By PAUL LASTER, September 2021
After making a splash with a selection of fascinating art events that pulled us out of lockdown and got us back on the road last summer, Upstate Art Weekend came back even bigger and better this year. Founded by Helen Toomer of Stoneleaf Retreat in 2020, the three-day event was organized to celebrate the cultural vibrancy of Upstate New York. This summer 61 sculpture parks, museums, galleries, artists’ studios, residencies, public artworks and creative projects situated on both side of the Hudson River between Garrison and Chatham participated in the energetic event.
Journeying Upstate on Thursday morning before the kick-off of Upstate Art Weekend’s programmed events, independent curator Renée Riccardo and I picked up a rental car in White Plains and headed north to the Hessel Museum of Art, where we caught two lively group exhibitions, “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985” and “Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection,” before traveling on to Kingston, where we had rented a stylish apartment from two local artists for a four-day stay.
Rising early on Friday morning, we toured south to Dia Beacon to catch the recently opened Imi Knoebel and Charlotte Posenenske installations and revisit other favorite works in the institution’s outstanding collection. The next stop was the Beacon galleries, where Fridman Gallery was showing Milford Graves, Basil Kincaid and Sahana Ramakrishnan in the group show “Beyond Binaries;” Mother Gallery paired Carl D'Alvia with Marcy Hermansader in “Thinking of Things Inside;” and Ethan Cohen Gallery was presenting “Africa on my Mind” along with a solo by Basmat Levin and other solo and group exhibitions at the KuBe Art Center, a combination of studios and exhibition spaces in a former school.
From Beacon we crossed over the Hudson River to the new Barns Art Center, where the food-themed exhibition “Tasting Menu” was having its opening reception and launching Upstate Art Weekend, and then crossed back to the western side of the river to view installations of paintings, sculptures and digital works by Jeila Gueramian, Kristen Schiele and Maryann Strandell at ArtPort Kingston and Dike Blair and Arlene Shechet at Airfield. The last stop of the day was Stoneleaf Retreat, where Hiba Schahbaz, Christopher Thomas Campbell and others created site-specific installations in the artist residency’s pastoral realm.
After shopping at the Kingston Farmers Market on Saturday morning, we drove to Catskill for NADA x Foreland’s dynamic exhibition of works by more than 100 artists presented by 81 exhibitors and the Rachel Uffner Gallery and Mrs. spirited takeover of Foreland’s ground floor space before crossing the river again to Kinderhook, where we caught the colorful, Helen Molesworth-curated “Feedback” exhibition at The School and made a studio visit with friend and artist Donna Moylan. Heading into Hudson, we saw solo and two-person shows by Brenda Goodman, David Humphrey, Julie Evans and Katia Santibañez and James Siena at Pamela Salisbury Gallery; Reginald Madison at September; and Christopher Fitzwater and Arnie Zimmerman at Tanja Grunert. Not quite done for the day, we headed to Chatham for “The Subject is The Line,” curated by Moylan at Thompson-Giroux Gallery, and Germantown for “Subliminal Horizons: Part 2,” curated by Alvin Hall, at Alexander Gray Associates, before settling down to dinner at The Corner, the farm-to-table restaurant at Brice and Helen Marden’s Hotel Tivoli.
Traveling further north on Sunday, we visited artist Jenny Kemp’s studio in Troy before seeing three sensational solo shows at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs—"Ellsworth Kelly: Postcards,” “Sarah Cain: Enter the Center” and “Nicole Cherubini: Shaking the Trees.” On our way back to Kingston to relax, prior to a Monday morning return to White Plains and then on to Brooklyn, we caught outdoor installations by Jean Shin and Portia Munson at Olana, the former home and studio of painter Frederic Church, whose Hudson Valley landscapes helped turn the area into a hotbed for artists—one which it certainly continues to be today. WM
Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
view all articles from this author