Energy in All Directions

Energy in All Directions brings rarely seen artworks and new acquisitions from The Tang Teaching Museum collection together in dialogue with objects from the Shaker Museum’s extensive holdings to celebrate the life and legacy of artist and gallerist Hudson (1950–2014). Hudson and the Shakers valued acceptance, equality, and artistry, and both built new communities that shared common themes of inclusion, interconnectedness, and innovation. They were both radicals in their time.

The Shakers formed under the leadership of Ann Lee (1736–1784), a working-class woman from Manchester, England. Shaker communities settled in the American Northeast and based their ideals around community, equality, simplicity. They believed that God was equal parts man and woman, and that Ann Lee was the female equivalent of Jesus. Because of these beliefs, the community saw all individuals as equal regardless of race, gender, or physical ability. Women and African Americans, in particular, were equal and full participants within the community, a revolutionary stance in the early days of the American republic. Their furniture, buildings, and tools such as baskets, chairs, and textiles embody the Shaker’s emphasis on accessibility and on communal rather than individual expression.

Hudson founded Feature Inc. in Chicago in 1984, later moving to New York in 1988. Through his gallery he gave a platform for new works by influential artists such as Tom Friedman, Roy McMakin, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Kay Rosen, and Nancy Shaver. Hudson supported independent artists of all kinds, choosing artists not for their art world success but for the quality and originality of their work. He cultivated a community of artists, collectors, critics, and friends, and made his gallery space accessible and intimate, for example positioning his office desk by the gallery entrance and providing comfortable seating for visitors. His diverse interests spread beyond the art world to Indian tantra drawings, Moroccan Berber carpets, and designers like Alpana Bawa.

The exhibition, in honoring Hudson and the Shakers’ integral shared values, is an invitation to explore what a community is—and can be—in this time of COVID-19, social distancing, and health and safety precautions that will likely delay the exhibition’s public opening until next summer. Over the nine months of the show we will rotate some works and rehang others in different ensembles — using the gallery as a space for research. The online version of the show will expand with installation views, oral histories by exhibiting artists, and more, along with a schedule of online public programs that will include artist dialogues, curator’s tours, and a special commissioning project of new poetry and music created in response to the exhibition.

Artists include (to date): Lisa Beck, Alex Brown, Lucky DeBellevue, Jason Fox, Tom Friedman, Sam Gordon, Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, Bill Komoski, Kinke Kooi, Michael Lazarus, Judy Linn, Andrew Masullo, Roy McMakin, Douglas Melini, David Moreno, Lillian Mulero, Joshua Podoll, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Nathaniel Robinson, Kay Rosen, Alexander Ross, Raja Babu Sharma, Nancy Shaver, Jim Shaw, Aaron Sinift, Cary Smith, John Torreano, and B. Wurtz.

Energy in All Directions includes a poetry and music commissioning project created in partnership with Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Academy of American Poets. Contemporary poets including Hanif Abdurraqib, April Bernard, Nickole Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Claudia Castro Luna, Victoria Chang, Forrest Gander, Ilya Kaminsky, Eileen Myles, Francine Prose, and TC Tolbert crafted new writings in response to the art and ideas in the exhibition. Their words will be incorporated into a new composition for percussion and voice by composer Ken Frazelle to be performed by soprano Lindsay Kesselman, and New York City-based ensemble Sandbox Percussion in the exhibition at the Tang Teaching Museum in spring 2021.

A catalogue for the exhibition will be produced in 2021, including documentation of the installation and performance along with the commissioned writings.

Energy in All Directions is part of All Together Now, a regional collections-sharing project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation to celebrate the Tang Teaching Museum’s twentieth anniversary. The project will bring rarely-seen works from The Tang Teaching Museum collection to the public in collaboration with the Shaker Museum, Ellsworth Kelly Studio, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Hyde Collection, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, among others.

Exhibition Name
Energy in All Directions
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Place
Malloy Wing
Dates
Oct 10, 2020 - Jun 13, 2021
Curators
Energy in All Directions is curated by Ian Berry in collaboration with the Shaker Museum.
Artists
Lisa Beck, Alex Brown, Lucky DeBellevue, Jason Fox, Tom Friedman, Sam Gordon, Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, Bill Komoski, Kinke Kooi, Michael Lazarus, Judy Linn, Andrew Masullo, Roy McMakin, Douglas Melini, David Moreno, Lillian Mulero, Joshua Podoll, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Nathaniel Robinson, Kay Rosen, Alexander Ross, Raja Babu Sharma, Nancy Shaver, Jim Shaw, Aaron Sinift, Cary Smith, John Torreano, B. Wurtz
Student Staff
Scarlett Han
Student Advisory Council, past: Exhibitions Assistant, Tang Guide, Summer Volunteer
Lily warshaw
Lily Warshaw
Student Advisory Council, past: Exhibitions Assistant, Summer Volunteer
Up next
Dunkerley Dialogue: Kay Rosen, Forrest Gander, and April Bernard
On March 12, artist Kay Rosen, poet Forrest Gander, and Skidmore professor April Bernard joined for a conversation on “Energy in All Directions.”
Dunkerley Dialogue: Nickole Brown, Cary Smith, Lacy Schutz, Jeff Bailey
On February 26, poet Nickole Brown, painter Cary Smith, Shaker Museum Director Lacy Schutz, and Shaker Museum board member Jeff Bailey joined for a conversation on Energy in All Directions.

This list of contemporary artworks from the Tang Museum and objects from the Shaker Museum collection includes works currently on view in the gallery as well as those that were part of past gallery rotations or will be illustrated in the catalogue.

While the gallery was closed to the public, the exhibition page has been used to research and explore ideas and connections between the artists and the Shakers.

View or download the project list!

Installation Views, October 2020

Installation Views, March 2021

About the Shakers

A colorful print depicting a community gathering with women in light dresses and headdresses dancing on the left and men in brown slacks and vests dancing on the right.
Anthony Imbert, Shakers Near Lebanon, State of New York, 1829–1835, lithograph, Shaker Museum collection, 2019.7.1

The Shakers were guided by core values of conviction, integrity, inclusion, and innovation. They were early advocates of gender equality, welcomed African Americans, practiced pacifism, and put community needs above individual ones. They were successful entrepreneurs known for their various manufacturing enterprises, their creation of beautiful objects that have fascinated generations of admirers, and their significant impact on modern design and architecture. The Shakers made important contributions to religious thought, progressive causes, music, craft, agriculture, and industry in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1774 Ann Lee, the charismatic daughter of a blacksmith, brought a small group of followers to the United States from Manchester, England. Known officially as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, the Shakers moved upstate in 1776 and settled near Albany in what is now Watervliet. In 1787 Mount Lebanon was established as the leading community of a network that would spread across the eastern half of the United States.

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The Shakers believed society could be perfected and a paradise on earth created through communal living, gender and racial equality, pacifism, confession of sin, celibacy, and separation from the world. The Shakers’ religious and administrative leadership consisted of a man and a woman who held equal authority at each level. They worshiped with their own unique songs and dances, and brought spiritual practice into their everyday tasks. They were known for their seed and medicinal enterprises, and for manufacturing brooms, chairs, baskets, cloaks, bonnets, and round and oval bent-wood boxes.

—Shaker Museum

Learn more about the Shakers and the Shaker Museum collection.

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Shaker Object Lessons

Learn more about Shaker objects featured in Energy in All Directions. Blog posts by staff at the Shaker Museum.
A bee box with a handle and two holes near the bottom.
Unrecorded artist(s), North Family, Mount Lebanon, New York, Swarm box, c. 1860, pine, basswood, paint, linen, oak, walnut, 18 7/8 x 13 ½ x 14 inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1950.2727.1

The Shakers were at the forefront of beekeeping both in their New England communities and in the West. Early on they understood the importance of the role bees played in pollinating their crops and, of course, enjoyed the honey and made use of beeswax.

The swarm box was used by beekeepers to transport wild swarms of bees to their manufactured hives. When a swarm was located – usually hanging on a branch of a tree or bush – the back of the box was opened to receive the swarm. To get the swarm in the box either the swarm was shaken until the queen fell into the box or the beekeeper would reach into the swarm, retrieve the queen, and put her in the box. Once the queen was in the box the rest of the swarm would follow. The swarm box, made of pine and basswood with an oak handle, is covered with a finely woven linen to provide ventilation during transport. Once back at the hives the bees were transferred into a prepared hive. The two holes in the box apparently let the bees come and go until they decide to move into the new hive.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A dark-colored, circular rug with various patterns on it.
Elvira Curtis Hulett (attributed), Church Family, Hancock, Massachusetts, Multicolored knitted rug, c. 1893, knit fabric, 56 ¾ x 56 ¾ inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1957.8574.1
The Knit Rugs of Elvira Hulett

A small group of rugs, similar in their style of manufacture and aesthetic features, are associated with Elvira Hulett, a Shaker Sister who lived her life at Hancock, Massachusetts.

Sister Elvira lived a long and useful life among the Hancock Shakers. She resided with Hancock’s West Family for nearly a half century, moving into the Church Family where she worked as a weaver, baker, tailoress, and eventually the Eldress of the family. Her mother, Charlotte, died in the faith as did her brother Chester, who served as a trustee at the West Family. The other three children, Charlotta (called Hortency in her Shaker life), Walter, and Theodore all apparently left in their youth.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A deep rectangular woven basket.
Unrecorded artist(s), Canterbury or Enfield, New Hampshire, Basket, c. 1835, black ash, oilcloth, 23 5/8 x 40 5/8 x 30 1/8 inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1950.4164.1
The Mysterious Basket and its Lining

Ascertaining the original use of a particular basket is difficult. In the absence of historical documentation museums often use terms such as utility basket, carrying basket, work basket, and *fruit basket. Sometimes the use is more specifically identified – apple basket, chip basket, or laundry basket. The function of the basket shown here is hard to define. Its size–an interior volume close to eleven and a half cubic feet–suggests it was a work basket or utility basket used to carry or store a large quantity of something. Its lining suggests either that whatever was put in it (e.g. wool) should not be allowed to catch on the rough strips of the uprights or weavers, or something small, such as grain, that might otherwise leak through the holes in the basket. But, even the lightest wheat bran weighs twenty pounds per cubic foot and would make the full basket weigh nearly 250 pounds.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A wooden, high-backed wheelchair.
Unrecorded artist(s), Mount Lebanon, New York, Wheelchair, 1830, birch, maple, beech, ash, oak, copper, iron, brass, chestnut, walnut, 47 ¼ x 26 x 27 ¼ inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1957.8417.1

The Shakers made a sincere effort to accommodate the needs of all members of their community, including young, old, and disabled people. This wheelchair is a fine example of endeavors to ensure members with special needs could participate in community life. The chair, while not a suitable vehicle for a Shaker to transport himself or herself outdoors on flagstone walks, was certainly useful in moving around within the dwelling house. Several items in the Museum’s collection speak to the care of those with specific physical needs: an orthopedic shoe, canes, and a walker.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

About Hudson and Feature Inc.

A black and white portrait of a light-skinned, bald man lying on the ground.
Judy Linn, Hudson, 2005, digital inkjet print, 11 1/8 x 17 3/8 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of an anonymous donor, 2019.55
Hudson—he used just that one name—was an artists’ dealer, a stalwart and uncompromising champion of the artists he believed in. Unlike many gallerists of his generation, he was neither impressed nor tempted by grandiose aspirations, and, over the years, his unpretentious gallery spaces exhibited a broad spectrum of aesthetic experiences. As he remarked in 2010: “All around the country—all over the world—there were pockets of interesting things that I wanted people to enjoy, or at least be aware of. It seemed more important to stay open to the breadth of contemporary art than to settle on the obvious.” The result was that, without seeming to try, Hudson built not an empire but a community of students, artists, critics, curators, and art lovers who respected his independence and were educated by his eye.
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To some an austere figure, with his buzzed head and dancer’s body, Hudson was, at the same time, eminently approachable. In each of Feature’s iterations, his desk was out in the open, and he politely greeted all comers. Once, when asked how he looked at art, he replied: “The first thing is to be quiet. I drop my agenda or expectations, and listen. Then, I soften my gaze. The eyes are aggressive, and once you realize they are out there hunting, you can learn to tune them down, and let what is out there come to you. The body knows things way before the brain does. . . . Art is primarily about the development of consciousness, not the development of an object. The object is just a catalyst.”

— Steel Stillman, 2014

Learn more about Hudson and Feature Inc.

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Feature Artist Archive

A white or light gray rectangular painting with a grouping of black and gray dots towards the center.
Lisa Beck, Range, 1996, ink, oil on panel, 12 ½ x 16 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of James Mark Pedersen, 2019.10.2

I like the primal quality of painting—pushing colored paste around with a stick that has hair on the end of it. This has been going on since caveman days. I want that aspect to be evident to a degree. I also like to give the sense that a piece was worked on to get it to its ultimate state, that someone tried to get it right and that it wasn’t necessarily easy.

I want to avoid slickness, even though I tend to use very reduced forms. There is an interesting push-pull between the purity of the ideal form and the imperfect reality of its execution.

— Lisa Beck, 2006

Read the full text and more writings.

An abstract painting with dark blues and greens.
Alex Brown, Gate, 2002, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Patti and Frank Kolodny, 2019.46.1

After the decision of what to paint and how to filter it onto the canvas, it’s a rather simple matter of sitting down and doing it. They’re fairly time consuming but definitely not exhausting to make. Digging ditches is exhausting. I wouldn’t make them that way if I didn’t like the outcome and there’s something undeniable with work that bears evidence of attention to detail. Regarding emotion, I feel too close to the work to really comment on that other than to say if I am doing my job as a painter I certainly would hope that there is something other than mere labor indicated in the work. There’s that myth about someone crying and overcome with emotion while looking at a Rothko. Have you ever had the reaction to a piece of art? The only time I was ever affected like that was upon seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s. And that was ephemeral. Music, film, and literature are much more effective at drawing out a more fervent emotion.

— Alex Brown, 2009

Read the full interview and more writings.

A delicate work featuring lines criss crossing the work and gold and silver leaf.
Sam Gordon, Southern Cross, 2002, graphite, ink, acrylic, enamel, spray paint, gold leaf, silver leaf on paper, 72 x 84 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Eileen and Michael Cohen, 2018.1.74

I’ve been rather disappointed with most isms, from Modernism to Judaism. Never having identified with any one movement or ideology, I have found a lot of interesting bits that strung together form my own private theology, which is the work I make. I do feel really connected to the art of today, it’s my religion, that I can insert myself into.

— Sam Gordon, 2003

Read the full interview and more writings.

An abstract swirling design in black, white and gray.
Bill Komoski, 12/2/05, 2005, gouache, graphite on paper, 16 x 12 ¼ inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, purchased with funds in honor of Morgan Leger Rosenberg, Class of 2009, 2010.8.3

I’m interested in a shifty, unsettled experience, about order and disorder, structures that hold only to a point, where one layer or element is eroded or consumed by another—taking pleasure in the tangle of things. In many of these paintings, especially the larger ones, the level of complexity is definitely increased as I pursue that end.

— Bill Komoski, 2010

Read the full interview and more writings.

An abstract swirling design in pink that, in the negative space, spells "woman".
Kinke Kooi, Woman, 2000, colored pencil on paper, 24 x 31 inches, collection of Jack Shear

Earlier when I painted, the most difficult thing for me was the background, and especially the part in the middle away from the edges. Now I’m actually drawing that background itself. In the context of the drawing of words, that background becomes the space around and between the letters. For me it has to do with the urge to feel. It’s hard for me to feel in the middle (the average). That’s why I’ve pushed myself to the edges, and in doing so, have pushed the images away. But I didn’t want to lose the story, so instead of using images, I started using words. Letters are simply lines which, when organized into words, may contain a story or a meaning. I now literally stuff the space between the letters, and at the edges, light comes through—the edges become passages of light. I once read that God is the space between all things; maybe I am searching for God.

— Kinke Kooi, 2002

Read the full interview and more writings.

A black and white portrait of a light-skinned, bald man lying on the ground.
Judy Linn, Hudson, 2005, digital inkjet print, 11 1/8 x 17 3/8 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of an anonymous donor, 2019.55

I want a photograph that makes me aware of what is physically in front of me, a photograph that gives me the pleasure of getting lost. It is like asking yourself a joke: not really knowing what the answer is, giving up, and then seeing the punch line and really laughing.

— Judy Linn, 2005

Read the full interview and more writings

A yellow, green, red, blue, and pink painting of five, differently-sized puzzle pieces fitting together.
Andrew Masullo, 5784, 2013–2014, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of the artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 2020.8

I’ve always considered preplanning the kiss of death. The same goes for trying to “finish” a painting. Each has its own internal clock and I’ve got no sway with any of them as to when they’re done. When working, I may have an idea of what to do next, but I rarely know if that idea is going to be “the big one” or a big fat setback. That’s OK, because setbacks, along with worry, doubt, and General Chaos are all valuable tools. I’ve learned over time that a dull or misguided or obvious or just plain lousy painting can be my greatest asset, as it may force me to find a new way out of the morass. No matter how much I may love looking at a finished picture, it’s the finding-my-way-from-Chaos-to-terra-firma that is at the heart of making things.

— Andrew Masullo, 2006

Read the full interview and more writings.

An artwork featuring geometric pattern and the colors orange, black, white, and gray.
Douglas Melini, The Forms of Thought, 2010, acrylic on canvas with painted wood frame, 67 ½ x 45 ½ inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Eileen and Michael Cohen, 2018.37.9

For some time now, I’ve thought of my paintings as transporters, signposts, and images that allow one to consider how one sees things, helping one to get from one space to the next. The paintings reflect my interest in visual vibrations and how our body and mind respond to vibratory experiences. I believe that art can function as a decoder, providing insights into how the world looks; a way of connecting the dots, and really seeing things.

— Douglas Melini, 2012

Read the full text and more writings.

A sculpture made of paper that looks like horns coming out of photos of people on the wall.
David Moreno, Silence (detail), 1995, book pages, paper, installation dimensions variable, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Eileen and Michael Cohen, 2018.1.73.1-30

Speaking of the ephemeral . . . music exists in time and gives form to time within a specific duration. This is an Art that mirrors, in an abstract way, our sense of what it is like to be alive. The challenge when working with static material such as paper, paint, etc., is to instill into it a quality of movement and duration, to vivify the inert.

— David Moreno, 2002

Read the full interview and more writings.

An abstract painting with a gray blur in the foreground with blurry shapes in the background.
Joshua Podoll, A Welcome End to Knowing, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Jamie and Peter Hort, 2020.24.9

I have been meditating much longer than I have been making sculpture or paintings, so it’s hard to imagine arriving at them without meditation. What I have noticed is that I am comfortable with the experience of floating in abstraction. Over the last few years it has become harder to distinguish between the experiences of meditating, the act of painting, and the paintings themselves.

— Josh Podoll, 2006

Read the full interview and more writings.

An abstract metallic sculpture hanging on the wall made up of various triangular shapes.
Richard Rezac, Nemaha, 2010, nickel-plated cast bronze, 14 ½ x 9 ¼ x 3 inches, promised gift to the Tang Teaching Museum from Kate Neisser

Great architecture somehow accomplishes several seemingly contradictory things at once, and that integration on such a consuming and historic scale is an ongoing lesson. Mostly I approach it, in a sense, at eye-level and can best appreciate the details, inside and out, where joints transition for instance, or the shaping of a massive element that begins near the ground. The connection to sculpture in these moments is self-evident, but my interest exceeds any immediate formal application. I am not a representational artist, and am not interested in direct quotation, so it is the principles that I sense in this architecture that makes me want to see more of it.

— Richard Rezac, 2010

Read the full interview and more writings.

A scattering of hand-crafted pieces of green resin that look like maple seeds.
Nathaniel Robinson, Distribution, 2010, tinted polyurethane resin, installation dimensions variable, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Jamie and Peter Hort, 2020.24.10

Casting is an extremely common process—most of the consumer goods surrounding us probably involved casting is some form, though I certainly don’t know the details. Even so, it is fascinating to me; I’m always interested in situations where intentional control and the de facto behavior of matter blur into one another. Casting has equal and opposite potentials—for illusion on the one hand, and for revealing material particulars on the other. It is part of the chuckle in several ways that I don’t think I can articulate, but might be able to suggest. One way that often comes up in my work, not just through casting, is in giving some kind of permanence, maybe even formal integrity, to things that are on their way to disintegration. This shifts the emphasis from the identification of an object by its name, use, etc., to the fact of its actual existence. I suppose there is an irony in this, since the original is often destroyed in the process.

— Nathaniel Robinson, 2010

Read the full interview and more writings.

A black, white, and gray painting depicting what looks like a wall and gate.
Nancy Shaver, Broken Leg Series #7, 2000, house paint, charcoal, graphite, collage on paper, 14 x 16 ¾ inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of Eileen and Michael Cohen, 2018.1.5

House paint is beautiful and flat and cheap. It’s working class, working stuff, not elitist or esoteric. Rather like the boxes, it’s accessible and inexpensive. I think of the boxes as perfect and me being imperfect. Which is why I choose to work with them.

— Nancy Shaver, 2003

Read the full text and more writings.

An abstract painting with small colorful squares on a field of yellow.
Cary Smith, Tell Me More, 1987, oil on canvas, 42 3/8 x 42 3/8 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection, gift of the Hort Family Collection, 2009.7.9

I test individual colors on scrap pieces of primed linen, pin them to the wall, then sit and look at them, waiting to understand what I’m seeing. I find that I have to sort of see them peripherally to understand what’s there. I also make drawings as studies for the paintings. These are made slowly, generally in graphite. The shapes are adjusted and adjusted until I can feel a sort of vibration. A very small change can bring about such an energy shift, which is something that I don’t fully understand. When a shape feels right, I blow it up onto the linen exactly as it is. Then I carefully hand paint the paintings. This allows for an intuitive/prescribed back and forth that sets up interesting contradictions.

— Cary Smith, 2011

Read the full interview and more writings.

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