Sculptures peek out from behind tall grasses. As soon as we pulled up in our rental car, we saw what looked to be a larger-than-life ram head among the trees.
Art Omi is an outdoor sculpture & architecture park stretched over 120 acres in the Hudson Valley. I spent hours walking the grounds, admiring the sculptures in quiet wonder. The best way to experience this beautiful space is unrushed and unguided. Just wander any which way and come upon enormous monoliths that make you look up to the sky, mesmerized in thought.
What is the artist is trying to make you feel? Why did they choose this particular grassy knoll? What about the landscape inspired them? In a museum, you typically see an art piece with a backdrop of pure white to place all the focus on the piece itself. What I love about these sculptures is that the background is sky, clouds, tall grasses. The background is subtly, yet persistently changing: shadows cast by the moving sun, clouds float by at whim, grasses quietly whisper to each other in the wind. The juxtaposition of man-made sculpture, with its sharp edges, straight lines, and bright colors, contrasted with the wild, organic natural landscape, makes me think about how humans have irreversibly left their mark on this earth.
What compelled a human to make something as large as this, not for survival, but for the purpose of art?
This one appears to be a furnished apartment suspended in the air, overlooking the grounds.
This one seems to imply an oil refinery, except it seems like 70% of the size. I wonder if it's commentary on how disruptive it is the serene green landscape.
Then I come upon this one and it's immediately my favorite. Once I've dreamed up my own story behind the sculpture, I wander over to the plaque to see what the artist has to say.
Eureka calls back to the slender gabled canal houses of 18th century New York, vestiges of 40 years of Dutch rule. Just before the pandemic, I was in Amsterdam, admiring the canal houses from the river. Instead of recreating the facade of the canal house, Brian Tolle has created the rippled reflection in the flowing waterway. Aside from the artistry, I couldn't help but be awe-inspired by the ability to use sculpture to freeze an ephemeral moment in time - a simple reflection in the water.
They say a column evokes the building blocks of civilization. This beam says it's at a perfect 83.5 degree angle - neither here nor there.
This one is called Sisyphus, the figure from Greek mythology who is punished for cheating death by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill forever. There is such movement in this piece, it seems like it is being actively formed.
A third space is not home, and it's not work. It's a place to go at your leisure, to engage with friends, family and community. At Art Omi, one seems to have an asynchronous conversation with the artist about something deeply human. It's a visceral experience. Go solo, or go with friends — either way, Art Omi is a creative sanctuary that is as soul nourishing to visit as reading a good book.