Andrew Hudson was born in 1935 in Birmingham, England. He was the great-great-grandson of the early 19th century miniature painter William Hudson. Both his grandfathers were Anglican clergy. His father was a well-known metallurgist and together with his mother encouraged his interest in art. He earned a B.A. degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford in 1957. For the next two years he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art at the University of London. After being an active Evangelical Protestant, in 1955 Hudson became a practicing Roman Catholic.
Seeking a change from the British scene and new perspectives in art he moved to Canada in 1961 to study at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where he began teaching art courses for the Art Department and Extension Department at the University. His drawings and paintings were exhibited in a number of solo and group shows in Canada in the early 1960s. In August, 1962, he met New York art critic Clement Greenberg at an artists workshop at Emma Lake. Greenberg encouraged Hudson’s writing of art crticism and Hudson’s articles and art reviews began to appear in Canadian and international publications. In 1965 Greenberg recommended Hudson for the position of art critic to The Washington Post. Hudson was offered and accepted the job, and acquiesced to the editors’ request that he stop exhibiting his own work.
Hudson left The Post in 1967 to become Curator of Education at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art. This pioneering museum became part of the Corcoran Gallery in 1968. In 1970 Hudson founded the Department of Academic Studies at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, where he taught art history, writing and Buddhism for the next 34 years. He continued making art and his work appeared in shows in D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Germany, Austria, among other places during the 1970s and 1980s.
During his time in Canada, Bill Perehudoff, a Saskatoon artist, introduced Hudson to D.T. Suzuki’s writing about Zen. Hudson was impressed with Zen and applied it to his art. Eventually Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel became his “bible” that he carried with him and read regularly. Hudson recalls that one day during Christmas week 1979 he was at a bus stop reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryo Suzuki. A passerby commended the book and suggested Hudson visit a Zendo on P Street. Hudson went to Ka Shin Zendo the next Wednesday evening and met his first Zen teacher Norman Hoegberg. Thanks to him, Hudson began to practice Zen meditation. A couple years later the P Street building used by the Zendo was sold and Ka Shin Zendo moved to suburban Takoma Park. Shortly thereafter Hoegberg left the Zendo.
Hudson recognized his same-gender attraction at an early age, but did not come out until after he had moved from Canada to USA. In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the gay community in Washington, D.C. was burgeoning, and Hudson participated in numerous gay groups. Then on March 27, 1984, Hudson started a Zendo for gay men and lesbians, sitting together with a couple of friends in his apartment. More people joined in, thanks to a weekly ad in The Blade, the local gay newspaper, and Hudson named the group Mintwood Zendo. Several members visited and learned from other Zendos including the gay-lesbian friendly Zen Mountain Monastery overseen by John Daido Loori.
The Mintwood Zendo gatherings included sitting zazen and walking kinhin together, reading aloud from a sutra book and once a month listening to a recorded dharma talk. Hudson added to this typical Zen practice hugs among the participants to open and close the gathering. For a while the group went to dinner in a nearby restaurant afterwards. Then they began preparing and sharing a meal together in Hudson’s home.
The number of participants in the Mintwood Zendo ebbed and flowed, dwindling to only a handful in the late 1980s and growing to 15-20 persons in the early 1990s. In 1994 Hudson was one of the persons officiating at a combined Quaker-Buddhist wedding for Molly Jones and Arlene Bock, and in 1998 the Zendo moved from Hudson’s apartment and studio to the Friends Meeting House. From 1996 to 2001, the Zendo held periodic weekend retreats with guest Zen and Buddhist teachers.
As one of the oldest continuously functioning gay/lesbian Buddhist meditation groups, Mintwood Zendo continued to hold weekly gatherings until Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
(This biographical profile written by Mark Bowman from an interview with Andrew Hudson in September, 2009, and corrected by Andrew Hudson in July, 2012.)