Best Art Moments of 2009

Maya Lin’s “Storm King Wavefield” @ Storm King Art Center: acres of undulating earth mimic the form of ocean waves, or perhaps the surrounding hills, and hypnotically change color and shape as the day passes.

Maya Lin: Storm King Wavefield
Maya Lin: Storm King Wavefield

Lee Musselman @ David Dew Bruner Design, Hudson: Lee Musselman calls his disturbing and surreal assemblages “spirit guides” or “guardian angels.” Formed from doll parts, beads, buttons, wire, farm tools and other found objects, he offered up an army of them in this reprise of his 2008 show that won him the notice of Art in America.

John Foxx’s “The Quiet Man” at BCB Art, Hudson: The former Ultravox frontman offered a magical spoken-word performance of “A Man Made of Shadows” – a section of his ongoing project “The Quiet Man” – to accompany a film collage of cut-up and re-edited vintage black and white films.

(left) Lee Musselman: Untitled; (right) John Foxx: A New Kind of Man
(left) Lee Musselman: Untitled; (right) John Foxx: A New Kind of Man

George Hofmann @ Martinez Gallery, Troy: Hofman’s large acrylic abstracts of pure color seem to glow from within, so standing in a room full of these paintings felt like floating in a cloud. This small but comprehensive exhibition surveyed his career of more than 50 years.

George Hofman: Bay
George Hofmann: Bay

Discard Avant Garb @ the Grand Street Community Arts Center, Albany:
This long-running annual extravaganza of creatively recycled fashion is a moveable feast, landing this year at the beautifully decayed Grand Street Community Arts Center. Music, art, fashion, outrageousness…and all to benefit four local charities.

Val P. Funk: Black Thorn
Discard Avant Garb: Val P. Funk (photo by Bryan Thomas)

Larry Kagan’s “Flags: Variations on a Theme” @ the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy: Larry Kagan’s vintage sculptures of rusted metal wrestled into flag shapes presage the highly imaginative, eye-popping, smile-inducing, mind-bending play between metal, light and shadow that has established Kagan as a major Nippertown artist.

Larry Kagan: Flag
Larry Kagan: Flag

Lucy Feller’s “Wish You Were Near” @ Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield: Lucy Feller’s delicate, nostalgic collages of postcards and family photographs displayed in lightboxes combine vintage images with contemporary icons to create an intriguing temporal confusion in the mind of the viewer.

Melissa Matsuki Lillie @ Kolok Gallery, North Adams: Melissa Matsuki Lillie’s colorful paintings and collages of graphic shapes play with space to suggest natural forms that have been flattened and folded in on themselves.

(left) Lucy Feller: Best Riches; (right) Melissa Matsuki Lillie: Supper of Salt
(left) Lucy Feller: Best Riches; (right) Melissa Matsuki Lillie: Supper of Salt

Dona Ann McAdams @ Opalka Gallery, Albany: Photographer Dona Ann McAdams’ exhibit of silver prints was a compelling, wide-ranging sample of her documentary work, as Tim Cahill noted, “transmuting fleeting moments into penetrating views of the human condition.”

Dona Ann McAdams: Madrid, 1988
Dona Ann McAdams: Madrid, 1988

Thaddeus Powers, Meg Oliver, Kyla Toomey and Stacey Esslinger @ Tom Myott Gallery, Glens Falls: Four young turks gave a hint as to the future of contemporary ceramics at this high-quality show.

Elizabeth Dubben’s “In the Middle of the World” @ Albany Art Room, Albany: Elizabeth Dubben shuttered the Amrose + Sable Gallery in Albany at the end of May, and then lost no time installing this show at the beginning of June. Sad as we were to see the gallery close, we were oh so glad to see this show of mixed media works that combine oil painting with image transfers of photographs.

(left) a teapot by Stacey Esslinger; (right) Elizabeth Dubben: Continuation
(left) a teapot by Stacey Esslinger; (right) Elizabeth Dubben: Continuation

Other shows of note:

Also of note: the opening of ArtCentric and CasperLand in Troy, Posie Kviat, Marianne Courville Gallery and Dennis Herbert’s Contemporary Folk Art in Hudson, Surprenant Art & Design in Kingston and Davey Jones Gallery in Albany.

And sadly, the closing Amrose Sable Gallery in Albany, Digital Artist Space in Troy (they moved to Alabama) and UpsArt Contemporary Gallery in Glens Falls.

And finally, anybody know who’s car this is? We’re in love.


  1. -S says

    Nice list, I’m with you on Maya Lin’s Wave Field, I went to Storm King for the first time this year, it’s a great piece. I saw Dona Ann McAdams show a couple of times and enjoyed the advices she gave me, an amateur photographer, during her talk. However, my favorite Art Moment this year was definitely EMPAC’s Chunky Move: GLOW, a beautiful performance.

  2. david brickman says

    Finally catching up with your picks – nice job! I do see we had more than one overlap, which is a thing of beauty, but it’s also beautiful that, combined, we have so many fine memories of excellent art in our greater region. I didn’t even try to keep it to a top ten!

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