As the Hudson Valley has emerged from decline, the arts have contributed mightily, drawing visitors who, in turn, have spurred growth in restaurants and hotels. These three institutions were highlights of my recent journey along the river.
The exodus of industry from Beacon left the town with a legacy of empty factories. Once liabilities, these have been transformed into luxury lodgings, high-end dwellings and, in the case of a 1929 Nabisco plant, a stunning art space. To ensure that the boxes for Ritz Crackers looked just right, the plant needed abundant natural light for checking the colors and clarity of the printing. The solution was banks of angled skylights. The Dia Foundation saw the factory as a perfect space for exhibiting part of its collection of contemporary art. Opened in 2003, Dia:Beacon has gained a worldwide reputation, with holdings that include works by Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois and many more.
3 Beekman Street. Tel. (845) 440-0100.
Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, has long enjoyed a fine reputation for its performing arts programs. In 2003, the opening of the Richard B. Fisher Center added a new dimension to this standing. Designed by Frank Gehry and wrapped in undulating sheets of stainless steel, the center is reminiscent of other Gehry buildings, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Inside, two theaters serve as venues for dance, opera, drama and music performances. (The 800-seat Sosnoff is used for professional companies, while a second 200-seat venue stages student performances.) From June through August, the seven-week SummerScape Festival focuses on the work of a single composer with films, talks and more.
Tours of the Sosnoff Theater are given every weekday at 2 p.m. 60 Manor Avenue. Tel. (845) 758-7914.
We spent a full afternoon exploring the riches of the Storm King Art Center. Founded in 1960, Storm King is a 500-acre wonderland of rolling hills, meadows and woodlands filled with more than 100 outdoor sculptures. The collection includes works by artists such as Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy and Isamu Noguchi. While many of the pieces are indeed striking, they have been installed in a way that fosters relationship with the natural setting, which further enhances their character. I have great affection for the work of Goldsworthy and enjoyed the visual journey offered by his winding stone wall, which plunges into a lake, only to reappear on the opposite shore. Most thought-provoking were pieces by Zhang Huan, depicting the ruin-like parts of giant deconstructed Buddhas.
Old Pleasant Hill Road, Mountainville. Tel. (845) 534-3115.