An Experimental New Art School for Painters Opens in New York, With an All-Star Faculty

Launching this winter, Shandanken Project's Paint School offers lectures by renowned figures in the field.

A studio at Shandaken: Storm King, 2017, courtesy Shandaken Projects.
A studio at Shandaken: Storm King, 2017, courtesy Shandaken Projects.

New York City will soon be home to Paint School, a new fellowship initiated by the founders of the Shandaken Project, a six-year-old residency program in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Byron Kim, Josephine Halvorson, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, and others have signed on to lecture at what Shandaken is calling New York City’s first fellowship program for contemporary painters. In keeping with its expanding program, The Shandaken Project has renamed itself Shandaken Projects.

Paint School, a lecture-based master class, starts accepting applications today through October 20. Just a dozen applicants will be chosen for the program, whose maiden session will take place December 2017 through May 2018 at a location to be announced.

Nicholas Weist (second from right), with (from left to right) Mari Spirito, Randy Kennedy, and Katy Erdman, courtesy of Creative Time.

Nicholas Weist (second from right), with (from left to right) Mari Spirito, Randy Kennedy, and Katy Erdman, courtesy of Creative Time.

“We see education as a new means by which we can extend our focus on process, research, and experimentation to a context that’s urban and largely centered on production,” said founding director Nicholas Weist in an interview. “Pedagogy is a great way to carve out specific moments for pure thought.”

The free residencies, and specifically the Paint School, said Weist, grew out of ongoing conversations among denizens of the art world about the often burdensome cost of higher education; the school, like all Shandaken events and residencies, is free. Shandaken’s New York City initiative steps into a void left by the demise of the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, which also aimed to offer unconventional educational opportunities. Moreover, the initiative comes at a time when enrollment in MFA programs at established schools and universities is dropping, creating an opportunity for new kinds of educational platforms.

Still from "Musings and Meanderings with Sally Hemings" by Marisa Williamson, a public program presented by Shandaken Projects with Storm King Art Center. Courtesy of Shandaken Projects.

Still from “Musings and Meanderings with Sally Hemings” by Marisa Williamson, a public program presented by Shandaken Projects with Storm King Art Center. Courtesy of Shandaken Projects.

Paint School is not just for artists. Curators, critics, and scholars who have made significant contributions to the field of painting are also encouraged to apply. While the inaugural course addresses painting, future sessions will focus on other media.

Inaugurated in 2011 in Shandaken, New York, just west of Woodstock, Shandaken Project was the result of a brainstorm by more than two dozen art world luminaries, including curator Regine Basha, dealer Lisa Cooley, curator Lumi Tan, dealer Jasmin Tsou, and artist Paul Ramirez Jonas. In 2015, the program relocated to Storm King Art Center, in Mountainville, New York, 60 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, where it still resides. Support comes from commercial entities like Hauser & Wirth and Luhring Augustine, who donated to the library, as well as institutions such as the Jane Schwartz and William Talbott Hillman foundations.

“When people come to Shandaken, they understand that they’re not participating in a run-of-the-mill nonprofit experience, in which participants have slim access to those who run the organization and might have very little in common with those who fund it,” said Weist. “Shandaken makes hospitality an institutional priority, and participants have direct access to me and the folks who make their opportunities possible.”

Among the impressive roster of more than 100 alumni are artists such as Math Bass and Wang Xu; poet Cedar Sigo; musician Bruno Coviello; writers Andrianna Campbell and Brian Droitcour; and curators such as Gavin Kroeber and Taraneh Fazeli.

"Installation of Six Years of The Shandaken Project,” 2017, courtesy PHILLIPS. From left: Jonathan VanDyke,<i>Blue Lines</i> (2015); Michael Stamm's <i>Deedee’s Om</i> (2016); Rebecca Ward's <i>lust</i> (2015); Kristen Jensen's <i>Heavy Makes Your Happy II</i> (2016); Ryan MacFarland's <i>Disappearing Act</i> (2016).

“Installation of Six Years of The Shandaken Project,” 2017, courtesy PHILLIPS. From left: Jonathan VanDyke, Blue Lines (2015); Michael Stamm’s Deedee’s Om (2016); Rebecca Ward’s lust (2015); Kristen Jensen’s Heavy Makes Your Happy II (2016); Ryan MacFarland’s Disappearing Act (2016).

You needn’t have trekked upstate to have seen Shandaken’s efforts. The organization’s alumni have appeared around New York City as well: in an exhibition at Phillips auction house; booths at the NADA art fair; and in alumni talks at various venues throughout the city. Shandaken has also supported offbeat ventures like an art tag sale, organized by artist Julia Sherman, which took place just steps from the West Chelsea gallery district in New York and where no work was priced above $50.


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