10 Exhibitions to See in Upstate New York This April

In “Northern April” (1928), the great American poet, playwright, and feminist Edna St. Vincent Millay writes: “O April, full of blood, full of breath, have pity upon us!” Millay’s dramatic reference to the capricious month of April endures as we witness the seasons wrangle, intermingle, and ultimately give way to the welcoming warmth of spring. This month, Upstate New York hums with a renewed round of gallery and museum exhibitions, welcoming an annual renaissance of artistic delights. At Elijah Wheat Showroom in Newburgh, Palestinian-American artist Michael Hambouz teases out generational trauma and symbolic transformation, while poet-artist Jill Magi celebrates “textility” as a muse at the Flow Chart Foundation in Hudson. LABspace in Hillsdale presents concurrent exhibitions that offer a curious encounter with multi-layered sculpture-paintings and atypical scenes from a trans-mythological realm. In terms of college museums, Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in Poughkeepsie exhibits a selection of rare photographs by queer feminist trailblazer Rosalie (Rollie) Thorne McKenna, and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore presents a three-person exhibition that explores Asian diasporic experiences by way of a site-specific, collaborative installation. Considering Millay’s unconventional life during the boisterous Roaring Twenties and her poetic musings about April in particular, let us rejoice in a month full of breath and art!

Where We Are

ArtPort Kingston is among the most dynamic cultural spaces in upstate New York, presenting a host of exhibitions, special events, programs, and year-round opportunities for artists. Their rustic gallery in the historic Cornell Steamboat Building along the Rondout Creek in Kingston is currently showing Where We Are, a group exhibition featuring works by Linda Colletta, James Gallagher, Michelle Girardello, Joan Linder, Sarah Lutz, Alicia Mikles, Seth David Rubin, and Amanda Russo Rubman. Through sculptural installations, works on paper, digital drawings, and experimental photography, this show explores a range of human experiences that invite larger dialogues about notions of culture and perception. Visions such as “Shunga (01)” (2023) by James Gallagher, a Japanese-inspired collage that features two figures in passionate embrace, and the abstract-meets-realist pigment print “Sanditz: Davis Family” (2023), which consists of a colorful, jumbled collage with faces and bodies buried in layered abstraction, reflect the amusing and lively spirit of the spring season. 

ArtPort Kingston (artportkingston.org)
108 East Strand, Kingston, New York
Through April 21

Susan Still Scott: Arrows in my Quiver and Pearl Cowan: Metamorphosis 

Two concurrent exhibitions at LABspace in Hillsdale maximize this cozy space with wild artworks by two women artists. With a touch of Goya and a dash of William Blake, the visuality of Pearl Cowan’s Metamorphosis features dramatic graphite drawings of figures ensconced in atypical dreamscapes, an ancient, mythological realm wherein trans people claim their powers of resistance and expression. Works such as “Trans Girl Being Abandoned By Angels” (2023), in which a weeping figure reaches up to the heavens as a large snake wrapped around a nearby tree bears witness, encapsulate Cowan’s self-styled world of allegory and alchemy. In the adjacent room, we encounter Susan Still Scott’s exhibition Arrows in my Quiver, which includes a series of constructed paintings that embody the blending of abstract traditions with the three-dimensional potential of sculpture. Scott’s multi-layered works such as “Animal Object” (2023), a bright painted-wood and collage sculpture resembling an abstract creature, inspire us to consider how the materiality of art can disclose personal narratives in unanticipated ways.

LABspace (labspaceart.blogspot.com)
2642 NY-23, Hillsdale, New York 
April 6–28 

Rollie McKenna: Making a Life in Photography  

The first survey of queer feminist trailblazer Rosalie (Rollie) Thorne McKenna’s documentary-style photography is on view at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in Poughkeepsie. McKenna’s work appeared in numerous celebrated books and magazines of the 1940s and beyond, such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Fortune. McKenna took to photography as a means for exploring the complexities of human experience: Her photo “Dylan Thomas” (1953) is a stoic black-and-white example. She photographed some of the greatest luminaries of her generation, including Truman Capote, T.S. Eliot, and Sylvia Plath, among others. Making a Life in Photography features more than 100 silver gelatin prints across four galleries, offering insight into her determined entrepreneurship, independent lifestyle, and contributions to American modernism and documentary photography. 

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College (vassar.edu)
124 Raymond Ave, Poughkeepsie, NY 
Through June 2 

Antonius-Tín Bui, Theresa-Xuan Bui, and MIZU: Elevator Music 48: Alone, only in flesh 

Elevator Music 48: Alone, only in flesh is the 48th installation in the ongoing “Elevator Music” series at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. This three-person exhibition explores diasporic experiences by way of a site-specific, collaborative installation housed inside an elevator. The multidisciplinary artists Antonius-Tín Bui, Theresa-Xuan Bui, and MIZU consider the cherished connections between land and water and the ever-shifting issues of (personal) homeland and (political) identity. During the opening celebration for this show, the artists took part in a performance that included an elaborate altar adorned with incense, colorful Asian cloths, and candy. Alone, only in flesh welcomes visitors to commune with the unknown and immerse themselves in this bountiful installation. 

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College (tang.skidmore.edu)
Saratoga Springs, New York
Through May 5 

Michael Hambouz: Loves Cats, Hates Catastrophes 

As a Palestinian growing up in the rural Midwest, multi-media artist Michael Hambouz experienced disparity and imbalance throughout his youth, a sense of alienation compounded by his father’s haunting PTSD from time spent at refugee camps in Ramallah and his family’s brutal experiences of wartime horrors. Hambouz’s first solo show, Loves Cats, Hates Catastrophes at Elijah Wheat Showroom in Newburgh, presents a series of bright, boldly geometric relief paintings that tease out themes of generational trauma, personal reflection, and symbolic transformation. Hambouz’s works seem to be moving: Three-dimensional elements in works such as “Current Mood” (2002) invite us into a maze-like form of varied vantage points. The acute craftmanship, directness of form, and architectural aspect of Hambouz’s practice discloses a clarity of vision. 

Elijah Wheat Showroom (elijahwheatshowroom.com)
195 Front St, Newburgh, NY 
Through May 12 (appointment required) 

Alina Tenser: Wrk Frm Hm 

Kino Saito, a nonprofit that incubates artistic expression, presents Wrk Frm Hm, a series of perplexing and delightfully offbeat assemblages by Alina Tenser. Her sculptures probe the relationship between two- and three-dimensional space, engaging with themes of domesticity, language, and absence. In “Sleeved Meander” (2023), for example, we encounter a concrete form resembling the letter ‘x’ housed in a green vinyl bag that looks like a cosmetics case, asking us to fill in the blank of its intended meaning. Reflecting on her own computer-based work regime, Tenser’s artworks highlight the vapid nature of contemporary labor while simultaneously welcoming a sense of play, placement, and movement within her curious creative examinations of language and daily living. 

Kino Saito (kinosaito.org)
115 7th Street, Verplanck, NY 
Through May 5 

Hovey Brock, Daniella Dooling, Valerie Hegarty 

Originally established in 1971, Catskill Art Space in Livingston Manor provides year-round exhibitions, performances, classes, lectures, and screenings alongside long-term installations of artworks by James Turrell and Sol LeWitt. The current three-person exhibition Hovey Brock, Daniella Dooling, Valerie Hegarty presents a series of sculptural works and installations that explore themes of destruction and chaos related to our changing environment. Artworks that appear physically mangled and emotionally messy invite us to embrace feelings of disorientation and fear in a world beyond repair. In Daniella Dooling’s sculpture “Canary Red I” (2023), for example, a red Italian taxidermied canary is cast in transparent resin and suspended by a tripodal contraption that consists of stainless steel and snare drum. Embalmed in artificial fossilization, this tiny bird is simultaneously an artwork and a harbinger: a canary in a climate crisis. On the April 27 closing date, the artists will participate in an Earth Day-inspired afternoon symposium to discuss their artistic practices in relation to the global climate crisis. 

Catskill Art Space (catskillartspace.org)
48 Main Street, Livingston Manor, NY 
Through April 27 

Talking Threads

Curated by Karlyn Benson, the group exhibition Talking Threads at Susan Eley Fine Art in Hudson celebrates the creative diversity of textiles and fabrics. It features the work of seven artists: Eozen Agopian, Melissa Dadourian, Ana Maria Farina, Courtney Puckett, Padma Rajendran, Richard Saja, and Hanna Washburn. Collectively, this colorful exhibition presents an experimental twist on traditional methods of sewing, quilting, weaving, and embroidery by pushing these mediums into new realms of personal exploration and expression. Saja’s “IDYLL” (2024) revels in the formal patterns of French toile de Jouy (or “cloth from the town of Jouy,” near Paris) decorative fabrics, infusing it with a contemporary edge via its cosplay-esque figures, while Hanna Washburn’s “Embrace” (2024) is an amusing sculptural object resembling an infantile toy consisting of bright recycled fabrics and found objects.

Susan Eley Fine Art (susaneleyfineart.com)
433 Warren Street, Hudson, New York
April 4–May 12 

Jill Magi: “if recopying is to author” 

Referencing a line from her own poetry, the exhibition “if recopying is to author” at the Flow Chart Foundation in Hudson presents a series of textile works by poet, artist, and educator Jill Magi. With “textility” as her muse, Magi explores her affinity for poetry through a sequence of paintings, embroideries, hand-weavings, and handmade books. To make these works, Magi copied and recopied text onto their surfaces to play with meaning and materiality. Her installation “that of January” (2023) includes nine monumental drop cloths infused with words and citations that hang dramatically to the floor. During the run of this exhibition, Magi will preside over the space on Saturdays to continue copying and recopying texts onto a large piece of muslin, thereby creating a new fabric work that includes the poetry and texts of others, notably John Ashbery.

The Flow Chart Foundation (flowchartfoundation.org)
348 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 
Through April 27 

Coming Home 

Founded in 1982, the LongReach Arts group endures as an active part of the cultural and artistic community life in the Hudson Valley region. This month, Gallery 40 in Poughkeepsie presents Coming Home, a selection of artwork by members of the LongReach Arts collective, including artists Deborah Bein, Carol Loizides, Marcy Bernstein, and Basha Ruth Nelson, among others.  Highlights include Carole Wolf’s “Origins” (2024), a fiery sun collagraph, and Paola Bari’s “Elusive” (2022), a fierce leopard composed of overglaze and gold on porcelain.

Gallery 40 (gallery40pok.com)
40 Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 
Through April 28 

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