Tales of the mythical creature known as Sasquatch may be most common in the Pacific Northwest, but tales of Bigfoot have stomped their way across the continent. In the Hudson Valley, rumored sightings have apparently been common enough to warrant the creation of the beast’s own group of researchers. For many, Bigfoot is the touchstone for mythical creatures of North America, but he’s far from the only one. He’ll be in good company at One Mile Gallery’s “Monsters in America” show, where works of art depicting creatures such as the famous Mothman and Chupacabra will rub elbows with lesser-known beasts like the Pope Lick Monster of Kentucky’s Pope Lick Creek.
Drawing inspiration from Hog Island Press’s cryptozoological map of the US, local artist Richard Saja is collaborating on a September show with One Mile Gallery owner Janet Hicks. He has gathered a multitude of visual artists to create pieces focusing on the various monsters, aliens and spirits rumored to reside in North America.
“We love working together, and this is an idea he’s had for a long time,” says Hicks, who has shown Saja’s art several times since the Gallery’s opening in 2010. Herself a transplant from the West Coast, Hicks is very familiar with the mythology of Bigfoot and shares Saja’s fascination with tales of the supernatural. “Every state seems to have something spooky,” says Hicks.
And many artists, it turns out, find inspiration in those eerie creatures said to lurk just out of sight. “We’ve certainly had shows with veins of the fantastical,” says Hicks, but she adds that this is the first show curated specifically with a theme of the supernatural in mind. Saja sought out artists from the Hudson Valley, New York City and beyond, asking them each to create a work depicting on one of the mythical monsters. “The artists were chosen for their interests and tastes, but the pieces are new,” says Hicks. “We have some people who have dedicated two months of their lives to making these pieces.”
Among the pieces on display will be works of all different media – paintings, collages, sculptures – and all different monsters. Michael Lewy’s Bigfoot extends a hand forward, gazing out at onlookers from a photograph. Momo, a similarly hairy and allegedly malodorous cryptid purported to haunt Missouri, is portrayed in a latch-hook rug by Veleta Vancza. Joey Chiarello’s ceramic Wampus cat, a creature described alternately as a cursed cat/woman and a harbinger of death, crouches intently, while Keri Oldham’s mad-eyed watercolor of a bloodsucking Chupacabra bares its teeth.
Caitlin McCormack’s skeletal crocheted sculpture of the Pope Lick Monster appears to be creeping malevolently, tendrils of fiber extending from him in all directions. Hicks describes it as “delicate and creepy at the same time.” The real Pope Lick Monster, if there is one, is anything but delicate: This man/goat/sheep hybrid is said to live beneath a railroad bridge, luring and frightening people to their deaths.
The show of approximately 60 artists is so big that the One Mile Gallery will be opening an auxiliary space to accommodate all of the pieces; and in Saja’s discussions with Hog Island Press, there’s been talk of creating a children’s book with the art from the show.
As Saja puts the finishing touches on the September exhibit, Hicks continues to coordinate the Gallery’s busy calendar. Though she works weekdays in the City helping artists protect their intellectual property rights, Hicks manages to exhibit new shows regularly. “We definitely have things that are thematic in our programming,” she says.
Every year, the gallery does one show with photographer Mark Hogancamp, who has turned his backyard into a scale model of a World War II-era Belgian town. The Gallery is currently showing his work at the Biennial International Photography and Visual Arts Expo in Liège, Belgium and will be showing it again in October at the Outsider Art Fair in Paris.
Another one of the Gallery’s annual traditions is a show that focuses on the overlap of music and visual art. This October, the One Mile Gallery will cover its Kingston space in the work of prolific Portland, Oregon poster artist Mike King. In the meantime, though, King will have to wait; it’s rumored that the gallery is full of monsters. The One Mile Gallery is open from 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment.
“Monsters in America” opening reception, Saturday, September 3, 6-9 p.m., One Mile Gallery, 475 Abeel Street, Kingston; (845) 338-2035, www.onemilegallery.com.