Every Artist Gets a Retrospective in Hudson

Patti Smith wants you to move to Poughkeepsie. David Byrne’s daughter says that you can move upstate and buy a converted church or grain mill for, like, $50, and then turn it into a concert hall or a cheese shop (I’m paraphrasing a bit). And as if we needed further proof of the slow, semi-diaspora of New York’s culturati, now two of the city’s most cutting-edge gallerists are joining together for a brand new project in the hiply serene town of Hudson. Dubbed Retrospective, it’s a collaborative venture from Zach Feuer and Joel Mesler (of UNTITLED in the Lower East Side). The space inaugurated this Saturday with “Gambler’s Choice,” a solo show from Jamian Juliano-Villani (that’s one of her surreally hilarious paintings above). Van Hanos follows in February, and the rest of the year’s line-up includes Jason Middlebrook, Gina Beavers, Sebastian Black, and other talented folks. I spoke with Feuer about his new dealings.

You and Joel Mesler both have thriving galleries in New York, with artists you individually represent. What compelled you to go into partnership together for Retrospective, and how have you gone about programming the exhibitions so that there’s no conflicts or overlaps with your own galleries?

We’ve been friends and have done much business together over the years. We did “Jew York” together over the summer which was a lot of fun. As far as conflicts between our two galleries, I think we are both of the mindset that things are changing, and this old way of ‘exclusive representation’ and dealers trying to block each other and control things is really unproductive. We’ll figure out a way to work it out. Both of our focuses are on doing good exhibitions with good artists, and I don’t see a conflict with any gallery that has the same agenda. Conflicts come from greed and some dumb fictional hierarchies that the art world sort of believes. Although, who knows, we might hire hit men to kill each other in six months. But I doubt it.

Why Hudson? What are your personal or professional connections to the town?

I’ve lived here for 10 years. Hudson is amazing in that it has enough of a support system and scale that you can live without the burdens of NYC’s cost-of-living pressure, yet still have a very involved community of creative people in dialogue. Plus it’s really nice up here, and easier to get to then some parts of the outer boroughs.

Can you tell me a bit about the space itself – was it previously an exhibition or gallery space, or something else entirely?

The space is really small, has checkered floors and an air conditioner coming through the wall. It was a used clothing store before becoming a gallery. We share a block with a cat rescue place, a legitimate dive bar, a custom t-shirt printing company and an organic hamburger place. Hudson is pretty amazing in that although gentrification has been in progress for many years, the town is still very real and serves a very diverse population.

What about the name? Why choose to call a brand new gallery ‘Retrospective,’ which implies a certain nostalgia, or ‘looking back’?

Retrospective is kind of silly name for a gallery that will be doing many people’s first shows, yet I find with younger artists that they want each exhibition to sum up almost everything they’ve done….as if every show is an introduction and a finalization of everything that happened before. I also really like sending emails that say “Van Hanos Retrospective” or “Alex da Corte Retrospective.”

I know a fair number of artists have relocated their homes/practices to Hudson, but do you think the local community in general is ready for a gallery like Retrospective? Is the goal to sell work, or are you treating this more like a project space?

The goal is not local sales. The goal is good shows in a format that is low pressure for artists, and fun for Joel and I. If we sell locally that would be awesome, but then again most the art we sell in our New York galleries is via the internet in some form. Where is the internet ‘local’ to, anyway? As far as the community being ‘ready’ for the gallery, of course they are; the town has lots of galleries that run successfully and what Joel and I do isn’t much different from anyone else who ever hung a painting on the wall and tried to sell it.

 “Gambler’s Choice” by Jamian Juliano-Villani is on view from January 11 through February 14th, with a closing reception on the 14th from 6-8pm. Retrospective is at 727 Warren Street in Hudson, NY. 

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