Something out of the ordinary is guaranteed to meet you when you step into the Emerge Gallery in Saugerties to view an exhibition. Owner Robert Langdon encourages artists to challenge themselves in their creativity, to push beyond the boundaries of their comfort zones, and he’s not averse to doing the same as a gallerist when it comes to devising themes for shows or deciding what art to accept for them. It could be one piece of art or it could be the exhibit as a whole—the novel, the extraordinary, will be there to meet and greet you.
In the case of Golden Desire, the exhibition currently in the gallery through October 10, 2021, it’s the entire show that provides a unique experience. Two artists—Lesley Bodzy and Jay Youngdahl, both recent graduates of the MFA Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—have collaborated to explore “the role of desire in our existential lives and the relation of gold to our personal and economic relationships,” Langdon states. “Conceived as an aid to consider our crucial universalities, the artists proceed with an understanding that we live in a common state of fragility, in our planet and in our bodies and minds.”
Painter and sculptor Lesley Bodzy explains: “This series of works attempts to visualize and process the invisible pressures many girls of my generation endured while conforming with the golden standard of stereotypical femininity,” she explains. “The gold drapery reflects the shiny veneer we each present to the world. Taught to play roles to please our parents and society, our challenge is to seek our true selves.”
Jay Youngdahl, a lawyer for and activist with workers in the American South, is a photographer, collage artist, and writer. “Finding abstraction in landscape and travel photography that connects to our human condition, his work in the show pulls several threads from the multitude of historic references to gold.” For me Youngdahl’s most striking work in the show derives directly from his work as labor advocate: a large golden poster displaying the lyrics of a song sung by twentieth-century textile workers. You have to see it to appreciate it in itself and in the context of this exhibition.
“Golden Desire” is at the Emerge Gallery, Main Street, Saugerties, open Fridays through Sundays. If you can’t make it in person, artwork from this and all Emerge Gallery’s shows can be viewed and purchased online through artsy.net.