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Artistic Surprise

Ellen Levitt

Posted on July 31, 2022 22:24

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We visited a little-known art center and were won over by it.

My family and I spent the weekend in the Hudson Valley area of New York State and visited our older daughter, who is spending a few weeks (post-graduation) on an archaeological dig in Kingston. While we were there, we came upon a small arts center and visited it. We also visited a better-known art museum and weren't as impressed by its pieces.

On a whim, we visited the Unison Arts Center because we passed it by while driving somewhere. It consists of a few acres of land with various contemporary art pieces, sculptures, and site-specific artworks. They were exhibiting a show called "Owning Earth" as well as miscellaneous pieces. 

We were the only visitors while we were there, which lent it a special feeling. One piece was of a reconstructed, deteriorating building which now houses a small pond and animals inside it. We were charmed by croaking frogs and darting fish. 

I liked several pieces displayed here, and we were really enthusiastic about them because we were not familiar with it. It was definitely a surprise, although my older daughter had been here a few years ago for a musical performance in one of the small buildings on the campus.

The next day we visited Dia Beacon, which we had heard about before. Beacon is a pretty town which we have visited a few times, so we finally got tickets to see the art museum. It's housed in a former factory, which sounded interesting.

But while we did enjoy some of the pieces on display here, several others seemed underwhelming, to put it politely. While we did enjoy artworks by Louise Bourgeoise and Sam Gilliam (who recently died) and a few others, there were pieces that were merely long pieces of yarn, hung in clever manners. C'mon, this is not profound. We are a family that enjoys visiting art museums and galleries, and I have visited a few hundred over my lifetime, so we have some experience interacting with art.

The Louise Bourgeoise spider was cool, and the Gilliam pieces were colorful. I also liked a few pieces that riffed on the mathematical concept of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21...). But to be honest, we had criticisms about Dia Beacon and think that the space should be used better. And the pieces consisting of string were a sham. I don't know which artist was responsible for it and won't give him or her a mention.

Art is often hard to pin down. Each piece can elicit a variety of reactions. I've debated the merits of various paintings and mixed media pieces over the years. Sometimes I've changed my mind about certain artworks, for better or worse. 

Museums can also be critiqued. In my capacity as a writer about art, I often take note of how the pieces are arranged within gallery rooms, especially in my articles and reviews (such as this one about the Virgil Abloh retrospective). I do recommend Unison Arts, an overlooked treasure. 

 

 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on July 31, 2022 22:24

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