SCULPTING NATURE

Nothing says “sculpting summer” – the theme of our June gardens issue – quite like the sculpture garden, which has its roots in classical culture. We are fortunate in WAG country to have a number of superb sculpture gardens that span the 20th century and marry the romantic to the modern.

Here are three that will engage the body, challenge the mind, entice the senses and replenish the spirit:

Storm King Art Center, Mountainville

Storm King isn’t a sculpture garden. It’s a sculpture park, 500 acres of rolling fields and woodlands nestled in the Hudson Highlands. When you’re that big you have to make a statement, and the more than 100 sculptures in the permanent collection – mainly steel but also stone like Andy Goldsworthy’s serpentine wall, earth and other materials – certainly do that. They’re by a virtual Who’s Who of modern and contemporary art, including Chakaia Booker, the Louises (Bourgeois and Nevelson), Mark di Suvero and David Smith. (The adventurous local tourist could make a treasure hunt of seeing how many of these artists are represented at the other sites, sometimes by different editions of the same work.)

But Storm King is also home to changing exhibits. This year, the art center presents “Light and Landscape” (through Nov. 11), featuring works in various media by some 20 emerging and established artists who are interested in engaging light in their contemporary art while evoking the lucent spirit of the Hudson River School of 19th-century landscape painting and of Winslow Homer, who painted at nearby Houghton Farm.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Oct. 31 and thereafter 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days through Nov. 11. The grounds remain open until 8 p.m. on Saturdays, May 26 through Sept. 1, and on Sunday Sept. 2. Storm King is also open on select Monday holidays –Independence Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day. After Nov. 11, Storm King is open only on the weekends of Nov. 17-18 and 24-25. It closes Nov. 25. Tickets are $12; $10 for senior citizens age 65 and older; $8 for students; free for children under age 5. (845) 534-3115, stormkingartcenter.org.

The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo, Purchase

Without a doubt, the world headquarters of PepsiCo Inc. is one of the loveliest places on God’s green earth. Sinuous, light-dappled paths, exhilarating fountains, tranquil pools and sunken gardens, clusters of blossoming trees: No wonder the grounds are a favorite spot for brides, tour groups, walkers, shutterbugs and families alike.

Dotting the gently rolling, carefully manicured landscape are some 45 pieces that pay tribute to the artistic leadership and exquisite taste of Donald M. Kendall, CEO of Pepsi when the company moved to the site in 1970. There’s something for everyone. Hardcore art lovers can choose from spindly Giacomettis, majestic Henry Moores and golden Pomodoros. Tourists can’t resist having their picture snapped with George Segal’s “Three People on Four Benches.” Youngsters run to David Wynne’s “Grizzly Bear,” which guards the man-made lake in the back, while brides and grooms pose beneath the artist’s “The Dancers.” The British Wynne is the most represented artist on the site, with five works, four of which are kinetic, erotically charged representations of the male and female bodies. They are simply irresistible.

The gardens are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., April through October and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., November through March. Admission and parking are free. When you’re finished there, cross Anderson Hill Road and enjoy more visual stimulation at Purchase College’s Neuberger Museum of Art.

Kykuit, Pocantico Hills

“Kykuit,” Neuberger Museum founding patron Roy R. Neuberger used to joke, “was what God would’ve built had he had the money.” The stone-crusted manse – once the Rockefeller family home and now a landmark – is an excellent example of the Beaux Arts style, as are the Italianate gardens that graduate down to a commanding view of the Hudson River. The house itself is filled with decorative and fine art objects, including

Nelson A. Rockefeller’s collection of two-dimensional works in the galleries.

But if sculpture is your passion, then you’ll want to take the gardens and sculpture tour, which skips the house and ancillary buildings but gives you a chance to marvel how the former vice president and New York state governor situated each work on the property with a curator’s eye – and persistence, once even interrupting kid brother David’s golf game when he brought in Henry Moore’s large bronze “Knife Edge-Two Piece” by helicopter. The 2 and one-quarter hour tour for groups of 10 or more, which is not handicapped-accessible, also includes the Islamic-flavored Inner Garden, with its rills and lineup of Nadelman, Maillol and Lachaise nymphs and goddesses. It is one of the most romantic spots anywhere. Tour times vary. $23. Hudsonvalley.org.

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