Nicholas Weist interviews Hudson for Artslant, 2008
Basically this is to get a sense of the evolution of your programme.... maybe you could talk a little bit about your general sensibility and how it's evolved?
Hey NW, I can't believe we are starting with sumthing as boggling as all that. Ugh. Here goes, in a nutshell. The opening one person exhibition in the front gallery was Richard Prince's rephotographed fashion photos. $ 1,500. ea. There was a group xhibtion in the other gallery of work by affiliated artists. I turned to a commercial venture after ten yrs in the not for profit sector (which I continued to work in for another five or so years) and becoming disgruntled with the constant need for new talent to roster a program that was based on showing an artist only once, a wish for continuity and depth with particular artists, the begging posture of not for profit, lack of autonomy, and the watering down effect of per panel review processes / group decisions. Chicago artists and culture seekers seem thrilled. Chicago collectors and press didn't get it and weren't interested. Most of what I sold went to NY, Europe, and LA, one of the reasons why I moved. The next 23 yrs have been all over the place. I change, art world changes, economy changes, art changers. I still love engaging in art, what it does (when it is doing it) and what artists can do and presenting it in as unencumbered a situation as I am able to provide. I still hate the investment thing, the hottie thing and all that it takes to generate that, the sluggishness of collectors and museums, and the general lack of ability to appreciate something without a price tag or name attached, and shopping. And of course, I still hate art fairs.
Okay, so backtrack a little to 1988. You came to New York and found...bright lights big city?
Something tells me you weren't looking at plate paintings....
But we've been backtracking, the art world, actually most of the world loves that, placing and presenting the history, making it clear, defined, b and w, well I'm not for steepsleeping in the fabrications of what is called history. All those anniversary shows.. recapitulations.... marketing to further ensconce the hierarchy.
Anyhow, so I move to NYC during August's 88's dog days, and by this time most of the NY artists Feature worked with have galleries or new galleries so it is redundant to show them, most of them, or the more well know, and probably couldn't do it anyhow as to territory claims. As well, for me, there are too many good/ interesting artists to be seen, so why, other than economics which still remains outside my reasoning for an exhibition, show an artist in two galleries in the same city?. (Now its a very different game, everyone is a little bit piggy: why not two gallery shows, one uptwn and one dwntwn to correspond to a museum exhibition and perhaps a book, just in case you didn't get the message.)
My thought was to present work that was not seen in NY, that wasn't like the work seen in NY, and at that time there was a more distinct NY brand of art. My focus became mid-west and west coast artists and artist living in New York who were disregarded by the New York galleries. Slowly the parameters of geography became a bit silly, and were disregarded. Now I see that direction as being related to my ongoing interest in autodidacts. As to bright lights big city, I have to say by '88 I was aware that my pov was clearly askew from the mainstream, and despite the artworld being given the toots of being embrasive, it is, within its own world, really quite mainstreamed. I knew Feature wouldn't be big, but that I would have a better opportunity for expanding the dialogue in NY than I would have in Chicago or at that time, in LA, and I did seriously consider moving to LA rather than NYC.
You should also know that I did like looking at those plate paintings, still do. Hated all the brouhaha around him them , but do like that twisted combo. I think rite now would be a very good time to look at a highly selective exhibition of Schnabel's mid 80s to early 90s ptngs.
Are you an autodidact? Or maybe a better question is aren't all good artists? I mean don't you feel like all the good art comes from a place where an individual (or collective, collectively) shares a personal truth that's universally applicable? Although there are lines to be drawn: what do you do with good ideas that look bad?
Me definitely not autodidactic - I've 19 years of institutional education. Everything comes from some where. Since the '80s most artists active in the dominant art worlds have some sort of college art or art school training. They are definitely not autodidacts. They actually have to unlearn a lot of what they have become in order to become an artist. There are many xcellent artists that have art school/college art training. Comparatively, there are only a few autodidacts. The pressure to join the ranks of the properly educated for success is increasingly strong. Few can resist it. There are many autodidacts who are wallowing in their blather and there are many art schooled wanabees wallowing in their wallowing. Few are the autodidacts who operate successfully in the art worlds that is not in the outsider art world.
Getting to one's, as you put it, personal truth, doesn't have anything with be self taught. That one is an autodidact is not better, more meaningful, or more important than being schooled. The art is, or should be, the measure. Sometimes good ideas that look bad are worth looking at, enjoying, and/or owning. Sometimes good ideas that look bad can be very good. The appearance of bad has been important to the contemporary art world for at least half a century. There is something interesting to confronting bad - just xactly why is it bad? Some artists are able to make good ideas that look bad at one time be seen as good ideas that look good at another time. But someone with an open mind's eye, will see and appreciate the good in the bad or whatever before the silly art worlds recognizes it because most of the art world is not appreciating art for its inherent value.
Speaking of other times, you recently announced the imminent demise of Feature in 2018...
What excites you about death?
FYI, I'm not particularly xcited about death, tho I do think it is an interesting event. The warm glowing banded all text announcement for Feature's upcoming reincarnation included but did not identify the lease dates, Oct 21, 2007 - June 30, 2018, the beginning and the ending. I was thinking that a move would allow for an appropriate opportunity to make changes in my operation, so I was thinking of the time as an entirety. When I first noted the lease termination date of 2018 it was difficult to compute, it feels very very far away.
At that time I'll be close to 70. That was a shocking realization. This will be the last Feature I have in this lifetime so I want to be especially certain to use all that I have learned / experienced to structure the gallery so I enjoy it thoroughly and get all that I want to do done before I retire to a more contemplative and leisurely life. Curious me to know if that, the retirement, will be true, some friends think not. The last few years I've been watching my parents and a few friends accelerate in age as to illness and die. Engaging process. It's not so cut and dry. Life and death are inextricably mixed, very unsettling when one actually witnesses them both being acted out at the same time in the same person.
I've been wondering about those "golden years" that are often alluded to. What does one have to do to allow that to occur. I've decided to act out that investigation thru Feature, and be rather strict about enjoying the art and the business as much as possible? It's sort of challenge to myself, to keep it vital and alive while the end is in sight, more reason to push it and live fully.