by Kelly Seiz
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love in whatever form it comes in.
The artists at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA) will be doing just that, with the opening reception of their exhibit, “Love: The First of the 7 Virtues” and its antithesis, “Lust: The 4th of the Seven Deadly Sins.” The exhibit is part of a collaboration with the Fairfield Westchester Museum Alliance (FWMA), in which each of all but one of the member institutions will curate an exhibit to reflect one of the seven deadly sins and, occasionally, their antitheses.
Love and intimacy are being embraced more than ever before; As of now, 35 states have legalized same-sex marriages. New sexual identities are emerging, as people are free legally and socially to explore the breadth of their sexualities. More than ever, we find people identifying as asexual, pansexual, demisexual, or any combination of the three. It feels like a new prefix for “sexual” is developed daily, as people attempt to find a word for how they really feel.
That’s why HVCCA’s exhibit couldn’t come at a better time. Throughout history, art has been used to explore the self, others, and society as a whole.
Beyond sexuality, the exhibit’s focus on love also includes familial love, love for pets, love for yourself...love has never been limited to a sexual capacity, although it is a component.
For instance, Bendix Harm’s Steak Brand will be displayed at the exhibit, a large-scale oil painting of a man with his arm draped fondly around a massive white dog as they look over a child-scrawled castle. Woman and Child by Sam Jinks is a hyper-realistic silicone sculpture of a grey-haired woman holding a newborn, its head curved into the angle of her neck. An ornate bassinet that reportedly took four years for artist Charles LeDray to complete is perched on a shelf full of the materials he used to create it. It’s titled My Baby.
Whether we love our animals, our children, or the beauty we create, there’s a fine line between that love and its opposite: lust.
The perversion of love, lust is that sexual component of love without any of the emotion. The pieces on display that reflect this theme vary in mediums from paint to photo to interactive sculpture.
The Beggars Dance of the Dybbuk by Saul Raskin depicts a woman being carried through a crowd of leering men, her head thrown back in anguish and her feet dragging between the legs of the man who’s carrying her. Christoph Ruckhäberle’s Billboard shows four men leaning against a wall of commercial billboards, ads, and posters, the two on either side keeled over in sickness or inebriation. The most prominent ad on the billboard is a topless woman labeled “today” in German.
The HVCCA’s exhibit will run from Valentine’s Day until December 6 of this year. Whether you’re in love, lust, neither, or both, "The Seven Deadly Sins" shows a variety of different pieces capturing an infinite number of emotions by artists from around the world.