Episode 2: The Vagina Dialogues

Hudson NY Janet Samuels Photographs Myron Polenberg Warren Street Yad Vashem

Hudson, New York is perhaps the smallest “city” I have ever encountered: only 2 square miles.  It is serious enough to need a mayor and 10 aldermen.  I don’t have a clue what an alderman is, but apparently they need a lot of them.

Hudson is pristine, colorful and holy cow, does it have a sense of humor.  My photographer, Janet kept remarking, “They are all so happy!” as if that is just nuts.  Hudson is like Soho, when Soho was Soho, if you get my drift.  Warren Street is lined with shopping, restaurants, artists and even actors.  Strolling around was über-hunk Josh Hartnett, looking au courant sporting a beret.  That led our hubbies to spend the next 8 hours trying on berets.  Pity it wasn’t working for them the same way.

Janet and I stopped in our tracks at a delicious papaya orange building.  On the stoop was the owner, Myron Polenberg.  Soft spoken and dressed in baggy clothes, you immediately sense he’s an artist   Myron and his wife Peggy turned this former apartment building into a 3-story loft style residence in 2005.  Divided camps between love and hate for the “Orange Building” caused quite the uproar in Hudson.  The Polenberg’s couldn’t care less. 


Myron and Janet became fast friends.  She peppered him with questions: “Are you famous?”  Myron smiled.  “Did you know Warhol?”  Not that well.  Then we hit pay dirt: Myron invited us in for a tour.  You would have thought we’d been invited to the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo himself.  I ran to get the guys, still earnestly trying on hats.

Inside Myron’s home, there was orange everywhere (I must truly reconsider the beauty of Carnelian in my jewelry).   Breathtaking multi-levels and a fusion of primary colors, I wanted to move in immediately.

The 3rd floor is Myron’s studio where dozens of Barbie dolls greet you at the entry, installed in sapphic positions, not a Ken in sight.  Behold, it is the L Word of Barbie's.  Myron cheerfully admits to his “fetish." 

Further in are immense canvases, of well, not so sure at first…. our 4 heads tilt in unison, not quite grasping what we are looking at.  Once our eyes focus, we realize that vaginas are everywhere and nipples are composed from old fashioned doorbells.  It is truly delightful.

Then things get deeply serious.  There are large-scale paintings with black numbers, each number representing a soul who perished in the Holocaust.  Myron obtained the names & numbers from Yad Vashem in Israel. He never paints the entire number,  an homage to the lives never fulfilled.  There is also an installation with a noose and chair.  This is to remind us of all the LGBT teens who chose suicide because they felt hopeless.  There is nothing funny here, obviously.  Myron Polenberg is a passionate artist who also happens to like women’s bodies.  It was profound and spectacular and made for the best tour ever.  Take that, Michelangelo.

 Numbers by Myron Polenberg

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  • sylvia landau on

    Loved this story. Left me with the feeling that I would
    love to go to that town and meet the people. Well written.

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