The space was dim and hot, with huge windows letting in beams of sunlight. Despite the fact that artworks were for sale—and were selling; Zach Feuer parted with several driftwood snake sculptures by Johannes Vanderbeek for $500 to $1,000 each—Ms. Hubbs insisted this was not a fair. It didn’t look like one, and it wasn’t priced like one. Booths at NADA’s annual fair in Miami run around $9,000 apiece; the cost to exhibit in Hudson wasn’t much higher than a train ticket from Manhattan: $1.00 a square foot outside and $2.00 inside. There weren’t the usual art fair amenities. Ms. Hubbs did not provide extra lights. People were told that they couldn’t nail into the walls. This kept dealers on their toes and forced them to improvise. Graham Gallery built a large crate to hang paintings on. West Street Gallery placed a series of small-scale sculptures by Sam Anderson in tidy rows on the floor. Istanbul’s NON Gallery had taken over a cubbyhole of a room (there was a big black curtain hanging over the entryway) for an untitled piece by Conrad Ventur. The artist projected a performance of Amy Winehouse singing “Back to Black” while a Janis Joplin performance from 1969 on the Tom Jones show played on a loop. The projector had a prism over it so that the image was distorted, seeming to respond to the room’s own imperfections. Jack Hanley found pre-existing holes in the wall (there were plenty) to hang two paintings by Amy Yao.
Earlier, Mr. Mesler was telling us stories about Mr. Hanley. He wanted to spread the rumor that Mr. Hanley, a former roadie for the Grateful Dead, played all of Jerry Garcia’s guitar tracks on the band’s final records. The Observer was happy to oblige. Mr. Hanley did not look so different from Garcia, with long, floppy, white hair and a bushy, white beard. It was his first time in Hudson.
“Kind of a funny town, huh?” he said.
“John Ashbery lives here,” The Observer said.
“You’re kidding me. He’s, like, my favorite poet. That pretty much exemplifies the feeling that people here are a little tweaked.” Mr. Hanley said he was staying at a bed and breakfast over on Allen Street.
“The guy who rented me a room, I came in and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jack Hanley. I just called about the room’ and the first thing he said was, ‘So, you have the cash?’ I was like, what is this, a drug deal? I literally hadn’t gotten my bag into the door. But this morning, on the other hand, he made these amazing buttermilk waffles with fresh peaches.”
Mr. Feuer stood next to a black and white two-dimensional sculpture by artist Jim Krewson of a bearded man retching onto a laptop. The man had the haggard look of some of Hudson’s more colorful inhabitants. A stream of yellow liquid came out of his mouth like a fountain and collected in a pool at the bottom of the piece. Mr. Feuer has had a house in Hudson for eight years. He brought work by Mr. Krewson because the artist lives nearby in Catskill.
“This is a really arts-friendly community,” Mr. Feuer said. “And it’s been that way for longer than I’ve been here. I don’t know if it’s changed so much. It’s just a different group.” He paused and gestured to the work we were standing in front of.
“This is a vomiting hippie,” he said evenly.