Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Painter’s ‘Jewishness’ Leads to Removal from New York Art Exhibition

Leadership at Hudson Hall admitted to causing “pain and injury” and extended “deep apologies” after an exhibition dealing with genocide, persecution and trauma was canceled in December under circumstances that led one of the exhibiting artists, Phillip Schwartz, to accuse the art space of “antisemitism and censorship.”

Hudson Hall hopes to reschedule the exhibition later this year, according to a statement shared with the Times Union. But Schwartz thus far has declined to accept the apology.

Hudson Hall’s mea culpa comes after conflicting narratives around the cancellation played out in public and private in recent weeks, culminating in a Jan. 30 article published in the Forward, an independent Jewish publication, with the headline, “Why a Jewish artist thinks his exhibit’s cancellation is evidence of censorship and antisemitism.”

Plans for the exhibition began in March of 2023, when Hudson Hall staff visited Schwartz at his home studio in Hudson. In the following months, Hudson Hall and Schwartz would develop an exhibition of his paintings and textile works — some of which dealt with the Holocaust, others with themes of abuse and the criminalization of same-sex relations.

In August, Hudson Hall Executive Director Tambra Dillon invited Schwartz to suggest an artist whose work would be shown alongside his. Schwartz selected Ifé Franklin, a multidisciplinary artist whose work honors “the lives, histories, cultures, and traditions of African people throughout the diaspora with a concentration on the formerly enslaved of North America,” as described on her website.

Schwartz and Franklin have a long history: They met at art school in the 1980s, and last spring collaborated on a proposal for a large-scale public mural at the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza in Philadelphia (the proposal was declined). Their joint exhibition at Hudson Hall “was to be presented as a powerful conversation between two artists exploring themes of injustice,” according to Hudson Hall.

Preparations continued without incident through the beginning of December. On Dec. 11, Schwartz was invited to meet with Dillon and Caroline Lee, Hudson Hall’s director of marketing and external communications, at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. In that meeting, which was not recorded, Dillon broached the topic of altering the exhibition and/or its ancillary programming in response to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict.