For anyone already enthusiastic about the cultural richness of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, and for those curious to explore the wide array of arts destinations scattered across Upstate New York, the 2021 program for UPSTATE ART WEEKEND gives reason to rejoice. From thought-provoking solo shows at independent galleries to large-scale outdoor works at sculpture parks, 61 venues come together from 27-29 August this year. Once again organized by Stoneleaf Retreat founder Helen Toomer, the second edition incorporates well-known arts organizations like Dia Beacon and Storm King alongside academic institutions including Bard and Vassar, as well as gems such as MANITOGA / The Russel Wright Design Center, Art Omi and The Wassaic Project.
“I want it to celebrate those with deep roots here and also welcome those who are new to the area,” Toomer says of the event and its roster, which includes happenings at the design-forward Urban Cowboy lodge and a NADA art fair pop-up event at the Foreland contemporary arts campus. “There have always been strong creative communities in the Hudson Valley and this event is a way to highlight and unite them, alongside a new influx of creatives wanting to contribute to the Upstate arts community.”
“Our program is listed by day and time, so you can see what’s on when and where,” Toomer says, regarding how attendees can approach building an itinerary. “There are some participants who are open each day, and beyond UPSTATE ART WEEKEND, so you can always come back and visit once you’ve made the connection, as we want people to return! There are also some pop-up exhibitions and events that are only happening during the weekend, so make sure to look through the program to see what you gravitate toward—whether it’s performance, outdoor sculpture, artist residences and open studios, solo or group shows.”
“The easiest way to explore is by car, as part of the beauty of being Upstate is driving around, between art venues and stopping at local restaurants, stores and farm stands,” she continues. “Equally so, catching the train along the Hudson River is a beautiful experience and you’re able to walk around or catch a car ride to the local towns.”
In addition to their illustrated map (which will be printed and distributed), UPSTATE ART WEEKEND provides a Google map of the participating locations. “If you make a copy of it,” Toomer explains, “you can customize and layer it to make your own itineraries for each day and it will show you the distances. So, if you’re super A-type and need a plan—like me—this is the way. Otherwise, just going with the flow and checking our website/Instagram for details will work too.” On Instagram, they’ve also assembled a local favorites section to guide visitors toward beloved restaurants, hotels and shops.
“Last year I threw the event together in six weeks and invited arts organizations I knew well,” Toomer says. “After the first edition, we opened it up to applications and discovered many more organizations that wanted to be part of UPSTATE ART WEEKEND.” There are 61 venues participating this year, nearly triple last year. “I’m just happy to be the one connecting the dots and creating a road map for those wanting to safely explore and enjoy what the arts in the Hudson Valley have to offer—as it’s plentiful,” she says, adding that “there’s always more to discover.”
Hero image of Leah Dixon sculpture and Dana Robinson painting courtesy of STONELEAF RETREAT, photo by Trinicia M Perch