JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY’S The School, Kinderhook, N.Y.

In his opening remarks to the press at the inauguration of The School in Kinderhook, NY, Jack Shainman explained the genesis of the project. He said he had a dream of having a space to house the gallery’s private collection, which would also facilitate appropriate viewing. The serendipity of finding a beautiful example of a Federal-style schoolhouse for sale, in a neighborhood that he had grown to love after many years of spending weekends in the historic Hudson Valley had made the purchase irresistible. His friendship with the Latin American architect, Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas turned into a wonderfully synergistic collaboration to preserve the integrity of the architecture while allowing for the demands of the work that would be housed in the space.

The results are spectacular, to say the least. The entrance space has original arches, moldings, and proportion, and is very welcoming. After which it becomes a purpose- designed gallery space with interesting wall openings that allow views of the different levels – two of which display a spectacular procession of Nick Cave Soundsuits.

The ground floor has been excavated below what was the basketball court to allow for a huge gallery with a 24-foot ceiling – the height necessary to accommodate the work of El Anatsui, another of the gallery’s major artists. At this time there are more large-scale Nick Cave sculptures and wall pieces in museum-quality space. The proportions of the spaces as one moves through them are masterfully orchestrated for maximum drama.

The day was gorgeous and the mood was festive and celebratory. The Schoolhouse was opened to the public, there was a special performance choreographed by Nick Cave accompanied by African drumming by the Agbekor Society. There was a huge turnout. It looked as if everyone in Columbia County showed up. There were tents behind the school where special cocktails, wine and hors d’oeurves were being served and later dinner. This was a gracious outreach to the art-loving public in particular and the community in general and should bode well for local embrace of the project.

I suggested that this felt like a future destination and I could imagine a Kinderhook Jitney. (The trip from NYC in a special bus was 2 1/2 hours each way and completely worth it.) He was way ahead of me and replied that he envisioned a hovercraft that would come up the Hudson and make the trip in 30 minutes while serving cocktails. This leads me to think that this is only the beginning of the dream, and Jack Schainman is a man who knows how to realize dreams. More power to him for having such good ones and sharing them with the rest of us.

Review by Belle McIntyre

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