I never even realized that I liked sculpture gardens all that much– until I visited Storm King Arts Center. My parents wanted to take my grandmother somewhere interesting, since she’d come all the way from Japan and had, for the past few days, only been to the grocery store. My dad in particular, who speaks no Japanese, wanted to do something that everyone could appreciate equally, since the language barrier is most problematic for him. So this past Sunday, my parents, my grandmother and I packed into the car and headed to Mountainville, NY.
After pulling into the parking lot, we piled out and looked around. Storm King is enormous—wide and grassy, with a pond on the south side and incredible views of the Hudson Highlands, with sculptures of every kind scattered throughout its approximately 500 acres. We had no idea where to start, so we asked one of the Arts Center employees with a helpful and appropriate “Ask Me” button. She told us about the tram that drives around the park from designated stations; we decided that would be the best way to experience the park, particularly for my grandmother. The tram is a perfect way to get an overview of the park, especially for those who have never been, like us. For visitors who’d rather walk, there are plenty of trails, and a station to rent bicycles. There are also tours available, but visitors are encouraged to explore on their own, at their own pace.
It honestly left me in awe. I had no idea I would enjoy it that much; I’m the type of person who goes to art museums about once or twice a year and loves the experience, but doesn’t actually visit any more frequently. But Storm King is basically a giant, widespread, colorful and gorgeous playground, and anyone who is even slightly interested in sculpture or just likes being outdoors would love this place.
From the tram, we passed many of the major sculptures, from Mozart’s Birthday, by Mark di Suvero, which looks slightly like an unwound elephant, to Darrell Petit’s Kiss, in which two giant pieces of granite incline quietly towards each other and touch. There were sculptures that moved, such as George Cutts’s Sea Change, which is unimpressive in photos but looks remarkably like ocean currents when in motion. Other amazing works include Maya Lin’s Storm King Wavefield, a work of environmental art that sculpts the landscape itself to look like waves (Maya Lin also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), and Lichtenstein’s Mermaid, the racing boat painted in 1995.
After doing the basic tour by tram, my parents and grandmother headed to the Visitor’s Center and Museum while I went back to my favorite sculptures by foot. They are absolutely incredible in person, unbelievably enormous and unique against the landscape. I wanted to pitch a tent and stay for a week.
Storm King Arts Center is a bit of a trek and it costs to get in ($8 for students, $12 for adults), but it is absolutely, 100% worth it. My family came in the late afternoon, but there are plenty of places to picnic; next time I think we’ll pack some sandwiches and make a day of it. I don’t think we’ll be bored for a minute.
(Image credit: Ana DiCroce)
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