The name Hudson River Gallery brings to mind images of New York City flats overlooking the Hudson, yet Hudson River Gallery is located at 501 12th Ave, Suite 3 in Coralville, Iowa. Native Illinoisan, Nick Hotek, who started the gallery in 1993, made no mistake with its moniker. It was the spirit and creativity of New York City that inspired him to establish the gallery and framing business.
“I really wouldn’t be here now had I not moved to New York and experienced all of that because it took me to where I am today.”
Nick found himself in New York City in 1979 with dreams of being an actor-musician and $200 in his pocket. Like every good actor, he got a job waiting tables and lived in a basement tenement with three other actors. HIs career waiting tables soon came to an end and an encounter with a person in his building lead to a pivotal job at an art supply and framing store two blocks from his apartment. Working in the frame store by day, he enrolled in acting school at night. With the New York City buzz of art and music surrounding him, he became enthralled with the post-punk new wave music scene. Soon he was writing song lyrics, playing bass guitar, jamming with friends and, ultimately, establishing his band, Sciota Mills. Music gigs were easier to come by than acting work and the band’s popularity grew to the point that they were featured on MTV.
Concurrently, his burgeoning framing skills and aesthetic eye were recognized at the frame shop, and he was promoted to manager, thus allowing him to move from his tenement to the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca. Through his network of friends and acquaintances, he was introduced to the owners of a high end conservation framing shop, was hired, and later became partner. Here his skills in art care, preservation, and enhancement were honed. During that time, he was exposed to an incredible variety of world-class artists from such collections as the Whitney Museum and the Albers Foundation. He catered to a prestigious clientele and found himself framing a variety of pieces from crushed soda cans, original letters written by Abraham Lincoln, to works by Grant Wood and Picasso. He realized he had found his passion and, while his love of music remained strong, the dream of being a rockstar had faded.
The birth of his son prompted a move back to the Midwest in 1993. His plan was to open a frame shop similar to his business in New York City. Finding a place to rent in Iowa City back then was difficult. The Coralville strip was not yet developed. The mall in town was still Old Capital Mall and downtown rent was high. Fortunately, Nick stumbled upon the Mansion. They had two small rooms available on the second floor. Nick maximized the use of this space and started showing New York artists that he admired. He really hit his stride, however, when he began showing local artists.
“This community is great! I couldn’t do this anywhere else. They really support their local artists. So that’s how this has come to be and how I’m here – 24 years into this.”
His business continued to grow through word-of-mouth. As his shows gained in popularity, he soon was branching out into a larger space, knocking out walls to increase the area for his gallery. Nick remained in this space from 1993 to 2019. As of January 2019, he moved to 501 12th Ave, Suite 3 in Coralville, Iowa where he continues to have local artist exhibitions every 4 to 6 weeks. He continues to do fine art conservation services of all kinds and enjoys the personal interaction he has with his clients most of all. Entering Hudson River Gallery, you will be greeted by Nick himself and asked to take a chair. He will chat with you about your personal aesthetic, your home, your existing art, and the proposed environment for the work. With an infectious enthusiasm, he will distill your preferences to a range of choices of frames and matting to accentuate your artwork. In a short time, your efforts will be rewarded with an archival support to accent and heighten your art viewing experience for generations to come.
“I love getting to know clients so I know their house and know where the art is going to be in their home. This is still the most fun. I have worked in so many homes for generations. I’ve got two to three generations of clientele – grandparents, parents, and the next generation down.”