The permanent collection at Storm King, located just south of Newburgh, includes all the major heavyweights of contemporary sculpture. There are the dead classics, such as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi and David Smith, all bobbing, undulating, stacked, stoic or expressionistically welcoming and challenging viewers. But there are also the newer attention-grabbers, from Mark di Suvero's constructionlike constructions to schoolmate Richard Serra's monoliths of dramatic heaviness; from Ursula van Rydingsvard's mysteries of tortured wood to Andy Goldsworthy's witty, interactive wandering wall. There are hosts of local artists, from Mary Frank and Grace Knowlton to Raul Hague and George Rickey; stark Minimalists and lush Fabulists; scary Louise Bourgeois creatures and sweetly funny Roy Lichtenstein and Nam June Paik pieces.
Best of all, it's all quite big, for the most part, and expertly placed within the manicured yet naturally rich landscape - like a Thomas Cole or Frederic Church Hudson River School setting dotted with the highlights of a contemporary art handbook. Talk about perfect for picnicking - especially when one wants to move beyond sandwiches and potato salad into the realm of gnocchi and prosecco. And even more surprising, it's a joy for kids - of all ages.
The special exhibition this season at Storm King is of the late Connecticut-based Minimalist artist Sol Lewitt, also a mainstay of nearby Dia:Beacon. Can't place the name? Think complex geometric drawings on museum walls, spare and deeply conceptual, and usually rendered by assistants according to detailed instructions. Or think of the modern idea of the artist, as taught in today's art schools, first and probably best defined by Lewitt's 1967 Sentences on Conceptual Art.
The current show - of new 3-D works created in the past three years, as well as some key older works - has been installed both in the handsome Storm King museum building and adjacent lawns and patios. The works are in aluminum, Fiberglas, wood and steel, and represent a broad range of concepts.
Storm King is open April 2 through November 1 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. On Saturdays from May 24 through August 30, the Art Center grounds will remain open until 8 p.m. The place is located off Route 32 in Mountainville. For further information, including direct directions, visit www.stormking.org or call (845) 534-3115.
And don't forget: Included in the price of admission, and the glory of the experience, is one's ability, on site, to watch the Thruway in the distance - as if it too were but a work of art; maybe even just a concept.