SPACE CREATE is pleased to present Judy Thomas’ new painting series MAPPING, in the main gallery at 115 Broadway, Newburgh, NY. In this exhibition, Thomas shows lyrical works that explore the formal elements of color, line and form, revisiting 20th century abstraction through a 21st century lens. Underlying the playful nature of Thomas’ new paintings is an investigation into broader concepts of chaos and chance.
Thomas begins each painting with her own version of the surrealist technique automatism which has informed her work for decades. As each painting develops, Thomas imparts a formal eye to the original marks and shapes, moving lines and forms to better serve the composition.
Judy Thomas grew up in the Midwest and began her formal art studies at the University of Iowa where she majored in painting, drawing and printmaking. She studied at the Yale Summer School of Art at Norfolk and a won a Harriet Hale Woolley fellowship to Paris to study with renowned printmaker S.W. Hayter at the Atelier 17. She elected to live in Europe for several years and then moved to New York City to attend graduate school at Hunter College. After completing her MFA in Painting in 1988, she joined the mass exodus of young artists to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The pioneering, renegade spirit of the early 90’s helped to shape the direction of Thomas’ art, when she began to create temporary, large scale sculptural works in abandoned warehouse spaces along the waterfront in Brooklyn.
Judy Thomas is known for her large scale site-specific sculptural installations that play with real and implied volumne and feature high-key color. Her installations have been shown at in The Arsenal Center for the Arts, Brandeis University, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the Weathervane Gallery in Brooklyn. Thomas won a 2015 Individual Artist Commission grant from Arts Mid-Hudson for her community-responsive piece MATRIX:RENEWAL. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Time Out New York, The Detroit News, Huffington Post and the Mid-Hudson Times. Thomas lives and works in Newburgh, NY.
Meet Judy, a new Brooklyn transplant to the City of Newburgh. She is excited about all things Newburgh, especially her new studio with Hudson River views which she calls the Barge Watch. Learn all about her and why she decided to come to the City of Newburgh. Thanks for participating Judy!
Tell us about yourself. Where are from and what do you do for a living?
I grew up in the Midwest, lived some time in Europe, then moved to New York for graduate school in painting at Hunter College. After Hunter, I joined the exodus of artists out of the East Village to Brooklyn, setting up a studio in an industrial loft near the Navy Yard. The pioneering, renegade spirit of the early 90’s helped to shape the direction of my art. With the emergence of empty storefronts and warehouses as exhibition space, I began to explore site-specific sculptural installation as an art form. In order to support my artwork, I have sustained a second career for a time as a handbag, belt and accessories designer. I started teaching a few years ago and enjoy that as well. I guess you could say I am a Judy of all trades. I will have my sculptural installation ‘Expansion’ exhibited at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz from June 21st – November 9th, as part of the exhibition entitled ‘Worlds of Wonder’. I am thrilled for this opportunity!
How did you find Newburgh and what attracted you?
Friends have migrated to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn over the years, but no one actually lived in Newburgh. I relocated from the Boston area, where I lived for almost a decade, so moving to Newburgh was like coming home to me. The first day I looked around Newburgh, I knew this was where I wanted to settle. Each person I met was welcoming and helpful in my search for studio space. Ultimately, I found my ideal studio on Craig’s list – a diamond in the rough, which is also how I see Newburgh. There is a lot of untapped potential in this city. I also love the outdoors. There are hiking trails with incredible views within a half-hour drive, as well as kayaking, cycling, rock climbing and secret swimming holes.
What kind of studio space do you work in? What is it like working there?
My studio is in a brick industrial building, around 1,500 square feet. It reminds me of my old Brooklyn loft, except now I have a view. Incredible! It has been a lot of work getting the studio in order, but I love it. The studio was absolutely freezing this winter, but looking out at the frozen Hudson River and the barges cutting through the channel was purely fascinating, and so I created a Barge Watch facebook fan page, how nerdy is that?! And then this winter a friend helped me renovate the back room space at my studio and set up an exhibition space. So, now Barge Watch is the name for my studio as well as the ‘gallery’. Please ‘Like’ BARGE WATCH on FB, and stay in the loop!
Why do you think other artists would find Newburgh studio space ideal?
The amount of studio space you can get in Newburgh is comparable to the prices in Brooklyn in the late eighties. There are options to rent or buy, a lot of bang for your buck.
What do you enjoy about life in the City of Newburgh?
The other day, a Newburgh friend questioned me “You have only lived here six months?, really?” That sums up how welcoming everyone is here. There is a genuine spirit of community here. It’s a city, but also a small town in many ways. There is so much history here, and I love the architectural details of the old homes and churches.
What have been some of the perks and challenges of living in Newburgh?
Everyday I discover new perks – The Downing Film Center shows acclaimed first run films, under $10. Top notch Yoga and Pilates studios in walking distance. Free live music at the local pubs. I use my car too much though – for basic things like banking and grocery shopping, and that is different than most of the cities I have lived in. If I didn’t have a car, it would still be possible to use the numerous taxi services. As the downtown gets more inhabitants, I hope there will be more services down the road.
What advice would you give others who are considering moving to Newburgh?
Spend a few days and nights looking around, getting comfortable. Talk to people, ask questions, and if you are interested in renting a commercial space for a studio, be sure to negotiate to get what you want. Or you may just fall in love with one of the historical houses and buy, another great option!
Dutch artist, Paulien Lethen, is opening the Holland Tunnel Art Gallery in Newburgh on May 25 (5-10pm) and May 26 (1-6pm) in a renovated 1860’s warehouse at 46 Chambers Street. The gallery will feature opening exhibition work by local and international artists and live jazz by Dutch pianist/vocalist Heleen Schuttevaer, Lethen’s sister, and other musicians.
The Chambers Street gallery is the newest location for the Holland Tunnel Gallery which originated in 1997 in Williamsburg in a Home Depot garden shed in Lethen’s backyard. It immediately received press in The New York Times and became a neighborhood icon. In 2000 the Dutch sisters, Paulien and Heleen, opened Holland Tunnel Gallery Paros in Greece, with summer exhibitions and concerts in a 400 year old merchant house.
The Holland Tunnel Art Gallery in Newburgh will be a new venue for exhibitions, performances, concerts and movie screenings. The other spaces in the building are artist studios. Paulien comments that she feels the same artistic energy of Williamsburg in the ‘90’s – then known as The New Bohemia. She is happy to offer a new cultural venue and art center in the historic district of Newburgh where art and people can get together.
The exhibition will feature works by Jesus Antoshka, Kakyung Cho, Marieken Cochius, Steve Gerberich, Lynn Isaacson, Paulien Lethen, Julie Lindell, Bix Lye, Sinjin Lye, Jan Mulder, Kent Peterson, Jacques Roch, Judy Thomas, Audra Wolowiec
Jazz performances by Heleen Schuttevaer (piano, vocals) and guests; line up TBA
Grand Opening Holland Tunnel Art Newburgh
46 Chambers St between Liberty and Grand St, Newburgh Dates and hours May 25 (5-10 PM) and May 26 (1-6 PM)
Exhibition featuring works by Jesus Antoshka, Kakyung Cho, Marieken Cochius, Steve Gerberich, Lynn
Isaacson, Paulien Lethen, Julie Lindell, Bix Lye, Sinjin Lye, Jan Mulder, Kent Peterson, Jacques Roch,
Judy Thomas, Audra Wolowiec
Jazz performances by Heleen Schuttevaer (piano, vocals) and guests; line up TBA