Hudson River Museum Presents Inaugural Exhibitions in the New West Wing That Celebrate Community and the Hudson River 

Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson and Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage open to public on Friday, June 16, 2023.

 

YONKERS, NY, May 25, 2023—The Hudson River Museum is thrilled to present two dramatic and monumental inaugural exhibitions opening in the Hudson River Museum’s new West Wing: Kengo Kito: Unity on Hudson and Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage. In Unity on Hudson, Japanese artist Kengo Kito creates an immersive and awe-inspiring installation using nearly 2,500 colorful hula hoops symbolizing humanity’s interconnectedness and our relationship to the river. Sylvia Sleigh’s Invitation to a Voyage: The Hudson River at Fishkill, one of the prized works from the Museum’s collection, will be on view in the new Community & Partnership Gallery. It depicts a summer gathering of friends and art-world figures along the banks of the Hudson River across fourteen large-scale panels.

The exhibitions will flow throughout the West Wing galleries, which includes more than 3,000 square feet of gallery space and a cantilevered glass overlook with dramatic, three-sided panoramic views of the Hudson River and the majestic Palisades. This transformational capital improvement project is made possible with generous funding from Westchester County, the City of Yonkers, and New York State.

HRM Director and CEO Masha Turchinsky states, “We are incredibly fortunate to have the exhilarating work of Kengo Kito activate our new galleries and transform the space into a unique and thought-provoking experience. Likewise, our new Community & Partnership Gallery comes alive through Sylvia Sleigh’s paintings, a treasured gift to the Museum.These two artists–innovators in their respective practices–celebrate our place along the Hudson River, the importance of connection and community, and this bold new era for the Hudson River Museum.”

Laura Vookles, Chair, HRM’s Curatorial Department, “I am thrilled to have the chance to collaborate with such an internationally renowned artist on a project that integrates two subjects so close to the heart of the Museum: our beloved Hudson River and our belief that art has the power to bring us together. In Kengo Kito’s installation, visitors will find themselves becoming one with the art, which was also Sylvia Sleigh’s intention when she was painting her panorama of the river forty years ago.”

Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson
June 16–September 24, 2023

Kengo Kito (b. Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, 1977) is one of Japan’s most innovative contemporary artists. Known for his exhilarating and ethereal conceptual art installations, he repurposes everyday objects and connects modern materials with ideas rooted in traditional Japanese philosophy, culture, and art. At the Hudson River Museum, he is creating a monumental, site-specific installation using more than 2,500 colorful hula hoops, symbolizing humanity’s interconnectedness and our relationship to the Hudson River.

Kito is particularly drawn to hula hoops, not only because of their universal appeal for children and adults alike, but also because of the resonance of circles in Zen Buddhist philosophy. The circle, or ensō, can symbolize many things, from infinity and cycles of life to cooperation and togetherness. In addition, the form is both perfectly whole and empty, inviting us to contemplate fullness, the void, and the nature of reality.

The artist envisions an immersive experience where visitors walk around and under the multicolored intersecting circles as a metaphor for our bonds with each other and with nature. Curving lines, created by deconstructing and reconnecting different hoops, flow throughout the galleries like water, heightening our awareness from one point, ourselves, to something larger—expansive, yet fluid and intertwined.

Unity on the Hudson creates an uplifting and memorable space in which to reflect on community and collective action, particularly ongoing efforts to protect the Hudson River ecosystem. Kito notes, “The process of transformation of consciousness through connection is an element that is crucial in the effort to improve the condition surrounding the River . . . environmental issues are the responsibility of not just one singular person but of the community as a whole.” The trilingual exhibition, offered in English, Japanese, and Spanish, will include an interactive area where visitors are invited to contribute their personal stories about interconnectedness and unity.

Kengo Kito received a BFA from Nagoya University of Fine Arts and Music in 2001, and completed his postgraduate studies at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts and Music in 2003. In addition to his work as an artist, he is currently Associate Professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Unity on the Hudson is a triumphant return to New York for Kito, who had a residency and a dynamic show at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University in 2009. The artist first showed a hula hoop installation in 2021 at Japan House, Los Angeles; this is the first time one of his hula hoop environments has been exhibited on the East Coast.

Significant support is provided by the New York State Senate and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

The exhibition is made possible by the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and the City of Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano. Additional assistance for HRM exhibitions is provided by the County of Westchester.

Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson is organized by the Hudson River Museum.

With gratitude to JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles for their collaboration and for providing upcycled materials from the 2021 exhibition RECONNECTING: A Vision of Unity by Kengo Kito, and to advisors Miwako Tezuka, PhD, and David Janes, Global Citizens Initiative.

 

Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage
June 16–October 15, 2023
View press images here.

Set along the banks of the Hudson River, Sylvia Sleigh’s Invitation to a Voyage: The Hudson River at Fishkill depicts a summer gathering of friends and art-world figures across fourteen large-scale panels. This panoramic work, totalling seventy feet in length, will be displayed in the new Community & Partnership Gallery of the West Wing, enveloping the viewer in the setting, as the artist originally intended it to be experienced.

Invitation to a Voyage highlights a stretch of the east bank of the river near Fishkill, New York, about fifty miles north of the Museum. Located in the heart of the Hudson Highlands, the scenic area has been a source of inspiration to artists for more than 200 years. Sleigh (American, born Wales, 1916–2010) was first impressed by the beauty of this part of the river on a train trip to Albany in 1961, the year she immigrated to the United States with her husband, art critic Lawrence Alloway. She joined the feminist art movement in the 1970s and was well-known for her large-scale portraits of nude men that reversed the male gaze and asserted a new erotic perspective for women.

Years later, in 1979, Sleigh planned a trip upriver with Alloway and a group of their art-world friends, including Susan Kaprov, John Perreault, and Jeff Weinstein, to embark on the creation of Invitation to a Voyage. The artist posed her models along the railroad tracks with a backdrop of Pollepel Island and the ruins of Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, built by Frank Bannerman at the turn of the twentieth century. Back in her studio, working from photographs taken that day, she divided the panorama into seven panels facing the river and seven facing the shore, ultimately taking twenty years to complete her opus.

Invitation to a Voyage reflects themes that Sleigh returned to repeatedly throughout her career, including self-portraiture, the use of friends and colleagues as models, groups of figures in landscapes, and a running commentary on art history—in this case pastoral gatherings by eighteenth-century French painters. Her creation of an immersive and connective experience along the river is a fitting counterpart to Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson, also on view in the West Wing.

Significant support is provided by the New York State Senate and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

This exhibition is supported by the City of Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano.

 

RELATED PROGRAMS

Artist Talk with Kengo Kito and Miwako Tezuka
Sunday, June 4, 2:30pm
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes preview of the HRM’s new West Wing with this special talk, featuring artist Kengo Kito, who will be interviewed by art historian Miwako Tezuka, PhD, surrounded by Kito’s site-specific exhibition Unity on the Hudson. They will discuss his work and how he created the installation using thousands of colorful hula hoops as a metaphor for people’s interconnectedness and our relationship to the Hudson River. The program will include a Q&A and a reception with the artist to follow. Tickets: $30; HRM Members $25.

Curator’s Tour of Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson
Sunday, June 25, 1pm
Join Laura Vookles, HRM Chair, Curatorial Department, in the Museum’s new West Wing galleries for a visual and visceral experience of the inaugural exhibition, Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson. The installation is, according to the artist, “. . . representative of the surface of a moving water, as circles are deconstructed into lines, spreading into uncontrollable and unpredictable movements.” Tour the immersive installation made expressly for this occasion out of unexpected material, symbolizing humanity’s interconnectedness.

Free Community Day: Celebrating Unity on the Hudson
Saturday, July 9, 11am–5pm
Welcome to summertime at the Hudson River Museum! Enjoy our beautiful new West Wing exhibition galleries, featuring Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson with free general admission all day. Immerse yourself in the thousands of colorful hula hoops that Kito used to build his site-specific installation. Explore all the galleries, where you’ll find painted flowers, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, abstraction, photography, sculpture, and more! Engage in art and science workshops, including Cosmic Energy Collage workshop led by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Natalya Khorover. Add a ticketed planetarium show and a tour of Glenview to your visit for the full HRM experience!

Embracing Imperfection: Wabi-sabi on the Hudson
Sunday, July 16, 1–4pm
Spend the afternoon with cone9colab, a collective of artists who embrace the philosophy of wabi-sabi, a traditional Japanese aesthetic that is sometimes described as the beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” Its characteristics include asymmetry, roughness, simple beauty, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and the appreciation of both natural objects and the forces of nature. Immerse yourself in activities that will help you to develop a wabi-sabi mindset, which is accepting things as they are, knowing that even imperfect things are perfect in their own way.

Miss Molly Circus Hula Hooper Extraordinaire
Sunday, July 30, 12 & 3pm
Inspired by the thousands of hula hoops that make up Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson, don’t miss Miss Molly, a circus performer known for her upbeat, high-energy shows and epic tricks, twirl up to EIGHT hula hoops simultaneously! Enjoy her shows at 12 and 3pm, both of which will be followed by a workshop where kids and adults can learn hula hooping from the expert! Miss Molly, who performs nationwide, specializes in fire performance, stilt walking, and high-level hula hooping.

Japanese Dance Performance by Sachiyo Ito & Company:
Classical and Contemporary Dances Choreographed by Sachiyo Ito
Sunday, September 10, 2pm
Sachiyo Ito & Company performs and teaches classical dance forms including Kabuki, Noh, Okinawan Court, and Jiuta-mai, and presents contemporary works choreographed by Sachiyo Ito, which preserve the aesthetics of traditional Japanese dance. This performance will feature Sachiyo Ito’s contemporary work, “the artist speaks of water,” and a solo dance inspired by water, nature, and humanity which she choreographed. The Company has performed at Japan Society, Asia Society, and Lincoln Center, among others.

Images: Top: RECONNECTING: A Vision of Unity by Kengo Kito, 2021. Mixed media. Photo courtesy of Japan House, Los Angeles.

Middle: Sylvia Sleigh. Invitation to a Voyage: The Hudson River at Fishkill, 1979–99. Oil on canvas. Gift of the artist, 2006 (2006.03.01d).

Press contact:
Jeana Wunderlich
jwunderlich@hrm.org
(914) 963-4550 x240

Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.

The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-growing collection of American art; dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations; Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.

Hours and Admission: Hudson River Museum is open to the public Thursday–Friday, 12–5pm, Saturday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. Feel Good Fridays: Free general admission, Fridays, July 7 – August 25, 5-7pm. Mask wearing and COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required, but are recommended for all visitors. Learn more and purchase tickets at hrm.org/visit.

General Admission: General Admission (effective June 15): Adults $13; Youth (3–18) $8; Seniors (62+) $9; Students (with valid ID) $9; Veterans $9; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE; Museums for All* $2, *SNAP/EBT card with photo ID (up to 4 people). Planetarium tickets: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. Glenview tours: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. The Museum is accessible by Metro-North (Hudson Line—Yonkers and Glenview stations), by Bee-Line Bus Route #1, by car, and by bike. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and buy a combined rail and admission discount ticket. Learn more about Metro-North Deals & Getaways.