This past weekend I got to indulge myself for an entire day. Huge thanks go to Jay for taking care of Calvin the ten-hour-long escapade. So what did I fill those valuable, independent hours with? A tour of artists’ studios and homes in the Hudson River Valley.
Woodstock has always been a place I’ve wanted to see, and I’d also wanted to see more of the Hudson River Valley, so couple this with a no-logistics planning required trip organized by the Museum of Art and Design, and it was an opportunity not to be missed. There’s something supremely soothing about watching miles of trees whipping by your bus windows.h
The first stop was Devorah Sperber’s studio where she takes inspiration from industrialisation and pixelation to an art, using items like cotton spools or beads or push pins to create works — such as a Warhol Campbell’s Soup can.
I loved picking her brain on methods and materials for a lighting installation piece that I’ve been working on for a number of years. Engaging with Sperber and sculptor Paul Chaleff later in the day, gave me a new appreciation that figuring out the engineering part of an artwork is an equally valuable part of the creative process.
Our second stop literally transported us to another world, once created by ceramic scuptor Kathy Ruttenberg. One takes a switchback-laced route through wooded slopes to emerge at the top of her many acred property to the top of a mountain, where Ruttenberg’s studio and home are located. Her creative vision infuses everything — lifelike African animals wander the slopes, collabrative works with ironmongers create fantastical creatures on gates, on her roof and as decor items on the doors of the spotless sheds that house her 40 animals.
I was amazed that the artist, who prizes her privacy, would open her home to strangers. Here, everything including towel holders, china and window treatments exude her anthropomorphic creative organic vision of the world.We broke for lunch at Cucina, accompanied with a palette pleasing vino de Montepulciano. After this, we headed out to our final stop, Chaleff’s studio. Chaleff creates massive works, and some small ones too. They’re witty in their construction, apart from defying the laws of drying clay. But it was a series of unassuming works in extruded ceramic that caught my attention. They looked very much like a batch of old materials — foam insulation sleeves for heating pipes, water pipes, arc welded beams, well-worn bamboo, supersized hair with follicular patterning.
Actually, they were all made from clay and their appearance a visual conceit aided and abetted by texture, colour, firing and finish. Bravo! Wish I could afford one.