An artistic roadside journey through Columbia County


A good road trip follows a set of proven rules. Back roads are always more scenic than through roads, food tastes better when it comes from a brightly colored cabin, and braking for roadside attractions is a must.

Columbia County is tailor-made for a country road trip filled with quirky stops, especially the artistic variety. Most people are familiar with the area’s largest sculpture park, the Art Omi Outdoor Sculpture Park, but with over 100 acres to explore and five kilometers of walking trails, this is a destination in itself. Several smaller parks and attractions also capture the chimerical pursuit of creativity, in bite-sized packaging that leaves time for extra visits or to relax with a craft beer or cider. For a weird, wacky, and wonderful day trip, follow this guide.

Art park, Chatham

“Helping Hand” by artist Dylan Soares-Kern is on loan to Art Park, a creative reinvention of a trailer park in Chatham.

Jeanne Georges

Take a run down mobile home park, add cozy, upcycled interiors and a touch of whimsy, and you have Art Park. Since 2017, owners / creators Heidi Bryson and Arthur Andersen have transformed the run-down Center Street property in Chatham into a creative sanctuary.


Andersen, who was “in the van life before van life was cool,” recalls that when he and Bryson stumbled upon the mobile home park, “I thought, ‘How can we make that happen? more than just a living space, but a place? ‘”

Bryson and Andersen were inspired by artist Ricky Boscarino’s Luna Parc in New Jersey. So far, they’ve completely renovated one trailer (available to rent on Airbnb) and have had local artists paint graphic murals on the outside of several others. Chatham-based artist Dylan Soares-Kern also temporarily donated his sculpture “Helping Hand” to the open-air gallery space.

Andersen and Bryson are renovating the other trailers and bringing in additional accommodation, such as a cottage and a container house. Ultimately, they would like the property to function as a place where creatives can experiment with different forms of life in the small spaces. They also plan to develop tours for the public, artist residencies and pop-up art fairs.

“I don’t know if the park will ever be finished,” says Bryson. “It’s going to be constantly evolving.

34 Center Street, Chatham. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., free.

Taconic Sculpture Park, Spencertown

Artist Roy Kanwit frequently associates his female figures with elements that connect them to nature, such as eggs, trees and flowers.

Artist Roy Kanwit frequently associates his female figures with elements that connect them to nature, such as eggs, trees and flowers.

Robin Catalan

Along the narrow, rutted street of Stever Hill, its edges strewn with branches strewn with storms, sits “Spencertown’s number one attraction in one.” That’s according to Roy Kanwit, the fun founder of Taconic Sculpture Park, a five-acre property filled with thought-provoking art and a stone castle-like house.

Kanwit started the park almost four decades ago with sculptures that had not sold. He’s added new works over the years – nearly all of them are for sale – and sometimes rearranges them, a process that often involves chains and a van.

Kanwit’s work is inspired by a childhood love for ancient history and large-scale sculptures from Egypt, Greece and Mexico, combined with the power of nature. His pieces range from a small castle to “Cheshire Man”, whose face seems to disappear; large wheels in the shape of a mandala; and “Pi in the Sky”, an arch that looks like the mathematical symbol surmounted by the sun. But he is best known for “Gaia”, the huge still head on top of the hill, visible from the Taconic State Parkway. (Climb the ladder inside the plaster noggin for a panoramic view of the valley and the Catskills beyond.)

Female figures are a common theme in Kanwit art. He is fascinated by the concept of rebirth or regeneration, and frequently associates his laconic ladies with eggs, or covers them with “heads” in the form of trees and flowers.

“I found it more intriguing to give them vegetative forms that connect them to nature. They are also a bit more modern, surreal, ”says Kanwit.

194 Stever Hill Road, Spencertown. Open Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., $ 10 per car.

Green chair, Hillsdale

If you like Leon Smith's Big Green Chair in Hillsdale, his sculpture park is a 25-minute drive south of Ancramdale and is open by appointment.

If you like Leon Smith’s Big Green Chair in Hillsdale, his sculpture park is a 25-minute drive south of Ancramdale and is open by appointment.

Robin Catalan

From Spencertown, the 15-mile pilgrimage to Hillsdale is leisurely, along two winding rural roads that cross old farmland, wooded slopes, and meadows guarded by red-tailed hawks. Passing just past the city center you will find ‘Green Chair’, sometimes referred to as ‘Big Easy Chair’, in front of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library.

The 8-foot-tall sculpture was created in 2010 by the late Australian artist Leon Smith. If you’re intrigued, its 20-acre sculpture park is a 25-minute drive south of Ancramdale and can be visited by appointment.

During his career spanning more than 40 years, Smith produced a wide range of sculptures, much of it from found materials. “Green Chair” is as cheeky as one would expect from a man who fashioned basketball-sized orbs from doll eyes and a “self-bagel bagel”. eat “with its own set of chompers.

The sculpture was originally intended to curl up with a good book, but the library now prohibits the parking of buns. Instead, combine your chair tour with an early Saturday afternoon excursion to the Hillsdale Farmers Market, diagonally across the street, or lunch at Roe Jan Brewing’s new beer garden.

9091 NY-22, Hillsdale. Open from sunrise to sunset all year round, weather permitting, free.

Circle Museum, Austerlitz

  Many sculptures by the Iranian-born artist Bijan have the circle as their theme, hence the name of his circle museum in Austerlitz.

Many sculptures by the Iranian-born artist Bijan have the circle as their theme, hence the name of his circle museum in Austerlitz.

Robin Catalan

Follow winding Route 22 North for approximately 7 miles to Austerlitz. There you will find the Circle Museum, a park and a gallery of metal sculptures founded by Bijan of Iranian origin, who bears only his first name. When asked why he created the park almost 40 years ago, he replies, “When you get up in the morning, the best thing you can do is do something beautiful. “

The artist filled his eight-acre property with more than 100 metal sculptures found spread between two fields on either side of the central building, which houses a painting gallery. A side road climbs up the hillside and crosses wetlands which also present its art.

Many of Bijan’s sculptures and paintings have a circular theme, which reflects the shape of the planets and the cyclical nature of life. Others highlight the play of different textures and colors, or suggest disproportionate figures. His most photographed work is “Downcast Guys”, open cylinders topped by a dome and wavy arms, which evoke a group of hunched men.

Take boots if you leave after a rain; the park can become swampy. If you’re lucky enough to catch the artist in her spare time, you might be invited to relax in her outdoor living room, with furniture made from discarded tubs.

10985 Route nationale 22, Austerlitz. Open from sunrise to sunset year round, weather permitting, free, with a suggested donation of $ 10.

Hudson Valley Art, Music and Culture





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