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All Hail Storm King ORIGIN COLUMNIST | Rob Ganger Photo: Jerry L. Thompson S


torm King Arts Center in the lower Hudson Valley in New York is one of the great art treasures in the U.S. Located about an hour north of


NYC, its 500 sprawling acres of outdoor sculpture somehow flies under the radar, but is not to be missed. More than 100 world- class sculptures by masters like Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Andy Goldsworthy, Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Serra adorn a breathtaking setting, surrounded by Black Rock Forest and Schunemunk Mountain.


Storm King grew from noble yet modest intentions to create a new cultural institution in the Hudson Valley, New York, region promoting the arts and aiming to restore and ultimately preserve a damaged landscape. Founder Ted Stern started with 23 acres and a novice eye for collecting art. In 1963, Storm King jumped onto the art-world radar with a Winslow Homer exhibition that was covered in The New York Times. Current President John Stern (Ted Stern’s Grandson) told me that the


seminal moment in Storm King’s growth came in '67 when his grandfather drove up to artist David Smith’s studio in the Adirondacks after Smith had died tragically in a car accident. Seeing Smith’s large-scale sculptures with the natural backdrop of the mountains inspired him to purchase 13 pieces on the spot. Smith’s works became the core foundation of Storm King’s collection, that has grown exponentially and last year celebrated its 50th Anniversary.


“We’re most interested in sculptures that are in alignment with our mission to bring nature and sculpture into harmony,” Stern adds. Many of the works are specifically designed as part of the landscape and utilize reclaimed materials, some even from Storm King’s land. Maya Lin, one of the most influential environmental artists of our time, created Storm King Wavefield in 2008 with consultation from the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. Her pastoral, mesmerizing work comprises seven rows (each over 300


feet long) of carefully scaled, undulating green hills that appear as ocean waves. The hills were shaped from the last remaining gravel pits left over from building the New York State Thruway that was left on the land, adding only topsoil and low- impact grasses. Lin kept track of her travels to and from the site and the energy used by contractors, and even planted indigenous trees around the site to offset the projected carbon footprint by the entire production of the sculpture.


“Storm King is a unique destination where you can enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature and see spectacular art.”


“Storm King is a unique destination where you can enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature and see spectacular art,” says Stern. No two visits to Storm King are going to be the same, as the sculptures are affected by the weather, the time of day and the seasons, not to mention new acquisitions and special exhibitions and events. It’s a photographer’s dream and a fabulous way to introduce young kids to art. I felt like I was playing “18 holes of sculpture” hiking around the massive grounds. You can even rent bikes on-site to tour the arts center. If you’re anywhere near the NYC region, make the journey to Storm King and plan on spending a full day there. It’s absolutely worth the trip.


Photo: Jerry L. Thompson 38 | OriginMagazine.com


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