"Hudson Valley Artists 2010: Contemporary Art and Praxis" is the latest of these summer surveys, which get curated by outside art world figures every other year (the odd ones being handled in-house by Dorsky Museum curator Brian Wallace). New this year to the Dorsky's annual Hudson Valley Artists exhibition is an expansion of the residency requirement to include artists from Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties, in addition to the Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Greene and Columbia County embrace of the last decade. Also new will be the introduction of a Hudson Valley Artists Annual Purchase Award to be used to acquire one or more artworks from the exhibition for the Dorsky Museum's permanent collection.
The curator of the new Praxis show opening this Saturday, June 26 is Thom Collins, director of the heralded Neuberger Museum at SUNY-Purchase for the past five years and a former curator at a variety of contemporary collections, including the Baltimore Contemporary, Cincinnati and several Seattle-area public collections. He brings to his current assignment - part of a new push to share services among the region's top contemporary museums and learning institutions (see Bard CCS story in this issue of Alm@nac) - a keen eye for combined artistic talents and conceptual intelligence, as well as a vital sense for presenting what he has found amongst our local talents in a way that's both respectful to where we are, as a regional culture, and what we might need to be thinking about and discussing, as a greater society.
So what's the show about? "Key philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to the Frankfurt School have elaborated the description of and advocated a special category of human action called 'praxis,'" Collins has written of the new show's theme. "In praxis, critical theory is wedded to practical activity to yield new cultural 'products' ranging from speech to texts, objects, organizations and environments. The resulting creative products are offered as a form of social activism seeking to improve, or propose a new solution to, an existing set of material, cultural or social circumstances."
Key to this new way of looking at it is the Dorsky show's inclusion of many art collectives, including the ongoing Habitat for Artists project that has been underway in New Paltz, Kingston and other sites for several years now; the Hudson Valley Seed Library's use of local artists' imagery for seed packets; and the lesser-known but hugely intriguing Ladies' Auxiliary and Men's Fylfot Correspondence Club.
Following this Saturday's 5-to-7-p.m. artists' reception, preceded by a 4-to-5-p.m. curator's talk, there will be numerous events scheduled for the show's run, including performances and museum talks. The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is located on the SUNY-New Paltz campus and is open Wednesdays through Sundays. For further information, including calendar details and info on other shows up concurrent to this omnibus, call (845) 257-3844 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum.