NADA x Foreland
August 28-29. Foreland, 111 Water Street, Catskill, NY; forelandcatskill.com.
Summer isn’t quite over – you still have time for a run in the upstate, and this weekend in particular the entire Hudson Valley is in bloom with art to see. The biggest single event this time is the New Art Dealer Alliance’s brand new NADA x Foreland, a sort of art fair that meets a group exhibition, run by curator Jesse Greenberg in a recently rehabilitated complex of buildings in the ‘Civil War era – the titular “Foreland” – in Catskill, NY The idea was essentially to bring people out, and the 81 galleries and associations, chosen by open call, will set up together, without a stand, their largely sculptural work. Although some exhibitors come from as far away as Bucharest and Vancouver, most are from New York State.
As the name suggests, NADA focuses on young galleries, and the work you’ll see at a NADA event can be pretty raw as well. Many galleries are making their art fair debut here, such as International Waters, a year-old Bushwick space uniquely located in a former loading dock with sloping floor. “Normally, I wouldn’t be excited about an art fair anymore,” said artist Matt Taber, who founded the gallery with his wife, Trang Tran, and business partner, Mark Brinda. “But a lot of people we’ve been in contact with, a lot of artists we talk to – everyone is converging on this fair.”
Parallel to NADA x Foreland, but until September 12, is another group exhibition, in another of Foreland’s exhibition spaces, put on by the New York galleries Mrs. and Rachel Uffner. Sara Maria Salamone, co-founder of Mrs., grew up near Albany and said she had mixed feelings about joining the artist’s migration from the city to the upstate. “But ultimately,” she added, “I think it’s wonderful for the Capital Region to finally have this energy injected into it. I really didn’t feel that growing up.
Both exhibitions are also part of Upstate Art Weekend, a festival founded last year by curator Helen Toomer after she moved to the Catskills and found herself developing art routes to visit friends. Upstate Art Weekend now features an incredibly rich hypothetical itinerary, with a handful of parties and special performances, that includes over 60 museums, galleries, sculpture parks, and other aesthetic destinations on both sides of the Hudson River, from Garrison to Chatham.
In addition to flagship institutions like Storm King and Dia: Beacon, the festival includes several major university museums (SUNY New Paltz, Vassar, Bard) and a solid cross-fertilization sample with the metropolis: there are galleries that, like Toomer , moved out of town (Elijah Wheat Showroom) or were founded by town gallery owners (Airfield), urban galleries with outposts in the upstate (Geary, Fridman) and a pair of galleries upstate with branches recently opened or about to open in Manhattan (JDJ, Mother).
Until September 11. Montague Contemporary, 526 West 26th Street, Manhattan, (917) 495-3865, montaguecontemporary.com.
Spending time is a social form in the paintings of Elias Mung’ora, a Kenyan artist whose eye and emotions are tuned to the texture of everyday life in Nairobi. Each of her recent paintings functions as a social vignette: a sidewalk seamstress, with no clients in sight, has a friend sitting next to her, keeping her company. Four men are chatting, perched on practical furniture – a wooden trestle, mismatched blue plastic chairs. Small crowds line up for some reason outside the frame, or congregate to look into a doorway. Inside, two men on a rounded sofa lean over, their conversation more convincing than their cups of tea.
Mung’ora, born in 1992, is largely self-taught, the product of a vibrant Nairobi scene that is gradually gaining international attention. His first solo exhibition in the United States, “Gathering of Small Fires”, is now on display in the Africa-oriented Montague Contemporary gallery in Chelsea. He grew up in a provincial town and after moving to Nairobi he first studied real estate. His paintings are brimming with curiosity about the metropolis as a large, constantly evolving organism, and the way ordinary people overcome its obstacles and make a living amid its inequalities.
Sometimes in his previous work Mung’ora opted for chaotic and sometimes gloomy maximum urban scenes. These new paintings, made during the pandemic, take advantage of their embrace of the lulls of big city life and the emergence of his figures as completed figure studies. Working in glossy acrylics, with a fine mastery of bright, contrasting colors, he now also incorporates photo transfers from archival footage from Kenya’s history. Very superimposed, often finely balancing the neat details and with a blur both in the characters and their settings, Mung’ora’s canvases become distillates of the city itself, as much as generous portraits of its inhabitants.