Art in Them There Hills: Storm King Art Center

Mirror Fence, Alyson Shotz (2003)

April 25, 2015—“Storm King” might be one of the strongest phrases in the English language. I love it. Even if the hump of New York rock dubbed so doesn’t quite live up to the name. Storm King mountain is in the Hudson Valley, on the west bank of the river. And the best thing about having a mountain with a cool name in your neighborhood is that a lot of things get named after it—parks, schools, businesses, roads, and what brought me under its shadow: Storm King Art Center.

Actually, I was there for one piece of art in particular, but I found Storm King Art Center to be such an awesome place that I decided it deserves way more than being a mere set-up to something else. So I’ve separated this post into two, one on the art center and one on the artwork I was originally there to see. Plus that also gives me even more opportunities to type, “Storm King.”

Endless Columns, Tal Streeter (1968)

The art center is located in New Windsor, New York (unfortunately, the mountain didn’t bestow its name to the town), about 60 miles above Manhattan. The outdoor sculpture park began in 1960 and eventually swelled to 500 acres of colossal sculpture.

I love outdoor sculpture parks. Even when I’m underwhelmed by the art, I love the mysterious feeling of encountering it in the wild, like it was put there by some ancient civilization or deep-woods hermit or alien prankster. It just beats a bare white room full of well-dressed people.

Suspended, Menashe Kadishman (1977)

And Storm King takes it to extremes. I mean, 500 acres, man. With some 100 sculptures carefully spaced therein. You can see massive works on hillsides far in the distance. You can stroll through copses of trees to find magic therein. The landscape is varied, and invariably dotted by sculpture. You can stroll, hike, or take the shuttle, depending on your mood and tolerance for shin splints. Just resign yourself to not seeing everything in one day, not if you do it right.

Three Legged Buddha, Zhang Huan (2007)

I don’t know if all of it is good art, but every bit of it looks great backed by a countryside. Sure, some of the sculptures are the vague conglomeration of metal beams and shapes that’s often defaulted to with large installations, but Storm King has some serious Instagram-worthy finds. I’ve thrown in photos of some of my favorite pieces. But if you want to see my top favorite, you’re going to have to see my post on Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall.

Mirror Fence, Alyson Shotz (2003)

The other thing about Storm King is that while the art mostly stays the same (some of these installations have been there for half a century), it’s still transformed every few months thanks to the seasons and the weather. We were there in early April, when spring was still struggling to assert itself and the chill still clung to mostly bare branches. I’d love to see this place in the fall and winter. Summer can screw.

I mean, big art and big nature. Throw in some cheese puffs and Nick Drake songs and that’s all you need out of life.

The Arch, Alexander Calder (1975)

Free Ride Home, Kenneth Snelson (1974)

Foci, Chakaia Booker (2010)

City on the High Mountain, Louise Nevelson (1983)
Mermaid, Roy Lichenstein (1994)

Luba, Ursula von Rydingsvard (2010)

Frog Legs, Mark Di Suvero (2002)
Storm King Wavefield, Maya Lin (2007-2008)

UPDATE (7/5/215): On a recent return to Storm King, we discovered some brand new and fantastically weird pieces that I couldn't resist posting. Note that the Lynda Benglis fountains are temporary installations expiring in November.

North South East West, Lynda Benglis (1988/2009/2014-2015)

Crescendo, Lynda Benglis (1983-84/2014-15)

Aphrodite, Saul Baizerman (1940-48)

Bounty, Amber Waves, and Fruited Plane, Lynda Benglis (2014)