Storm King

Overlooking the South Fields in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Overlooking the South Fields (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I was never all that interested in modern art; growing up in a rock ‘n roll and (well done) meat and potatoes environment will do that to you. Admittedly, I didn’t understand modernistic techniques either. All that stark white and sharp edges was too much for my curvy, colorful mind to comprehend. That is, until I went to Storm King Art Center, where towering chunks of metal unite peacefully amongst majestic trees and rolling pastures. The simplicity of natural meadows somehow balances these complex structures so they become one with their surroundings. At Storm King I discovered that gardeners are not so different from artists, we simply use a different medium to create our masterpieces.

The Three Legged Budha in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Three Legged Budha (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Since its foundation in 1960, Storm King ( has amassed over 100 unique sculptures and installations created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, all carefully sited within the fields and woodlands of its vast landscape. Because of the size of this property, you can explore it on foot (my recommendation-wear comfy shoes), on bicycle or by tram. There are maps online (free with admittance) which show the miles of walking paths and roadways throughout the park, but you will definitely break from the beaten trail on more than one occasion-I guarantee it. There is a cafeteria for snacking (and resting) but you may bring your own food and enjoy various spots for a picnic. As for me, I was in the zone. I ate and drank while walk-jogging from one art piece to another.

Storm King's Museum Hill in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Storm King’s Museum Hill (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The Northern part of Storm King has the highest points and offers stunning views of rolling green meadows bordered with waves of amber grasses. From the North Woods you can look down on Museum Hill and the original 1935 stone residence. And from Museum Hill and the observation deck you have a panoramic view of the Meadows and South Fields. Throughout Storm King’s countryside lie sculptures, ranging in size, shape and color, all living harmoniously within the borders of this art center. From twisted metal to orbs, and tubes to spikes, nothing is taboo within the perimeter of this artistic property.

Red Sculptures ignite the landscape in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Red Sculptures ignite the landscape (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The gardener in me had been obsessing for months about seeing Maya Lin’s creation, Storm King Wavefield, so instead of focusing on Museum Hill, I headed to the South Fields where my beloved treasure was nestled. Yet there were so many distractions! Try as I may to follow the radar honed in on the southwest corner’s wavy meadow, I couldn’t help myself as I came upon one unusual piece after another. Bright red beams joined together like chopsticks poking for sushi, rustic shapes that appeared to be construction remnants, and a myriad of shapes attached to a weathered triangular frame. All that was just steps from the parking lot. How the heck would I ever get to the grassy waves that were beckoning to me from across this 500 acre property?

The winding Storm King Wall in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The winding Storm King Wall (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

While the northern half of the estate holds a heavier concentration of sculpture, the southern half is more open and spread out. And this is where I found my favorite pieces. The massive 65 foot Pyramidian is dwarfed in the center of the immense South Fields, yet the nearby maple tree alee looks like a row of saplings in comparison. Atop a small rise stands the Three Legged Buddha, a curious steel and copper form reaching 28 feet into the sky (there are great stories about this one piece alone) while the head of the Long Island Buddha rests on the lawn nearby. Andy Goldsworthy has two stone walls on display here; Five Men, Seventeen Days, Fifteen Boulders, One Wall, which weaves along the woodland near the Zhang Huan sculptures, while the other, Storm King Wall, winds its way down the southwest hills into a small pond, and reappears on the opposite shore to climb up the adjacent hill.

The peaks of Storm King's Wavefield in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The peaks of Storm King’s Wavefield (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

And finally . . . I came to Wavefield, which did not disappoint. Imagine the crisp peaks of a lemon meringue pie-comprised instead of grass, add the sensation of movement as shadows dance along the edges, the sound of the wind gently rustling through the trees, and take a deep breath of moist earth drizzled with morning dew. That will give you an idea of what it is like to see Wavefield from the uppermost point.

The Arch rises above tall grasses in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Arch rises above tall grasses (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Though I had seen what I came to see, I still had dozens of sculptures to view as I headed back toward the northern end. The Mermaid, a boat not docked, but perched atop a pole amidst ducks and frogs that swam contentedly beneath its brightly colored bow, was one example. Numerous forms dotted the landscape as I zigzagged from one side of the road to the other for closer observation. Some objects changed color at different angles, and one morphed into a row of shiny mirrors. Geese waddled and grazed under the shade of brightly tinted structures as I strolled toward the Meadows, an area of mown paths lined with head-high swaying reeds. The trail opened to The Arch, a black structure that reminded me of Darth Vader’s helmet, followed by a crisscross pile of massive smoke stack-like tubes called Adonai.

Adonai's massive tubes roll with the landscape in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Adonai’s massive tubes roll with the landscape (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

All in all, I learned a lot from this garden. I learned the art of quiet observation. I learned the art of patience; to take the time to study an object from many different angles. I began to understand that through silence and tolerance I too could relate to each artist’s message. I could interpret the meaning of a piece and how it might relate to another. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Storm King is the place to experience it~

**For other great places to visit nearby, read: Great Local Destinations **


  1. Bravo Kathy! You have the eye for the angles!

  2. What a brilliant article Kathy! I waited with baited breath for this one. Thank you so much for bringing Storm King to me in Colorado. Spectacular! And I particularly loved your lemon meringue pie analogy!

    • Thank you, Dina! I gives me such pleasure to share wonderful places with my followers, whether near or far. If I can enrich someone’s day by introducing them to the beauty that surrounds us, then I am fulfilled ~

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A Garden for All