Tschabalala Self has been hard at work. Since graduating in 2015, the 31-year-old artist and Bard graduate has had three solo shows and six group shows, including prominent exhibitions at the Hammer in Los Angeles, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and Galerie Eva Presenhuber last November, her first major gallery exhibition in New York City.
It’s little wonder she needs a break when the weekend rolls in. “I prioritize my space and my rest,” she says. “If I didn’t create those boundaries, I would just work everyday.”
Her already celebrated work explores Black American identity, in particular the significance of the Black female body in contemporary culture. Her work is colorful and bold, combining painting, printing and collage, intertwining swatches of fabric with expressive stitching. Her mother was a seamstress, and she always has her sewing machine close to hand in her studio.
Self was raised in Harlem with four siblings and took after-school art classes at the Harlem School of Arts. She first became familiar with the Hudson Valley when she went to Bard College. While there, she mentored local youth as part of the Hudson Valley Tutoring project.
She was reintroduced to the area in 2017, when she started dating Hudson-based curator and multidisciplinary performer Michael Mosby, professionally known as FULATHELA. After visiting him more and more often, she finally made the leap to move up full time in early 2020.
“There’s a lot of people who are new to the community like myself, who have fallen in love with the city,” she says.
Hudson-based curator and multidisciplinary performer Michael Mosby, here with Self at Olana State Historic Site, inspired her move to Hudson.
Courtesy Tschabalala Self
When the pandemic hit, it accelerated getting to know her new home. “I had never spent that much time in Hudson before consistently — or with Mike,” she says. “My life was always so chaotic. [The pandemic] was the only time I’ve had a normal adult life: I made dinner every night, the house was spotless, Mike was still going to work and came back at the same time every day.” She laughs, adding, “It was very ‘Mad Men’!”
These days, when she’s not in her compact Hudson apartment near the river, she’s either in her sunny New Haven studio in an old factory building in on the outskirts of Yale campus (where she went to graduate school), or she’s traveling back to New York City for meetings or shows. Since the pandemic, she’s prioritized making space for life outside of work, too.
“As a painter, you spend a lot of time alone,” she says. “There’s so many creative people [in Hudson], there’s a culture of having space for oneself and then on the other side a real sense of community. That way of socializing really suits my temperament. In New York [City] you’re always around people, so it’s not as sacred a moment when you come together.”
Before even arriving in Hudson, Self brought people together through a performance series she launched with Mosby and another friend, the artist Shanekia McIntosh. Free Range was hosted at the Half Moon in 2018 and Art Omi in 2019.
“We all really love Hudson and wanted to share it with other creatives who don’t understand a place like this,” she says. “We wanted to expose more people to Hudson and people in Hudson to musicians whose energy and ideas and vibe felt like Hudson — free, experimental, really liberated,” she says. And will the series be returning post-pandemic? “We’d like to do it one more time — and do it really well!”
Where Tschabalala Self spends time in Hudson and the surrounding area
Self loves the backyard at husband-and-wife owned Lawrence Park; inside it’s decked out for the holidays.
After a long week, Self has some downtime. On her way home, she likes to pick up a bottle of wine from Grapefruit Wines near Hudson station. It specializes in natural wine, from the team behind another new Hudson favorite, Kitty’s Market and Cafe.
When she goes out, she hits up the husband-and-wife owned bar Lawrence Park (260 Warren St.) on Warren Street to meet friends. “They have a really good wine selection, a beautiful atmosphere inside, and a great backyard,” she says. “It’s always a great time there.” She follows it with her favorite meal in the city: the duck breast at the Tavern at Rivertown Lodge (731 Warren St.).
Self loves the sunny atmosphere and uplifting design of Hudson’s LikeMindedObjects.
On Saturday morning, she heads into Hudson. She stops at tiny gourmet food market Olde Hudson (449 Warren St.) — “I mostly go there to get French cheese” — before taking a stroll down Warren Street.
“Friends own a couple of my favorite shops, and if they happen to be in, I’ll stop to say hi,” she says, highlighting Nina Z (345 Warren St.), where she loves the designer’s shoes and jewelry pieces. She’s also a fan of BOLOR (“beautifully crafted clothing”) and LikeMindedObjects (344 Warren St.) for its “uplifting atmosphere and design.”
When it comes to art, she says, “I don’t get to go to shows as often as I would like, but when I do, I enjoy Art Omi (1405 Co. Rte 22, Ghent). I like the outdoor element — that the landscape is centered as this organic artwork in itself. Especially during the pandemic, it was great to be able to experience art and not have all the complications that accompanied that.”
“One of my favorite shows last year was Shake up the Room, curated by my partner at SEPTEMBER (449 Warren St. #3) gallery. Also, I recently found out about Magazzino (2700 U.S. 9) in Cold Spring. I like to experience art as a visitor in Hudson — it’s my home, rather than a place I conduct business. That has been the most therapeutic and beneficial aspect of being here.”
On Saturday evenings she sees friends. “I’ve met a lot of creatives, artists, writers, all around my age. Everyone is just out and about in town a lot, and there’s also so many people in the arts community that live up here.” She adds, joking. “Everyone is Mike’s friend — he’s more popular than I am.”
And when it comes to nightlife: “The last really good dance party I went to was at BackBar (347 Warren St.) for Halloween, but Half Moon (48 S Front St.) also has good dance parties.”
Brunch in Catskill
Catskill has a new wave of cafes, shops and galleries. Foreland is one of the newest art spaces to open.
Courtesy of Foreland
A good Sunday morning starts with brunch at the New York Restaurant (353 Main St.) in Catskill, part of a wave of new shops, restaurants, and galleries to open there in the past few years. It serves classic American and Polish cuisine in an 150-year-old building. “It’s a spot I recently discovered, and it’s really, really good,” Self says.
“Another place I love to go if I’m going a little stir crazy and it’s cold weather is Rev’s (742 Warren St.) coffee,” she says. “It’s hard to find an authentic coffeeshop like that anymore anywhere, and you can get into a workflow if you’re getting too distracted at home.”
When it comes to her new hometown there isn’t much she would change. “I think it should retain a lot of what makes it currently such an interesting and charming place to live: the fact it’s so diverse and that culturally, it’s so conducive to an artistic lifestyle,” she says, adding: “I would like more takeout options — everyone agrees with that!”
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