Supersized Art at Storm King

George Cutt’s Sea Change, the only motorized sculpture at the 500 acre Storm King sculpture park, twists and turns silently on itself like skeletons of two fern fronds. Calder Hill is stamped with Alexander Calder’s trademark geometric shapes, in bright red steel set against the green lawns leading up to Museum Hill. Down in the South Fields, behind the mirror-fence, a deer pauses to stare in at Zhang Huan’s huge Three Legged Buddha, whose face is half-submerged in the grass.

Whispering into Buddha’s ears

Emerging from under the spindly white steel web of Kenneth Snelson’s Free Ride Home, two very loud children roll down a steep hill, giggling hysterically while gathering momentum.

The Free Ride Home

There was no need to shush them. This was interactive art appreciation at its best. In fact it would have been remiss of us not to scramble up a leaf-covered hill in the North Woods and run, whooping down the other side – if only to be stunned into silence by the implausible balancing act of Menashe Kadishman’s Suspended.


Set in the lovely Hudson Valley, an hour and a half north of New York, it’s a day-trip that puts art and nature in a whole new perspective as you run, walk and ride bikes under and around the more than 100 sculptures from artists including Mark DiSuvero, Andy Goldsworthy and Alexander Liberman.

The great climbing hill in the North Woods

We managed to go last week just before it closed for the season. It will reopen on April 3rd, 2013. It’s impossible to imagine the park and its sculptures in anything but the burnt light of a Hudson Valley Fall. But we will be first in line in the spring to let it surprise us all over again – and to check on our own contribution to the park, a small shelter of fallen branches along the South Fields path called Surface, 2012.

Liquid Light: William Lamson’s “Solarium” was part of this year’s Light and Landscape exhibition. Each pane of glass in this hut was filled with caramelized sugar.

If you go

We took a day-trip package with Coach USA’s Shortline Bus from New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. The $45 ($22.50 for kids aged five and over) covers bus trip and the $12 entry fee ($8 for kids) to Storm King. Getting there was a breeze as the bus takes you directly to the door but with a 5pm pick-up time it’s not the most flexible option when you’re traveling with kids. I recommend a Zipcar rental for this trip.

Our Highlights

Sea Change

Sea Change is mesmerizing. I was drawn in by its graceful swerving arc through the air and Ruby loved the shape of “antlers”, made by the two poles as they swerved apart.

The Three Legged Buddha: To all three of us, it looked creepy from afar but up close, its head looks like its basking in the sun, with half its face submerged in a still pool.

Mozart’s Birthday: Henry loved this enormous Di Suvero sculpture of industrial beams and a brushed steel pendulum. And that it came with a rubber mallet. Hit the brushed steel gong to make music.

Momo Taro: Isamu Noguchi’s quiet white stone carving tells the story of a Japanese superhero, a little boy with superhuman strength who was found inside a peach. Children are encouraged to climb inside the peach – reappearing with superpowers is optional!

The big apple: beyond the bridge

We left Manhattan!

This is the third time in three years we’ve hired a car to take our weekend excursions beyond the bridges. That’s a pretty poor record and one we only think of remedying in spring and autumn – those very short windows between long, extreme seasons. Before you know it, it’s too hot to bother or too cold to contemplate.

Exit over the Hudson. The GW Bridge

So, in 10am Saturday-of-a-long-weekend traffic, our rental car crawled up the Henry Hudson Parkway before crossing the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey and the other, non-Manhattan New York. We were headed upstate to New Paltz, a quaint town at the foot of the Catskills, full of olde worlde charm but kept vibrant by the State University of NY campus. In October it’s full of students and day-trippers, up for all the pick-your-own orchards.

The 1.5 hour drive to the well-named Apple Hill Farm took us nearly three, thanks to the long weekend traffic and a misunderstanding about which town we were in when we rang to ask for directions…

“The Shop-Rite’s on your left? McDonalds up ahead on your right? Just keep heading south for around 15 minutes and turn left off Route 32.”

We were pulled up across from a Shop-Rite, with McDonald’s just up ahead on our right. In a completely different town (Newburgh). What are the odds? It took another 40 minutes or so of back-tracking up and down Route 32, with a few accusations of “bad googling” from the driver to the navigator and lunch time came and went. But leftover birthday cake made a good enough lunch and when we finally found the farm, the rest of it grew on trees.

Apple Hill is a no-frills operation on the side of the road. Just turn up and pay $10 for a peck, $20 for a bushel and fill them up. Its concession to city-tourists is the hay-rides between the roadside and the orchard at the top of the hill. As far as the kids were concerned, a peck-bag each and a hay-ride was all you need for an “awesome” day out.

A race up the hill, past the Macoun, Jonagold and Crispin, which had all been picked early due to the unseasonably slow onset of a cold snap, and everyone disappeared into the trees to find the perfect apple.

Pre-picked. Thanks to an early season

The early apples go into big crates, lined up along the crest of the hill. It can make picking feel a bit like shopping, except that everyone’s so helpful. And so diligent with quality control!

We finished just as the weather turned, and autumn officially set in for the year. Then drove the ridiculously short and simple four minutes into New Paltz and sat, somewhat stubbornly given the brisk change, outside at the Harvest Cafe. There we had the best burger this side of the Minetta Tavern. Lunch at 4:30pm after running around an orchard all afternoon is bound to be good.

Eating apples straight from trees was good. Just getting out of town was good and our timing was perfect. With Halloween looming, the apples will be gone when the leaves peak in a couple of weeks.

Even getting lost on the way there wasn’t so  bad – it meant we were outside during the hour in which the season, quite literally, snapped after that final little warm spell flickered out on Friday. The sky darkened and the wind whipped up as our beautiful apples bounced around the boot on the way back through the Hudson Valley.

Within reach. Red Delicious

Ruby dragging her half-peck of perfect apples.