What do you do, and how did you get to where you are now?
I had previously traded in violins and other stringed musical instruments, but a visit to the National Gallery in Washington, DC was an inspiring and transformative experience which drew me to the world of American paintings. For 26 years I have operated a fine art gallery with a specialty in 19th century Hudson River school paintings. I began in a small upstairs space at a time when Hudson was just beginning to gain attention from designers and architects, and have been fortunate to witness the amazing transition of this old post-industrial town into a destination of world renown. I purchased a renovated 1882 building fourteen years ago, which is both gallery space and residence.
What do you love about what you do?
My main interest is the finding, acquisition, conservation, and framing of 19th century American paintings. Here in Hudson we are fortunate to have professional art restoration and frame conservation services, and I frequently work with them to give new life to paintings that are often 100+ years in age.
What’s the thing about Hudson that made you say, wow, I want to be here?
The location of the city is ideal– on the east bank of the Hudson River, looking west toward the Catskills, near to the Berkshires, Albany, New York City, Boston, Montreal, and with great transportation connections. We are up in the country, but not isolated in the boondocks.
What’s the most wonderful—or weirdest—thing that you’ve experienced in Hudson?
I served for seven years as President of Friends of Hudson, a local citizen’s group that took on the enormous task of challenging the siting of the world’s largest cement plant on the edge of our community. We built a grassroots group of 4,000 members, raised $2 million, and after a seven-year struggle we defeated the Swiss-Canadian conglomerate that would have imposed unacceptable impacts on Hudson and environs.
If there’s one thing a visitor has to experience before they leave, what is it?
The walkway high above the waterfront known as ‘The Promenade,’ or sometimes ‘The Escarpment.” It’s a glorious vista looking to the southwest, and it’s where I can be found at sunset.
What’s your favorite event here, and what makes it great?
Winterwalk is extraordinary– 12,000 people on Warren St. in mid-winter!
Is there anything you’d like to add—about yourself, your business, or Hudson?
Some years ago I came upon the neglected gravesite of the great Hudson River artist Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880.) The family plot included 22 stones, and had been untended for decades. I was able to raise $20K from generous clients and art lovers, and found a wonderful stone mason who restored the site to good order. The effort has helped to trigger renewed interest in our beautiful old cemetery, which is our finest city park. A website about the project can be found at– http://giffordsgrave-hudson.blogspot.com/