The Many Legacies of the Late Hudson, from the Artists and Friends that Knew Him Best

How do you characterize the one-word byline that forever changed the New York world of art-dealing? Hudson, the New York City dealer and proprietor of Feature Inc., was a master of many trades: Hudson the dealer, Hudson the artist, Hudson the artists’ compatriot, and perhaps most of all, Hudson the beloved friend. In the months since he passed away in February, at age 63, the art world has filled a Hudson-sized hole with memories of the dealer, from his flair for spotting talent—known for jump-starting the careers of Takashi Murakami, Charles Ray, B. Wurtz, and Raymond Pettibon, among others—to the way he never outgrew his gallery’s front desk; each memory recalling a distinctly different facet of his charms. This week, as NADA New York opens—sadly, sans Feature Inc.—we learn about Hudson from a few of the artists and friends that knew him best.

Sam Gordon, artist:

“People are really learning a lot about Hudson since he passed; many didn’t know his background even, in performance and dance,” says Sam Gordon, an artist who has exhibited regularly at Feature Inc. since 1997 and who has dedicated his Contemporary Poetry project, showing at NADA New York, to Hudson. Explaining the tribute, he recalls a Hudson who was always playing with text: “When Hudson was moving from Chelsea at the end of 2007, he invited some artists to paint directly on the walls in the front of the space. This is a piece of the sheetrock [pictured] I cut from the wall of Feature from 25th Street: my chains, John Torreano’s drawing, and Hudson’s text in red. I came in one day and there were these odd haikus, maybe three or four of them around the walls, and I asked him who the artist was. He was a little coy, and smiling, but then finally admitted it had been him.”

Lisa Beck, artist:

Lisa Beck, an artist who has showed with Hudson for 25 years, recalls her long-time gallerist and mentor: “Hudson always surprised me with the extraordinary range of his taste and appreciation. In a sense, the whole gallery was an artwork; the way he presented, curated, and hung things. Hudson always did things his own way and followed his own logic. He was so completely himself, and he gave you the confidence to do the same. He trusted artists to find their way to good work, following an internal guidance system, just as he did his own. He always took the long-term view and supported my many experiments, digressions, and meanderings. The main thing I got from him as a gallerist was that trust, which helped me to trust myself and keep moving forward.  

Hudson told me, ‘You should finish things, but never complete them.’ I took that to mean that even if you come to the end of a sentence it doesn’t mean that you’ve said everything you’ll ever have to say. An artwork is a single statement, but not your only one. It’s a point you make on a field of points, and that field is infinite.”

B. Wurtz, artist:

“At Feature, from the very beginning, Hudson would present two or three one-person shows simultaneously in different rooms,” says artist B. Wurtz, who began showing with Feature Inc. in 1986, just two years after the gallery first opened. “It was unusual and seemed kind of strange to me at first, but turned out to be such a great way to present a lot of art to the world. Nowadays of course, any number of large galleries do the same thing. On Allen Street, in Feature’s final location, he continued in this vein by presenting work in the ‘foyer’ (the enclosed entry area with full windows to the street) in conjunction with the exhibition in the main space. Often that work was by an unexpected artist who wasn’t represented by Feature. This approach so well expressed Hudson’s generosity and love of discovering new art.”

Darinka Novitovic Chase, artist:

And finally, Darinka Novitovic Chase, included in the earliest shows at Feature, opted for photographs (see her pictured with Hudson, at right.) “The tenderness of the second image reminds me that we all kind of fell in love with Hudson, and I think that comes from feeling understood: Generosity, love, and knowingness,” she said, and adds: “I was beyond touched when he spoke about my work in the Steel Stillman Art in America piece in 2010, 26 years after my show.”

Images:

1. From performance World Without End Amen, Chicago 1985, courtesy of Steve Lafreniere 

2. Wall drawing courtesy of Sam Gordon

3. Hudson by B. Wurtz courtesy of B. Wurtz

4 Hudson in 1984 courtesy of Darinka Novitovic Chase

5. Hudson and Darinka in 1984 courtesy of Darinka Novitovic Chase

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