Openings USA

Up and coming in Hudson

Collectors and artists flock to upstate New York

The Second Ward

NEW YORK. The trend for renovating derelict buildings in Hudson, New York, continues apace, with two art collectors in the process of converting an old school, dating to the 1920s, into an arts centre.

The collectors, Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol, have bought the building from the city for around $300,000. “It will ultimately become an art foundation. We are building a 500-person auditorium as well as around ten spaces, each around 1,500 sq. ft, that will be used as galleries,” said Johnson. The centre, The Second Ward, is named after the school, and is due to open in 2013.

The programme is still “rather unstructured at this point”, said Johnson, who sees the space as a venue for local and established artists. “We’ve talked loosely with artist friends like Christian Marclay about doing projects, but there are no set plans yet. We want the auditorium to become a venue for local artists—there’s a real film and music scene in town already,” added Johnson, who aims to make admission free.

The centre will also provide storage for the couple’s collection which comprises several hundred works by around 40 artists such as Wade Guyton, Gabriel Orozco, Nancy Spero, Raymond Pettibon and Wolfgang Tillmans. Curators and artists will be invited to curate shows from the pair’s holdings, although Johnson said that, “we don’t want this to just be about our collection.”

The project is part of a tradition “for this industrial reuse along the Hudson River”, said Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture, the art and architecture practice that is designing the centre. “There is a corridor along the river, extending into Massachusetts—look at Storm King Art Centre, Dia: Beacon, Mass Moca [the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art] and Jacob’s Pillow [the dance festival, until 28 August]. This project is certainly aligned with that.”

It is the latest private initiative in the region. The Marina Abramovic Foundation for Preservation of Performance Art is due to open in 2012, while Nada Hudson, a project by the New Art Dealers Alliance, will debut in the Basilica Hudson (30-31 July). The former steel foundry will house more than 30 site-specific artist projects. “We chose Hudson [because] it’s clearly becoming an upstate art centre,” said Heather Hubbs, the director of the alliance.

“Hudson already has an incredible community with the Bard university MFA programme,” said art dealer James Fuentes, who is participating in Nada Hudson, adding: “Within a few years Hudson will become a real centre for contemporary art.”


The Basilica Hudson
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