Autumn is my favorite time of year to take pictures because everything that's normally dark and dull miraculously turns bright and golden. All the trees have changed its colors and you'll find endless foliage layered on the ground as it gives the illusion of a prolonged "golden hour" of light. A limited window you only get minutes before a sunset. With 500 acres of foliage, undulating hills and giant sculptures Storm King was the perfect place to take advantage of this lovely autumn transformation.
Storm King was originally founded by Ralph Odgen in the sixties for the Museum for Hudson River School paintings which is the current museum on the grounds today. In 1962 what is presently known as Storm King Art Center was once only a one hundred eighty acre estate of Odgen's after he had retired from his family business "Star Expansion Company " a large metal manufacturing company in rural Mountainville New York. Odgen's collection started off with a couple small sculptures he had acquired from Europe and very soon after he opened his grounds to the public an increasing number of sculptures were added to the art center which is part of the permanent collection on display today.
My trip to Storm King Art Center was at the latter part of the season for visitation when the park closes for the year at the end of November. After planning this trip for a couple months now I knew I wanted to visit at this time to avoid the peak hours of crowds and also to avoid the heat we had experienced at the end of summer ( there's not too much shade on the grounds when encountering the summer sun ). The park itself was about a one and a half hours drive from NJ; a bit south from DIA: Beacon and just immediately North of Woodbury Commons ( did you know they have a shake shack there now? and YES I did eat there afterwards). We opted not to take the bike tour so traveling on foot was our only option. Oh by the way did I mention it was 500 acres? Yes, comfortable clothing and sneakers is very much recommended however there were the occasional visitors who felt the need to dress to impress. The grounds can get a bit windy as well being that it's a massive open space free of tall trees so layer up too!
I wish I didn't have my camera strapped around me at times so I could jump, run and climb ( I know no climbing allowed but I did it anyways ) on the sculptures but then we wouldn't have any pictures to look at would we? Navigating the sculpture grounds can be a bit confusing since it's size is so massive. We parked at the North Lot near the outdoor cafe and started our hike clockwise around the site from there ( starting at the Liberman Adonai ending at the Maya Lin Wave Field). We kept looking back at the site map making sure we didn't miss any sculptures but ended up just running towards anything that appealed to us which seemed to lead us in a zig-zag path across the grounds. When looking at a sculpture in the distance from the hills your perspective on it's relative scale immediately changes. A sculpture that you've walked for about 15 minutes towards that appeared to be a tiny speck is now standing 40 feet above your head. I loved getting that glimpse of the top of a sculpture only to then realize it was indeed something very different when it's seen in its entirety.
Throughout the park I kept on hearing " is that a dog? is that a slide? is that a staircase? " Storm King is a museum first and foremost but I really can appreciate that it's so many other things to so many people. On the contrary of super abstract white wall empty white canvas galleries; Storm King can be a playground to kids and also be that idiosyncratic gallery space for those artophiles obsessing over the newest Lyna Benglis exhibition. It is what you make of it in that sense and I enjoyed wandering the site not really knowing the pieces I would see but rather to experience them un-biased and without any expectations. Two of my favorites were Maya Lin's Wave Field which consisted of seven four hundred foot long waves oscillating from ten to fifteen feet high and Kadishman'sSuspended which are corten steel geometric blocks that seem to defy gravity. As a kid or an adult you can't just visit the Wave Field without running full speed towards it trying to ride the peaks of the grass waves. You just can't. You could spend hours there laying all over the crests of the waves having the occasional picnic or a lovely nap under the warm sun. That being said I'm going to keep any exhibition sneak peeks to a minimum to avoid spoilers ( for those who actually care). I guess you'll have to go see for yourselves!
For those interested in visiting the site I would recommend to get there as soon as they open with breakfast already in your stomachs. I had a backpack with me for my camera, a bottle of water and some snacks; the cafe has some decent food but the lines are long and when you're at the opposite side of the park it's unlikely you'll want to walk back. Depending on the time of year and weather you could bring food for a nice picnic but toward the end of November it was just too cold for us to be comfortable eating outside ( and that's where shake shack came to the rescue! ) Storm King does have a tram that circles through the site every thirty minutes at particular stops ( see the map on their website ) but still it's recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes if you plan to spend the whole day there. Five hundred acres ain't a joke especially with all those hills. Also remember to bring your student ID's for those who are still eligible to take advantage of their discounted admission.