This post is about an all-day excursion on Thursday, November 5th up through the Hudson Highlands where the MWC will do some serious leaf-peeping and make somewhat brief visits to both the STORM KING ART CENTER (weather permitting) and DIA: BEACON. The day will conclude with a buffet lunch and farm tour at Blue Hill’s (yes, that Blue Hill) STONE BARNS FOOD and AGRICULTURE CENTER. Transportation will be via bus; capacity will be limited.
THE MWC’s HUDSON HIGHLANDS FLING: Ah, the magnificent Hudson Highlands, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Who can believe that so close to NYC’s razzle-dazzle buzz and density there is a region which is wide open, lush and expansive and overwhelming in its beauty? -A huge, historic area with its great revived waterway, inspiring views and which also hosts multiple cultural centers and has been the cradle of the farm-to-table food movement? Although the Hudson Highlands is too vast to divine in merely one day, we CAN get a feel for its glories (at least enough to plan return visits) by visiting some of its most beautiful areas and sampling a few of its most renowned sites. If we are very, very fortunate there should still be radiant Fall colors as a backdrop to a great day.
After heading up the western shore of the Hudson, the MWC’s first stop will be at the STORM KING ART CENTER. The Storm King Art Center is named after Storm King Mountain, which looms over the area. Although first conceptualized in the late 1950’s as a museum for Hudson River School paintings, by 1961 its founders had become smitten with modern sculpture and its initial acquisitions were sited to be part of a formal garden. However, as time went on and more sculptures were added they became site-specific – meaning their specific locations in the landscape were based on their immediate surroundings (which were sometimes adapted for the work) and site lines.
Now known for “monumental” (as in really, really BIG) works and celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, its permanent collection includes works by Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Henry Moore, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Alice Aycock. Maya Lin (creator of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in DC) is represented with the Storm King Wavefield which consists of seven long rows of undulating land forms. But, honestly, Storm King is just as much about the landscape as it is the art – which is, after all, the point. It would be easy to spend an entire day at Storm King visiting each of its four areas. Our visit will be brief – just enough to whet your taste for this unique combination of land mass and art forms and make you want to plan a return visit.
The MWC-Express will then head over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to get us to the Eastern side of the Hudson to pop in to see DIA: BEACON. In Greek, “dia” means “through” – and in this context suggests that it is through the support of the Dia Art Foundation that many artists are able to be supported and have their work seen. The Dia Art Foundation was founded with the express purpose of supporting projects “whose nature or scale would preclude other funding sources.” With this in mind, the Foundation leased or purchased sites in multiple locations – not only in Beacon but also in Chelsea (well before the Highline); in Bridgehampton, NY; Puerto Rico; the Great Salt Lake, Utah; Kassel, Germany and in New Mexico. Some sites are for individual works.
It’s not quite clear how or why the Dia Foundation found the Nabisco box-printing Factory in Beacon, NY – but it is great that they did. Prior to 2000, Beacon was living through a generations-old, post-industrial slump. Historically, a wide variety of products were made there – and the town attracted a diverse working population – but starting in the late 1960’s manufacturing often moved to non-union, low-wage Southern states or to other countries. By the 1990’s, almost 80 percent of Beacon’s commercial and industrial spaces were empty. With its opening in 2003, Dia: Beacon catalyzed a commercial and artistic rebirth and the city is now a lively arts-oriented location which attracts creatives looking for space, tourists and commercial development. Working closely with artist Robert Irwin, Dia devised a masterplan to create a twenty-first century museum building that retained the original character of the industrial building which became both a New York State and national landmark.
Dia’s history is to present single-artist, site-related presentations and at Dia: Beacon there are galleries devoted to Dan Flavin, Joseph Beuy, Richard Serra and Michael Helzer. In keeping with Dia’s history of single-artist, site-related presentations, each gallery was designed specifically for the presentation of one artist’s work. Examples include Dan Flavin’s series of fluorescent light “monuments to V. Tatlin”; Joseph Beuys’ mixed-media installations such as Fond III/3 (1979) and Fond IV/4 (1979); Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses (2007); and Michael Heizer’s North, East, South, West (1967/2002). These works are augmented by additional pieces from Dia’s collection of art from the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Dia: Beacon is a great companion site to Storm King !
The last stop in the MWC’s magical mystery tour of the Hudson Highlands is none other than at the STONE BARNS CENTER for FOOD and AGRICULTURE, which is a non-profit farm and educational center with partner restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It is truly the epicenter of the farm-to-table movement on the East Coast. The entire Stone Barns operation – the farm, the restaurant and all of their educational programs – are aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture, local food and community-supported agriculture. When we arrive we will have a buffet lunch – using items from the farm – prior to our private tour of the farm itself.
The Stone Barns were originally part of the Rockefeller estate in nearby Pocantico Hills and the barns themselves were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller to be a dairy farm. By the 1950’s the barns were no longer used and the dairy farm had stopped operating. However, in the 1970’s agricultural activity resumed when David Rockefeller’s (son of John D.) wife Peggy started to breed cattle. The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture was created by David Rockefeller and his daughter as a memorial to Peggy Rockefeller who died in 1996. Stone Barns opened to the public in 2004.
Most “foodies” associate Stone Barns at Blue Hill with its executive chef and co-owner, Dan Barber, who is a passionate spokesperson and advocate for ecological and sustainable farm systems – and his belief that they produce the best-tasting food! He is widely published (NYTimes, Food &Wine, The New Yorker, The Nation) about a wide range of topics relating to the impact of individual food choices on both health and agricultural sustainability. An easy way to familiarize yourself with Mr. Barber and the work being done at the Stone Barns is to see the segment devoted to him on Netflix’s Chef’s Table series.
At that point we will head back to Manhattan and have a relaxing cocktail hour. It’s going to be a wonderful day, all-day !
Details: Transportation will be via bus. Meet-up time will be at 8:15am with a sharp departure at 8:30am. The bus will leave Stone Barns at 4:30pm with an expected arrival back in Manhattan (depending on traffic) sometime between 5:30-6pm. If the weather is extremely inclement (pouring rain) the visit to Storm King may be cancelled. The cost for the day will be $185. and will include transportation to and from Manhattan and to all of the sites, admission fees, lunch and cocktail hour wine and nibbles for the return trip. Wine with lunch and driver gratuities are NOT included. Capacity will be limited. Members, go to the Reservations/ Payment section of the Members site to sign up.