Creative Wanderings

Garden for a Plant Concert

Strongroom's "Garden for a Plant Concert," an installation in Newburgh conceived by Martin Roth in 2017, is part of the Upstate Art Weekend. (Photos provided)

Upstate Art Weekend begins Aug. 27

Despite the best efforts of the pandemic to thwart it, there’s no doubt that there’s a resilient, flourishing Hudson Valley art community. 

Upstate Art Map

A map created for Upstate Art Weekend shows the locations of the 61 participants, including 11 in the Highlands.

Consider this: last year’s inaugural Upstate Art Weekend included 23 participants. This year, more than 100 art spaces, museums, pop-up shops, sites, studios, sculpture parks, galleries, barns and other facilities asked to participate. Of those, 61 were selected and will open their doors to the public beginning Friday (Aug. 27) with a reception at Stoneleaf Retreat in the Catskills.

The three-day weekend was conceived as a way to celebrate the region’s cultural vibrancy in an accessible way. The self-directed program extends from Garrison to Chatham, on both sides of the Hudson River. It includes 11 sites in the Highlands, such as Dia:Beacon, Magazzino, Storm King and Manitoga, as well as the newly opened Barns Art Center in Hopewell Junction, which will present its first exhibit, a group show called Tasting Menu.

Helen Toomer

Helen Toomer

“This has grown into a beautiful beast,” says Helen Toomer, who founded the event. “It’s incredible the magic up here; I’m just here to connect the dots.”

Toomer describes herself as “an organizer and connector by nature” and says that, after her family moved to the Hudson Valley in 2016, she found herself creating itineraries for visiting friends who expressed confusion about the geography and would ask: “What do you mean things are on opposite sides of the river?”

“I knew for several years that I wanted to do an Upstate Art Weekend, but every year something happened: a baby, a job — big things,” says Toomer, who with her family runs Stoneleaf, an artist residency and creative space for women and families. “I thought of doing it in the fall, with all the leaves and beauty, then put it to one side because of the pandemic. But then things started opening up, and I started feeling how lucky we are to be surrounded by nature and so much art, and I knew I had to do it. 

“My poor husband,” she says. “I woke up one morning in June [2020] and said ‘We’re doing it!’ I emailed the premise to people I knew. Because we had all been through this incredibly traumatic time, all riding the same storm in different boats, the response was quick and positive,” with the first replies coming from Mother Gallery in Beacon and Magazzino Italian Art in Philipstown. 

Open for Visitors

The Macedonia Institute in Chatham

The Macedonia Institute in Chatham

The following galleries, museums and other sites are participating in the Upstate Art Weekend from Aug. 27 to 29. See

In the Highlands
Dia:Beacon, Ethan Cohen KuBe, Fridman Gallery, Mother Gallery (Beacon); JDJ, Manitoga (Garrison); Magazzino (Philipstown); Elijah Wheat, Strongroom (Newburgh); Storm King (New Windsor); Barns Art Center (Hopewell Junction)

Studios and Homes
Amenia Crossroads (Amenia), Interlude (Hudson), Rachel Mica Weiss (New Paltz), Mohonk Arts (High Falls), Macedonia Institute (Chatham), Wassaic Project, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild 

Thomas Cole National Historic Site (Catskill) and OLANA (Hudson): Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church & Our Contemporary Moment | Cronin Gallery (New Paltz), Dorsky Museum (New Paltz), Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Women’s Studio Workshop (Kingston): Rooted: Art + Land

Group Shows
Airfield (Kingston), Alexander Grey Associates (Germantown), Art Austerlitz, ArtPort Kingston, Fahrenheit 451 House (Catskill), Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar (Poughkeepsie), Hessel Museum of Art / Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard (Annandale), Poetry Barn (West Hurley), Ravenwood (Kerhonkson), September (Hudson), Starlite Motel (Kerhonkson), Woodstock Artists Association & Museum 

Sculpture Parks and Exhibitions
Art Omi (Ghent), Olana (Hudson),

Opus 40 (Saugerties), PS21 (Chatham), River Valley Arts Collective (Boiceville), Sunfair Farm (Hudson), Wave Farm (Acra)

Pop-up Exhibitions and Events
Art Mamas Alliance (Kingston), Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York (Kingston), Beverly’s (Kingston), Big Paradise (Germantown), Female Design Council (Kingston), Foreland (Catskill), Practice in Paradise (Kingston), Printed Matter (Kingston), Spring/Break (Poughkeepsie), Art of Equal Pay (Kingston), Hudson Eye, Sphinx Northeast (Hudson), Two Palms (Kingston), Whoop Dee Doo (Kingston)

Solo Shows
Art Omi (Ghent), Geary (Millerton), LABspace (Hillsdale), Re Institute (Millerton), ‘T’ Space (Rhinebeck), Urban Cowboy (Big Indian)

"Tasting Menu"

This sculpture by Dana Sherwood will be part of an exhibit called “Tasting Menu” that opens Aug. 27 at The Barns Art Center in Hopewell Junction.

“There is so much going on up here,” Toomer says. “There are all these wonderful communities that have been here for a long, long time, but the pandemic and the wave of opportunities to work remotely have made a lot of new things crop up. We’re so fortunate to be able to have studios, time and space.”

For 2022, Toomer says she is “thinking of lots of things. I want to see what the community needs, whether that’s an expansion of what we’ve been doing or getting back to the drawing board.”

For a map and list of participants, addresses, hours, admission fees, COVID-19 safety protocols and other details, see Download the app Upstate Curious to join an Upstate Art Weekend meet-up group.

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