About The Gym at Judson
The Gym at Judson is a new workout space for the arts in the heart of Greenwich Village. A sanctuary for emerging artists in theater, dance, music and visual arts, The Gym will draw on Judson's rich legacy of presenting challenging, groundbreaking work. A full-size gymnasium with 30 foot ceilings, the space is being converted into a multi-use theater facility, complete with state of the art lighting and sound equipment, and flexible seating for up to 200. An extensive renovation of the public restrooms is planned for this summer, for which funds are now being raised. The Gym at Judson will be operated by its own programming staff, under the umbrella of Judson Arts & Action, a 501(c)3 subsidiary (in formation) of Judson Memorial Church.
From its start, Judson Memorial Church has been associated with artists in many media. It has tried to be alert to what artists perceive and say, not only when the art portrays beauty but also when it portrays ugliness, sometimes to protest. Judson has long maintained an anti-censorship stance that welcomes art, whether tough or refined, as one voice of "secular prophets."
The Early Years
Founding pastor Edward Judson wanted to construct a beautiful edifice as a relief from the grim tenements below Washington Square.
The Church Building
Through his society connections and with a financial gift of $40,000 from John D. Rockefeller, Edward Judson was able to engage Stanford White of the prominent New York City architectural firm McKim Mead and White to design the Judson Memorial Church building, which was constructed in 1890-92.
The design was influenced by White's Italian travels; the building is modeled on an Italian church that has been described as Lombardo-Romanesque - a basilica with an adjacent tower.
The Stained-Glass Windows
John LaFarge, an American artist who developed the opalescent glass that was later extensively used by Tiffany, designed the seventeen stained-glass windows in the Judson Memorial Church - the biggest collection of large LaFarge windows in one place in the country. They were installed between 1892 and 1915, as funds became available; the last one was installed five years after LaFarge's death by his trusted craftsman, Thomas Wright.
Ten of the windows were designed to fit the fourteen-foot tall arches in the Meeting Room. Nine of them depict a single figure: Saints Peter, Paul, John, Stephen, and George, the Centurian at Prayer, an unnamed Pilgrim (possibly St. Anthony), the infant Samuel, and the infant Mary. The faces are painted, but all other details are created through the intricate leading of the glass pieces. The tenth large window is a geometric design, incorporating jewel-like pieces. All these windows contain LaFarge's unique technique of using several layers of glass to get colors not otherwise possible.
Three smaller round windows in the balcony depict the Mater Dolorosa, the Good Shepherd, and the Musical Angel. Two of the stair-landings each have a large rectangular window with a geometic design, and the landing at the entrance to the sanctuary has a round window depicting a praying angel (whose face is said to have been modeled on that of LaFarge's mistress!).
The artist who designed the large Rose Window in the sanctuary is not definitely known; that window is quite different in design from the others. It depicts the symbols of the four Gospel writers around a central Greek cross, wreathed by a wide ornamental band. It has been suggested that this window may be the work of a contemporary of LaFarge, Maitland Anderson.
The Most Recent Half of the Century
Particularly during the pastorates of Bob Spike (1949-55) and Howard Moody (1956-92), Judson Church became known as a venue for avant-garde arts and a foe of art censorship. These activities continue today, as Judson makes its facilities available to a wide variety of artists in dance, theatre, music, and visual arts of diverse styles.