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Art Escape: Eight Highlights from the Hudson River Valley

Behind the Studio Door

As much as I love working in my studio, it’s really nice to shut the door and run away once in awhile.

Last fall, I did just that. My husband and I took a road trip through the Hudson River Valley.

Honestly… we ran out of energy before we could see and do everything we wanted.

So in the spirit of “Never give up!”

We went again!

This is a beautiful area with tons of small towns, historic mansions and endless outdoor opportunities.

I like a little artsy adventure when I run away, so I have a few highlights to share with you.

Enjoy!

 Olana

Above the Hudson, the gorgeous light seems to be always changing as it reflects off the river. So, it’s easy to see why this area was a magnet for landscape painters, like Fredrick Church.  He built his unique mansion, known as Olana, with the intension that the views out of every window would be like paintings. He filled his home with treasures from his travels to the middle east. I kinda fell in love with his old wooden box filled with antique brushes and paint. I wish I could say I was inspired to paint a landscape. But… I took a nap as the sunset and felt like I was in a painting.

Olana
View from Olana

 Catskill Mountain House View

The view from this resort ruin is so extraordinary that long ago vacationers made sure they left their mark in the stones along the edge of the cliffs. It’s the perfect place to take a moment to enjoy the view of the lush valley. And… to feel grateful you don’t have to travel by wagon to reach it.

Catskill Mountain House View
Catskill Mountain House View

 Fisher Center

I’d never seen a Frank Gehry building so, I was excited to check out this silver wave on the Bard College campus. It looks very futuristic, shining among the green hills. I was a little disappointed with the inside. The ceiling reminded me of a distorted Home Depot and the walls felt like what I imagine the hull of an oil tanker might be like. Still, it was worth the visit to have my the idea of what a building “should” look like completely reimagined.

Bard College
Bard College

 Hudson River Cruise

After being so high above the river, it was time to jump aboard the Rip Van Winkle cruise to see the water up close. The sky and river seem to play with the light. One moment the sun’s glittering and the next, mountains rise out of the shadows. It was so beautiful. I took tons of snap shots. I’ve even started a few paintings to try and keep the experience alive on canvas. I’ll share them soon.

Hudson River
Hudson River

 Culinary Institute of Art

We couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the place were young chefs turn food into art. Half the fun is listening to the students try to impress you with their culinary expertise. If you go, make a reservation well in advance. Give yourself lots of time to walk around the campus so you don’t miss “Old Diamondsides”, 700 knives, 400 forks, and 600 spoons and a handmade glass eye turned into an Atlantic Sturgeon. You’ll never look at cutlery the same way again!

Culinary Institute Of America
Culinary Institute Of America

 Dia:Beacon

I had no idea what to expect entering this former Nabisco Box printing factory. It’s an industrial site turned contemporary gallery for the kind of modern art that leaves you scratching your head saying “I…don’t think…I get it.”

The space itself is worth the visit with long rows of skylights creating a natural light museum. It poured the day we visited and the pounding rain drops made for a strange, zen like experience. It was actually the space without natural light that struck me. Dan Flavin’s “Untitled” floods an enormous underground, column filled space with eerie Green light. So much so…that my eyes started to play tricks on me. After walking through the space I looked out a window and it was as if the whole world has been dyed magenta. And, I’m good with that.

You must keep an open mind to what makes art….art…when visiting. If you are like me, you might also come face to face with one of your great fears and not run away! Louise Bourgeois’s elegant “Crouching Spider” is the first spider I’ve ever meet that freaked me out in a good way.

Dia:Beacon
Dia:Beacon

 Storm King Art Center

If I wasn’t a painter, I would be a sculptor. There is something about making an idea into a real 3D object that thrills me. Storm King Art Center is a sculpture garden for monumental abstract sculptures. I wanted to see the “Storm King Wall” by Andy Goldsworthy. I’m a fan of his work because he has such a connection and respect for the elements of the earth. Following his zig zag stone wall as it curves through the trees, then pauses for a lake, before continuing straight up a hill surrounded by stunning meadows is both peaceful and delightful.

If you go, definitely take the tram ride through the property because it’s too big to walk in one visit. You’ll get great views of the grass and wildflower fields that are the most breathtaking I’ve ever seen. Be sure to check out Alyson Shotz’s “Mirror Fence”, it just made me smile because it seems so dramatically out of place and yet almost disappears. It’s also irresistible for fun selfies!

Storm King Art Center
Storm King Art Center

 CoSM

Speaking of mirrors… hidden at the end of a forest lined driveway, is the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. It’s a surprisingly, traditional old home turned “cosmic B&B”, and filled with the visionary art of Alex and Allyson Grey. We didn’t stay there, but for $5 you can wander/wonder around the house barefoot, taking in the intricate and psychedelic works. They seem to be combining imagery from all major world religions, ancient cultures, science, the digital age and new age ideas with peace, love and happiness… plus aliens. Yes aliens! It’s a lot to take in, but will definite kick out some corners in your mind.

COSM
COSM

Ok…now I’m going back to the studio to work on my own cosmic paintings.

Have you been on any good escapes? Let me know in the comments!

Author Siobhan

Artist

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