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New Direction for "Hudson Valley Artists 2003"

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NEW PALTZ -- New Direction for "Hudson Valley Artists 2003" Dorsky Museum Exhibit Highlights Six Emerging Artists

Each summer, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz mounts an exhibition of work by emerging or mid-career Hudson Valley artists. This year, under the guidance of Dorsky Museum Curator Karl Willers, several prominent and established artists in the area were asked to recommend an emerging artist whose work they admire, and who lives in the region. The exhibition, Out of the Studio: Hudson Valley Artists 2003, is on view from June 21 - August 10, and from August 27 - September 14. An opening reception that is free and open to all is on Saturday, June 21 from 2 - 4pm.

The artists in the exhibition are painter Gene Benson from New Paltz, collage artist Ralph Fleming from Kerhonkson, photographer Chad Kleitsch from Rhinebeck, painter Ruth Leonard from Cairo, sculptor and painter Jonah Meyer from Kingston, and photographer Laura Gail Tyler from Tivoli.

They were nominated by painter Jake Berthot from Accord, photographer Lynn Davis from Hudson, painter Al Held from Boiceville, painter Al Loving from Kerhonkson, sculptor and installation artist Judy Pfaff from Kingston, and sculptor Martin Puryear from Accord.

Each of the recommending artists generously agreed to take time from his or her pursuits to help with this project. "All those asked took great care (and experienced some angst) in choosing an individual to recommend for the show," Willers commented. "In addition to providing deserving local artists an opportunity to exhibit their art, the nominating artists have given the community as a whole the great pleasure of viewing works of extraordinary merit and great interest."

Gene Benson of New Paltz was nominated by Al Held. Benson's paintings reveal his devotion to Catskill Mountain scenery and Hudson Valley vistas. Overflowing with finely rendered detail on canvases that range from a few inches to a few feet in size, the images have a distinct jewel-like quality. Influenced by the early twentieth-century American painters of the Stieglitz circle such as Georgia O'Keefe, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove, Benson's work proclaims a maturity that not only emulates, but also rivals its precedents.

Ralph Fleming of Kerhonkson was selected by Al Loving. Look closely at the collages of Ralph Fleming and you will find they are made out of the strips of weathered paper from advertising billboards along highways and in the midst of fields. Fleming carefully tears and pastes these pilfered bits of sign paper to form landscapes, figures, and the mysterious hieroglyphics of an unknown calligraphic language.

Chad Kleitsch of Rhinebeck was chosen by Lynn Davis. Chad Kleitsch's photography is informed by his experience as an art handler at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Fascinated by the imperfections and impurities of art gallery architecture such as exit signs and surveillance systems, and the space as it appears between exhibitions with artworks in various stages of being wrapped or uncrated, Kleitsch forces recognition of the institutional contexts in which we view art. By documenting the random and unplanned, his images epitomize the unstudied touch or the unselfconscious gesture common to much contemporary art, and therefore challenges the very notion of the accidental in art making.

Ruth Leonard of Cairo was nominated by Jake Berthot. Leonard's current body of work mixes the genres of still life and landscape painting to surprising effect. Incorporating smalls mounds of foliage and earth interspersed with ceramic figurines such as soap dish swans and salt-and-pepper hippos, Leonard's microcosm of plant life and figurines takes on a fantasy existence and dream-like quality of their own.

Jonah Meyer of Kingston was selected by Martin Puryear. Meyer will exhibit sculpture and large-format paintings that he creates in his industrial-scale studio. Although much of Meyer's work is constructed from huge blocks of wood and heavy slices of aged trees, his most recent objects are relatively small in scale. Despite their size, they retain a rough, monolithic, and primitive quality. The impressive scale of Meyer's paintings also evokes a monumental sculptural presence. Exploring some of the same silhouettes and design that appear in his sculptures, the paintings complement Meyer's three dimensional objects. Laura Gail Tyler of Tivoli was chosen by Judy Pfaff. Working primarily in black-and-white, Laura Gail Tyler is a master photographic printer with a penchant for building the structures she photographs. Having the look of crude special effects produced by early film studios, Tyler might construct a suspension bridge out of sugar cubes and churning water from wisps of cotton candy. Shooting at very close range to the miniature worlds that she creates, Tyler manages to produce images that convey vast spaces and deep vistas while simultaneously appearing fragile and transitory.

An image to accompany this release is available at

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