey Goosey,” the Haus’ monthly party-show at BSP, Strawberry, 22, dressed in a black evening gown, gives a morose tribute to their long distance spouse, silencing the crowd in suspended captivation. A black screen descends downstage with projected white text that transcribes a narration in French. Strawberry emerges, beginning a passionate opera-noir set to Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl,” choreographed with wistful, romantic gestures. The voice of the narration was Strawberry’s partner (and fellow performer) Mauve, who had to return to their Canadian home shortly after their wedding earlier this year. “What we do, it brings back so much childhood—and there’s the way that we play, the way that we dress up, and the way that we embrace that intense release of energy. I think we found our home doing that and some people found their home watching us,” Strawberry says. “I think we’re all trying to escape the trap of trying to be somebody who we’re not.” Strawberry has been with the Haus since its unofficial founding five or six years ago. Since then, recounting interactions they’ve had with newcomers and audience members in recent years, they say it’s been an “intense, long, and very diverse history that’s led us to the point where people are now coming into our spaces and feeling, in some cases, that they feel more at home than they’ve ever felt in their lives.” One of those newcomers is Showponii, 24, who has been performing with the haus for about eighteen months and is currently their first and only drag king (a performer whose drag persona is male). In that relatively short time, he’s observed and immersed himself in the close-knit and supportive culture of this particular drag home. “We're an actual family that wants to build each other up and see each other succeed—instead of tearing performers down out of jealousy,” he says, as the latter can be all too common in other, more competitive drag communities. “We also try to understand each other as people as much as we can, in order to be a better ally to the marginalized queer people in our haus, along with cultivating spaces where everyone can feel safe.” A number of performers agree that the foundation of support at the Haus of Peculiar gives them the energy and confidence to express themselves onstage. “We all put how we feel on that stage,” says Denime the Queen, 24, another performer. “And having people who help you deal with it while you’re at home and you release that on stage—there’s nothing like it.” Although their missions as performers are varied throughout the Haus, they all agree that there’s no right or wrong way to define or express themselves through drag. Every performance is an opportunity for a performer to tell their story in a new way. For Victoria Precise, drag is another instrument for communicating a heartfelt mission as an advocate and crisis counselor by day. “I carry that over and it informs my drag and how I want to convey a message to somebody onstage,” she says. “So for me drag is advocacy, activism, feeling, and relentless and uninhibited self-expression.” At “Loosey Goosey,” Victoria gave an emotionally-charged rendition of Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” in a modern technicolor cosmic-housewife ensemble—complete with cake ingredient props. Although wild and jubilant, the campy number was “dedicated to finding solace in heartbreak,” according to Victoria, producing a performance as raw as cake batter. Although drag often involves costumes, makeup, and wigs, it’s not a disguise or an evasion of a performer's identity. On the contrary, in a world that requires countless other less-fulfilling performances every day, it’s often a chance to embrace and unveil the most real and the most genuine version of oneself. “Drag seems like you’re putting on a lot, like you’re covering yourself up,” Victoria says. “But, really, it’s a reveal of your true colors and who you are.” Follow @hausofpeculiar on instagram to stay informed on performances and events. ...

Tags: General Arts & Culture

Autumnal Activities in the Hudson Valley

The leaves are turning brilliant hues of orange and red. The kids (and the kids at heart) are contemplating their costumes. And all of us are trying to figure out if we need a sweater under that light jacket. It can only mean one thing: Mid-October is upon us. Here’s some stuff to do.

Tags: General Arts & Culture

Art, Work, and Play: Small Bands of Misbehavior at Studio929canal

Courtenay Williams and Kai Lee have spent more than a decade “creating environments, transforming spaces, strengthening context, and shaping experiences.” As the award-winning duo behind Small Bands of Misbehavior—a production design, art direction, and creative direction studio based out of New York and Los Angeles—they’ve taken their talents in creative problem solving and storytelling to enhance branding for clients ranging from Lululemon and Bank of America to Google and Sesame Street.  This all means, of course, that they work in the realm of multimedia—commercials, photo shoots, graphics, television, and film—but they also leverage their instincts as artists to lend their talents to custom fabrication, experiential marketing, art installations, and live events.  “Our approach is often a combination of conscientious design and artistic abandon. While our clients come to us with particular parameters and a general direction, there is a good deal of creative development,” says Williams. “We put a premium on listening, being open and curious—and, of course, asking questions.”  “We really take it all in, make sure we examine all the possibilities and always try to figure out how we can make it better,” Kai Lee says. “We recognize that it isn’t just a job they are giving us—but, more importantly, trust in our experience and expertise.”  The projects that interest and excite them extend beyond national brands. Last year, the duo were chosen by global ad agency Havas for a project called “BuildOut.” During the project, they collaborated with a 3-D artist to create the base elements for sculptures they later designed and fabricated—capturing the entire process in a short-form web series. “This project demonstrated not only our creative range, but our ability to synthesize complex ideas into practical designs very quickly,” Williams says. And, now, this year, they are bringing their work even closer to home. Funded by a private organization encouraging urban and rural revitalization through the arts, “artwork | an exhibition” at Studio929canal in Middletown allowed them to connect with Hudson Valley artists and makers “who are also employed as blue-collar workers and tradespeople” to highlight the work of artists who still must earn a living while pursuing their craft. After accepting submissions from around the community—sculptor-mechanics, contractor-painters, and more talented working class artists—they’re even more committed to helping to tell the story of artists who live, work, and create in that duality. “We care about our work, each project is important, and a lot of people say this, but we put our blood, sweat and tears into it,” Lee says. “Every project, large or small. Building relationships with our clients is something we’re proud of, and there’s nothing better than having our clients become family.“ Catch “artwork | an exhibition” at 9-29 Canal Street in Middletown from October 25-27. ...

Tags: General Arts & Culture

Live, Train, and Learn: the Living Arts Apprenticeship's Upcoming Program for Drummers and Composers

Amir Ziv founded the Living Arts Apprenticeship Program (LAAP) in 2005 at his rural home-studio in the Catskill mountains. The organization offers a range of single art form and interdisciplinary programs that focus on drum-set and harmonic rhythm study, visual arts, music composition, and aikido. LAAP is currently accepting applications for its upcoming Drumming and Music Composition Cross-Disciplinary Apprenticeship, which will take place January 4-10, 2020.

Tags: Music

Inside Cornell Creative Arts Center's Ceramics Studio

Not everyone has access to viewing or creating art; the Cornell Creative Arts Center in Kingston hopes to change that by offering accessible, all-inclusive ceramics lessons.

Tags: Visual Art

Five October Events in the Hudson Valley

An indie rock icon, some innovative abstract sculpture, a 1920s silent horror film, and chances to dig some blues while cruising the Hudson and sample some craft beer at the 1969 Woodstock Festival site. See all of these event picks below—and see our event listings for more fun fall fare.

Tags: General Arts & Culture

To Your Health: 10th O+ Festival Biggest and Best Yet

The 10th Annual O+ Festival is set to turn Uptown Kingston every flavor of exuberant from October 11-13 to continue celebrating their mission of championing accessible, affordable healthcare for artists, creators, and community members.

Tags: Festivals

Five Fabulous October Events in the Hudson Valley

Add these plum picks to your Fun Stuff to Do This Month list: a street festival, live music, a gallery opening, and a whale of a one-man show.

Tags: General Arts & Culture

On the Cover: Returning to Nature with Martin Wittfooth

Artist/illustrator Martin Wittfooth discusses his art and the various influences behind his imagery. Wittfooth’s work will be on display as part of the SUNY Ulster Visiting Artist Series at the Muroff Kotler Visual Arts Gallery until October 18.

Tags: Visual Art

Scarred & Beautiful

The 800 Goddesses of the Grace Project
Isis Charise has photographed over 400 women who’ve had mastectomies for her stunning series The Grace Project.

Tags: Visual Art

International Repercussions

Kyaw Kyaw Naing on Forming the First Burmese Hsaing Waing Ensemble in America
Kyaw Kyaw Naing teams up with SUNY New Paltz’s Alex Peh and Susie Ibarra to form the US’s first traditional Burmese Hsaing Waing percussion orchestra.

Tags: Music

Earmark These 7 Books for October Reading

A review of Holly George-Warren’s new biography, Janis: Her Life and Music, plus a round-up of six October book picks spanning from a family courtroom drama to a citywide treasure hunt.

Tags: Books & Authors

"Underground Railroad Game" at Bard's Fisher Center

Whiplash comedy “Underground Railroad Game” tackles the intersections of slavery, race, and sexism and encourages

Tags: Theater

Healing Arts for Healing Artists at Kingston O+ Festival 2019

O+ returns for its 10th year to Kingston with a stacked line-up of music and art happenings.

Tags: Festivals

William Clutz at Carrie Haddad: An Overview of 60 Years

William Clutz comes to Carrie Haddad Gallery and will be on display through November 10.

Tags: Visual Art

A Marriage of Minds: Pollock and Krasner's Relationship Explored at PS21

At PS21 this October, “Pollock” sheds light on the marriage of artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner—exploring her art and her life as it relates to her husband's fame

Tags: Theater

8 Things to Do and See in the Hudson Valley this October

An exciting guide of happening this October.

Tags: General Arts & Culture

6 Live Music Shows to Check Out in October

Six live music shows to pencil in this month from Tuareg band Les Filles de Illighadad to jazzbo singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones.

Tags: Music

Charlie Murray at ROCA: Blind and Visually-Impaired Artists Share their "Visions of Awareness

The surrealist photography of Charlie Murray is on display as part of “Visions of Awareness,” an exhibition of blind artists at ROCA.

Tags: Visual Art

Book Review: The Life and Music of Janis Joplin

Holly George-Warren is the first biographer to have gained access to reams of Joplin's correspondence and in her new book "Janis: Her Life and Music" she unpacks the personal and profound points of the artists brief and powerful career.

Tags: Books & Authors

4 Short Album Reviews for October

Four short album reviews to freshen up your fall playlists.

Tags: Music

Chronogram Poetry | October 2019

Poems by Chronogram readers, edited by Phillip X Levine.

Tags: Poetry

Five Years In, Rocket Number Nine Records is Soaring

Rocket Number Nine Records, a record store that found its home in Kingston five years ago, seeks to offer a Golden Age vibe—warm yet chill, intelligent without a whiff of snooty ‘tude.

Tags: Music

Denizen Theatre to Announce Selections for Upcoming Winter Season

DENIZEN Theatre, the non-profit arts organization in New Paltz's Waterstreet Market, has selected three new plays for the '19/'20 Winter Season.After a successful first year, and with eight productions under their belt, DENIZEN's artistic team has been reading submissions in preparation for this winter.

Tags: Theater

Must-See Hudson Valley Sculpture Parks to Check Out Before Winter

Fall is the peak time for adventuring and exploring, especially in painfully photogenic places like the Hudson Valley. For those who are lovers of both art and hiking, outdoor sculpture parks are your go-to destination this season (and probably during the warmer months too!). Here are five sculpture parks that are a must see before they close up (or get too dang cold) for the winter.

Tags: Visual Art

5 Awesome Activities in the Hudson Valley

Once again, here’s your weekly curated tip sheet of great things to do in our region. Art, music, film, and wine are in the hopper this time around, so mark your datebook and enjoy!

Tags: Film

Harvest the Handmade Joy: Quail Hollow's Oktoberfest Coming to Rhinebeck

Celebrate the crisp in the air and the bounty of the harvest at the first annual Oktoberfest Handcrafted at Rhinebeck: A Family Harvest Celebration, happening October 5 and 6 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.

Tags: Festivals

The Musical Highlights of Woodstock Film Festival 2019

Woodstock is a town of music connoisseurs, and the Woodstock Film Festival offers first-rate performances (October 2-6).

Tags: Film

Five Essential Hudson Valley Events for Late September

Laughs, libations, and live music, what else do you need? How about some garlic on that? It's all here in this week’s grab bag of local goodness.

Tags: General Arts & Culture

On The Cover: Jenny Kemp's Pressed

Jenny Kemp's twelve paintings are on display at the Carrie Haddad Gallery as part of the show "Pulse: Color & Form in a Visual Rhythm" until September 15.

Tags: Visual Art

TMI Project's Eva Tenuto on 10 Years of Powerful Storytelling (Q&A)

TMI Project's annual benefit, Voices in Action, will take place on September 21 at BSP Kingston, with a cocktail hour at 7pm and the show at 8pm.

Tags: Theater

The Impossible Dream

A Monologue of Queer Survival
An adaptation of a performed story by Sam Briton, "The Impossible Dream," detailing their childhood experiences with conversion therapy, homophobia, and more.

Tags: Theater

The Cow as Critic: Art and Animals on Saunders Farm

Inside the only combination sculpture park-cattle farm in the Northeast.

Tags: Visual Art

The Naked Truth: Antonio Ramos & the Gang Bangers at Mount Tremper Arts

Antonio Ramos and the Gang Bangers bare all, tackling themes of natural disasters, nudity, Puerto Rican corruption, and queer pride.

Tags: Dance

Exploring Liminal Spaces and Queer Latinx Identities in 'Entre Espacios'

Queer Latinx artists explore liminal spaces, identity, and trauma in “Entre Espacios.”

Tags: Visual Art


Hudson Valley Events

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Endless Journey Exhibit @ Rockland Center for the Arts

Endless Journey Exhibit

Oct. 20-Nov. 24 — An exhibit of one man’s journey to inform the world of Cambodia’s...

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