Vacation Art is the Best Art

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art life institute kingston

If I was a little quiet on the blog last week, it’s because I was in a very quiet place.

Well, a place that’s sometimes quiet. But occasionally full of people—skateboarding indoors, throwing impromptu dance parties, blaring noise music—a far cry from the pastoral idyll one might associate with an artists’ retreat in the bucolic Hudson River Valley.

I was staying at Waterfront: a new, informal residency program at the Art / Life Center in Kingston, New York “that functions as a general structure within and around which vacation art can exist.” What, you might ask, does such a structure and/or “vacation art” look like? Pretty fun, as it turns out.

Misael with halfpipe

Artist-in-residence Misael Soto (foreground) with Jeff DeGolier installing “Microramp Boombox”.

I arrived at the tail end of a weekend when several overlapping events and residents packed the space with guests. The small gallery had just hosted a closing for Joey Frank’s solo show Color Squonge, which featured comic-inspired paintings and handmade 3-D glasses. In the same space, Jeff DeGolier had installed “Microramp Boombox”—a sculpture that comprises a functional skating halfpipe wired with a car stereo—all constructed over the course of a day trip from the city. This happened to coincide with Willy Smart and Misael Soto’s residency—which itself was conceptualized as a meta residency-within-a-residency, parodying the programming of more formal artist retreats with…

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