Art meets nature in Mountainville

Located just two hours away from Yale in Mountainville, New York sits Storm King Art Center—500 acres of lawns, fields, woodlands and ponds dedicated to exploring the relationship between art and nature. The varied landscape—at times manicured and tidy and at others unbridled—is dotted with immense sculptures and works of art.

The center was founded in 1960 with the intention of exhibiting Hudson Valley painters. But after visiting a marble quarry site, co-founder Ralph Ogden became especially interested in sculpture. The center soon purchased a collection of works from American sculpture David Smith and the rest, as they say, is history.

Some of the Center’s highlights include a serpentine stone wall by nature artist Andy Goldsworthy that meanders down the side of a hill and into a lake, only to reappear and continue its journey on the opposite bank. One of Yale’s favorite sculptors, Richard Serra (he created the work “Stacks” for the Yale University Art Gallery in 1990), has a piece installed at the center—a sculpture composed of four immense steel planes that seem to emerge from the side of a hill.

The entire piece takes up ten acres, although it is impossible to tell the exact size of each steel plate from above ground. There are ten sculptures from post-war American artist Mike di Suvero, including his iconic “Mother Peace,” a bright orange, angular sculpture that stands at nearly 50 feet tall.

Perhaps the work that best exemplifies the blurring of nature of art is Maya Lin’s (of the Woman’s Table and the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.) “Storm King Wavefield.” Inspired by wave formations in nature, the piece consists of a series of hills cut into a large field. Each “wave” is over 300 feet long and between 10 and 15 feet tall. Visitors are welcome to walk on, among, or around the waves and experience the fluctuation between movement and stillness that the piece evokes.

Storm King will open on April 1 for the 2010 season. Admission for college students is only $8. Road trip anyone?

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