Whale of an Exhibit Opens at Basilica Hudson

BUMP  (courtesy of Dan and Frank DenDanto, on view at ICA Maine)

BUMP (courtesy of Dan and Frank DenDanto, on view at ICA Maine)

(HUDSON, N.Y.) – The interactive whale exhibit BUMP, created by brothers Frank DenDanto and Dan DenDanto, opens at Basilica Hudson with a reception for the artists on Saturday, August 23, from 5 to 7pm, and will run through Labor Day on Monday, September 1, 2014. The installation includes bones from three different whales, suspended at eye level in Basilica’s Main Hall. The art is intended to be educational, and the bones are accessible for hands-on touching – not normally an activity allowed at fine art galleries or natural history displays. Once touched, they are set in motion, causing shadows to dance around the space.

A closing celebration with a special music performance by Black Sea Hotel, Charlie Looker, and Patrick Higgins will take place on Friday, August 29, with doors at 8pm and music at 9pm. Tickets will be $10 at the door.

The closing party will provide “an intimate, early music vibe,” says event curator Lea Bertucci. Black Sea Hotel has been described as an “a capella Balkan women’s trio singing traditional songs from the mythical birthplace of Orpheus.” Charlie Looker (Extra Life, Seaven Teares, Psalm Zero) provides a haunting voice and guitar ranging from early music to demented covers. Patrick Higgins (Bacchannalia) has been described as an “electrified Bach for the classical guitar.”

Black Sea HotelSays Dan DenDanto, “I have been wanting to do a whaling or whale-themed exhibit in Hudson with help from connections we have from the Nantucket Whaling Museum since I was introduced to the city while working at a local theater. I believe, given the history of the city as a whaling port, it would be inspiring to bring whale bone back for the current residents to connect with. The piece is unique in a number of ways, least of which it is the only one in the country that encourages patrons to handle the bones.”

Says Basilica Hudson creative director Melissa Auf der Maur, “Bringing BUMP to Hudson reflects Basilica’s commitment to the rich history of our region and the Hudson whalers, who played a big part in what we love about Hudson today.”

The exhibit will be on view Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4pm and by appointment (email info@basilicahudson.com to view the exhibition).

The DenDanto brothers work in tandem – Dan is a cetacean biologist and his brother Frank is a light and theater designer. The brothers have been collaborating for some years on whale skeleton articulations for numerous museums, but recently embarked on the more creative, interactive BUMP piece. BUMP is their first exhibit that was centered around an educational and interactive fine art approach, rather than a traditional scientific assembly.

Dan has been cleaning, articulating and restoring whale skeletons for museums and educational purposes professionally since 1993. He works with whale bones as a researcher with the College of the Atlantic and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, both organizations which work to determine causes of death of beached whales along the Maine coast. His research focuses on life-history data, including photographic identification, genetic and sighting information. Dan also directs the North Atlantic Fin Whale Catalogue, and has been station manager at the EMC Blair Marine Research Station at Mount Desert Rock since 1998. His brother, Frank DenDanto is the project manager and designer, formerly a light designer at the Maine College of Art – where BUMP was first exhibited.

BUMP was first exhibited at the Maine College of Art, and went on to show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine.

ICA Director Daniel Fuller said the exhibition is especially exciting for kids, “They are mesmerized by the bones, especially when they are set in motion. And I think it’s really cool that they have the ability to touch them. You don’t see that very often in natural history museums.”

BUMP is made possible by Allied Whale, the College of the Atlantic’s marine mammal research group who have loaned the bones for the exhibit, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Artist owned and operated since 2010, Basilica Hudson is a reclaimed 19th century factory converted into an art, performance, production and event space. Only two hours from New York City, and located just steps from the Hudson Amtrak station on the waterfront of the historic city of Hudson, New York. The 17,000 square feet of a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces constructed of industrial materials with a diverse floor plan, makes Basilica Hudson an ideal location for music, film and art festivals and events.


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