While its permanent collections reward many return visits, Storm King makes it easy for you to see something new each time by running several different exhibitions simultaneously, and keeping them going for many months at a time. So you can pick your day for an outing based on your vacation schedule and the weather – or even just a momentary whim. To sweeten the pot, Storm King has instituted a special summertime “Pay as You Wish” entry fee structure, effective on the last Thursdays of June, July and August.
This year, the Art Center’s flagship show isn’t even taking place on the Mountainville grounds. Storm King is temporarily exporting some of its own collection – large in both senses of the term – of the works of Mark di Suvero to Governor’s Island in New York City, where they will be joined by other examples on loan from private collections.
Relocating a big di Suvero is no mean feat. Although “I-beam art” became a bit of a joke in the late 20th century, due to the sudden proliferation of massive, clunky, not-very-imaginative welded-steel objects in public squares, don’t prejudge di Suvero’s work based on the lowest common denominator of the trend. The acknowledged master of the genre, his sculptures, although often enormous in scale, are more about levity than gravity. Often incorporating exquisitely balanced moving parts, they have a playfulness, delicacy and grace that belies the gross tonnage of metal from which they were crafted. And large outdoor viewing spaces are absolutely essential to their optimal appreciation. An opportunity to see more of them than are normally on display at Storm King may indeed be worth a trip down to Governor’s Island. This show runs through September 25, and features a guided audio tour that you can download as an app for your cellphone in various formats.
But I was only trying to nudge you a little south of Cornwall, wasn’t I? You really have no excuse to miss the Art Center’s 50th anniversary exhibition, whose run at Storm King has been extended throughout the 2011 season. Titled “5+5: New Perspectives,” the show comprises new and recent work by ten artists, with an emphasis on site-specificity.
The tour starts on the Museum Patio, where you can see the two smallest works. Alyson Shotz’s Viewing Scope (2006) is a pivoting telescope made of multiple stainless-steel tubes with glass lenses. Sited to enable close-ups of scenic Storm King vistas, Viewing Scope creates fractured, multiplied and distorted views, encouraging visitors to perceive their environment – and the very act of seeing – in new ways. John Bisbee’s Squall comprises a ton of 12-inch spikes welded into ten 40-inch-wide, hollow, lacelike spheres, stacked to create a symmetrical pyramid. Each sphere has an active, swirling surface; together they produce a structure that is at once hulking and of surprising lightness and grace.
Then it’s on to Museum Hill, where you can puzzle over Ursula von Rydingsvard’s 17.5-foot-high LUBA, a vessel-shaped object made of cedar planks. A second cedar form appears to grow out of and down from the shoulder of the piece, supported from below by a cast-bronze element that ends in twisted, leglike forms that root the piece back into the Earth. Low Building with Dirt Roof (for Mary) by Alice Aycock is carefully sited so that when viewed from slightly below its entrance, the grass-covered roof forms an artificial horizon. Mirror Fence, also by Alyson Shotz, is a reimagining of the iconic white picket fence with a reflective surface that refracts and distorts reality. Then there’s Stephen Talasnik’s Stream: A Folded Drawing, which consists of some 3,000 bamboo poles tied together to form an intricate 115-foot-long structure. Roughly kidney-shaped in footprint, it appears to be rolling down the hill on which it is sited.
In the South Fields we run into our pal Mark di Suvero again, whose Old Grey Beam is on public view for the first time. The work in structural steel appears markedly different depending upon the angle from which it is viewed, and provides a lively visual dialogue with four nearby works by the artist. Chakaia Booker provides a textural contrast with Foci, a 30-foot-high sculpture made of car tires that have been cut, twisted and looped to create concentric, bisecting ovals evoking the Storm King landscape. For You & Me, Maria Elena Gonzalez installed 16 platforms in strategically sited pairs on which visitors are encouraged to stand, so that each participant appears to the person on the other half of the pair to be on or in a nearby work of art.
For Five Men, 17 Days, 15 Boulders, One Wall, Andy Goldsworthy worked with wallers from his native United Kingdom to alter a 309-foot dilapidated wall on the Storm King grounds. They used 250 tons of stones found on the property to build up a major span of the wall, while allowing the ends to taper off gently, evoking an ancient ruin. Another artist working in stone is Darrell Petit, whose monumental Kiss consists of two massive granite elements weighing 25 and 19 tons respectively. Sited adjacent to each other, they touch at the top, creating an intense physical energy and a tension between autonomy and cohesion.
Complementing “5+5” is an exhibition in the Museum Building called “The View from Here: Storm King at 50,” an overview of the institution’s history. For more info on the site, the permanent collections, the current shows, hours and directions, visit www.stormking.org.