The inaugural show at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery spotlights 25 artists living or practicing north of 99th Street.
BY Seph Rodney
The newly reopened Wallach Art Gallery’s Uptown — a survey of work by 25 artists living or practicing north of 99th Street — lives inside the brand new Lenfest Center for the Arts, an eight-story, 60,000-square-foot building that houses performance and gallery spaces as well as a 150-seat theater. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery has been around since 1986, but you might not know that, given that it has been sequestered inside some stodgy wood-paneled rooms on the eighth floor of Schermerhorn Hall on Columbia University’s Morningside campus. Whereas its previous incarnation felt like a gallery intended to cultivate a conversation around visual art, primarily among Columbia’s faculty, visiting fellows, and students, now the gallery is quite literally outward-facing (looking out onto 125th Street). If you visit the new gallery in the daytime, you’ll see the work enveloped in natural light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Uptown is multifaceted — it seeks to restore some of the sheen to the term “uptown” in reference to Harlem, which almost a century ago was a mecca for literary, visual, and performing arts; announce the presence of a prominent institutional agent in the district’s art ecology; and, perhaps most crucially, serve a kind of ambassadorial function for the university.
Uptown continues at the Wallach Art Gallery in the Lenfest Center for the Arts (615 West 129th Street, Harlem) through August 20.