Jack Shainman and Nick Cave. Photo Sam Deitch/BFAnyc.com.

May 17, 2014 @ The School, Kinderhook, N.Y.

Artists, museum directors and art dealers were among the more than 800 people who trekked to Columbia County, N.Y., on Saturday for the opening of dealer Jack Shainman's new venue The School, a 30,000-square-foot renovated former high school in Kinderhook, N.Y., 120 miles north of Manhattan. A show of new and old work by sculptor Nick Cave greeted visitors from New York and the region. Cave also organized a performance of dancers wearing his trademark Soundsuits. The art is displayed in spaces ranging from former classrooms and the principal's office to the bathrooms. The School is now open by appointment to those looking to pick up a Soundsuit for their collection. Down the line, Shainman also plans to offer his artists studio space in the building.

Attendees included museum directors such as the Studio Museum in Harlem's Thelma Golden and the Clark Art Institute's Michael Conforti, who is overseeing his own building's Tadao Ando renovation and expansion, due to open July 4, as well as Kinderhook mayor Carol Weaver. Gallery artists Radcliffe Bailey, Barkley L. Hendricks, Hank Willis Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems joined dealers like Zach Feuer to enjoy locally sourced food including ice cream sandwiches from Kinderhook's own Samascott Orchards.

The 1929 federal revival Martin van Buren High School was redesigned by Spanish architect Antonio Jiménez Torecillas and includes among its exhibition spaces a 3,000-square-foot gallery featuring a 24-foot ceiling.

"I thought a space like this would be too expensive," Shainman said during a tour. "I was very naive, because the buying is not the hard part. It's the fixing up." Shainman, with artist and business partner Carlos Vega, reportedly spent $550,000 on the building.

"I don't want to say on the record what I spent to renovate the space," Shainman told A.i.A., "but it's way, way, way more than I ever dreamed it would cost."

Shainman's space joins a growing number of area cultural institutions, including MASS MOCA and the Clark Art Institute to the east and Dia: Beacon to the south. In nearby Hudson, a 20-minute drive away, performance artist Marina Abramovic is planning an eponymous institute.

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1984, Jack Shainman Gallery soon moved to New York, where it now occupies two Chelsea spaces. The gallery shows international artists with a focus on Africa, East Asia and North America.