A Bright Spot on the Cultural Landscape

Back in 2006, I wrote about a conspicuous, if quiet, bright spot on the troubled countenance of contemporary art: The Harlem Studio of Art, which was presided over by the artists Judith Pond Kudlow and Andrea Smith. “The school,” I wrote at the time,

“offers students something almost unheard of today: rigorous training in modeling, one-point perspective, cast drawing, and all the other technical aspects of art that, based in Renaissance practice, one used to assume would be part of an artist’s training but, for at least the last five or six decades, have gone the way of good manners and other accoutrements of civilization.”

In the intervening years, the school has evolved, taking over more of the building it occupies on 117th Street in Spanish Harlem. It has also changed its name to The NYK Academy and has, in a modest way, gone global, with an establishment in Rome called the Atelier Canova. Ms. Kudlow looks after the New York establishment, Ms. Smith the Roman outpost.

I had occasion to think about the efforts of these talented and intrepid artists last night when I visited the NYK Academy for its annual open-house party. It will be a bit of a trek for most New Yorkers, but it’s worth it. Stepping into the studio is like stumbling upon an oasis after a long trek through the desert. Last night was a buzzing hive of conviviality, but it was impossible not to sense the serious artistic pursuits that unfold within. The walls were festooned with paintings large and small, student work cheek-by-jowl with the masterly productions of the school’s teachers.