by Rochelle Riservato
Amid the gorgeous landscape and vistas of the Hudson Valley, art and nature lovers can take a cultural excursion where sculpture art intermingles with the natural sculpture of the idyllic landscape. Starting with the largest sculpture park, VISITvortex tours the sculpture parks nestled into our country landscape—a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of city museums and a sensory experience for all ages.
The Storm King Art Center:
Storm King Art Center is the crown jewel of outdoor sculpture displays with its royal collection of acclaimed artists. The Center is listed as one of the five “must-see” sculpture parks in the nation and is internationally recognized as one of the leading sculpture parks in the world. Over 80,000 people from across the world visit Storm King each year.
New Yorkers and Hudson Valley residents are quite lucky to have this renowned cultural center located only one hour north of New York City. With its pristine 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands, this fresh-air museum provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most gifted artists of our time. Works at Storm King encompass the years from post-World War II to the present and include gifts, acquisitions, specially commissioned site-specific works, and loans. While the focus of the collection has been on large-scale abstract sculpture, much of it in steel, it also includes figurative work and sculpture in stone, earth, and other materials.
Imagine strolling through the lovely, green space of the Center and witnessing the works of Alexander Calder that grace the sculpture gardens of Storm King Art Center. And don’t miss the massive and spectacular statue Three Legged Buddha by Chinese artist Zhang Huan, which depicts the Buddha's body and three legs seemingly balancing on his head.
Storm King Art Center’s communications director, Lisbeth Mark of Bow Bridge Communications, LLC, says, “To encounter sculpture by Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Maya Lin, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, Richard Serra, David Smith, Mark di Suvero, and Zhang Huan, among many other art-world luminaries, visitors may hike the fields and wooded areas, walk along trails and roads, ride the tram, and rent bicycles. The Storm King experience is multi-faceted because it appeals to art- and nature-lovers of all ages and changes depending on the weather, time of day, and season.”
Evolution of a half century:
Storm King was originally envisioned as a museum devoted to the Hudson River School. However, by 1961 its founders had become committed to modern sculpture. Little by little, earlier art purchases were positioned outside the Museum Building as part of a formal garden scheme. When thirteen works were purchased in 1966 from the estate of sculptor David Smith, Storm King commenced the siting and intermingling of the sculptures directly on and with the landscape. From that time on, each art creation has been placed with consideration of how it would marry into its immediate surroundings, as well as accenting and accompanying distant vistas.
John P. Stern, president of Storm King, states, “Storm King is more than just a museum or sculpture park. It is a holistic experience of art and nature. The 500-acre landscape has been carefully cultivated over our 53-year history to showcase modern and contemporary sculpture… the breadth and diversity of our collection and landscape inspire us to develop new ways to welcome, engage, and serve our visitors.”
2013 season adds new exhibits:
The 2013 season welcomes additional artists: Los Angeles-based artist Thomas Houseago’s exhibit As I Went Out One Morning includes indoor and outdoor free-standing sculpture inspired by the human form. The media he works in ranges from bronze, aluminum, wood, and Tuf-Cal plaster to charcoal drawings. The exhibit will be displayed in Storm King’s Museum Building and on the grounds of Museum Hill. Also on view this season is David Brooks' A Proverbial Machine in the Garden. This unique addition to the park, comprised of a tractor buried in a series of trenches viewable from above, is a surprising cultural symbol underlying the tension between the pastoral ideal and the rapid and sweeping transformations wrought by industrialized technology. Both are on view through November 11.
Outdoor yoga and other exciting programs:
Visitors to Storm King are invited to enjoy a variety of programs and events, such as conversations with artists, poetry readings, concerts, workshops for children and families, bird watching, moonlit walks, docent-led tours, special members-only events, and more. New this season is a Summer Solstice Celebration on June 22 and new classes for students in grades 7-12. A daily 2pm tour introduces various aspects of Storm King’s collection, and hands-on programs for children and families are offered every Sunday at 1pm. If you want to be one with the Art Park environment, take part in outdoor yoga among Storm King’s sculptures on Saturday mornings from June through September. Also, experience Saturday Beekeeper Tours of Peter Coffin’s Untitled (Bees Making Honey) (2012), which is both inspirational and educational. All ages are welcome and all programs are free with admission unless otherwise noted. Visit the website to see a calendar of events. Visit www.stormking.org for a calendar of events
Picnicking and café meals:
Storm King Café, open daily from 11:30am-4pm, offers a selection of fresh salads, sandwiches, snacks, and seasonal specials made from organic, locally sourced food; drinks to enjoy al fresco; and items appropriate for younger visitors. The Café is located in the Art Center’s outdoor pavilion. The Café also offers box lunches for those who wish to picnic in designated areas of the Art Center grounds. Groups who wish to purchase box lunches must preorder them when they register for their visit.
Fun and optional ways to visit and view:
If meandering through the entire park without much strolling sounds appealing to you, then you may want to opt for the gardens' tram, which runs every 30 minutes. And this season, the Art Park is debuting their first electric/solar tram. The park also offers bike rentals for those wishing to tour the grounds in an especially active manner— a great way to experience the art and landscape. Visitors may rent adult bicycles on a first-come, first-serve basis. On weekdays, bike rentals are $8 per hour with a two-hour minimum ($32 for the day), and on weekends, rentals are $10 per hour with a two-hour minimum ($40 for the day). Bicycles come with a special bicycle map that shows routes that crisscross and circumnavigate Storm King’s landscape, highlighting sculptures on view. Helmets are provided with the bicycles, and their use is mandatory. Child seats and children’s bikes are not currently available, and visitors are not permitted to bring personal bicycles. The park is handicap-friendly with accessible trams, an elevator from the parking area to the top of Museum Hill, and paved roads around the property.
The stewardship of the lands around the Storm King Art Center:
When standing under the five columns on Museum Hill, one is presented with a view of hundreds of acres of fields and wooded slopes—the backdrop to the Storm King’s art and personal landscape. Since its inception, the Art Center has been proactive in stewarding and protecting its land and surroundings. A key step in this process was the 1960s acquisition by Star Expansion Company and the subsequent 1985 donation to Storm King of 2,300-acres on the east side of Schunnemunk Mountain. With the assistance of the Open Space Institute, this part of Storm King's has since become Schunnemunk Mountain State Park.
In 2012, through a generous gift of more than 20 acres of unimproved land, a local family assured the protection of viewshed land that frames the Calder hillside. Working with local partners, Storm King is also assisting in the preservation of more than 150 acres of nearby land known as Houghton Farm, where Winslow Homer once painted. The site forms part of a planned nature corridor, and its preservation will help to protect the Moodna Creek Watershed. Generous supporters and members of the local community continue to help Storm King protect its site and its views and, in turn, have helped to conserve the Art Center's surroundings for residents, visitors, and future generations.
Storm King’s 2013 season runs from April 3 through December 1. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10am-5:30pm (grounds open until 8pm on Saturdays through Labor Day weekend; until 5pm in November). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, except for the holiday Mondays of Labor, Columbus and Veterans Days. 1 Museum Road, New Windsor; 845-534-3115; stormking.org
Other Sculpture Parks To Tour:
Anthony Krauss Outdoor Sculpture Park and Gallery, Woodstock:
Krauss’ mostly pyramidal- or triangular-shaped mirrored and chrome sculptures are inspired by a tour he took of the pyramids in Egypt. His three-dimensional sculptures offer magical imagery morphing with every angle they’re viewed from and at—and the ever-changing directional light of day keeps the sculptures alive with reflective brilliance. In addition to his personal outdoor sculpture park and indoor gallery in Woodstock, which includes two dozen of his highly acclaimed works, you can see Krauss’ sculptures all over the world. His largest piece, Overview, is a mural-like wall of the atrium at Miyagi University in Sendai, Japan that is 18-feet high, 50-feet wide and 36-inches deep and luckily survived the country’s tsunami in 2011. His sculptures are also in Taipei, China, Taiwan, Italy, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. In New York City, one graces the front of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank (handpicked by David Rockefeller), the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer building, and the Whitney Museum. Closer to home in Ulster County, Folded Pyramid, which has been on loan since Kinston’s bicentennial celebration, reflects light in front of the Ulster County Office Building. In addition, many local galleries and municipal and educational facilities have Krauss’ creations enhancing their establishments. Visit the sculpture garden at 41 Lower Byrdcliffe Road, Woodstock. To make an appointment to see his private garden and interior gallery, call 845-679-6360; free but donations are gratefully accepted for park upkeep.
Bradford Graves Sculpture Park, Kerhonkson:
This private dedication park happens to be the second largest display of outdoor sculpture in Ulster County. Set up by his wife as a tribute, this park showcases Graves’ art, which combines the diversity of ancient with modern; raw with sophistication; and solidity with luminosity. The park features more than 200 of Graves’ mostly limestone works that emit his unyielding fascination with archeology and all things of the earth. The outdoor pieces of the Mirror Pavilion display include 15 of Graves’ sculptures from a series called This Mirror Can Crack a Stone. Smaller sculptures and those in bronze are displayed in a separate gallery. This inspirational and reflective park is on five acres, providing visitors a serene and leisurely experience and featuring an unusual “please touch” family-friendly welcoming. Visits can be arranged on an appointment-only basis, and a suggested donation of $5 is greatly appreciated. Call 845-230-0521 or send an email to email@example.com. For more information, call Park Director Verna Gillis at 845-626-4038; Bradfordgravessculpturepark.com
Opus 40 Sculpture Park and Museum, Saugerties:
Harvey Fite, an internationally acclaimed sculptor in wood and stone, bought an abandoned bluestone quarry in Saugerties during the 30s. Over the course of 40 years, he created an outdoor sculpture park showcasing his large, carved stone sculptures against the majestic backdrop of Overlook Mountain, which is actually the origin of the park’s name. Fite was recognized as a pioneer in the contemporary “Earthworks Movement,” which consists of earthworks, earth art, or environmental sculpture, and is honored by the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. Along with his incredible stone sculptures, one can view his breathtaking large wood sculptures, such as Modern Dance #1 and Modern Dance #2, and other carvings in the Opus 40 Art Gallery and the Quarryman’s Museum. In 2000, Opus 40 was recognized for Fite’s significant achievement and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 50 Fite Road, Saugerties; 845-246-3400; opus40.org
Omi International Arts Center, Ghent:
Situated on 300 acres of rolling farmland with spectacular views of the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley, The Fields Sculpture Park is a public exhibition space featuring over 80 contemporary sculptures. Open year-round, the park provides thousands of visitors the opportunity to experience the impact of important, international contemporary sculpture in a striking, natural setting. The Charles B. Benenson Visitors Center, which is the gateway welcoming visitors to The Fields Sculpture Park, also provides an indoor gallery and a café for exhibitions and events. The outdoor park is open dawn to dusk year-round. The Charles B. Benenson Visitors Center and Gallery is open 11am-5pm on Thursday-Monday from April to October and Thursday-Monday 11am-4pm from November to March. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday & major holidays. 1405 County Route 22, Ghent; 518-392-4747; artomi.org
Unison Arts Center, New Paltz:
The Unison Arts Center Sculpture Garden opened in 1999 and is an ever-ending rotation of many sculptures, with several forming a permanent collection. A large Torii gate built by Michael Friedman marks the entrance to the garden. A smaller gate marks the entry from one field to another. The Labyrinth, one of the constants of the exhibit, serves as a platform for sculpture and as a meditation aid. There’s a diverse range of materials used in the display of sculptural artistry, and the sizes range from smaller installations to huge sculptures. Unison is a not-for-profit organization that also has performances, group shows, community events, workshops, and classes, with a main goal to enrich the cultural lives of the community. 68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz; open 10am-5pm Mon-Fri; 845-255-1559; unisonarts.org