so like I said! I went up to Peekskill yesterday, for the Peekskill Project, a – as i read it – affiliation between the HVCCA and the city of Peekskill (not town or village) to bring art to the public area, meaning no display in the more-pretentious space of the gallery, and more display in the public areas of the city (bookstores, jewelry shops, cafes, etc. – but of course some work was in a gallery-esque environment, highlighted later).
So let’s break it down!
I drove there with three of my friends, Kerry, Sarah and Jamil. We arrived technically late but apparently right on time; we were ahead of most people as it were, so when we started the crowds were thin. We were on foot, and as we reflected later in the evening ended up walking pretty much the entire town, which was exemplified to us when we took a shuttle bus from the western edge back to the HVCCA and even at 50-in-a-30-zone it still took over 10 minutes of driving! Man we walked a LOT that day!
We started at the HVCCA. Even before then, because as we approached the center we first stumbled upon an installation adjoined to the wall of the center, by Cassie Thornton, a good friend of mine. I love Cassie’s work, I even have some of it in my own collection. This piece was a haphazard construction, a 2″x4″ wood frame wrapped in clear plastic with a slanted roof; inside were maquettes of landscapes and buildings, photos of children and older people. Bricks surrounded the outside foundation, as if to keep everything stable. The piece was titled “Infinite Museum”; the only thing unclear (to me) about Cassie’s work was if the maquettes were her own creation or that of those present in the accompanying documentary photographs. Given the inclusion of ‘museum’ in the title, Cassie’s role is a little bit questionable: is she collector, curator, spokesperson? What saves the work for me is the physical construction and allocation of the work, and it’s play on the micro/macro: included in the Peekskill Project, but a Museum in itself, adjacent to the HVCCA but open all the time, on the street; and of course the scale of the models included in the work.
So we proceeded to the HVCCA, collected our maps, and moved on to the pasta factory across the street. Most of the work here was set in small display rooms, a sort-of gallery sort-of college studio display space, which at times conflicted with the work, but located it in prime real estate across the street from the HVCCA. The most interesting work in this space were the maps and accompanying works by Esther Kokmeijer, which lived well in this space: part archive, part display, locally referential.
We continued on to the city centre, getting a little lost and spending some time at the local flea market! Throughout the town centre, most of the works took on the form of window displays. Some were more critical than others of the context of the work residing in a public space, or mirrored these normal display methods while seeking to heighten them somehow (the watchmaker in the jewelry window is a good example). Meanwhile, some of our favorite displays probably weren’t ‘art’ at all, but we found them so surprising and enjoyable we couldn’t deny them!
Definitely one of the best works in show was Magda Fernandez’s video/banner/book portrait of Kathryn Lapolla, a lifelong resident of Peekskill. In the video, Kathryn details various modes of life in Peekskill (from the senior citizen center to the local library and beyond), an oral history of her experiences spanning many decades. Thank you Kathryn!
Equally as exciting was the placement of Magda’s work, the video and book works were all located inside Bruised Apple Books bookstore, perhaps the most exciting bookstore I’ve ever been inside. We actually had to leave quickly for fear of spending our entire savings accounts! Definitely visit this place if you’re ever in town… I mean city… err in Peekskill!
Quickly moving on, we migrated towards the water where we saw zombie cakes, a Freudian Ego service center, One Hundred Faces of Tom Delay (by Toby Barnes), and a car show that at times mirrored the forms of display especially present in this Project. We tried searching for Jessica Cannon‘s work, but were unable to find it. Likewise the video work of Andrew Duggan and others on display near the water did not begin until dusk, and we were parading around during mid-afternoon, so we completely missed those works unfortunately.
We took the shuttle bus (mentioned earlier) back to the HVCCA where there was an opening for their newest show ‘reverence‘, which included many ‘heavy hitters’ as Kerry put it; but perhaps our favorite work was Thomas Hirschhorn’s permanent installation Laundrette (2001).
All in all an excellent day to see art in the public sphere. The weather was gorgeous, the beer was delicious, the drive was short but got us far enough outside of the city that we forgot where we were for the time being. Art operating as an avenue for escape. And a lovely town with lovely architecture and people. See you next year Peekskill.
Aside: all of my images were taken on Sarah’s camera, some by me, most by her; I canNOT believe I forgot my own camera for this trip! Totally un-like me!