by Seth Rogovoy
(HUDSON and CATSKILL, N.Y.) – The long-awaited, much-touted innovative exhibition, “River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home,” a collaborative show installed at the Thomas Cole Site and Frederic Church’s Olana, featuring 28 works of contemporary art recontextualized at the homes of the Hudson River School pioneers – opened this past weekend.
Curated by artist Stephen Hannock, of Williamstown, Mass., and art historian Jason Rosenfeld, the exhibition largely succeeds in its intention to create a dialogue across time and place between Cole and Church and contemporary artists including Kiki Smith, Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, Jerry Gretzinger, and Hannock himself especially, in his self-consciously referential painting, “The Oxbow, Flooded, for Frank Moore and Dan Hodermarsky,” on view at the Cole house.
A walk through Olana is always a wild experience, with the somewhat oppressively Victorian feel of the interior contrasting with the stunning views of the surroundings Church framed via window views. Highlights on display at Olana are Chuck Close’s “Self Portrait (Yellow Rain Coat),” although I’m not going to say where or why, as part of the joy is discovering it in its context. It’s worth a visit alone to stumble upon it. Also, Charles LeDray’s installation, “Empire,” on the enclosed studio porch, is a playful commentary on the whole affair.
The Cole site in Catskill offers somewhat more of the feel of a gallery show, albeit it the gallery being a house. Still, mostly unfurnished rooms put the emphasis on the artwork, but the curators obviously had fun with some playful juxtapositions, such as Romare Bearden’s “Prelude to Farewell” vying for attention with a Cole abstraction (yes, that’s right!) boasting a similar color palette.
Gretzinger’s “Jerry’s Map” seems quite at home occupying the walls of the upstairs hallway from floor to ceiling, and Gregory Crewdson’s “Untitled (21)” has an uncanny timelessness that belies its technological sophistication.