art lovers, summer can present a conundrum. You finally
snag some vacation time to wander the galleries of the area’s
trove of museums, but the sun and fresh summer air are beckoning
you outside. Well, there’s no need to compromise your hunger
for art for your hunger for picnics. Summer is the perfect
time to explore the outdoor art of sculpture gardens, of
which the region boasts an impressive array.
Down south, the Storm King Arts Center (Old Pleasant Hill
Road in Mountainville) celebrates its 50th year this summer,
and over those five decades it has built an international
reputation as one of the premier sculpture gardens in the
world. Its 500 acres of flowing grounds are punctuated by
an impressive collection of contemporary works, including
site-specific landscape works by Maya Lin and Andy Goldsworthy.
You can picnic on the grounds, kids younger than five get
in free, and the most admission will cost you is $12.
In Saugerties, Opus 40 50 (50 Fite Road) is
not a park full of sculptures, but a sculpture that is a
park in itself. The fitted stonework sculpture is an expanse
of ramps and terraces, pools and fountains constructed in
the rockbed of an abandoned bluestone quarry. It spreads
over six acres, and every inch of it is the work of a single
man, Harvey Fite, working alone with traditional quarry
tools over 37 years. Picnicking is permitted on the grounds,
which are open Friday through Sunday for a modest admission
For a much closer jaunt to the south, visit the Fields Sculpture
Park at Art Omi (1405 County Route 22, Ghent). Open sunrise
to sunset every day and always free to the public, the Fields
Sculpture Park presents more than 80 large-scale sculptures
on 400 acres of farmland. The viewing path wends along a
natural pond and the landscape eases from woodlands to wetlands
and can be explored in as little as an hour.
Not even 15 minutes from Fields, a giant head looms above
the Taconic Parkway, marking the site of the Taconic Sculpture
Park (Stever Hill Road, Spencertown), where owner, resident
and artist Ron Kanwit has been creating huge, figurative
sculptures on his land for more than 25 years. You can explore
his property and his work free of charge on the weekends,
but he recommends calling ahead (392-5757) if you’re making
a special trip.
Apparently sculpture gardens run in the neighborhood, because
about five minutes from Taconic you’ll find the Circle Museum
on Route 22 in Austerlitz, where artist Bijan Mahmoodi has
created more than 100 large-scale fabricated-metal and cast-bronze
sculptures that create an eclectic, junkyard gallery on
If you’re heading up north, the folks at Salem Art Works
offer their grounds free to the public every day until dusk.
In addition to extensive programming ranging from blacksmithing
workshops to folk music, their campus is a former dairy
farm nestled between the Green and Adirondack mountains
and dotted with sculptures.
So pack a picnic and step out of the gallery halls to explore
a different kind of landscape.
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