At the Emerge Gallery, Something New is Nothing New

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.

Artwork by Jay Youngdahl. Image courtesy of Emerge Gallery

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.

You Must See “Seasons of Greene II”

If you’re in or near the Catskill-Athens area and want to see a really super exhibit of outstanding paintings of our region by some of the gifted artists who live and work here, then don’t miss “Seasons of Greene II” at the Athens Cultural Center. Eleven of these artists—Scott Thomas Balfe, Bruce Bundock, James Coe, Kevin Cook, James Cramer, Keith Gunderson, Ann Larsen, Lynn Palumbo, Leigh Ann Smith, Susan M. Story, and Marlene Wiedenbaum—have captured, each in their own unique style, the beauty and sublimity to be found in the various special places protected by the Greene Land Trust. These include the Coxsackie Creek Grassland Preserve, Brandow Point, the Octaparagon Wildlife Refuge, the Coxsackie/Climax Creek Wetland, the Mawignack Preserve, the Willows, Pine Lane, and Flegel Farm. Each of these places has its own character, its own kind of terrain, so when eleven superb artists are let loose in them to meditate on and capture the characteristics that specially touch them, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a very engrossing show.

As the show’s title implies, it was preceded by the original “Seasons of Greene” which was held in 2017. Plans are afoot, I believe, to make this a regular event every other year. I hope so. I went there on the opening day so I could get a flavor of it to share with you, but I’m planning to return and spend the time that these magnificent artworks deserve.

The paintings are for sale, and a portion of the proceeds from the sales goes to support the work of Greene Land Trust to protect these special Greene County places.

“Seasons of Greene II” is open until October 10, 2021. The hours are Fridays 4–7 pm; Saturdays 1–6 pm; Sundays 11–2 pm. Parking is easy to find. Athens is well worth a visit in itself, both to stroll the streets and to enjoy the waterfront (from which you can catch a view of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse). Don’t miss this opportunity!