The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York will present a new triennial of contemporary art, called “Uptown,” this summer. “Uptown,” which runs from June 2 through August 20, will present the work of 66 artists who live or maintain studios north of 99th Street in New York City.
The exhibition, which is organized by the Wallach’s director and chief curator, Deborah Cullen, will be the gallery’s first major initiative in its new home in Columbia’s Lenfest Center for the Arts on West 129th Street, part of the university’s new Manhattanville campus, which opened earlier this year. (The first show in the space was the university’s annual MFA Thesis exhibition.)
“It’s really an important initiative for the gallery, the university, and the broader community,” Cullen told ARTnews. “It’s a no-brainer, really, to have a format, a regular mechanism for the gallery to work with the boarder community. . . . Our neighbors, the local community should be our first audience.”
The Wallach will also be collaborating with 13 other institutions uptown to present related programming and exhibitions with artists participating in the triennial. They are the Arts Horizon LeRoy Neiman Art Center, Elizabeth Dee, the Harlem School of the Arts at The Herb Alpert Center, Hunter East Harlem Gallery of Hunter College, the Langston Hughes House, the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion in collaboration with NoMAA, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Uptown Arts Stroll, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, and Windows on Amsterdam Community Art Gallery.
El Museo del Barrio will present a group exhibition titled “Uptown: Nasty Women/Bad Hombres,” and the Studio Museum in Harlem will present a special edition of “Harlem Postcards,” an ongoing exhibition series that asks artists to explore Harlem’s role as a place for contemporary artistic production.
Cullen, who spent more than 15 years at El Museo, organized four editions of the museum’s own biennial, La Bienal, which focuses on showing work by Latinx artists in the greater New York area who had never shown at the museum.
“It was a grassroots way to be in touch with the great community,” Cullen said. She said she hopes that “Uptown” will have the same effect and provide a platform for artists to show their work “to a broader public through Columbia to other venues,” both nationally and internationally.
In organizing the exhibition, Cullen wanted to make sure to include a diverse roster of artists, from “longstanding voices and major participants” in the Upper Manhattan artistic community to emerging voices within the community, who were oftentimes recommended by other artists. She also wanted to make sure that artists from various neighborhoods, from Harlem to Inwood to El Barrio, were presented alongside each other, as a “cross-pollination” of sorts.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to present my work alongside other respected artist friends in a beautiful new space in my neighborhood,” the artist and recent Rome Prize winner Sanford Biggers, who is among the participating artists, said in a statement.
“I hope that the exhibition will help to cement that interaction between the campus and the boarder community, to be a bridge that flows both ways,” Cullen said.
The full artist list follows below.
—Vladimir Cybil Charlier
—Carlos De Jesus
—Rene De Los Santos
—Carlos Jesús Martínez Domínguez/FEEGZ
—Felicia Megan Gordon
—Michael Kelly Williams
—Sara Mejia Kriendler
—Reynaldo García Pantaleón
—Ruben Natal-San Miguel
—Bayeté Ross Smith
—Sable Elyse Smith
—Virginia Inés Vergara