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Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES

The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA) in Peekskill, New York served up a gorgeous valentine with the launch of a year of exhibitions and education exploring the artistic representation of love beginning with LOVE: The First of the 7 Virtues which appropriately opened on Valentine's Day to an enthusiastic response from the community and the scores of attendees from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. And even more appropriately, its antithesis Seven Deadly Sins: Lust will open on April 19, 2015. Developed as an FWMA (Fairfield Westchester Museum Alliance) collaboration, each museum will explore a different sin and, in some instances, its parallel virtue. Check out a look below!

The artists included in LOVE: The First of the 7 Virtues are an extraordinarily diverse group from around the globe including well known names as Robert Indiana whose iconic LOVE sculpture is featured to Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso's Inheritance, a life size cast of the traditional nuclear family - mother, father and two children in black graphite at a dinner table upon which rests an enormous silvery carp with bright red splotches to internationally acclaimed hyperrealist sculptor Carole Feuerman's whose mesmerizing Tree with Leaves left viewers breathless.

In the HVCCA exhibition, love is depicted in all its wonderful variety, whether heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, or non-sexual. Love is expressed in artworks in which the adoration of nature and animals is as strong and deep as any human bond. Finally, love is observed as memory, offering, shrine, and celebration.

Surprises abounded at every turn: Peruvian Emile Alzamora's gypsum sculpture Longue Duree, a couple embraced wrapped in mummy like bandages; Australian Sam Jinks' tender silicon sculpture Woman and Child; Kansas City born Sherry Kerlin's haunting ink on paper portrait Two Children Floating in a Boat; Matthew Barney whose film The Cremaster Cycle, has been termed by The Guardian as "one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema"; Robert Mapplethorpe's sensuous portrait Ken Moody: Bushwick artist Jonathan Newman's acrylic on canvas pop art-ish More Flesh; and Kenneth Edmier's two part work suggestive of cemetery sculpture including a bouquet of red roses such as the one's carried by Jacqueline Kennedy on the day of her husband's assassination.

The complete list of artists featured include Thordis Adalsteinsdottir, Emil Alzamora, Matthew Barney, Hernan Bas, Marius Bercea, Derek Boshier, Birgit Brenner, Skyler Brickley, Ross Chisholm, Debby Davis, Keith Edmier, Carole Feuerman, Moyna Flannigan, Stefanie Gutheil, Dieter Hacker, Bendix Harms, Ridley Howard, Robert Indiana, Sam Jinks, Sherry Kerlin, Angelika Krinzinger, Keegan Kuvach, Charles LeDray, Marin Majic, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nick Mauss, Shirin Neshat, Jonathan Newman, John Newsom, Joel Otterson, Djordje Ozbolt, Paul Pretzer, Michael Raedecker, Saul Raskin, Nathan Ritterpusch, Kalene Rivers and Dan Weise, Athi-Patra Ruga, Helen Sadler, Maria Tomasula, Richard Wathen, and Entang Wiharso.

The pleasantly dizzying array of treasures on hand in this arts center seems more likely to be a collection on display in New York orLondon rather than a quiet Hudson River town. It is hardly surprising that given such works the Ben Genocchio of the New York Times would note "HVCCA is the most dynamic contemporary art site in Westchester... Maybe one day, these regional, more experimental art places might supercede art-stately New York City."

The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art opened to the public in June 2004. Founded by noted art collectors Marc and Livia Straus, the not-for-profit center is dedicated to the development and presentation of new art, exhibits and interdisciplinary programs that enrich our understanding of contemporary art, its contexts, and its relationships to societal issues. The Center is committed to the enrichment of Peekskill, a multicultural community that has recreated itself as a major center for art and culture. HVCCA operates a 12,000 square foot exhibition space in Peekskill and is the primary sponsor of the Peekskill Project, an annual, city-wide exhibition of site-specific artwork.

Both Dr. Straus and his wife lecture extensively on contemporary and have each been heavily involved with the development and expansions of regional museums in the Northeast. Dr. Straus owns the internationally famed Marc Straus Gallery on New York's Lower East Side which continues the tradition of its founder in identifying and fostering some of the best new international art talent. 16 artists are represented from 10 countries most of whom have not shown before in the US.

Not all the contemporary jewels are behind doors, many public art installations are spread throughoutPeekskill. Folks getting off the train can get an incredible up-close view of a 16 foot bronze diver entitled "The Golden Mean" by sculptor Carole Feuerman at Riverfront Green Park overlooking the majestic Hudson River.Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art unveiled the stunning work on September 29, 2012. A video documentary on the two-year creation of the work plays on loop at the HVCCA gallery space and has also been posted online. In 2013, The City of Peekskill announced the acquisition of the sculpture as a permanent monument to the town.

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Carole Feuerman, sculpture, Tree with Leaves

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Derek Boshier, oil on canvas, Night Dreamers

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
David Brown and Edward Callaghan

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
John Wegorzewski and sculptor Carole Feuerman

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Edward Callaghan, Livia Straus and Carole Feuerman

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Artists Lea Donnan and Xinran Yuan

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Artist Sherry Kerlin and John Serdula

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Marc Straus, Carole Feuerman, Livia Straus

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Emile Almazora, gypsum sculpture Longue Duree

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
VIP Room, - At Least it's not happy hour

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Keith Edmier, A Dozen Roses, Part 2 0f 2

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Keith Edmier, Beverly Edmier part 1 of two

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Matthew Barney, Executioners step, The Cremaster Cycle

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Robert Indiana, Love, polychrome aluminum

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Sherry Kerlin, ink on paper portrait Two Children Floating in a Boat

Photo Flash: First Look at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art's Exhibition, LOVE: THE FIRST OF THE 7 VIRTUES
Stefanie Gutheil, Big Cat Squeezing, diptych, oil and fabric on canvas

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