I was invited to go to Storm King Art Center by a good friend, and couldn’t pass up the chance to spend a day taking in the peak autumn leaves and architectural sculptures. The Storm King Art Center is located in New Windsor, NY, a few minutes south of Newburgh. Originally founded in 1960 as a museum devoted to Hudson River School art, Storm King hosts a plethora of primarily outdoor sculptures across 500 acres of land. From my visit, it seems the clientele range from beard-and-beanie college students to grandmothers wearing all black and artistic glasses, with some groups of young parents and school trips thrown in. The center offers bike rentals and a free tram that runs every half hour. Though the tram is meant to provide an option for those with limited mobility and children to see all of the grounds, it was also convenient for when lazy college students get tired and hungry and want a ride back to the parking lot.
The grounds are planted with swaths of meticulously manicured grasses and flowers, separated by groves of sun-dipped trees. Gravel pathways wove through the landscape to the sculptures dotting the hillsides. The unevenness of the grounds makes it so you can only view a few sculptures at a time, so by turning a corner or reaching the crest of a hill reveals a completely foreign view. There are over 100 sculptures and installations spread throughout the grounds, but a few stuck out to me.
The two special exhibitions, both running until November, were two of my favorite works. Lynda Benglis: Water Sources featured several fascinating fountains, made of oozy, gloppy metal and polyurethane that looked like mud creatures either huddled to gossip or poised to devour each other. My favorite was the shockingly colored Pink Ladies, inspired by the color of a kite that Benglis saw during a kite-flying festival in India. The columns of translucent pink gurgle water from tiny openings into a circular pool.
Outlooks: Luke Stettner had an intriguing outdoor piece, called a,b,moon,d. Inspired by codes, language, and the confusion of a small child between the letter “C” and a crescent moon, Stettner created the site-specific work with biochar-filled trenches. The result is an over 80-foot expanse of land that looks like crop circles burned into the meadow.
Another favorite from the permanent exhibition was Andy Goldsworthy’s Five Men, Seventeen Days, Fifteen Boulders, One Wall. The curving stone wall’s story is its title—Goldsworthy and four other stoneworkers constructed the work on Storm King’s fiftieth anniversary in 2010 with stones found on the property. The wall weaves around the boulders almost as fluidly as the nearby creek, with crimson vines creeping across the stone.
Spending the day there united my love of art with my love of nature. Part museum, part breathtaking landscape, part alien village, Storm King is a truly unique experience, especially with the amazing fall foliage. The scale of the works is something you don’t see at every museum, and it was great to expose myself to new styles of art. I especially appreciate the close connection between nature and art at Storm King because they complement each other so well both aesthetically and because they calm me psychologically. Though it is a bit far off from any real town center, that is part of the magic of the space. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend a warm autumn day than amongst trees, hills, stones, and metal creatures.
Visit Storm King Art Center’s website to learn more about visiting hours, directions, and current exhibitions.