Hudson

When asked to write about a quiet visionary who has left an indelible mark on the art world, I immediately thought of Hudson.

I did not know Hudson well, even though I knew him over a long period of time. We met in the mid-1980s when he was in Chicago either at the Randolph Street Gallery or the first iteration of Feature. I imagine our relationship was representative of his connection to a myriad of people he held in his orbit, those for whom he was a consistent source of integrity, attention, and passion for art when needed. He provided an intravenous feeding of the essence of what is best about our world and what lured us into committing to art at the centers of our lives.

Drawing by Kelsey Mitchell, 2016.

On those occasions over the next two decades, when time afforded me the benefit of an engaged conversation with Hudson, it was always a pleasure to be brought by him to the place where our enthusiasms were focused on individual artists and their work. He introduced me to many, some of whom I later had the privilege of working with: Dike Blair, Richard Rezac, and Cary Smith. Hudson made possible a sustained connection to their development as artists and, more importantly, the opportunity to share and discuss the gift that their work was to us.

Beyond art, Hudson engaged in my life as a person who cared deeply about people. Years ago I had a serious back injury and he zealously brought me into the fold of his system of healthcare providers who helped keep limber his contrary, former dancer’s body. I can humorously recall being suspended from a ceiling by a physical therapist somewhere above 23rd Street whom he swore by. Although I eventually did find my magician healer, it wasn’t Hudson’s, and yet he was not dissuaded in continuing to assist in any way he could conceive to make my life better with additional recommendations and many attentive phone calls. During that time, he shared with me more of the disappointments and frustrations in his own life and work. Memorably he once told me how physically and emotionally strenuous it was for him to sustain all the good and attention he poured out at Feature. That in order for him to come to work every day he often had to go home at night and sit alone in the dark for hours in his apartment in order to restore the quiet light he emanated to all of us.

That evanescence is what we miss. Hudson’s devotion beyond inclination and reason to art, artists, and the art world was an indelible and ever rarer example of what is best in our world. I often think of him sitting there in the dark, the city bellowing loudly and glaring brightly around him, and still feel the blessing of his steadfast center.

Contributor

Jennifer R. Gross

JENNIFER R. GROSS is a curator, art historian, and writer.

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