• Meka Boyle

NADA House

On Governors Island, an empty row of mid century colonial revival buildings have been transformed into a sprawling exhibition of over 100 artists from 66 galleries and curators.


The aptly named NADA House 2021, curated by New Art Dealers Alliance, is somewhere between an exhibition and an art fair.


NADA House’s roster includes galleries from across the country and as far away as Munich, Barcelona, and São Paulo, as well as NYC staples like Jack Hanley, The Hole, and Magenta Plains. Many galleries have taken the opportunity to showcase emerging artists and a majority of the work has an experimental, multimedia approach.


Shellyne Rodriguez, EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop


Governor’s Island, a former military base turned historical site, is only a short ride from lower Manhattan. The island’s rolling grass hills and large empty buildings have made for a prime location for various arts and culture pop ups in recent years.


The walk from the ferry to NADA House passes lush green hills and tree lined paths before reaching Colonel’s Row where the houses are located. The first and most obvious marker of NADA House is artist Tamika Rivera’s swath of neon orange yarn that wraps around one of the balconies, presented by Fort Makers, New York.


Tamika Rivera, Fort Makers


As you get closer to the entrances, strange objects appear scattered throughout the perfectly manicured lawns in front of the houses.


An erect iridescent sleeping bag by Adam Parker Smith, represented by New York’s The Hole, sits in front of the house parallel to Secret Project Robot’s showcase of Rachel Nelson, Erik Zajaceskowski’s whimsical ceramic fountain that looks like it will come to life with fairies the moment you turn away.


Adam Parker Smith, The Hole


Each room is designated to a specific gallery and most are occupied by the work of a single artist. The cracks in the paint and the domestic interior of the rooms adds to the work: bedroom shelves and kitchen cabinets are repurposed into mini tableaus.


The furniture that would normally decorate bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, hallways, has been replaced by murals, sculptures, installations, sound art, video, collage, and traditional paintings. Expect lots of texture, video and audio, woven tapestries and rugs, and art that interacts with the physical space.


Rachel Libeskind, signs and symbols


Inside the first house, visitors are greeted by Chicago’s Baby Blue Gallery’s exhibition of four of Ricardo Partida’s colorful, expressive portraits ascending up the stairs. On the first floor, multidisciplinary artist Rachel Libeskind, represented by signs and symbols, New York, has collaged images in spiral and abstract shapes all along the floors and walls of an empty dining room. An opaque screen printed image of the Virgin Mary is draped between one of the room’s doorways.


Camille Hoffman, False Flag


Some rooms were more traditional with paintings hanging on the walls, while others appeared transformed into immersive installation pieces that confront the colonial history of Governors Island. Camille Hoffman’s solo exhibition “Landing for Lolo”, presented by False Flag Gallery, reimagines the former colonel’s dining room as an homage to her seafaring Filipinx ancestors.


Another standout was hanging vinyl textile “Tropicalamerica 21,” part of Edra Soto’s work shown by Morgan Lehman Gallery. A fan positioned in the corner transforms the piece into a wind chime, blowing the 78 stars on the hanging all-black Puerto Rican flag, a symbol of independence and resistance introduced in 2016 to represent.


Edra Soto, Morgan Lehman Gallery

Other standouts are Shellyne Rodriguez’s intimate paintings of domestic spaces, Josie Love Roebuck’s colorful woven self portraits, Adam Alessi’s moody clown paintings, Rose Nestler’s subversive fabric sculptures, and Estefania Puerta’s otherworldly sculptures and installation pieces.


Entry is free and the houses are open to the public from 11am-5pm Friday-Saturday. The exhibition runs until August 1st.