Thursday, September 24, 2020

DIA:Beacon - Home to contempoary art


Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra

When people think of museums in New York, the city is what usually comes to mind. But sixty-five miles north of the city, in the town of Beacon NY, is one of the nation’s top museums of contemporary art - DIA:Beacon.

The Dia Foundation was founded in 1974, with the mission of “advancing, realizing, and preserving the vision of artists by commissioning projects, organizing exhibitions, and realizing site-specific works” (DIA mission statement). Its early projects included The Lightning Field (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979) both by Walter de Maria. In 1987, they opened their first gallery in New York City on West 22nd street, which served as their primary exhibition space. In 2003 DIA:Beacon opened. This museum is now the home of DIA’s permanent collection.

Beacon, New York, was founded in the early 1800’s, as a grist mill town on the shore of the Hudson River, near the mouth of Fishkill Creek. By the middle of the 19th century, the area had industrialized and was known as the “Hat Capital of the United States.” As in many northeastern cities, businesses declined during the 1960’s and 70’s, and almost all of the factories and downtown businesses had closed, leaving many buildings abandoned.

The opening of DIA:Beacon has helped to anchor a renewal of the town’s fortunes. Beacon sits at the right distance from New York City, far enough to keep rents low, and close enough for trips into town for shows and museum visits. Over the past twenty years Main Street has seen a growth of new businesses. Coffee shops and restaurants anchor the street and give life to the new galleries and boutiques that are opening.

Since my ticket to the museum wouldn’t allow entry until 2:15 PM, I headed to town early, to spend some time exploring. I started at the Bank Square Coffeehouse, at the eastern end of Main Street. After a coffee and a bagel in their beautiful courtyard, I started my walk. Main Street is lined with buildings built in the late 19th century. These have been repurposed for today’s art and tourism markets, for example, the old fire house is not a glass blowing studio and store.

Zora Dora's Small Batch Ice Creme

Glazed Over Donuts

DIA:Beacon occupies a building that served as the box printing factory for Nabisco Co. Because it was a printing plant, it was built with rows of skylights to provide natural light for the printers. They give wonderful illumination for the galleries. DIA’s collection of contemporary and conceptual art, which, to be honest is not my favorite, is shown to its best effect. The front half of the building is dedicated to temporary exhibits, while the permanent exhibits reside in the back, and this is where my favorite exhibit is. Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra consists of four very large structures made of rolled steel. They were designed for visitors to walk among and to enter as they explore the spaces they create. I have always enjoyed Serra’s work (yes, even Tilted Arc). I find the size and weathering of them fascinating.

26.JULI1976 by On Kawara

Party/After-Party by Carl Craig

Double Merge by Sam Gilliam

Installations by Barry La Va

Shadows by Andy Warhol

by Mary Corse

Relatum !969/2019 by Lee Ufan

Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra

Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra

Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra

Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra

There are many things to do outside of New York City. Especially in this time of COVID, having an option to get out of town for the day is welcome.

Nuts And Bolts:

Beacon New York is 65 miles north of New York City. Take the Taconic Parkway to exit 37B for I-84 West. Take I-84 to exit 41 for NY-9D south. Follow the signs to the museum.

DIA:Beacon is open Fri-Mon 11AM-6PM. Tickets must be ordered in advance for set entrance times. Entrances fees are General $15/ students and seniors $12/ Visitors with disabilities $12 (free for members and children under 12) 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A drive around Cayuga Lake

The Finger Lakes region of New York is a beautiful area to visit. There are several state parks and lots of places to hike in nature. But there is more than that to do in the Ithaca area. So, on a lovely, if windy day I took off and drove around Cayuga lake. This gave me the chance to visit a few of the local wineries and some historic sites.

The loop around Cayuga Lake is about 90 miles, and, if you do it right, it will take you most of a day. I started by heading north on NY-89, which hugs the western shore of the lake. I chose this route because it took me to two of the three wineries I had chosen, out of the more than a dozen that are in the area. My first stop was at the Thirsty Owl Wine Company, a 24-mile drive north of Ithaca, with the lake peaking in and out of the trees the whole way. Thirsty Owl sits on the lake shore, offering great views along with great wines. You can purchase a tasting flight of five wines for $5. You choose the ones you want from a long menu of wines. Thirsty Owl also offers a bistro menu from 11:30 - 5:00 (Thursday thru Monday) so you can enjoy lunch on their estate overlooking Cayuga lake.

Five miles up route 89 is the Goose Watch Winery.  Sitting up on a hillside overlooking the lake, they have a beautiful spot, and their tasting room offers great views. Goose Watch sells several pre-chosen tasting flights that are organized by the type of wine (red/white; sweet/dry). Their flight run from $8 to $10 (plus $1for five chocolate kisses, for which they blamed Gov. Cuomo’s food and alcohol restrictions). Only five miles apart, these two wineries have a very different feel. At Thirsty Owl I was met at the door and escorted to the outdoor tasting area. I was assigned a sommelier who led me through my tasting, offering advice as I chose the wines. She stayed with me, and gave a description of each wine as she poured them. At Goose Watch, I ordered my entire flight at the bar, and then found seating on the outdoor veranda. All five wines were brought at the same time, along with a printed description for each.

For lunch, I stopped in the town of Seneca Falls. It is best known as the birth-place of the Women’s Rights Movement. Here you will find the Seneca Falls National historical Monument along with several other historic homes and places to visit. I did not have time to see them on this trip. I came for lunch, but Main Street did not offer great options. I chose a sports bar - Parker’s Grille & Tap House. They did have a good Caesar salad with Grilled Chicken.

After recharging my batteries, and buying a couple of tee-shirts, I headed east on US-20 across the northern edge of Cayuga Lake, and then turned south onto NY-90. I passed through several small towns, and then stumbled across what looked like a historic farm. It turned out to be the factory and showroom for MacKenzie-Childs, an producer of upscale home furnishings. The have a signature checkerboard pattern. What drew me in were their beautiful grounds. The Farm is open to the public and has a lovely pond, and a historical farm house. What was the barn is now the store and factory.

The MacKenzie-Childs facility sits on the outskirts of the town of Aurora. This little town on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake wa founded in the 1790’s. It has served a transfer point for boats heading for the Erie Canal and as the home to Wells College. There are beautiful old buildings along its Main Street, along with several small inns. Many of the buildings are run today by the Aurora Inn.

My last stop on this trip was at the Long Point Winery. It is set back from the lake, up on a hill. By the time I arrived there, it had become very windy, so I opted for a seat inside a large tent. Their tasting flight was $5 and I was free to choose the five wines I wanted to try.

It was about a half-hour drive back into Ithaca, altogether a day well spent enjoying the beautiful sights and some great wine.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Taughannock Falls State Park


Taughannock Creek

The Finger Lakes section of New York is a beautiful part of the state. The ice age glaciers and local geology have created a large collection of river gorges along with the eleven lakes themselves. Last week I wrote about Buttermilk Falls, a beautiful set of cascades. It is beautiful, but not an easy hike. Another gorgeous gorge, and one with a much easier walk is at Taughannock Falls State Park. 

Located eleven miles north of Ithaca, on the western shore of Lake Cayuga, the park offers some of the best hiking, swimming, fishing and boating, all in one place. Taughannock Falls State Park straddles NY-96, with its eastern section along the water. This lake-front section offers access to a beach, a fishing pier and the park’s boat-launch and marina. There are plenty of picnic tables and places for kids to play. It is a great place to come for the day, set up a picnic and enjoy everything the lake has to offer.

The highlight of the park is on the other side of the road. This is where you will find Taughannock Creek and the hike to the falls. The trail starts at the parking lot and takes you to the Lower Falls, a 15 foot drop leading to final leg of the creek before the lake. From this point, the trail follows the edge of Taughannock Creek. One really fun thing is that during the summer, when water levels are low, you can leave the trail, and hike up the bed of creek. The bed is limestone, with very little dirt, so you can walk it without getting your shoes wet or dirty. Being in the middle of gorge offers some amazing views.

Of course, the goal is Taughannock Falls, itself. Unlike the cascades of Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock is a drop falls, 215 feet high. Even in July, when there is not a lot of water in the creek, it is an impressive sight. The difference in the two falls is due to different geological features, even though there is only a 20 mile distance. The ground at Taughannock is primarily shale, so the rock has eroded in a more vertical pattern.

Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls State Park has other trail options, including two that climb up to the top of the falls, one on each side of the gorge. You can also drive up to top and take a short hike to an overlook point. 

There are lots of wonderful hikes in the Ithaca area. Buttermilk Falls and Taughannock Falls State Parks are options to really enjoy nature.

Nuts and Bolts

Taughannock Falls State Park is located along route NY-89, approximately 11 miles north of Ithaca. Parking fees are $8/day.