Is Yonkers the New Chelsea?

Still image from video game MassEffect 2, Casey Hudson, director; Mac Walters, Drew Karpyshyn, writers; Casey Hudson, producer, Microsoft XBox 360, 2010, © 2010 Electronic Arts, Inc. Included in "The Art of Video Games" at the Hudson River Museum as part of Yonkers Art Weekend.

Still image from video game MassEffect 2, Casey Hudson, director; Mac Walters, Drew Karpyshyn, writers; Casey Hudson, producer, Microsoft XBox 360, 2010.
© 2010 Electronic Arts, Inc. Included in “The Art of Video Games” at the Hudson River Museum as part of Yonkers Art Weekend.

Just north of New York City, a vibrant arts community is about to host the first ever Yonkers Art Weekend, reports the New York Times. Yonkers artists and arts institutions have joined forces to showcase the city’s growing number of artistic activities and organizations.

Free buses will shuttle visitors between a number of sites: the eleventh annual open studio will be held at YoHo Artist Studios; Sarah Lawrence College students will present “Fashion as Art: A Runway Exhibit” and a concert of bluegrass music at the Untermyer Gardens; “The Art of Video Games” and a Red Grooms installation titled “The Bookstore” are on view at the Hudson River Museum; paintings by Satish Joshi appear at the Blue Door Gallery; 10,000 square feet of exhibition space at the iPark Hudson office complex will feature artists from Urban Studio and  Torche’ Galerie; the Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site debuts Vinnie Bagwell’s “Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden;” and the Riverfront Library has organized the Sixth Annual Yonkers Artist Showcase with YonkersArts.

All of this comes on the heels of some prominent additions to the Yonkers art scene that have made headlines in recent months. In November, artist and architect Maya Lin and her husband, dealer Daniel Wolf, bought the city’s shuttered prison to house Wolf’s collection, a gallery, and studio space for Lin (see story from the Times). Last month, as reported by the Journal News, artist David Hammons purchased a warehouse in southwest Yonkers with plans to open a gallery.

If the trend keeps up, critics and dealers may have to follow in the footsteps of artists, who have slowly migrated north for years. artnet News spoke to Diane Mitchell, an artist and professor at the New School, who, along with her husband, Marko Gosar, has had studio space at YoHo since 2002.

Mitchell had previously had work spaces in the more traditional neighborhoods of Soho and the East Village, but was looking for something more affordable. She considered Hoboken and Long Island City, but Yonkers, easily accessible by car, seemed the most convenient for the couple. YoHo has expanded considerably during their tenure, drawing artists from nearby Riverdale and Westchester, but also from as far away as Brooklyn.

The new Yonkers Art Weekend represents a coming together of several disparate groups, which, in Mitchell’s mind, bodes well for the arts community’s continued growth. She credits the Blue Door’s Luis Perelman as a galvanizing force in the local art scene, which has seen a substantial increase in both “quality and quantity.”

Yonkers’s appeal to artists will only continue to grow, says Mitchell, thanks to the “affordable space” and “good community.” Conversely, she isn’t sure if galleries and critics will be willing to venture beyond the city limits: “This would be the first time they would have left the boroughs, so to speak.”

It’s too soon to say if Yonkers will be the next Chelsea, but the arts community there is definitely on the upswing.

Yonkers Art Weekend takes place May 3 and 4, with shuttle buses running from the MetroNorth train station 1–6 p.m. A full schedule of events is available at yonkersny.gov