Outdoor Art and Sculpture Parks in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Take a tour of some of the Valley’s many outdoor art and sculpture parks


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 more than 200 of 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, which opened in 2010, has a policy of “please touch.”
Graves often worked in series. His best-known group, This Mirror Can Crack a Stone, is a 27-piece work inspired by Thoreau; 20 of those pieces are now in the park. Every sculpture on the property is positioned on a bluestone slab (which all come from local quarries) to allow guests to sit near them and take photos. There is a pavilion constructed from Ulster County pine, and also a small bridge and pond where visitors are encouraged to have lunch. An indoor center showcases Graves’ paper and bronze works.

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 — “now Ulster County has two significant sculpture parks.”
Bradford Graves Sculpture Park, Kerhonkson. Open by appointment only. 845-230-0521; www.bradfordgraves.com

opus 40Opus 40 in Saugerties

Photograph by Frank Roberts

Stop by these other outdoor art locations:

Storm King Art Center, Mountainville
Explore Storm King’s 500 acres with dozens of works on display. New for 2012 is Light and Landscape, an exhibition of approximately 20 works by artists who experiment with natural light. Wed.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Apr. 1-Nov. 5), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Nov. 6-15). $12, $10 seniors, $8 students, under 5 free. 845-534-3115; www.stormking.org

The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International, Ghent
Spread across 60 acres of sprawling woods and farmland, this site features close to 80 sculptures from contemporary artists from around the world. Open daily during daylight hours. www.artomi.org/fields.php

Opus 40, Saugerties
The product of sculptor Harvey Fite’s 37 years of work, this six-acre plot was built from the remnants of a bluestone quarry (shown in photo at right). The site marks its 50th anniversary with a free pre-opening event on May 19-20. Thurs.-Sun. & Mon. holidays 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. $10, $8 seniors & students, $3 children, under 6 free. 845-246-3400; www.opus40.org

» Go to the Hudson Valley Arts Guide
» Go to the Hudson Valley Travel Guide
» Go to the Hudson Valley Sports & Recreation Guide

» Return to Summer Fun 2012


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