8 Art-Filled Day Trips to the Country This Spring
After a long winter, the first sign of spring can spark a rush to get outdoors and experience nature. And for many New Yorkers, an afternoon spent in the countryside is often paired with blue-chip art. Below, we round up eight beautiful art spaces in the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons, and idyllic Connecticut.
1. The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Set just over the Connecticut border in the historic enclave of Ridgefield, this institution, which held the first-ever solo museum exhibition of the world-renowned artist KAWS, is using its spring season to champion another underrepresented genius: the lauded lesbian artist, scholar, and teacher Harmony Hammond. This show, the first solo museum survey of her work, showcases the grit and immense physicality of Hammond’s work, which has been weathered, torn, and punctured. In regard to medium, no material is too extreme; Hammond’s work utilizes everything from metal and rope to human blood.
Also on view this spring is a solo exhibition of works by artist N. Dash, who combines pigments, adobe, jute, graphite, and found objects in her nebulous photographs and mixed-media works. Dash’s breakout solo museum show occurred at the UCLA-affiliated Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, but this exhibition presents a different first for the artist: a monograph, which features an essay by exhibition curator Amy Smith-Stewart.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut
2. Philip Johnson Glass House
New Canaan, Connecticut
Though the iconic architectural landmark doesn’t open for tours until May 2, its lush grounds and carefully curated galleries are worth the wait. This spring’s exhibition is “Gay Gatherings: Philip Johnson, David Whitney and the Modern Arts,” a tribute to eight 20th-century gay men who profoundly shaped the trajectories of art and design.
Among those honored in the exhibition are, as the exhibition’s title indicates, Philip Johnson and his partner of 45 years, curator David Whitney; artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol; and ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein, who is currently the focus of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
Philip Johnson Glass House, 199 Elm Street, New Canaan, Connecticut
Beacon, New York
The lauded upstate institution with stunning Hudson River views celebrates its spring season with two striking exhibitions. The first, which opened in early March, is German artist Charlotte Posenenske’s “Work in Progress.” The show traces threads through Posenenske’s career, from her early experimental works to her large-scale industrial sculptures that embody a form of “mass-produced minimalism,” as the museum’s website describes it.
Opening on May 5 is a show of work by Korean-born artist Lee Ufan, who was at the vanguard of the Mono-ha movement in 1960s Japan, which explored the tension between natural and man-made materials. Three recent sculptural acquisitions will be on view along with numerous important works on loan.
Dia:Beacon, 3 Beekman Street, Beacon, New York
4. Art Omi
Ghent, New York
With its 120-acre sculpture and architecture park, gallery, and residency program that draws international artists, architects, musicians, and more, Art Omi gives visitors a generous taste of the art world at large. The latest addition to its expansive fields is a knotted steel sculpture by artist Christopher Wool, who’s best known for his text-based paintings. The new sculpture, which is on view through the end of the year, was inspired by the ranching wire that Wool found around his Texas property.
This spring, the gallery at Omi will feature seven large-scale paintings by New York artist Katherine Bernhardt, who’s adopted the Pink Panther as her muse. The beloved cartoon character is splashily rendered in every shade of pink, from bubblegum and fuchsia to mauve, and he isn’t the only pop-culture icon in the paintings—R2D2 also makes an appearance.
Art Omi, 1405 County Route 22, Ghent, New York
Hudson, New York
The Persia-inspired estate of historic Hudson River School painter Frederic Church—who designed not only the building but also the enchanting landscape it overlooks—will open an exhibition in May guest curated by Barry Bergdoll, an art history professor at Columbia University and part-time curator at the Museum of Modern Art.
Bergdoll has invited renowned architects to respond to the architecture and landscape of the estate, often referred to as Church’s masterpiece. The resulting exhibition will feature drawings, renderings, models, and animations by architects, including Steven Holl, Tatiana Bilbao, Stan Allen, Peter Coombe, and Mario Gooden.
Olana, 5720 NY-9G, Hudson, New York
6. Storm King Art Center
New Windsor, New York
In his work, artist Mark Dion has frequently used the architectural folly, a decorative construction that appears to have little practical purpose. A new exhibition at the 500-acre sculpture park is the first major survey of Dion’s “folly” works. It will feature 12 examples created over the past quarter century.
One of Dion’s works, Field Station for the Melancholy Marine Biologist (2017–18), appeared in Storm King’s 2018 exhibition “Indicators: Artists on Climate Change.” It’s a fitting milestone for Dion, who states that his work is motivated by his “deep awe of, and interest in, the natural world.”
Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, New York
7. Magazzino Italian Art
Cold Spring, New York
On April 4, Magazzino presents a new selection of works by Gillerto Zorio, Mario Merz, and Marisa Merz, as part of its ongoing exhibition, “Arte Povera,” a survey of the avant-garde movement in Italy. Then, on April 30, the Italian artist Renato Leotta will have his first solo exhibition in the U.S., a two-part show that will feature work inspired by the landscapes of the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Sicily, and Portugal. At Magazzino, Leotta will premiere one such installation along with a selection of new and recent sculptures. He will show works simultaneously at NYU’s Casa Italiana in New York City.
In mid-May, the art center presents “Reconsidering Arte Povera,” a lecture series curated by the foundation’s first scholar in residence, Francesco Guzzetti, who will also deliver the first lecture on May 18. The series will extend into the art center’s summer programming with talks by Emily Braun, distinguished professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; Anne Rorimer, independent scholar and former curator at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Erica F. Battle, Philadelphia Museum of Art associate curator of contemporary art.
Magazzino Italian Art, 2700 U.S. 9, Cold Spring, New York
8. Parrish Art Museum
Water Mill, New York
Set in a rustic Herzog & de Meuron–designed building, the Parrish draws upon an extensive roster of Hamptons artists in a celebration of its continuing artistic heritage. This spring, the institution launches two exhibitions of sublime landscape photography. On view now is a show of work by Renate Aller entitled “The Space Between Memory and Expectation.” With her eye for the sublime, the German photographer captures rolling clouds, serene oceans, and desert dunes. Showing simultaneously is French photographer Jean Luc Mylayne, whose large-scale photographs juxtapose natural and man-made images.
“Refuge,” a collection of moody black-and-white landscape photographs by Thomas Joshua Cooper, opens this May. Born of Cherokee descent in 1946 and raised on a Native American reservation in the western U.S., Cooper chose to photograph parts of the American landscape that hold special significance for Native Americans and immigrants.
Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, New York