Beginning this Friday, Upstate Art Weekend (UPAW) promises to bring some much needed sunshine to the region’s cultural landscape on July 21 to 24. Now in its fourth year, the annual event’s expansion to four days and more than 130 art venues across 10 counties is an opportunity to set out on a creative adventure—either across town or several counties—to discover the vibrancy of the Hudson Valley and Catskills. This year’s event adds one day and two counties to its schedule, showing exponential growth since UPAW’s first year, which featured 23 venues.
Catherine Graham, executive director of Garrison Art Center, one of the new participating arts groups, weighs in: “Upstate Art Weekend allows small nonprofits, more established art centers, individuals with studio spaces, and creative centers in unconventional locations like barns or houses to exist with equanimity on one map.”
Organizers of what has quickly become a de rigueur summer art celebration have created several tools to help visitors chart their routes, explains UPAW founder Helen Toomer. These tools include: a searchable program, filtered by day and county; a Google map with all event locations; and, new this year, a downloadable guide that provides additional “insider insight,” including suggested itineraries. Many of the events are free, but Toomer says that it’s best to plan ahead, as some have limited capacity and require RSVPs.
The Putnam-based Garrison Art Center, located just steps from the Metro-North station for those traveling by train, will have sculptural works created by James Murray from reclaimed wood, steel, stone and found objects on view from dawn to dusk in a riverside setting similar to that of his Hudson studio. Additionally, on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm, Murray will demonstrate two techniques that artists use to work with wood. “Steam bending is a way of getting wood planks to curve by working with the woodgrain, moisture and pressure,” explains Graham. “Wood assembly is a playful form of assemblage with offcuts and found pieces of wood.”
The David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center at Pocantico, which opened in Tarrytown last October, is also new to Upstate Art Weekend. “Participating in UPAW aligns with our goals to reach new audiences and make art accessible to people across the region,” said Elly Weisenberg Kelly, the manager of public programs and residencies at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The DR Center is extending viewing hours for its inaugural exhibition, Inspired Encounters: Women Artists and the Legacies of Modern Art, which pairs postwar works of women artists from its collection with new commissions of contemporary art. It will be open 11am to 3pm from July 21 to 24, with reservations required.
People traveling between Upstate New York and New York City often stop at KinoSaito, another new Westchester participant, and the art center’s manager, Michael Barraco, expects to see an increase in visitors this weekend. “These initiatives are great for all the communities that these arts organizations are involved in” as they also bring traffic to local businesses, he said.
KinoSaito, which opened in 2021, currently features an exhibition that introduces the Japanese artist whose legacy the art center continues, titled Kikuo Saito and Friends: New York City Downtown and Beyond, 1970s and 1980s. There will be tours at 1pm and 3pm on Friday and Sunday, a panel discussion about the exhibition at 4pm on Saturday, and an opportunity to meet KinoSaito’s two new artists-in-residence, Nathalie Alfonso and Tasche de la Rocha, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday. All events are free; the tours and panel discussion require RSVPs.
In addition to welcoming visitors from surrounding areas, Barraco sees the weekend as another opportunity for KinoSaito to lean into its mission of bringing arts and culture to Verplanck’s multigenerational community in a way that “lets them explore and enter the art world at their own pace,” he said.
For those who want to travel a little farther afield, other highlights of Upstate Art Weekend include: the second collaboration between NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) and upstate New York arts campus Foreland, which will feature more than 40 participating galleries and 60 artists in a collaborative exhibition in the Catskills from July 21 to 23, for which tickets are required; and experiential Kerhonkson-based artist Olaf Breuning, who is presenting his latest Smoke Bomb art installation at 3:30pm on July 22 at INNESS in Accord, at which registration is required.
Other participating venues include Art Omi, Storm King, Bethany Arts Community, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company, GARNER Art Center, and more. More details about the wide array of exhibitions, installations, screenings, open studios, performances and live music can be found on the Upstate Art Weekend site.
Vida Foubister is an independent journalist in Rye, N.Y., whose perfect day involves being inspired by art. She currently serves as secretary of the board of trustees at the Katonah Museum of Art.