Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Visiting Storm King Art Center

"Gui (Mistletoe)"
 by Alexander Calder
The hills are alive at Storm King Art Center -- not with music, but with more than 100 sculptures sited around its grounds.  And what grounds they are. Storm King boasts more than 500 acres of rolling hills, meadows and trees woven with paths for walkers, bikers and the occasional tram.  But who wants to stay on the paths when you can get up close and personal with the sculptures? 

As Andrea and I set off to explore, I declared my intention to see every sculpture, checking each off the brochure as we encountered it.  "I like a woman with a sense of purpose," Andrea commented. But my plan quickly fell by the wayside as I realized the enormity of the task. (The lack of signage for some sculptures didn't help any.)  So instead we adopted Andrea's approach.  "It's kind of like shopping," she analogized. "We don't have to check out every rack -- just the ones we're attracted to." 

Andrea in Armajani's
"Gabezo for Two Anarchists"
And so we wandered, meandering within each area before moving on.  The North Woods was our starting point, and the initial sculpture we encountered was Siah Armajani's "Gazebo for Two Anarchists: Gabriella Antolini and Alberto Antolini."  The name plate gave some background on this work, which memorializes the imprisonment of Alberto in the early 20th century for the transportation of explosives. The wrought iron of the gazebo signifies prison bars, and the chair in which Andrea sits is a nod to the electric chair.  (The gnats were so heavy in the wooded area that subjecting Antolini to them alone would have been sufficient punishment.) 

Smith's "Primo Piano III")
Museum Hill was jam-packed with sculptures of all varieties, including a special exhibit of David Smith's white sculptures. Smith lived on what had been a fox farm in Bolton Landing, New York. He transformed the property into a "sculpture farm" as he planted his works in rows reminiscent of a crop. The medium for much of his work is bronze or rusted steel in its natural state. But he did paint some of his sculptures. When Smith died, eight white sculptures were installed on his property, presumably to be painted once he decided on the appropriate color. A debate ensued as to what should be done with the "unfinished" works.  It was ultimately decided they would be left as they were and viewed as a part of Smith's exploration of the potential of the color white. They are incredibly striking sitting atop the hillside outside Storm King's Visitor Center.

Kadisman's "Suspended"
The aptly named "Suspended" by Menashe Kadisman might have been my favorite sculpture. The engineering behind this work is mind-boggling.  I was so enamored of the floating rectangle of weathered steel that I barely took in the fact the base balances on one narrow side. Needless to say, I couldn't resist a photo in which I attempted to hold up the floating rectangle. The work is so large that my extended arms came no where near touching the sculpture. Next time I visit, I'll bring a step ladder.

Noguchi's "Momo Taro"

I loved the story behind Isamu Noguchi's "Momo Taro."  When Noguchi was invited to create a sculpture for Storm King, his concept was a sculpture devised from two split stones. But when the boulder shown here was split, it reminded Noguchi's assistants of the Japanese folk story of Momotaro. In the tale, a child emerges from a giant peach and becomes the son of an elderly couple. Noguchi immediately revised his design. The sculpture in its entirety is comprised of nine granite pieces weighing in at 40 tons. 

Showing the love
to an Easter Island Head

After three hours of exploration, we decided to call it a day. I suspect we saw 75 or so sculptures during our visit, so a return trip is definitely in order. But an outing to Storm King really isn't about checking off the sculptures you've seen. It's about enjoying time with friends and family in an idyllic setting sculpted into an incredible outdoor gallery. Just remember to bring the bug spray. 

For information about Storm King, including images of all of the works in the collection, click here

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