HUDSON – The Hudson Jazz Festival kicked off this week with the opening of a new art exhibit at Hudson Hall.
Community members attended the celebratory event in masks and ready to gather in person after Columbia County reported the lowest number of active COVID cases in three months.
Mike Mosby, a Hudson resident and multidisciplinary artist, curated the 36 works of art in a collection titled “Look again.”
“A person should learn how they feel about art, that feeling cannot be planted. I want people to leave understanding the power of free speech. It’s unlimited. It’s organic,” said Mosby, a Bronx native. He walked through the gallery introducing different viewers to the artists, most of whom are his personal friends.
“Artists belong to different social and religious groups,” he said, before being briefly interrupted for a passing hug by Hudson-based artist Louise Smith.
She has six pieces in the exhibit ranging in price from $3,500 to $7,500.
His article entitled “The way of the scales is chaotic but warm, reminiscent of a more tame Jackson Pollock or Janet Sobel. The piece elicited deep reflection from viewers as they walked through it, closely inspecting its topography.
But unlike Sobel and other more classical Abstract Expressionists, Smith used window screens as his canvas. She decided to push spackling paste through the screen mesh to create a sturdier surface to paint on.
The medium Smith chose for this exhibition was different from that of another Hudson-based artist, Catalina Viejo Lopez de Roda.
She presented four paper collages in the form of letters on college-lined paper. Instead of handwriting, the piece “Letter to a hug” is an accumulation of hundreds of different tiny pieces of paper that Lopez de Roda has collected over many years.
“Paper conveys more than words and it took a lot of layers,” she said, showing off her long fingernails as evidence of her ability to manipulate such a small material. “It was my response to the feelings we were missing in the pandemic as a personal touch,” said the artist, who is from Malaga, Spain, and has lived in Hudson for seven years.
Works by Lopez de Roda and Smith were displayed in the common council chamber of Hudson Hall. The building was constructed in 1855 and served as Hudson’s town hall until 1962. It also housed a police station, bank, and opera house. During the Civil War, many abolitionists used the space as a conference venue, according to Hudson Hall executive director Tambra Dillon. In 2015, it underwent a full restoration to become a multipurpose space that hosts community events, art exhibits, speakers, film screenings and more.
In the former Mosler vault, preserved when the building was a bank, a video installation titled “Armstrong Now” depicted black performers celebrating legendary American blues trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Artists danced, sang and performed in creative response to the news that the Armstrong Archive, one of the most important archival collections of any jazz artist, has been digitized.
Outside of the event, Mosby became DJ Fulathela as people danced around confined log fires to funk and soul music from the 1970s and 1980s. Wine and conversation flowed; laughter and celebration filled the air.
Buttercup, a local restaurant, provided free hot dogs and popcorn.
Strangers and neighbors gathered in what many noted was their first in-person gathering in months. And their dance was proof of prolonged isolation. Millennials and baby boomers have been beating the pace.
The kickoff is the first event of a long series over the next two weekends at Hudson Hall. Live jazz and film screenings are scheduled during Valentine’s Day and Presidents weekend. For more information, visit the Hudson Hall website (hudsonhall.org).