Artists are so coy about the male nude. Go searching for figurative nudes, and the female form — unmarred by those unsightly dangly bits — are easy to find.
The art world is still a slightly macho place, however, and dangly bits aren’t universally considered an aesthetically pleasing appendage, often dashed off with a vague swoosh or fuzzy blur.
Eric Rhein’s confident and fluid lines are expressed in black wire on a white background, with a a light shadow that emphasizes his contours. And they express a male sexuality with an assertiveness and specificity, while avoiding a porny feel, in a way I find rare.
Rhein’s opening on Friday at BCB Art, paired cunningly with male nude scultpures by Philip Howie, was a celebration of the male form, made more resonant with mystical themes expressed also with photography and mixed media. The pure white, classical forms play off the spare black-and-white works on the walls. The palette alone makes all those dangly bits look dressed up.
“Eric Rhein’s new body of work, Communion, is inspired by humanity’s kinship and responsibility to our natural surroundings. Merged with a tinge of ‘mountain mythology’ remembered from boyhood vacations in the mountains of Kentucky, his new wire drawings and collages are always calling us ‘back to nature,’ ” the gallery explains.
Saturday was a great night to be in Hudson, and not just because upstate New York really shines in autumn. We counted five art openings within three blocks of each other.
Next door to BCB was a strong collection of Sylvia Plachy photography at the Davis Orton Gallery. I remember her regular feature in the Village Voice — her insightful “Sylvia Plachy’s Unguided Tour” would run every week with no caption. Later on others got to know her as Adrien Brody’s mom.
Gallery 135 debuted works from Argentina-born Patricia Iglesias, large-scale but delicate abstracts that suggest the floating organisms you might observe through a microscope. Upstairs were striking photos by Christina Hejtmanek, who has made nature scenes smart again. Sun flares, clouds, water — with a fresh point of view.
Carrie Haddad Photographs welcomed David Halliday, Chad Kleitsch and Alexander Turnquist. Halliday’s signature piece was a still life of a purple hydrangea leaning over the edge of a vase. Kind of reminded me of Charla Boteler’s stackings.
After that, the Hudson Opera House had a group show. Don’t even ask me who or what was there. I was positively zoned out by then and ready for dinner at Da | Ba, which is one of three very strong restaurants on Warren Street. Swoon Kitchenbar and Ca’ Mea are the other two, and although these last two are on my “ignore” list for now — Swoon for some watery risotto and Ca’ Mea for insisting they charge me for a bottle of “still” water I didn’t order — we all know my petty gripes will fade from memory and I’ll be crawling back to both places for their exceptional food.
Quick tourist tip: If a waiter offers you “bottled sparkling water or still?” choose the unspoken third option: tap. Hudson Valley tap water is delicious. “Still” is still bottled, comes with an unseemly carbon trail, and is $7 … money that could go toward dessert.