New York is loaded with world-class museums that offer a head-spinning variety of visual stimulation. But with warm weather finally here, now’s the time to enjoy your art with a ray of sunshine. This season offers several terrific temporary exhibits that will get you into the great outdoors. Central Park’s Drifting in Daylight, with eight site-specific works nestled in the park’s untamed north end, is not to be missed.
Consider an art-infused day trip to an exhibit off Manhattan: to the Bronx’s own urban oasis, the New York Botanical Garden; to Storm King in the Hudson Valley; or to Brooklyn Bridge Park for art with an East River view.
What: Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art
Where: Brooklyn Bridge Park
Why: The whimsical works of Danish sculptor Jeppe Hein are designed for public interaction. Start at Pier 1 and you’ll be treated to his ambitious water sculpture, Appearing Rooms. This hot weather favorite is a series of spouting jets that create seven-foot water walls. Many visitors wear bathing suits to get the full effect from inside the aquatic arena, but it’s equally engaging viewed from the outside the wet zone.
At Pier 3, Mirror Labyrinth is a maze of stainless steel vertical posts of varying heights. You’ll be treated to awesome views of iconic Lower Manhattan sights, like the Statue of Liberty, reflected in the shiny panels. Modified Social Benches is a series of 16 bright orange-colored benches sprinkled throughout the park. Unusually shaped yet functional, you’re encouraged to climb, perch or recline on them. A pit stop at Luke’s Lobster for a Maine-sourced lobster, crab or shrimp roll will keep you well fortified.
How to get there: Take the 2 and 3 train to Clark Street, the 4 and 5 to Borough Hall, the A and C to High Street or the R to Court Street. The East River Ferry is an outdoorsy option.
What: Lynda Benglis: Water Sources
Where: Storm King Art Center
Why: If you’ve never visited Storm King, it’s time to head up to this sculpture park located in the lower Hudson Valley. The 500-pristine acres are a fabulous setting for over 100 large-scale sculptures surrounded by mountains and loaded with green pastures, native grasses and wildflowers. Abstract works by acclaimed artists such as Alexander Calder and Sol Lewitt take on an otherworldly dimension amidst the natural elements. The current exhibit, Lynda Benglis: Water Sources is a collection of over a dozen fountains that merge water and verdant landscape in perfect proportion. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
How to get there: Coach USA offers a day package departing from Port Authority at 10 am and returning just after 6 pm. The trip takes one hour and costs $46 round-trip, including admission to Storm King.
What: Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life
Where: New York Botanical Garden
Why: The New York Botanical Garden is a tranquil counterpoint to the frenetic pace of urban life. Take time to smell the roses (literally) as you meander the multitude of paths. A new exhibit at the garden celebrates the art and life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Her lifelong Mexico City home, Casa Azul, was a celebration of native plants. Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life lovingly re-imagines the space that inspired her. Enter the glass dome of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and you’ll find more than a dozen of Kahlo’s original works, with a focus on her use of plant imagery. When hunger strikes, transport your taste buds south of the border as you nibble the authentic Mexican cuisine that’s for sale.
How to get there: B, D or 4 trains to Bedford Park Blvd. Station. Walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd. to the Mosholu Gate entrance. An alternative is Metro-North to Botanical Garden Station.
Photo credit: Ivo M. Vermeulen