New show at Saugerties’ Emerge Gallery explores multiple takes on the ideal

Terra Incognito, 2009, Ellen McKay.

Abstrakt: A Group Exhibition of Abstract Art, opens at Saugerties’ busy Emerge Gallery this Saturday, July 7. Some 44 local artists will explore varieties of mediums and styles for a showing through the month, including a preview this Friday evening, July 6.

What is abstraction? Does it become less abstract when filtered through a Slavic spelling?

The term’s big. It refers to summaries and abridgements, a concentrated essence of larger or multiple items, a theoretical way of looking at things that emphasizes the ideal, a near-opposite of that which is concrete and easily recognizable. It finds use in real estate, science, theory, and most definitely art.


Abstract is not the sort of term that’s used in governmental or political terms that much these days.

“Abstrakt includes work by former ballet dancer Gertrude Abramson, who mingles with the abstract in her series of pastel works influenced by the physicality of the wave washing over an object. Architecture student Katie Hoffstatter uses a 3-D modeling process to bring awareness to the human impact on our planet and explores turning mundane ‘trash’ into art,” writes the show’s curator, gallery owner Robert Langdon. “Photographer Joan Barker uses a long exposure to capture the image 15 Seconds of Snow In Wind At Night, while jd weiss uses medium format film and combines it with digital and hand painted elements in her photographs. Art therapist Wendy Moss — inspired by Kandinsky for his fervor, Miro for his fanciful shapes and Klee for his whimsy — honors the masters through her solar panels. Nadine Meyers Saitlin creates seductive surfaces and provocative forms on 3-D natural gourds in her Painted Vessels series.”
Langdon, a veteran of the northern New Jersey art scene and years in publishing and marketing, opened Emerge a few years back. He encompasses a wide definition of the concepts behind abstraction. Instead of a synthesis, an abridgement, it’s as though he’s searched out art and artists who work large, who go beyond the literal to include more of the world, and all that emphasizes empathy these days, into their work.

The wide assortment of artists spread throughout his Main Street gallery’s space include the likes of Loel Barr, Shelley Davis, Chris Ernst, Lynne Friedman, Patti Gibbons, Robert Greco, Richard Morris, Suzanne Parker, Roberta Sickler, and Charlotte Tusch ( herself a former gallerist from New Jersey).

Abstract artist Ellen McKay will be teaching weekly classes in abstract painting over the coming month that her work will be on view at Emerge.

“In these classes we explore ways to start a painting and develop it through various techniques which establish a dialogue with the Unconscious  — ground of spontaneity, realm of authentic expression,” she explains of her methodology, learned at New York City art schools and shown at top Hudson Valley galleries for years. She’s recently returned from more that a dozen years in Argentina. “In the intuitive practice of gesture and improvised mark-making, we invite happy ‘accidents,’ the unexpected ‘error.’ We leave intellect and preconceived ideas aside, we break old habits, gain new ground; the work deepens, takes on a life of its own. The emphasis is on transition and transformation, not finished product. It is a play between worlds, visible and invisible —      physical, emotive and spiritual, whereby abstract images gain substance and depth.”

Works in the Abstrakt exhibit will be in acrylic, drawings, encaustic, mixed media, monoprints, oil, pastel, photography and sculpture. The preview runs as part of First Friday evening hours on July 6. The opening reception is from 5 to 8 p.m. on July 7. The show stays up through July 30.

McKay’s four session abstract painting workshop will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the month and is open to both beginners and “seasoned artists who wish to break new ground in their work.” Registration is required. 

The gallery is located at 228 Main Street in the center of Saugerties. For info call 247-7515, or visit