Tongue in Cheek: The Inflatable Art of Jimmy Kuehnle

June 4 to September 18, 2016

Jimmy Kuehnle. Punch Bubbles, 2016


It’s not marble, it’s not bronze, but it is sculpture ─ bright and bouncing. Jimmy Kuehnle’s inflatables are exciting art form and witty commentary on our interests and enthusiasms. 

This summer, Kuehnle’s inflatables invade the Hudson River Museum’s limestone Victorian home, Glenview, and the Brutalist concrete spaces in its modern wing, mushrooming in the galleries. The sculptor, who at times can be found inside his huge and popular costumes inflated by 12-volt motor blowers, says, When you’re inside an inflatable, the lack of 90-degree angles and natural architectural forms makes for a surreal experience.

Kuehnle also turns his creativity and mechanical know-how from costumes to site-specific installations that activate the space around them. Massively scaled, these sculptures are put in your way, so that you ask, “Is this space mine, or does it belong this extremely large creature blocking me?” Kuehnle’s message, Stop and connect with me — talk and touch me, and, an addendum, Your space may not be as private as you think it is or would like it to be.

The Hudson River Museum is host to Jimmy Kuehnle’s first large-scale solo installation in New York. Products of numerous renderings, Kuehnle inflatables, here in Summer 16, include three new works:  Super Punch Bubbles, blossoms of bright color emerging from Glenview’svenerable tower windows that function as an illuminated clock, light blinking the change of hours; You Lick Me, I Lick You, inflatables shaped like tongues that drape the Museum’s Entrance Arch; and in the galleries, Hot Polyester Bladder Lung, that “breathing” beckons you towards its shifting form as it expends life into far reaches of the Museum.  The huge neon-pink Please, no smash, a costume-sculpture hybrid, just returned from its sensational season at Cleveland’s MOCA, fills the Museum’s atrium and is joined by You Wear What I Wear and Hello Bye. The titles of the works are as intriguing as the works. I like titles that make people curious, says Kuehnle, but also offer the potential for your own interpretation by have some sort of call-to-action.

Kuehnle sculptures, which he makes from vinyl-coated polyester fabric, inflate and deflate, pulsing, and by extension breathing, like an organism. Bestowing kinetic energy on a sculpture demands of its maker a sophisticated approach to scale and movement. The installation, itself, always requires new construction and problem solving aided by programming platforms for electronics and the traditional push and pull of winches, pulleys, and rigging. When I work on projects, I always like to learn things and have new experiences.  So I set up challenges, situations that require new techniques, said Kuehnle.

Kuehnle who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art, has had solo shows at museums, galleries and universities in the United States and internationally. In 2014 he was selected for the national survey exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. As a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow in Japan, 2008, he pursued his interest in public art and sculpture.

The Hudson River Museum hosts Jimmy Kuehnle’s first large-scale solo exhibition in New York through September 18, 2016. Kuehnle brings new works to the Museum and we see him here installing Super Punch Bubbles, blossoms of bright color billowing from the Tower windows of Glenview, the historic home at the Museum and You Lick Me, I Lick You, tongue-shaped inflatables that drape the Museum’s Entrance Arch. Watch Jimmy at the Museum’s Kite Festival walking in his inflatable suits, favorites for all. In the Galleries are more of Jimmy Kuehnle works and costumes.  Learn about the artist at

Organized by the Hudson River Museum.



Juan Bernal: Pure and Simple

May 14 - September 18, 2016

Juan Bernal.  Cathedral, 2008

Juan Bernal finds sublimity in nature's designs, the hidden bounty in nature’s smallest gifts — a single leaf, a drop of water, the morning’s first shaft of light.

Juan Bernal: Pure and Simple opens at the Museum on Saturday May 14 in celebration of Yonkers Arts Weekend (Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15), presenting paintings and photographs from several series by this artist who originally hails from Colombia: The Light (Paintings of Light Rays); Dew (Paintings of Water Droplets); Fragments (Paintings of the Geometry of Leaves). 

Artist and architect, Bernal looks deeply into nature’s elemental forms and sees broader life and a larger landscape. He follows the leaf in new color, young and green, until it bursts into the brilliant orange of life realized. In his works Bernal perfectly balances the genres of landscape and still-life, urging us to step closer, pause, and enjoy the shimmering lushness of nature in the everyday.  

To contrast these close-up views of nature, Bernal creates a new painting for this exhibition —The Great River—a six by nine foot panorama of a composed landscape along the banks of the Hudson River, his scene inspired by the grandly-scaled compositions of  19th-century Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and Jasper Cropsey.  These earlier painters often combined sketches of different locales to create one idealized scene they then returned to their studios to perfect.  Bernal, too, creates a Hudson River scene but “sketches” first, not with portable easel and paint, but with camera and computer.  He shows how, piece by piece, from first photograph to final painting a work comes together. 

Key to Bernal’s paintings is light. Light shines through a leaf or a droplet of water. A leaf illuminated bears its elongated vein and opens its internal structure to our sight. We sense our connection to Nature’s rationality and reflect on its suggestion of the divine — both wellsprings of life.

Organized by the Hudson River Museum.