Rediscovering Outdoor Arts at Kaatsbaan and Byrdcliffe
The only good thing to come out of the Pandemic is the rediscovery of the outdoors as a vast art venue. With museums and art galleries shut down for much of the ‘21-’22 season arts organizations began to explore their surroundings for installation opportunities. In short order, sculpture became the main way art audiences could safely experience visual art. Sculpture has become a bridge for contemporary art from the pandemic closures to a new flourishing presence in public life.
Kaatsbaan Cultural Park | Tivoli NY
One example of this can be found at Kaatsbaan Cultural Center in Tivoli, NY. Long renowned for its important dance residency program, Kaatsbaan placed itself under strict quarantine to protect the visiting artists. In order for the dancers to have a safe place to work, performances during the Kaatsbaan Summer and Fall seasons moved outdoors. With the inauguration of the outdoor seasonal festivals featuring al fresco dance, dining and music, curator Hilary Greene envisioned an accompanying outdoor art installation interspersed among the 153 acres of property and present the best contemporary sculpture in the Hudson Valley.
Now in its second year, the 2022 Kaatsbaan Cultural Park hosts the work of twelve artists who live and work in the Hudson Valley: Emil Alzamora, Stuart Farmery, Tristan Fitch, Jared Handelsman, Kenichi Hiratsuka, Lowell Miller, Portia Munson, Shelley Parriott, Eileen M. Power, Gregory Steel, Christina Tenaglia, and Millicent Young.
Ms.Greene’s curation is a survey of contemporary Hudson Valley sculpture ranging from Christina Tenaglia’s dimension-bending frame that redefines the vista to Lowell Miller’s neolithic bronze goddess emerging from the evergreens, from the poetry of Millicent Young’s glass house to the twirling bronzes of Emil Alzamora. Gregory Steel’s I-Beam balancing act counters the colorful Grecian columns of Shelley Parriott, while Jared Handelsman’s stoically wrapped stones weigh against the striding geometric forms of Tristan Fitch and the jaunty ladders of Eileen M. Power. From Stuart Farmery’s whimsically vibrant sculptures to the powerful, hand-hewn stones of Ken Hiratsuka – the range in vocabulary and vision make this year’s installation fresh and invigorating. Last but not least, no festival is complete without a kaleidoscopic botanical silk banner by Portia Munson and for the second year, her concentric summer flowers serve as an emblem for the summer season sculpture exhibition. Along with this outdoor exhibition, Kaatsbaan presents an indoor sculpture exhibit In the Silence Between by Millicent Young in the new Studio Building Gallery.
On Saturday, August 6, Kaatsbaan will host a reception for the artists and an artist walk and talk from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.
After this event, appointments will be needed for public viewing available here: Cultural Park Art Visit
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Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s White Pines Estate | Woodstock NY
Across the river, in the mountains overlooking Woodstock, NY, is the White Pines Property that is part of the venerated Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. Exhibition organizer, Melinda Stickney-Gibson, envisioned an installation that works intimately with the outdoors. The theme “Shelter” gave 18 contemporary upstate artists a touchstone to create artworks not just specific to the environment but also offering a haven to the viewer as well as some respite for the pandemic weary.
Greeted upon arrival by an assertive artwork standing on guard by Tristan Fitch, Christina Tenaglia’s shingled and sided triangular form stands quietly behind presenting the idea of a building. On the right, is a cast fragment from some future time by Dan Devine sitting near a frosted glass pane installation by Suzy Sureck that illuminates a root-like form at night. To the left, Jared Handelsman’s copper-wrapped stones glint on the stone garden wall and Stuart Farmery’s lazy wooden abstract skeleton lounges on the front lawn. A beehouse by Hudson Valley Bee Habitat anchors the stone patio while neon asemic phrases by Ericka Vries light up the windows of the early 20th-century historic craftsman-style estate. Eileen M. Power has installed a yellow ladder surrounding a lone red satin dress while tucked away in the forest, Wendy Klemperer crafted a nest for some enormous imaginary bird from a tangle of rebar. Julian Luca Rose’s horizontal wood piece is home to the multicolored fabricated fungus that flows down its edge and Mimi Graminski stenciled delicate lace patterns on the hewn trunks of trees. Alison Mc Nulty positioned a hollow tree trunk vertically on a foundation of river stone creating a silent forest sentinel before giving way to Jan Harrison and Alan Baer’s floating white porcelain sea creatures suspended from the overarching trees.
Eco-artist Ian Laughlin has built a 24-hour/365-day installation with a trail camera trained high up a tree where the artist has built an owl habitat. So far, no owls but many squirrels, so owls may not be far behind! You can view images from the owl cam
And there’s the slowly shifting performance bonfire of Michael Asbill and Michael Fortenberry tucked in an excavated corner of the property– an archaeological reclamation combined with the alchemical transformation of burning matter to ash.
The White Pines Estate is accessible daily with printed maps and QR codes on the property showcasing the location of the artworks available on-site.
More info: Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition at Byrdcliffe’s Historic White Pines | See more sculptures here!
Other Venues for Enjoying Outdoor Sculpture in the Hudson Valley