Johnny Pixchure, Painting Sextext, 1986, oil on canvas, 9 x 12”.


THERE WERE CERTAINLY TIMES when Hudson and I didn’t love each other, but I can’t remember them. They are subsumed into thirty years of good memories: ten as artist-dealer and twenty as friends. He supported me in so many kind ways, even after we stopped working together in 1994. There are many people to whom one owes debts of gratitude during their life, but Hudson was one of the most, if not the most, important person in my artistic life. As an outsider to the art world from the language world, I knew no one and nothing and lived in the middle of nowhere, so his support and the art community around Feature Inc. in Chicago and in New York was a godsend. It all began with him, and fortunately I was able to express that to him recently.

The one thing that stands out for me about Hudson, besides the many distinctive qualities that many have acknowledged in tributes to him, was the joy he took in art. There were aspects of the art world that were not so enjoyable to him (and we know what those were), but the single-minded passion he had for art and for sharing it with others brought him great fulfillment. Running a gallery was the perfect career for Hudson. He was able to discover and share art and make a living doing so. He generously shared with the public in ways that went beyond Feature’s exhibitions: through the many off-site shows he curated throughout the years; through events he hosted; through his “Power to the People” in 2010, an event that began as a benefit for the gallery and ended with Hudson giving away hundreds of free artworks to the public; through publications like Farm and A Picture Is a Picture, the gorgeous two-hundred-and-forty-page book that he published in 2006; through connections he made between people; and through ideas he spread. It comforts me that he lived his life with that single-minded purpose, experienced that joy, and succeeded.

Kay Rosen’s farewell party for Hudson when he moved from Chicago to New York, 1988. Back row: David Sedaris, Chuck Gonzales, Steve Lafreniere, Gaylen Gerber, and Kevin Wolff. Middle row: Jeanne Dunning, Mike Hill, Hirsch Perlman, and Jim Pedersen. Front row: Kay Rosen and Hudson. Photo: Bud Rosen.


Hudson had thirty years to make his case and a splendid case he made. I’m sure there’s a big book to be written about Hudson and Feature Inc.—his archives are probably meticulous. The excitement he felt for art, which he quietly but energetically generated, served the art world well. In 1986 Hudson mischievously made a series of nine-by-twelve-inch paintings on canvas under the moniker Johnny Pixchure. I was the lucky recipient of one titled Painting Sextext and it has been hanging on my wall for twenty-eight years. On a yellow and blue abstract background he painted the text that reads:

By the time for Steve’s turn,
just about everyone had tented
trousers, especially when he began displaying his fabulous
equipment.

Hudson was Steve and he turned us on.

Kay Rosen is an artist based in the Midwest.