Time to See the World!

Marlene Wiedenbaum, “Gum Shopping Mall, Moscow”

Marlene Wiedenbaum, “Gum Shopping Mall, Moscow”

Howland exhibit reflects pent-up desire to travel

Feeling hemmed in, longing to travel again, or ready for some armchair traveling to ride the pandemic out with? After a year and a half of warnings and cancellations and every possible impediment to going forth into the world, there is a lot of pent-up desire out there among those eager to roam.

Karen Gersch feels the same and, while curating a show for the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, sought out artwork that could tap into a collective yearning to experience the world again. She made 65 selections from 16 artists (including herself) that are on display through Nov. 14 in Traveling Folk: Worlds Explored.

“Travel is still so restricted, so I thought, ‘Let’s have a show where people can see places that maybe someday they can see in person — a show that honors the world as well as America and the Hudson Valley.’ ”

Gersch, who lives in Orange County, in 2018 curated a show on circuses at the Howland, following years of going on the road with small-tented circuses, “taking my pastels by day, performing by night: a rich life,” she says.

For the current exhibit, she put out a call not only for art but for narratives that explained the places that had inspired the art and why those places had resonated. 

The resulting exhibit includes watercolors, pastels, gouache, acrylics and oil on canvas, ink-and-pencil drawings, wood carvings and photographs, evoking locations in the U.S., Italy, China, Mexico, France, Russia, Vietnam, Cuba, Antarctica, Greece, Scotland, Portugal, Africa, Myanmar, Puerto Rico and Afghanistan.

“After I read each artist’s story [about the artwork], I would go back to the image and see it anew,” Gersch says. “This exhibit celebrates the art that people find vital: scenic, portraits, landscape — powerful examples, in ways that are far from the norm.”

The artists, along with Gersch, are Laura Martinez-Bianco, Patricia Collins Broun, Glen Datres, Gabrielle Dearborn, Viorel Florescu, Ruth Geneslaw, Ron Hershey, Reni Lorray, Linda Lynton, Barbara Masterson, Simon Narborough, Fran Sutherland, Trisha Wright, Marlene Wiedenbaum and Mia Wolff.

The Howland Cultural Center is located at 477 Main St. in Beacon. Traveling Folk is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with the exception of Nov. 7. The cultural center also currently has a postcard exhibit. 

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