AHA! A House for Arts


AHA! | 602

A mixed-media artist Jenny Hutchinson creates pieces that blur the line between painting and sculpture. The Hyde Collection’s Jonathan Canning talks all about the secret lives of curators. Soul, rock singer-songwriter Buggy Jive performs in studio.

AIRED: February 18, 2020 | 0:26:46

(cheerful music)

- [Lara] Artist Jenny Hutchinson blurs the line

between painting and sculpture.

The Hyde Collection's Jonathan Canning talks

about the secret lives of curators,

and a performance from Buggy Jive.

It's all ahead on this episode of AHA!

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA! has been provided

by your contribution and by contributions

to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include the Leo Cox Beach

Philanthropic Foundation,

Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

The Alexander and Marjorie Hover Foundation,

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T Bank,

we understand that the vitality of our communities

is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T Bank is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts and we invite you to do the same.

(upbeat music)

- Hi, I'm Lara Ayad and this is AHA!

A house for arts, a place for all things creative.

Glens Falls artist, Jenny Hutchinson lets her intuition

be her guide.

Jenny's art is a fascinating blend of drawing and sculpture,

using paper and even wood to create bold 3D designs

inspired by nature.

(cheerful music)

- When I was going to school, my mentor said to me,

he said, "I think you're a sculpture trapped

in a painter's body."

And I didn't really know what that meant at the time

that he said that to me,

but I think I've since fully rounded that out

and indeed became that person.

I was the type of person who hated framing my artworks.

For a long time I wouldn't frame artworks.

That's when I began cutting it out

and adding this dimension to it.

I'll still frame it but that's just so

that I can sell it


but I really don't want to.

Well, I've always been an artist.

My first friends were my crayon box, for sure.

My work is mainly mixed media.

My skill sets in oil painting,

but I've always been drawn to drawing mediums as well,

colored pencil, graphite, ink work.

I like to work with whatever I feel like I need

to use at the moment,

even for the art piece that I'm creating

so it's whatever inspires me.

So I graduated right in the middle of the recession,

so that idea of me going on to teach or something

immediately out of school was gone.

So I ended up moving home

and that was at the time my worst nightmare

(laughs) really.

And I moved in with my parents

and at that time I didn't really think of Glens Falls

as a creative community and that was just

'cause I had been so detached from it for so long,

and I actually got a job at a chocolate making shop.

And I remember waiting on customers

and people would ask you,

"what are you doing?"

Like, "who are you?" sort of questions,

and I shared that I had my master's degree.

And they're like, "well, what are you doing here?"


I was like, "I don't know."

Soon after that a job opened up at the local arts council

and that's really where I got my start,

and from there I taught at the university

and then after doing that for about six years,

then the position at the museum opened up

and thought I would be a good fit for that.

And, what artist doesn't wanna work

at The Hyde Collection?


So for me, no, I'm not an artist full-time,

but I'm part of a creative atmosphere

that informs my artwork as well.

I always worked mixed media.

I always worked with bright colors.

I've always been interested in bright colors,

and I've always also worked from drawing from life.

And it's really that love for drawing that my artwork

really has a launching point.

It just, I have a friend who said,

"sometimes you have to unteach yourself a little bit."

And once I reached that part of my career,

feeling more confident in my ability

to just choose my own subject matter

and make things the way that I wanted to,

then that's when things started to take off.

So I tend to draw plants,

either plants that I have or out in nature.

I'm also an avid kayaker, so I'll go out

and find scenes out along the river or a lake,

so sometimes I'm working directly from the object

or sometimes I'm using photographic reference.

I'll do a quick sketch

and then it evolves from there,

so I may add ink and then I may start cutting it out

and then I may start adding colored pencil

or acrylic paint or maybe even oil paint.

So I just grab whatever I need at the moment

and it becomes a little bit more abstract.

It's not a literal representation

of the original scene or object.

Alchemy has to do with like finding the hidden

purpose of something, right,

and producing this thing that didn't otherwise exist

out of lots of different elements and materials.

So it's that mixed media component

that I'm working with or seeing the form within the form.

Like Michelangelo does that a little bit, right,

and I was always obsessed with his works.

But usually people are obsessed with the David,

and I really liked his Bound Slaves sculptures

and that's because you really saw the hand

of the artist.

So you can't really see the hand of the artist in my work,

but it's present there through the use

of all the different materials combined together

and making a new form from something that I've seen

or been inspired by is the alchemy piece.

I'm looking forward to having my studio back.

Recently I had to make the tough decision

to let my studio go.

I'd been in The Shirt Factory here in Glens Falls

for 10 years, actually.

And I am now renovating a two-storey barn

to become the new studio that's on my property at my home.

(soft music)

It's 100 years old.

It was originally one of the ice houses for the city.

It didn't have any insulation,

we even had to break out a part of the floor

and refill it in.

We wanna conserve as much of the original wood as possible,

so we have been removing those interior boards

and I don't even know how many thousands of nails

that I've pulled at this point.

A new studio is gonna provide me, I think,

to become even increasingly more sculptural.

I've had to work pretty small format

the last however many years.

I think I'll be able to start working larger

and maybe even thinking in terms of installation,

so I'm slowly starting to work my way towards that.

And my work would be well-suited for that sort of atmosphere

and the barn is really gonna be able to provide me

with the space to do that.

You have a really great power as a creative person

'cause you're an incredibly well-adept problem solver,

and that's a really important skill to have

no matter what career you pursue,

so, take ownership of that and see it through.

- Jonathan Canning is the director of curatorial affairs

and programming at The Hyde Collection

in Glens Falls, New York.

He has spent decades in the museum field,

13 of those years as a curator,

but what exactly does a curator do?

Let's chat with Jonathan to find out.

- Jonathan Canning, welcome to AHA!, a house for arts.

Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you do?

- Well as director of curatorial affairs,

I'm really responsible for the care

of The Hyde's own collection in the Historic House,

and that is a collection of European and American art

that's spans from the Late Middle Ages

right up to the present day.

And I also am responsible for bringing in

a raft of exhibitions,

somewhere between four major, and half a dozen

smaller exhibitions every year,

and I get to choose what they're going to be

and then work on bringing them in and with my colleagues.

Everything about that,

from transportation and insurance all the way through

to advertising and the educational programs

that go along with them.

- Yeah, so and you're really giving me a sense

of the nitty-gritty of your role and your work at The Hyde.

Can you tell me a little bit about the spirit

of the work you do?

So in other words, what is it in the past,

or what of your past experiences,

how have they led you to the work that you do now?

What inspired you to become

the director of curatorial affairs?

- There are many ways to get into the arts

and being a curator and there are some who were

artists, who come at it from that direction.

I came from it, into it more from the history side.

I grew up in Canterbury in the southeast of England,

historic medieval city,

totally enraptured by the story of the murder of Beckett

and the gruesome,

his decapitation almost and on the stones of the floor

of the cathedral and so the gory side

of medieval history captured my attention.

- That's quite the visual.


- And so I was at school in a

ancient school, claims to have been founded by St. Augustine

in 597 A.D. and the cathedral was our school chapel,

and I had dull Latin and Greek classes

in which I looked at the cathedral out the window.

And so I was captivated by the building

and then I started studying art history

and went to university as

so I have a number of degrees in art history.

And that, for me, what was

first really grabbed my attention was

how art and architecture is, how it's used.

So for the Middle Ages,

how the church used it for not just the liturgy,

but for controlling people.

How art is used has always fascinated me.

I like to use it as then a record of the society

of the historical period in which it was made

and tease out those elements.

- I wanna talk a bit about museums more widely too

because people often go to museums

and they browse the works and the don't really think about

why those works are there and how did they get there?

Can you tell me a little bit about

what are some common misconceptions about museums?

And also specifically about curators

'cause you talked about your role as a curator,

and what would you say is your most

important curatorial goal right now?

- I think, the first thing to understand

is that somebody has

chosen the art that you're seeing.

It has come together over time.

Maybe a host of people have been involved in

bringing that assemblage together,

but it's not purely accidental,

but it's not designed, say by a decorator,

and I think that's one of the problems

I face when trying to explain what I do,

is there's this assumption that curators are decorators.

They work with art and beautiful things all day long,

and they place them here and there and just so.

There is more to it than that.

I am by the choices I make,

which paintings to hang next to which,

to introduce a piece of furniture or something,

I am building relationships between those objects

and trying to, perhaps,

you won't really notice this as a visitor,

but I am trying to build associations and create settings.

The term curator now, if you go on Indeed

and look up curator, I have seen it used as

a front of house staff at boutique hotels,

I've seen it used as assistants in cannabis shops,

curating the experience,

and I do something very different

from either of those two things.

- Well that's very interesting

because you could also argue that going into a museum

is something like an experience, right?

I mean as a curator you are giving the visitor to The Hyde

a certain experience as well.

- Yes, and we're now, in the field of museums,

talking more and more about the experience.

And what is the experience that our visitors are having

and are we providing them

the same experience for all ages?

So that, I guess I am increasingly working

with my colleagues to curate the experience,

but underneath all of that,

there's a level of expertise on the making,

the history of the art, the care of it.

There's a whole side to curating which is very practical.

How do you hold an object?

Everyone thinks of curators in their white gloves,

you don't always wear white gloves.

Knowing, and The Hyde Collection is an accredited museum

so we work to the same standards in the way we handle,

and care, present, preserve the art,

as the Metropolitan, the Geki Museum.

And so I have to know all of those standards,

work to them myself, and to ensure that

the museum staff works to those standards too.

- Right, yes, so it's a lot of

different moving parts,

you're almost wearing different hats, in a sense.

So you've overseen so many different exhibitions,

at Loyola University Museum of Art, at

the Martin Darcy SJ Collections, Chicago.

What would you say is your favorite or

most memorable exhibition experience?

- Oh, do I tell the horror stories or the,


- Well the horror stories might be juicy,

I mean you started off talking about blood-stained floors

in England, so you might want to keep going with that.


You don't want to tell me the horror story.

- Where do I want to go with this conversation,

probably shouldn't, let's keep it clean and

I'm always moving on to the next exhibition to be honest

so at the moment we have Picasso Braque Leger on the walls

of The Hyde, but I am thick in the middle of Francisco Goya,

and Dox Thrash, and already trying to plot out

an exhibition of American quilts that will be here

a year from now at The Hyde.

So, I'm pretty fickle, I move on once that show is up,

I've moved on.


- Do you like to switch between doing something,

on modernist painting.

People usually think of Picasso,

and they think of painting, or they think of Braque,

but now you're gonna be doing American quilts.

I mean, is it, do you like to

alternate between different types of art

and artistic expressions at The Hyde?

- Yes, I am very keen to keep it fresh,

to, I see my goal, my role at The Hyde as

bringing in the best art, and the art from around the world,

to the region, and to Glens Falls,

there's a very strong love of American,

19th, early 20th century art at The Hyde.

And I can tap into that at times, and we've exhibited,

Rockwell Kent, and we had John Slain this summer,

and Winslow Homer has been shown at The Hyde.

But I want to do, I want to liven things up.

Last fall we had our first major exhibition of evasion art,

Japanese prints, for the next three years,

we are making a concerted effort

to show the art of African Americans.

We will have Dox Thrash and early 20th century artists

on view in the winter in the beginning of 2020.

We will be showing an exhibition of Mexican prints,

which I think is the first time we've had Mexican art

at The Hyde.

So, part of that is, I think it's my responsibility,

our responsibility, we live in a multiracial nation,

and we should celebrate that.

Also The Hydes were great travelers in their day.

They went to Europe, but we also know,

family members went to Egypt,

we know that Mrs. Hyde's sister, Nell Cunningham,

collected Native American basketry.

So there's is a history of looking beyond just Western art

at The Hyde, and I want to ensure that we are fresh

and vital and always looking for a new audience

to attract more and new people too,

and I think we can do that by

keeping our exhibitions fresh and wide-ranging.

- Well those all sound like really exciting projects

and really exciting shows,

and I'd be looking forward to seeing them myself,

so thank you very much for coming on the show,

it was great talking to you about your role

and I really look forward to

making my next visit to The Hyde.

- Well thank you, it was a pleasure, come up.

- Thank you.

Equal parts Zeppelin, Di Angelo, Prince, and

Joni in sound and sensibility, please welcome,

soul rock singer songwriter, Buggy Jive.

(guitar music)

♪ Loss of man ♪

♪ Loss of nature ♪

♪ I ain't moving out of there ♪

♪ Loss of man ♪

♪ Lost of nature ♪

♪ I'm just trying to say prayer ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ What we are ♪

♪ What we are ♪

♪ Loss of man ♪

♪ Loss of nature ♪

♪ Trying to trust, trying to live ♪

♪ Loss of lovers ♪

♪ Loss of haters ♪

♪ I got no more love to give ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ We are what we are ♪

♪ What we are, what we are ♪

♪ Loss we ain't ♪

♪ Loss we are ♪

♪ I'm just trying to play guitar ♪

♪ We are climbing higher and higher ♪

♪ We are climbing higher and higher ♪

♪ We are climbing higher and higher ♪

♪ We are climbing higher mountains trying to get home ♪

♪ Loss of man ♪

♪ Loss of nature ♪

♪ I'm just trying to get holy home ♪

♪ Loss of mercy ♪

♪ Loss of mercy ♪

♪ Loss of mercy ♪

♪ Lord have mercy, yeah ♪

♪ Lord have mercy ♪

♪ Lord, Lord have mercy ♪

♪ Lord have mercy on my soul ♪

- Thanks for joining us.

For more arts visit,

wmht.org/aha, and be sure to connect with WHMT on social.

I'm Laura Ayad, thanks for watching.

♪ He's the wrong side of 45 ♪

♪ He's on the wrong side of 45 ♪

♪ He's on the b side ♪

♪ Running round, turn table, DJ spin ♪

♪ Hot song in the key of life and Frantis Scott ♪

(finger clicks)

♪ But if a mic drops ♪

♪ In a tight spot ♪

♪ Gonna make it all mine with my hip-hop rock ♪

♪ Gonna get a b side to top the pops ♪

♪ Like Bill Hilly did with rock around the clock ♪

♪ Like the righteous brothers with unchained melody ♪

♪ Like green onion for book a teen, the energies ♪

♪ Like slice stone, gonna take you higher ♪

♪ The rolling stones be playing with fire ♪

♪ The stones again with every Tuesday ♪

♪ Oh God like rhyme with Maggie May ♪

♪ Or the beach boys ♪

♪ But God only knows ♪

♪ I know, I know, I know, I know like ♪

♪ Bill with us, ain't no sunshine ♪

♪ Credence that moon on the rise ♪

♪ All b sides, no lie ♪

♪ There was all b sides, no lie ♪

♪ There was all b sides, believe it not ♪

♪ Mister laugh at it hard right like Lancelot ♪

♪ She was swinging wings at a fixed rate ♪

♪ Or you could blow a broader with a mixtape ♪

♪ I could stay at home and sit on it ♪

♪ Or crack open his egg and make an omelet ♪

♪ That's what a brother pray for ♪

♪ See that's what a brother pray for ♪

♪ To flip night into day ♪

♪ And I know all your games ♪

♪ On the b side, ♪

♪ So I'ma survive, ♪

♪ Yeah, I'ma survive, ♪

♪ Yeah, I'm survive ♪

♪ Yeah, I'm gonna survive ♪

♪ Hey, hey ♪

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA! has been provided by

your contribution and by contributions to the

WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include,

the Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation,

Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

the Alexander and Marjorie Hover Foundation,

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T Bank we understand that the

vitality of our communities is crucial to

our continued success,

that's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T Bank is pleased to support WMHT programing

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same.


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