There’s a lot to love about Upstate New York in the summer. For culture enthusiasts, that includes an abundance of art shows that embrace the landscape and the creativity of the people living and working there. Here are just a few worth making the trip.
Do you have a favorite upstate art experience we didn’t list? Share it in the comments.
Lightscapes in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
From the creators of the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, an annual carved-pumpkin Halloween extravaganza, Lightscapes is an immersive light, sound and sculpture experience at the Van Cortland Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Held across 20 evenings between April 29 and May 30, Lightscapes offers visitors the chance to wander along a path lined with garden-themed sculptures made from upcycled and recycled materials, each one illuminated by shifting colors and accompanied by a soundtrack from Phish lyricist the Dude of Life.
Getting there from Brooklyn: It’s a little over an hour by car, or you can hop on Metro-North’s Hudson Line from Grand Central, which reaches Croton-Harmon in less than an hour. The mansion is a 10-minute walk from the station.
Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, N.Y.
Set on 500 acres of rambling hills and woodlands, Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley town of New Windsor is home to more than 100 sculptures by artists including Alexander Calder, Maya Lin and Richard Serra. To complement its permanent collection, the center hosts yearly temporary exhibits. May 14 marks the opening of Dennis Oppenheim: Terrestrial Studio and Outlooks: Josephine Halvorson, the artist’s first-ever outdoor sculpture project.
Getting there from Brooklyn: It’s a one hour, 45 minute drive, or you can book a day tour with Coach USA, which leaves from Port Authority and includes admission.
Constellation in Beacon, N.Y.
On the Hudson River’s mysterious Bannerman Island — also known as Pollelpel Island and home to the crumbling Bannermans’ Castle — artist Melissa McGill has created a new constellation in the sky. Every evening as the sun goes down, small lights at the top of 17 slim aluminum poles light up, each giving the appearance of a light floating in the darkened heavens.
The work is visible from both shores of the Hudson River and boat tours to the island begin on May 7 and include a guided walk; kayak tours begin June 27. Artist-led tours with McGill are scheduled for May 28, June 25, July 2, August 20, September 24 and October 30. The project, which first launched in summer 2015, will run through summer 2017.
Getting there from Brooklyn: By car, it’s an hour and 45 minutes to the official viewing area at Breakneck Ridge. The installation can also be seen from the train — it’s between the Cold Spring and Beacon stations on the Metro-North line from Grand Central. However, to take the boat tour, you need to go to Beacon. Boat trips leave from Beacon Institute’s floating dock at the Beacon Waterfront.
Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
At the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies presents exhibitions curated by second-year students in its graduate program in curatorial studies and contemporary art — organized as part of their MA degree requirements. Chapter Two of the center’s Spring Exhibitions series opens on May 8 and includes works by Jenny Holzer, Cosima von Bonin and Oliver Laric, exploring such varied themes as language, artistic subjectivity and technology.
Getting there from Brooklyn: It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Brooklyn to the museum. Alternatively, you can take Amtrak from Penn Station to Rhinecliff, about nine miles south of Annandale, and then get a taxi. Perhaps the best option for those without Mother’s Day commitments, the school is also offering a free charter bus from New York City on opening day (booking information is on the site).