The fourth edition of Upstate Art Weekend (21-24 July) is returning to the regions north of New York City this summer with more than 130 participating venues, an exponential jump from its inaugural 23-participant event in 2020.
The idyllic art experience, spearheaded by curator, fair director and Stoneleaf Retreat artist residency co-founder Helen Toomer, combines extended hours at major institutional destinations like Dia Beacon and Storm King Art Center with spotlight events at local non-profits, pop-up spaces and commercial galleries. The event welcomes thousands of visitors each year, and the latest iteration will feature a plethora of screenings, open studios, performances and workshops.
Despite the region getting hit with record-breaking floods in the last month, the Hudson Valley art scene is poised for a rich and ambitious weekend—so rich, in fact, that the logistics can prove overwhelming. “It’s impossible to do everything,” Toomer told Artnet News. “This event was created to shine a light on the incredible organisations in the region and to solidify lasting connections with those visiting to come back.”
For those planning an adventure upstate, here are some must-sees for the days ahead.
Mother in Law’s
140 Church Avenue, Germantown, New York
Mother-in-Law’s is an experimental, installation-forward project space in Germantown directed by Kathleen Vance and Daniel Aycock of Hudson-based Front Room Gallery, alongside artist Jessica Hargreaves. Set in a converted carriage house, Mother-in-Law’s programming foregrounds the mesmeric, mixed-media visions of women-identified artists. For Upstate Art Weekend, the space is pairing Darkening Skies, an immersive audiovisual screening by artists Pamela Lonongobardi, Craig Dogonski and Suusan Knippenberg, with an outdoor exhibition, Par.ley, curated by the team behind New York gallery Field Projects.
Par.ley, which takes place on the grounds surrounding the carriage house, investigates the push-and-pull between the natural and constructed, examining “different methods of living with and parallel from nature”. From noon to 6pm on 21, 22 and 23 July, artist Lauren Cohen will also operate a yard sale at the site featuring ceramic objects curated by the Field Projects team.
Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Bard’s in-house museum specialises in exhibitions foregrounding marginalised voices and heady, conceptual ideas. Indian Theater; Native Performance, Art, and Self-Determination since 1969 (until 26 November) is the first large-scale exhibition to centre performance as the genesis of contemporary Indigenous artistic inquiry. The exhibition brings together more than 100 works by over 40 artists and collectives, melding new and historic materials and methods in an expansive display.
During Upstate Art Weekend, a series of performances will take place at the museum. At 6pm and 8pm on 22 July, artists Emily Johnson (Yup’il Nation) and Jeffrey Gibson (Missisippi Band of Choctaw Indians) will take the stage. The following day at 2 pm, Johnson and Gibson will be in conversation at Bard’s Collection Teaching Gallery, moderated by curator Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation). Registration for these and other weekend events is available on the museum’s website.
The Cornell Steamboat Building, 108 East Strand, Kingston, New York
Built along the Rondout Creek, this contemporary art gallery and curatorial project space in Kingston is housed in a former steamboat machine shop. Its left-of-centre programming has been making waves in the area since opening in 2020, and the team behind ArtPort—Laurie De Chiara and Stefan Saffer—are extending that attitude to Upstate Art Weekend. Starting 21 July, ArtPort will be hosting Joy Ride, a high-colour exhibition featuring Didi Rojas, Arnaldo Morales, Lady Labor and Traci Johnson, among others. Joy Ride will coincide with the opening of this year’s ArtStream, an outdoor exhibition of sculptural artworks by local artists
ArtStream takes place along the Point Rail Trail, inviting viewers to engage with the works as they interact with the natural landscape. On 22 July, from 2pm to 5pm, the ArtPort team will celebrate the launch of both shows at the nearby Artbuoy Cafe in an event that involves giant inflatable artworks and bubble machines. On 23 July, from 3pm to 5pm, ArtPort will also be hosting a yogic movement and tantric perfume experience conceived by artist and polymath Kelly Heaton.
The Post Office
158 West Main Street, Port Ewen, Ulster County, New York
Artists Rachel de Joode, Kate Steciw and Letha Wilson will be showing new works at the former Port Ewen post office during this year’s Upstate Art Weekend. Each participating artist’s practice addresses the “photographic object”, using sculptural image-making techniques to trouble the line between these seemingly disparate media. Combining transcendental landscapes, found imagery and post-studio interventionist gestures, the three artists demonstrate the full breadth of their contributions to the “photo matter” genre. The Post Office is open from 2pm to 6pm all four days of Upstate Art Weekend.
The School by Jack Shainman Gallery
25 Broad Street, Kinderhook, New York
The School is a 30,000 sq. ft former high school in Kinderhook that Manhattan dealer Jack Shainman turned into a kunsthalle of sorts in 2013, to present large-scale exhibitions that highlight artists working within and outside of the gallery’s programme. For Upstate Art Weekend, the venue will be exhibiting Michael Snow: Life Survey (1955-2020), chronicling the late artist's wide-ranging career, which defied genre, medium, or taxonomy.
Born in Toronto in 1928, Snow made a name for himself blending jazz improvisation with Modernist design, taking a “try this, try that” approach to creative communication. At 1pm on 22 July, The School will host a screening of Snow's 45-minute masterpiece Wavelength (1967). Visitors can also register in advance for a private exhibition tour with Irem Ikizler, associate director of Jack Shainman Gallery, starting at 3pm.
- Upstate Art Weekend 2023, 21-24 July, various venues in New York State