Season Six: Year In Review
Part 3 of 4. For a short review of our whole season, please click here.
Six years in, we were excited to host our first official visual artist-in-residence, who contributed in many ways — curation, one-of-a-kind event merch, tattoos (!) — to our 2016 season. Additionally, a Magical Trailblazing Woman of Dance graced our halls in a pre-season call to arms (and legs). Our Back Gallery hosted more exhibitions in succession than in ever before, giving rise to an official Back Gallery Series. Our annual events saw an increased visual presence overall, in all nooks and crannies in and around Basilica — sometimes spilling out into the streets beyond! A veritable Who’s-Who of area literati participated in a marathon reading. We hosted a powerful triad of female artists twice over (first in performance, then in visual arts). And a beloved, Brooklyn-born performance series came back up river to hang with us again. Read about it all below…
Art x Dylan Kraus
Visual artist Dylan Kraus braved the deep darkness of a Hudson February in Basilica’s Back Gallery to develop his series of paintings exploring the fabric of time, preparing for an exhibition at New York’s Vision Inc gallery last March. Using a technique similar to that of Rorschach ink blot tests, Kraus’ Clox are ink-on-canvas mandalas that bear a greater resemblance to Dali’s melting paintings than the thing that sits on your nightstand.
Two months later, Kraus returned as featured visual artist for 24-HOUR DRONE: EXPERIMENTS IN SOUND AND MUSIC, where his clock paintings served as visual backdrop for the weekend, the designs printed on limited edition shirts and bags for drone and nonlinear time aficionados alike to snatch up. Meanwhile, Kraus was on the floor of the fest THE WHOLE TIME, giving one-of-a-kind stick-and-poke tattoos in the spirit of “festival as ritual” to help memorialize the weekend… forever.
And two months after THAT, Kraus was back, this time as co-curator and fellow Cooper Union grad, visual artist Rose Salane, organizing Too Much of A Good Thing, a survey exhibition in Basilica’s Back Gallery. Check out this feature from The Creators Project about Kraus’ Clox here.
Back Gallery Series
Basilica Hudson is committed to expanding its visual art programming and experimenting with multidisciplinary, alternative and collaborative formats in our 2,000-square foot white cube—located in the back of the Kite’s Nest building, accessed from the North end of the Main Building. This year we were proud to host exhibitions by James Concannon and Jack Walls, Dylan Kraus and Rose Salane, Marc Swanson and Jeff Bailey Gallery, and documentary photographers Atish Saha and Bryan MacCormack.
A solo show of new works by NYC-based James Concannon Why Must My Heart Go On Beating ran from June 11 – 19 and was curated by Basilica visual artist exhibition alum Jack Walls. Concannon’s work combines a series of textual anecdotes and self portraits that dissect notions of life, lineage and collective societal consciousness. The works included in this exhibition attempt to begin a discussion on the importance of micro-cultural continuation—in both the immediate family unit and various identity-forming theologies. In producing this body of work, Concannon struggled with concepts related to the all-encompassing nature of globalization, and its role in our technologically-driven world. The opening was timed in tandem with Basilica’s annual (FREAK) FLAG DAY event.
Basilica Hudson and Left in Focus co-presented an exhibition by documentary photographers Atish Saha (Bangladesh) and Bryan MacCormack (Hudson, NY) entitled Lives Not Numbers, running from June 24 – 26. The exhibition presented a series of photographs measuring lives in numbers, statistics and data points that dominate mainstream discourse about public tragedies. In 2013, thousands perished during the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. Every year, thousands more are lost while migrating across the Sonoran Desert of Mexico and Arizona. In their first collaboration, documentary photographers Atish Saha and Bryan MacCormack presented a series of photographs to reveal the lives behind the numbers reported in these two separate events.
Too Much of a Good Thing, collaboratively curated by Dylan Kraus and Rose Salane, was a collection of sculptures, paintings and performances by friends (artists) based in both NYC and Hudson, from July 9 – 24. The exhibition gathered work that has affected both of the curators’ artistic practices in some way or another. This marked Kraus’ return to Hudson, this time as a curator, after spending a cold February painting in the Back Gallery space as Basilica’s first Artist in Residence. Kraus and Salane have been showing and working together for the past few years now. Artist/friends featured included: Rita Ackermann, Donald Baechler, Ry Fyan, Kayla Guthrie, Antonia Kuo, Keegan McHargue, Wade Oates, Lance De Los Reyes, Bill Stone, Dylan Kraus, Rose Salane and more.
Basilica Hudson and Jeff Bailey Gallery co-presented a solo exhibition of new work by Marc Swanson (Catskill, NY) from August 6 – 21. In this new body of work, artist Marc Swanson examined the experience and emotions of moving from New York City to the Upper Hudson Valley through installation, sculpture, abstraction and metaphor. This new work explored a series of dualities including the Eternal and the Immediate; Nature and Culture; the Urban and the Rural; Strength and Fragility; the Past and the Present. Swanson created a poetic response to this personal journey with a large sculptural installation that gratefully acknowledges the Hudson River School and Rural Cemeteries.
Art x Twyla
On the heels of her dance company’s 50th anniversary season, celebrated choreographer Twyla Tharp visited Basilica to usher in our 2016 season and speak about her life’s work. More than 100 people came out for a conversation with the legendary choreographer, who put us through the paces of life, work and how the creative process applies to just about everything.
Over the course of her career, which spans five decades, Tharp has received numerous awards for work that expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance. This program was made possible by Pathways to Dance, an annual, eight-county Capital Region initiative, in concert with Manhattan’s Joyce Theater, designed to support new dance creation and presentation. It was also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Funding support was also provided by the NYS DanceForce.
Art x 24-HOUR DRONE
Aside from renaissance man Dylan Kraus (see above), our second annual season opener featured a variety of artists in pretty much every discipline you can think of. Aside from the very long list of musical artists (see the full musical recap here), Second Ward Foundation and Kiln Films both doubled their film and video programming, No Wave artist and photographer Barbara Ess created a sound art installation based on field recordings, two sculptures – Comparator and Reverb Tank – by frequent Basilica collaborator Kris Perry were on view on Basilica’s grounds, and Hudson-based artist Vita Rabinovich explored cosmic radiation with her copper sculptures. Wave Farm presented Radio Drone, commissioned works presented interstitially between live performances, and Basilica tapped video artist Alon Koppel for its first commissioned artwork. Installed in Basilica’s Back Gallery and curated by Wave Farm, Continuing Effect (April 23 – May 7) presented thesis works from the 2016 Columbia University School of the Arts Sound Arts MFA program. Read more about the film + media component of 24-HOUR DRONE here.
Art x (FREAK) FLAG DAY
For the 5th year in a row, on Saturday June 11, Basilica Hudson hosted the after-dark (FREAK) FLAG DAY party—a freakier counterpart to the city of Hudson’s annual Flag Day parade and fireworks show. The event raised flags and funds for Basilica’s nonprofit arts programming, bringing innovative and avant-garde artists and art happenings to upstate NY.
But before we got there — earlier in the day, the city of Hudson’s Flag Day festivities included a parade down Warren Street and a festival at the Henry Hudson Riverfront with entertainment, kiddie rides, food, an air show and more! 10,000 – 12,000 people gather for this annual event. It is a true small-city community experience with a good dose of Lynchian-Americana! And this year, Basilica worked with Catskill artist Matt Bua to create a “Baby Basilica,” a scaled-down model of our beloved Industrial Church, which fit atop a Volkswagen Beetle and was paraded down Warren Street in broad daylight as part of Hudson’s annual Flag Day parade, spreading Basilica love and inclusivity all the way down Warren Street, back to our factory down by the river.
As darkness fell, Basilica embraced everything dark and comedically tragic as we presented the third iteration of nights conceived by Hudson-based artist Annie Bielski, welcoming our first of two 2016 female power trios (the second appearing during Basilica SoundScape!) into Basilica’s West Wing for the Darkwave Comedy Happy Hour. Bielski plus NYC artists Alexandra Tatarsky and KIZU each performed a solo comedy vignette with Elbert Perez’s chalk-outline freak mural as backdrop. As night fell and fireworks exploded, music by MIRROR MIRROR and DJs VEENGER CLUT, DJ Nick and SVB extended to the wee hours, and Matthew Placek’s durational film project, Balloons, Umbrellas and Snow looped in the North Hall.
Co-Founder & Director Melissa Auf Der Maur said, “We are committed to doing this annual event in response to and in celebration of Flag Day. Excited to participate in the dialogue of Hudson pride traditions, in our own Basilica way…There has been a great response to past incarnations of this event, by locals and visitors alike.”
Art x CATCH
CATCH is a crash course in what performance looks like today.
CATCH — “everyone’s favorite” Brooklyn-based, hydra-headed, multi-disciplinary, rough-and- ready series of performance events — forged back upriver to reconquer Basilica Hudson on July 10. After a standing room only crowd during their maiden voyage to the Hudson Valley in Basilica’s North Hall in July 2015, we were pleased to welcome back the Obie award-winning performance series a year later. Curated by Andrew Dinwiddie, Jeff Larson and Caleb Hammons, CATCH featured performances by Banana, Bag & Bodice, Chelsea & Magda, Heather Christian, Faye Driscoll, James Harrison Monaco & Jerome Ellis, Steve Lambert, David Szlasa, Saúl Ulerio, Witness Relocation and Adrienne Truscott.
Art x Read & Feed
Basilica Hudson and clmp (Community for Literary Magazines and Presses), presented Read & Feed, a new festival for food and literature, on July 30. A non-traditional book festival, Read & Feed offered a platform for writers to connect in new ways with fans, within the performative context of Basilica’s space. This projected annual event brings together artisanal makers of food with artisanal makers of literature. This inaugural “mini-festival” featured panel discussions bringing together writers, farmers and chefs, cooking and mixology demonstrations, a marketplace of small press publishers and spectacular eats and drinks, alongside a marathon reading of John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse). Co-presented by The John Cage Trust, the durational performance was broadcasted on WGXC and the recording is archived here.
Art x Basilica SoundScape
This year’s smashing Basilica SoundScape brought with it the second trio of powerful female artists of Basilica’s 2016 (the first during (FREAK) FLAG DAY in June!). Every year we have invited a very serious visual artist to activate our building at SoundScape. This year we have crafted an all-female counterpoint to the epic masculine weight of years passed, presenting the work of three women: Cal Lane, Lisa Laratta and Heather Benjamin, whose installations will be inside and outside, spilling into each area of the weekend, filling the Main Hall and grounds. We were honored to be collaborating with many friends on these projects: Kristen Dodge, who has just opened the new SEPTEMBER gallery here in Hudson, on the project with Cal Lane; SoundScape devotee and Sacred Bones label head Caleb Braaten brought in Heather Benjamin; and headliners Explosions in the Sky introduced us to their collaborator Lisa Laratta.
Kristen Dodge and Cal Lane first worked together in Boston in 2008, and are thrilled to be collaborating again for Lane’s installation at Basilica, Hudson during SoundScape. Working with the raw architecture of the factory’s steel beams and industrial artifacts, Lane will install her rusted and cut i-beams, oil barrels, and steel drums. Installed both in the Basilica’s main room and an outside site, Lane’s plasma cut forms will integrate and disrupt. Custom lighting will cast laced shadows, blurring the viewer’s sense of the interior and exterior of the objects themselves, and of the surrounding context. The topics of her forms are panties, Persian rugs, and dancing devils. Cal’s sculptures were installed both inside and and outside Basilica, and the oculus window in the North Hall was aglow with a looping video of Cal’s welding, shot from the inside of one of her oil barrel sculptures as she welded it into shape.
Lisa Laratta’s sculptural set design served as backdrop for the main stage for the duration of BSS. A frequent collaborator with Explosions in the Sky, much of Laratta’s work explores the mind, imagination, memory and dream worlds. She strives to create stage architecture that suggests imaginary spaces: unreal landscapes where our collective memories overlap. She uses colour, texture, materiality, space, form, rhythm and time to tell a story, to ask questions, to attempt connections, and to grasp at the beautiful and the elusive.
Heather Benjamin’s drawings of witchy women in the throes of sex, passion and delusion were exhibited in Basilica’s West Wing, in tandem with Brooklyn record label Sacred Bones’ pop-up shop. Sacred Bones also offered a special edition zine of Benjamin’s work.
The art of Heather Benjamin defines “explicit” not merely as the graphic depiction of sex and sexuality, but also as a commitment to being upfront about the psychic nature — and the emotional complications — of these things.
- Sean T. Collins, Adult Mag
In addition to the musical landscape, the fifth BSS featured an author reading by the immensely talented poet-actress Amber Tamblyn (read her interview with The Creative Independent here), a Writers in the Rafters reading by experimental music icon and art-as-life trailblazer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (joined with Psychic TV drummer Edley ODowd as duo Thee Majesty), a Kiln Films tribute to seminal drone musician and multidisciplinary artist Tony Conrad, pop-up shops by Sacred Bones and Publication Studio, and a mini Basilica Farm & Flea on Sunday. For more about Basilica’s music in 2016, click here. For more about Basilica’s Film + Media in 2016, click here. For more about our community programs like Basilica Farm & Flea, click here.
Eliza Coolidge (Hudson-based musician aka SIS), Bianca Hildenbrand (Hudson-based Swiss artist and curator) and Timothy Severo (New York-based architect) built 100 sculptures from found and forgotten objects, repurposed as instruments which BSS attendees were invited to play during their weekend-long interactive sound piece, Things You Do Seldom.
On the eve of BSS 2016, we sent Hudson-based visual artists Sonia Ruscoe and Elbert Perez to collaborate on a midnight-to-noon 12-hour Mural Challenge in our Back Gallery. We love the white-wall-filled brick archways in that space, but had never let an artist loose on them. Until now. The result was mighty — Hudson-As-Muse in full effect! The Hudson Alt-Herstory mural still stands, blessing the gallery through this long winter.
Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, The John Cage Trust, September Gallery, Jack Walls, Dylan Kraus + Rose Salane, Jeff Bailey Gallery, CATCH
Cal Lane courtesy September Gallery
Dylan Kraus courtesy The Creators Project
Exhibition view of Lives Not Numbers by Bryan MacCormack
Courtesy Brooklyn Vegan
Still from Alon Koppel’s Drone Latitudes
Photo of Darkwave Comedy performers by Tomm Roeschlein
CATCH by Maria Baranova
Read & Feed courtesy CLMP
Detail of Heather Benjamin’s work