What to See at New York’s 2023 Upstate Art Weekend

Hyperallergic / Jul 13, 2023 / by Elaine Velie / Go to Original

Giant outdoor sculpture, tiny miniature art, and a “rebellious circus troupe” are among the many surprises in store for visitors to the upcoming event.

Last year’s Ustate Art Weekend at PS21 in Chatham, New York (photo by Jim Cabrese, courtesy PS21)

The sun is scorching, the muggy subway platform is unbearable, and the distinctive smell of urine is encroaching onto the sidewalk outside your apartment — it’s time to take a trip north. Just in time, 130 art venues are opening their doors next week for the fourth annual Upstate Art Weekend. From July 21 through 24, arts organizations in the Hudson Valley will offer exhibitions, screenings, open studios, and performances. With so many participants, the event can become overwhelming, but a custom map — and our run-down of highlights below — make it easy for visitors to plan personalized trips.

While last weekend’s storm flooding hit some upstate venues especially hard (Storm King was forced to close for a day and the Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison suffered extensive damage), the upstate arts scene is bouncing back for its big celebration. Helen Toomer, who co-founded the Stoneleaf Residency Program in Eddyville in 2017, started Upstate Art Weekend in 2020. Stifled by COVID restrictions, only 23 organizations participated that first year, but the event has grown exponentially since.

Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Springs will host the official kickoff on Friday evening. The private museum was founded in 2017 to showcase contemporary Italian art and recently opened a project dedicated to Michelangelo Pistoletto as part of a new series focused on the Arte Povera movement. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, Magazzino will present Cinema in Piazza, an outdoor film series in collaboration with the Cold Spring Film Society and Artecinema in Naples.

Imen Yeh’s tiny “Dream Cabin” (2023) (courtesy Women’s Studio Workshop)

In Kingston, Women’s Studio Workshop will open to the public on Saturday with an exhibition of “itty-bitty works of art” by artists Rebecca Bingham, Andrea Fabrega, Lydia Ricci, Pat Sweet, Donna Thomas, and Imin Yeh. Their creations include a miniature tea set, a tiny bicycle, and a little cabin equipped with a minuscule guitar, wood stove, and bookshelf.

At one of the most popular upstate art destinations, visitors to Dia Beacon will see the recently opened Rita McBride exhibition titled Momentum in addition to the museum’s ongoing installations of works by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Michael Heizer, and Sol LeWitt. On Saturday morning, Dia Beacon will also host a family tour of its galleries where kids can engage in hands-on activities.

Ugo Rondinone’s “the sun” (2018) and “the moon” (2021) at Storm King (courtesy Upstate Art Weekend)

A short drive away, Storm King Art Center is also coming through with special programming for kids, inviting children to draw inspiration from Ugo Rondinone’s “the sun” (2018) and “the moon” (2021) to create their own sculptures. The Swiss artist’s pair of works is one of three special installations for the 2023 season shown in addition to the permanent collection. Viewers can also see Beatriz Cortez’s The Volcano That Left (2023) and RA Walden’s access points // or // alternative states of matter(ing) (2023), and adults can take part in activities including outdoor yoga and meditation.

Foreland Presents—The Glass Bridge Series: Rachel B. Hayes, Tomorrow is for You and Me, 2023. Courtesy of Foreland (Catskill, NY). 

At Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, the school’s Center for Indigenous Studies will host a concert by Ya Tseen and a movement-based art performance titled “Being Future Being: Land / Celestial” by Emily Johnson/Catalyst. The performances accompany the center’s ongoing exhibition Indian Theater: Native Performance, Art, and Self-Determination since 1969. Painter Jeffrey Gibson and writer Arielle Twist will make appearances during the weekend lineup, which also includes conversations with participating artists.

And if you can’t get enough of performance, PS21 at the upper boundary of the Upstate Art Weekend’s map is holding two shows by Czech performance group Cirk La Putyka, which it describes as an “inventive, rebellious circus troupe.” On PS21’s publicly accessible grounds, visitors can also see Silda Wall Spitzer & Tim Jones’s “Dandelions” (2023) and James Casebere’s “Solo Pavilion for Two or Three” (2021).

In Catskill, Foreland — a collection of galleries, studios, co-working spaces and other venues housed in a renovated mill — will partner with NADA (the New Art Dealers Alliance) for the second iteration of its sprawling art exhibition. More than 40 galleries and 60 artists will show their work, including sculptors Judd Schiffman and Courtney Puckett, presented by Testudo Gallery.

Courtney Puckett, “The Lamplighter” (2023), found objects, repurposed textiles, 74 x 34 x 34 inches; Judd Schiffman, “In My Own Image” (2019), porcelain, stoneware, glaze, 28 x 37 x 1 inches (images courtesy Testudo Gallery)

Another Catskill highlight is the current show at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. The museum commemorates the famous Hudson River School painter, but this two-pronged exhibition, titled Women Reframe American Landscape, is shining an overdue spotlight on Susie Barstow and other women artists of the 19th-century movement. The second section of the exhibition explores how contemporary artists are revitalizing and reimagining the practice of landscape painting. Exhibited artists include the Guerrilla Girls, Marie Lorenz, Tanya Marcuse, and Wendy Red Star.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, “Stolen Map” (2021), beads, 8 1/4 x 12 inches (image courtesy the artist, Garth Greenan Gallery, and Thomas Cole National Historic Site)

Back where Upstate Art Weekend began, Stoneleaf Retreat is hosting open studios on Sunday. Visitors can see the creative spaces of Lizania Cruz, Nene Aïssatou Diallo, and Cheryl Mukerji as well as works from the residency program’s alumni — Liz Collins, Joy Curtis, Moko Fukuyama, Macon Reed, and Rebecca Reeve.

Upstate Art Weekend officially begins on Friday, July 21. Hours vary from venue to venue throughout the weekend, and many exhibitions and events are free. With a bit of planning, many sites are accessible without a car — city dwellers might have to endure a sweltering journey to Penn Station, but if you ask us, it’s well worth it.

Works by Liziana Cruz and Macon Reed on view at Stoneleaf Retreat (photo courtesy Stoneleaf Retreat)

A painting by contemporary artist Anna Plesset and 19th-century painter Sarah Cole side-by-side in Women Reframe the American Landscape (photo by Peter Aaron; courtesy Thomas Cole Historic Site)