Storm King

It's been gorgeous in the Northeast this weekend, and so, inspired by the 75-degrees and the white puffy clouds and by Maya Lin's new "Wave Field Storm King" earthwork art, we ventured down and across the Hudson to the Storm King Art Center on Saturday. Embarrassingly, since it's halfway between our home in Manhattan and our country home, this was the first time we'd been there.

There are a lot of contemporary art shrines and minimalist shrines and earthwork shrines out there, and I've been to most of them. Storm King -- I keep thinking of Storm Cat, the aging horse who used to pull in the biggest stud fee in the country and who lives (unless he died, but I don't think he has) on a gorgeous spread in Bluegrass Country owned by the brother of a friend of mine's wife, who also live there, if I have that all straight -- is on a rolling 500-acre estate that was turned over to the State of New York 49 years ago (correction: I'm told its a private not-for-profit entity). It has all sorts of outdoor sculptures looming over its wide-open fields and tucked away in bowers and among trees; and the setting, surrounded by Hudson Valley hills and mountains, is just as gorgeous as my friend's Kentucky horse farm.

Some of the work on display is beautiful (like Andy Goldsworthy's serpentine stone wall, right next to the Lin), some rather ordinary, some more striking and imposing than inviting (Calder and especially di Suvero dominate large swaths of the grounds), with lots and lots of big-name artists. There is a main house, in which right now is terrific Lin exhibition with some beautiful work that fills rooms, smaller drawings and a slide show; the woman sure has created a body of work beyond the Vietnam Memorial, which will always remain her best-known achievement.

Lin is a minimalist who works most happily outdoors, making incremental pieces in series in which small elements or water add up cumulatively to forms that emulate nature or harmonize with it. She grew up in southwestern Ohio, and since we had just come back from a pilgrimmage exploring Indian mounds, in particular Mound City and Serpent Mound, the influence is palpable.

"Wave Field Sorm King" is the third and largest in a series, the first two being in Michigan and Florida. The space (16 acres?) is generous and the earth has been shaped into undulating forms, each mound maybe 20 feet high and 50 feet long (those are guesses). When you look at whole field straight on you get a saw-tooth effect, with the peaks of one undulating line showing between the dips in the one in front. Photos show a wonderful variety depending on the season: lush green now, vibrant fall colors, pure white winter snow.

For me, the effect was slightly lessened by the vastness of the surrounding nature dwarfing the contained space of the actual shaped forms. I also found the roar of the adjacent New York State Thruway disconcerting, though the rush and whizzing of the cars are partly masked by trees and could, I suppose, be heard as oceanic.

The park has not quite gotten the manicuring of the "waves" in hand. Paths have been worn by people trekking among them, and people follow the paths because they think they're supposed to. The Storm King folk don't want them to walk on the parths or the ridges, but they also don't want to desecrate the naturalness by posting warning signs. The grass has grown in with patches and lumps, undercutting the rolling perfection seen in the well-maintained Indian mounds in Ohio.

But these are growing pains. I guess the reason that Storm King falls just short of the peak of my own personal minimalist shrine hierarchy is its lack of focus. The sheer concentration and power of Donald Judd's machine-tooled aluminum boxes at Marfa, or James Turreell's megalomaniacal but awesome Roden Crater or Walter De Maria's "Lighting Field" or the Richard Serra installation in the big long room at Bilbao all strike home harder because they aren't in competition with other work on the same sprawling site. Yet Storm King is still well worth many more visits, and we hope to make up for lost time by doing just that.

May 31, 2009 5:17 PM | | Comments (2)

2 Comments

nice article!!! note spelling of Mark di Suvero (not de Suvero). next time you are in northern california (you must come) visit here: http://www.dirosapreserve.org/ We have a beautiful di Suvero

Dear Mr. Rockwell,

Delighted that you visited the Storm King Art Center. We just wanted to clarify that it is not a property of NY State but, rather, a privately held not for profit. Also, we'd be pleased to send you more information about Maya Lin's Storm King Wavefield if you wish.

Best regards,
Libby Mark

Leave a comment

Blogroll

For an ongoing conversation and news reports about arts journalism, go to the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program, here.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John Rockwell published on May 31, 2009 5:17 PM.

Dance, thematically if perhaps spuriously linked was the previous entry in this blog.

An Historical Anomaly? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads


AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

culture
About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Dewey21C
Richard Kessler on arts education
diacritical
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Flyover
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

dance
Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

jazz
Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
ListenGood
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Rifftides
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

media
Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Overflow
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
PianoMorphosis
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
PostClassic
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Sandow
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

publishing
book/daddy
Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

theatre
Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

visual
Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
Artopia
John Perreault's art diary
CultureGrrl
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.