JACK SHAINMAN DEBUT DRAWS 1,000 TO KINDERHOOK
For New York City art worlders of a certain age, the brass ring of their youth was to reach for a 2,000 square foot downtown loft. Now that they have attained maturity, that ambition has grown tenfold, to more like 20,000+ square feet. But for even the wealthiest 1%, that’s a difficult proposition in the five boroughs.
And so the abandoned municipal, industrial, and educational buildings of the Hudson Valley beckon—to the likes of Marina Abramoviç, or the clerics of DIA:Beacon, or contemporary collectors Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol, or Studio 54 fixture Francine Hunter McGivern, or, most recently, Chelsea gallerist Jack Shainman. Call it the Hudson River School of Art Storage.
Shainman debuted his vast new 30,000 square foot space, The School, yesterday in Kinderhook with an installation by Nick Cave. The event drew, without exaggeration, at least 1,000 attendees.
The crowd was a surprisingly comfortable mix: Grizzled Soho vetarans commiserated about the demise of Pearl Paint. Williamsburg and Long Island City hipsters clad in pristine Carhartts guzzled the free beer and locally-sourced hoagies, while wondering where in tarnation they had landed. Expatriate New Yorkers, who decamped to Columbia County long before any major collectors had heard of it, felt validated at last in their decision to move upriver. Lifelong residents who learned long division in these classrooms gazed in gently rueful amazement at the building’s dramatic-yet-respectful transformation by architect Antonio Jimenez Torrecillas. (Rule of thumb: The more pockets in a pair of pants, the more likely the person lives locally.)
The generosity of Shainman’s spread, the beauty of the rooms, the free Cave posters, the disco tent, and the absence of any velvet ropes or clipboard Nazis, gave the event an ease and uplift not common to the typically sour, tense atmosphere of so many City openings.
Only “downtown” Kinderhook itself seemed unprepared for its placement on the high art map. A half-dozen storefronts are empty near the intersection of Albany & Broad, waiting to be filled by the restaurateurs and baristas and mid-century modern furniture dealers who make the trek up Broadway, which eventually becomes the old Post Road–today, Route 9.
The Carolina House seemed like the only local business ready to take advantage of the influx, with black Beemers, Audis and Mercedeses replacing the customary muddied Jeeps and minivans in the parking lot.
The “space” (that once-annoying term now universally used to describe everything from literary salons to hair salons) is strikingly successful. A pitch-perfect glow illuminates a seemingly endless maze of galleries, the next larger than the last. It must have been a H Herculean labor for Cave to occupy the entire cavernous building, and his decorative-yet-political work is strong. But the structure itself was the star of the day.
It was not clear how often The School would be open, or how regularly the exhibitions would change, but Shainman earned a ton of local goodwill with his début. A photo sampler follows below; click each image to enlarge it.