WILLIAMSTOWN — October 16, 2017—Jeff and Jane Hudson embraced after hanging the last painting at 100 Spring St. earlier this month, marking the start of this phase of their life. From a guitar and a video camera to paint brushes and an iPad, the local artists have probed almost everything the arts have to offer.
“I feel excited about this stuff and Jane feels excited and we’re kind of ready,” Jeff Hudson said about their first gallery together at Tunnel City Coffee on Spring Street. “We like the whole scene.”
Jane Hudson presents colorful abstract gouache paintings on arches paper. Gouache painting consists of opaque watercolors mixed with a glue-like substance/binding agent called gum arabic to create a unique texture and medium.
“The imagery recollects early modernism but is within a contemporary re-visioning of abstraction,” she said.
She explained that a painting starts as a quixotic pencil drawing, then it's brought to life with an assortment of colors.
“In every stage of life you have different goals depending on what the context is,” she said. “At this point, painting and really going deep into painting is what I want to do. I’ve done music and video and photography, etc. There’s all kinds of reasons why I don’t do those anymore — it had something to do with the period I was in. Now because I have… time and the space, both at home and in the antique shop, I can really devote myself to painting.”
Jane Hudson’s paintings developed out of her love for early modernism, Russian constructivism, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
“The color is totally personal and exciting and infinite,” she said. “There’s no particular message. The paintings seem to connect with people on the level on the kind of joy and almost a lyrical quality. People respond to them in a really positive way. I’m comfortable where I am right now… it evolves.”
While the couple’s work differ in mediums, the color schemes naturally complement each other.
Jeff Hudson created his latest paintings on an iPad using Procreate 4 — a digital arts software and application. One digital painting depicts a large rabbit with ‘Save Me’ written above it and another, currently on display at Tunnel City Coffee at Mass MoCA, is a digital painting with a large crocodile, a small drawing of an alien in the bottom right corner and the words ‘No Water’ written above the crocodile.
“The artwork is funny, colorful, humorous witty, ironic — but loving! I watch a lot of news and use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” said Jeff Hudson about the inspiration behind features of his digital paintings.
Jeff Hudson made each frame for his current show by hand.
“The frames are part of the paintings,” he said.
Previously he worked with gouache and acrylic paintings on canvas — one of which, a grid-like painting, hung at Tunnel City at Mass MoCA this summer. He said he made the paper-to-screen transition after downsizing from storing an abundance of paintings.
“I’m really pretty happy with the look of the paintings. The quality is great –– resolution is excellent,” he said.
Before the Hudsons became Northern Berkshire County residents, they spent a majority of the 1970s and 80s playing music at venues in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
Jane Hudson played the bass and sang in a cult electronic-pop/punk band called The Rentals with her husband who used a synthesizer and drum machine. Their sound was a combination of guitar-driven punk and pure synth pop.
They’ve appeared with The Clash, PIL, Duran Duran, Alan Vega and Ministry, to name a few. They’ve been described as “the synth wave couple of the U.S.,” according to a write-up in Berkshire On Stage that previewed their 2012 performance at Club B-10 at Mass MoCA.
Eventually the duo slowed down on recording and producing music together to pursue separate interests. Jeff Hudson ventured into producing music videos and Jane Hudson experimented with video art, teaching and managing galleries.
They released solo albums in 2013 and their latest album, "The Middle," in July 2016.
Teaching, Technology and Antiques
Jane Hudson taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate art courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston between 1972 and 2006. These included Advanced Media Arts, Videography, Media Theory, Contemporary Art, Cultural Theory and Philosophy. She also served on numerous school committees and taught English/communications at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts from 2007 to 2008. Jeff Hudson taught video/performance at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts from 1974 to 2006.
Jane Hudson describes her video experimentation as a “poetic or metaphorical expression of an individual woman within the wider context of media representations.”
Since first practicing with analog technology, the Hudsons said they’ve grown with the technological revolution and consider themselves lucky to keep pace. The transitions involve using a variety of Mac-based photography and videography editing programs, as well as creating paintings on an iPad and producing pieces for single-channel, installation and web contexts.
“We use social media to share our work and on some level it reaches all over the world,” Jane Hudson said.
“It’s just pictures… there’s this whole expansive world of sharing images,” Jeff Hudson added. “Some people just paint and don’t share. More and more people use social media to share their work.”
The Hudsons do just that while running Hudson Art, an art gallery and antiques and collectibles shop. They formerly ran North Adams Antiques on Main Street and later at Mass MoCA in the space that second Tunnel City cafe occupies.
“We’ve done it all and now we're back to just us,” Jane Hudson said. “We’re always helping others and that’s great.”