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Ogle Larger-Than-Life Art at Sculpture Parks in the Hudson Valley

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MON PÈRE, MON PÈRE, 1973–75 STEEL 35′ X 40′ X 40’ 4″ GIFT OF THE RALPH E. OGDEN FOUNDATION © MARK DI SUVERO, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SPACETIME C.C. / Storm King Art Center

Pack your camera and slip on comfortable walking shoes to explore outdoor art at these picturesque al fresco sculpture centers along the Hudson River.

By Rosemary Fernandez and Sabrina Sucato

As far as art forms go, carving in stone was not one of the more popular mediums at the end of the 20th century; but that never stopped Bradford Graves. Now, Valley residents can spend the day outdoors exploring his mostly limestone works at the Bradford Graves Sculpture Park in Kerhonkson.

Originally from Texas, Graves moved to New York when he was 19, “thinking he was going to be a painter and soon discovered that he was a sculptor,” says his widow, Verna Gillis. “He was deeply influenced by geological references and the physical aspects of land. His favorite place in the whole world was the Southwest because of the extraordinary stone formations there. I consider him to be a very American sculptor, but he was also drawn to what he considered stone cultures where stones figured prominently, for example in Japan or the U.K.”

To honor her husband of 34 years (Graves died in 1998 at age 58), Gillis moved most of his works from his studio to their six-acre Kerhonkson property and arranged them so that visitors can have “intimate and direct contact with the work,” she says. The park opened in 2010.

Bradford Graves Sculpture Park

28 Doggums Way, Kerhonkson
Open by appointment

The park is family-friendly and free to guests, although visits are by appointment only. Some of the sculptures are also for sale. Gillis says that the response has been very positive. “Very often people will send us photographs of themselves in front of the sculptures,” she says. And — with a nod to Opus 40, which is 30 or so miles up the road — “Ulster County has two significant sculpture parks.”

Art OMI

ART OMI. Photo by Aislinn Weidele

Art Omi

1405 Rte 22, Ghent
Open daily from dawn to dusk

From its home in Ghent, Art Omi seeks to introduce creativity into the lives of the Hudson Valley community. The 120-acre sculpture park attracts an international roster of artists to display on the grounds, take up residencies, and participate in local programming. To date, the site has hosted more than 2,000 artists from over 100 countries to promote diversity of style, voice, and viewpoint. At the architecture and sculpture park, visitors can traverse the grounds to take in more than 60 works of art from a collection that varies every year.

Brunel Sculpture Garden

Junction of Route 28 & DeSilva Road, Boiceville
Open daily from 1–5 p.m.

Located in Boiceville, the Brunel Sculpture Garden houses more than a dozen statues, sculptures, and even totem poles constructed by artist Emile Brunele, the founder of the New York Institute of Photography.

Circle Museum

10985 Route 22, Austerlitz
Open year-round by appointment

In Austerlitz, the Circle Museum is a rain-or-shine destination in the Hudson Valley. Head here to browse and assortment of sculptures in a beautifully forested area near the western edge of the Berkshires.

Creekside Sculpture Trail at Garner Arts Center

55 W. Railroad Avenue, Garnerville
Open daily from dawn to dusk

As the only permanent outdoor installation of artist Ted Ludwiczak’s work in the United States, the Creekside Sculpture Trail is a must-visit in Rockland County.

Fabulous Furniture

3930 Rte 28, Boiceville

Although it’s not exactly a sculpture garden, Fabulous Furniture is worthy of a mention on this list. A Boiceville secret, the shop is the brainchild of artist Steve Heller, who began the business in 1973 after working with wood since childhood.  The store and the grounds are a hub for quirky, wonderful pieces that run the gamut from “defect” tree stumps turned unforgettable end tables, sky-high metallic spaceships, and souped up retro rides. If ever there was a place that brings truth to the notion that “one man’s trash is another’s treasure,” this is it.

Kykuit, The Rockefeller Estate

381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow

COVID-19 update: Currently closed to the public

Not just a sculpture garden, Kykuit is the historic home of four generations of Rockefellers. Nowadays, the Westchester County gem is a beloved landmark within the Hudson Valley. Locals can wander through the residence and art galleries, then head outdoors to the gardens, which house a number of eye-catching sculptures that harmonize with Kykuit’s breathtaking interior.

Opus 40

Photo by Lisa Ven Vertloh

Opus 40

356 George Sickle Road, Saugerties
Open weekends 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m., check website for additional days as summer gets closer.

For more than 40 years, Opus 40 has showcased the harmony between art and nature in the Hudson Valley. Set just outside of central Saugerties, the artistic venue’s claim to fame is a 6.5-acre sculpture with a number of unique features, including 16 feet of subterranean pathways and a nine-ton monolith at the summit. Visitors are free to traverse the three stories up to the top, then take in the incredible view of Overlook Mountain when they reach the peak. Also on the grounds, the Quarrying Museum, Fite Gallery, and hiking trails offer all-day entertainment.

Pacem in Terris

96 Covered Bridge Rd, Warwick
Open weekends 11 a.m.–6 p.m., May through September

The former home of internationally acclaimed artist Frederick Franck, Pacem in Terris is a trans-religious oasis located across the river from the Hudson Valleyite’s Warwick abode. Once a time-ravaged watermill, the space and grounds play host to sculptures that integrate beautifully into the greenery that surrounds them.

Seligmann Center for the Arts

23 White Oak Dr, Sugar Loaf
Call before visiting for a guided tour

Anyone planning a day trip to Storm King should stick around Orange County for a detour to the Seligmann Center. Set in Sugar Loaf, the venue is the former home of Kurt and Arlette Seligmann, an artistic couple who often welcomed names like Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Alexander Calder to their abode. While the Center is an attraction itself, with four galleries and performance spaces, the sculpture trail outside is a must for art lovers in the Hudson Valley.

Mother Peace Sculpture by Mark Di Suvero; Photo by Angela Pham/BFA.com

Storm King Art Center

1 Museum Rd, New Windsor
Re-opening May 21

Arguably the most famous of all the Hudson Valley’s sculpture parks, Storm King Art Center attracts top artistic talent to the region. Set on an expansive 500 acres, the outdoor museum has operated since 1960 and houses dozens of larger-than-life works. In addition to its permanent collection, the Orange County hotspot welcomes rotating selections from visiting artists. If you visit, don’t forget to wear your walking shoes to trek it from one sculpture to the next.

Courtesy of Storm King

Taconic Sculpture Park & Gallery

221 Stever Hill Road, Chatham
Open weekends 10 a.m.–5 p.m., May through October

Unlike other sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley, the Taconic Sculpture Park remains something of a secret. Even for locals, the Columbia County grounds are unheard of or under-the-radar. The park sits far above the highway, creating a slightly mysterious, otherworldly ambiance for passersby. On the grounds, which are open seasonally on weekends or by appointment, visitors can take in the incredible works by artist Roy Kanwit, a talented sculptor whose pieces embrace the mythical. Although the park is out of the way, it’s a worthwhile destination for weekend visits and meditative escapes.

Courtesy of Taconic Sculpture Park

Unison Arts and Learning Center

Photo by Tal Beery

68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz
Open daily from dawn to dusk

A multi-faceted arts center in New Paltz, Unison delights with outdoor exhibits by a host of artists. It’s the perfect interlude between lunch and shopping in town.

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