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The Ming: Bryan Nash Gill + The Hudson Company

Artist Bryan Nash Gill working on 'The Ming' at The Hudson Company's Brooklyn Showroom, April 2013.

Artist Bryan Nash Gill working on 'The Ming' at The Hudson Company's Brooklyn Showroom, April 2013.

‘The best art is simple, direct, and resonates without explanation. It is connected, simply, to the way things are.’ Curator and friend of the artist, Steven Holmes

Simple. Direct. Resonant. If there was ever an artist and craftsman whose work was powerful through its simplicity - it was prolific sculptor, painter, and printmaker Bryan Nash Gill (1961 - 2013).

For three days in April 2013, The Hudson Company was proud to collaborate with and host Bryan in our Brooklyn showroom, where he created the extraordinary ‘Ming’ duo-tone woodcut print. At sixteen feet in length, the ‘Ming’ became not only Bryan’s largest ever woodcut print, but also the last print he would make before his unexpected death in May of that year.

This unique collaboration was born after The Hudson Company acquired a hardwood beam originating from a temple from the Ming Dynasty of China (14th - 17th centuries). As long time admirers of Bryan’s work, we wondered what stories he might be able to draw out of such a venerable artifact; what history the grain and knots of the ancient beam could reveal?

With his signature passion for exploration, Bryan applied his creative process to the ‘Ming’ project with a childlike excitement. During those three days, Bryan described what drove him to continually experiment and develop his craft: ‘...it’s a process of discovery, a process of learning, a process of putting yourself on the edge and kind of having the courage to go forth and see what happens, and learn from the process.’

At the end of his three days of ‘discovery’ at The Hudson Company showroom, Bryan produced a large-scale print that is both beautiful and surprising. Far removed from its place and era and utility of origin, ‘The Ming’ shows us a new perspective on the patterns of life encapsulated in the lines and layers of wood. Like a massive fingerprint from a distant time and place, ‘The Ming,’ like all of Bryan’s woodcuts, draws viewers into the very heart of wood - past it’s surface and color and hardness - to the nucleus of it’s identity.

Steven Holmes describes the woodcuts of Bryan Nash Gill as a way to, ‘participate in historically anchored beauty,’ by understanding wood, ‘not as an object, but as a verb.’ Today, ‘The Ming’ hangs proudly in The Hudson Company showroom as a symbol of the new perspectives that can be gained from reimagining historical artifacts. It hangs as a tribute to our friend Bryan. It hangs as an example of beautiful craftsmanship and innovative vision. It hangs as a reminder of the resonance that comes from simple beauty found in the way things are.

Watch the video below to see Bryan at work on The Ming in The Hudson Company's Brooklyn Showroom, in April 2013.

Featured Design Installation: Passive House, Brooklyn, New York

As a part of the renovations for their 1860s Brooklyn townhouse, Laura Mackall and Robert Marley chose to incorporate two Hudson Company Reclaimed flooring products into their project: Reclaimed White Pine [Surfaced] and Reclaimed Heart Pine [New Face].

These two specific flooring products, with their historical character and sustainable footprint, were the perfect solution for the couple, as they embarked on updating not only their home's aesthetic, but also it's energy profile. As a 'Passive House,' the Mackall-Marley renovation focused on optimizing the way that the home retains and ventilates both warm and cool air. The townhouse's existing, thick perimeter walls made it an ideal candidate for this kind of a sustainably-minded modernization.

With Laura's father, architect Louis Mackall, and Gowanus-based Build With Prospect taking the lead on the project's design and build, The Hudson Company was able to provide the client with two custom flooring solutions: 3/4" x 6" Reclaimed White Pine [Surfaced] flooring and, additionally, 3,000 square feet of 3/4" x 9" Reclaimed Heart Pine [New Face].

We should also note that both of the reclaimed flooring products have interesting origin stories: the White Pine [Surfaced] flooring was sourced from the Mackall-Marley townhouse itself and then custom re-milled by The Hudson Company in Pine Plains, New York. The Reclaimed Heart Pine [New Face] used in the passive house project was a surplus batch of flooring, originally salvaged from a historic Phillip Morris Factory in Louisville, Kentucky and then later re-milled by The Hudson Company for The New Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015.

To learn more about the products used in this design project, contact us today and let us know how The Hudson Company can help you reach your goals for your next design project.

Photographs by Michel Arnaud

 

"As with a good book, the experience of a good house is transformative.”
Project Architect Louis Mackall

The Hudson Company at ICFF, May 16 - 19

Crafting The Whitney Floors | Part 3

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow notes that the design of art museums has traditionally fallen within two camps: classicism or stark modernity.

Historically, collectors encouraged museums to create spaces that resembled cultural temples, with classical columns and ornate crown moulding to match the significance of the objects on display. In recent decades, many museums and galleries favored an architecture of stark white-cube rooms with walls treated in sleek, modern finishes...
[Yet] when the Whitney began considering designs more than a decade ago, Adam Weinberg, the director, said he asked architects for the exact opposite.

Ms. Crow goes on to describe how the new Whitney Museum of American Art is a museum, 'designed to wow artists as much as audiences.' In her piece on the new Renzo Piano designed museum, Crow outlines Mr. Piano's intentions for the Whitney to be a new kind of museum - one that invites curators and artists alike to be flexible, innovative, even playful:

'...the 84-year-old [Whitney] museum is changing far more than its address...
The new building’s nearly 50,000 square feet of gallery floors will be made of neither trendy concrete nor lavish marble. Instead, Whitney officials chose reclaimed Heart Pine from former area factories, so artists could hammer nails into it or tear up small sections if needed. (The museum has a cache of extra planks in case anyone does.)
A lattice-like grid on the ceiling of the main gallery means artists won’t have to cut through drywall to suspend their work. That 18,200-square-foot room has no columns, making it the largest museum gallery in New York City with uninterrupted views.”

Donna De Salvo, the museum's chief curator, told ABC News that, 'artists will be inspired by the new spaces and will "reinvent them over and over again." They're tailored to the needs of how artists — and curators — work, she said. Floors throughout are sprung, allowing for both performance and installations. Open-grid ceilings permit walls and art to be arranged into multitude configurations.'

In crafting the over 50,000 square feet of Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring for the new Whitney Museum, The Hudson Company is honored to be a part of this landmark of innovative, contextual, and culturally-significant architecture.

The industrial history of the Reclaimed Heart Pine floors (sourced from decommissioned American factories) supports the Whitney’s mission to create a space that Director Weinberg calls, 'rough and ready' artist’s canvas.  The nature and dimensions of the Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring, along with it's intentionally flexible profile, allows for the floors, like so much at the new Whitney, to be modified to best fit the needs of the museum, artists, and audiences using the space. 

Click for more details about The Hudson Company Reclaimed Heart Pine [Chalk Finish] flooring featured throughout the new Whitney Museum of American Art.

Click to learn more about The Hudson Company + Whitney Museum Design Installation.

Click to watch the new Hudson Company Video.

Detail of Reclaimed Heart Pine [Chalk Finish] installed at new Whitney site.

Detail of Reclaimed Heart Pine [Chalk Finish] installed at new Whitney site.

Floor during install.

Floor during install.

Floor Install, NYC Skyline in the background.

Floor Install, NYC Skyline in the background.

Flooring Install, during finishing.

Flooring Install, during finishing.

Whitney floor, during install.

Whitney floor, during install.

All Installation Photos by Martin Hyers of Gentyl&Hyers Photography for The Hudson Company. Cover photo by Max Touhey for ny.curbed.com.

Crafting The Whitney Floors | Part 1

In last week’s New York Magazine, journalist Jerry Saltz reviewed the new Whitney Museum of American Artdesigned by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Cooper Robertson Architects and praised The Hudson Company’s Reclaimed Heart Pine [Chalk Finish] floors as “perfect.”  

But long before the finished floors were ready for the feet of thousands of artists, art-lovers, and visitors to the new museum, they were the antique timbers of abandoned industrial buildings, destined for the landfill - until they were reclaimed by The Hudson Company.

In order to meet the design specifications of the architects, The Hudson Company custom-milled over 270,000 board feet (the equivalent of 27 tractor trailer loads) of reclaimed, antique Heart Pine sourced from the Phillip Morris factory in Louisville, KY, the Paul G. Mehlin & Sons Piano Company in New York, and the Maidenform Brands Factory in Bayonne, NJ.

In the photos below you can see the Heart Pine timbers as they pass through the steps of being demolished, reclaimed, denailed, kiln dryed, and milled at The Hudson Company mill in Pine Plains, NY. 

Click here to learn more about The Hudson Company's Reclamation Process.

Click here to see photos of the finished Reclaimed Heart Pine [Chalk Finish] floor at the new Whitney Museum of American Art.

Demolition of Phillip Morris Factory, Louisville, KY.

Demolition of Phillip Morris Factory, Louisville, KY.

Demolition of Phillip Morris Factory, Louisville, KY.

Demolition of Phillip Morris Factory, Louisville, KY.

Raw Material, at The Hudson Company Mill, Pine Plains, NY.

Raw Material, at The Hudson Company Mill, Pine Plains, NY.

De-nailed raw material, ready for milling at The Hudson Company Mill, Pine Plains, NY.

De-nailed raw material, ready for milling at The Hudson Company Mill, Pine Plains, NY.

Timbers ready for the kiln-drying process, Pine Plains, NY.

Timbers ready for the kiln-drying process, Pine Plains, NY.

Kiln-dryed timbers, ready to be custom milled for The Whitney Museum of American Art.

Kiln-dryed timbers, ready to be custom milled for The Whitney Museum of American Art.