Located in the picturesque landscape of Hudson Valley in Columbia County, New York, Art Omi is an arts center that seamlessly blends nature and creativity. The journey through its grounds immerses visitors in a world where architecture, art, and nature converge to leave a lasting impression. Featuring works by a diverse international artistic community in a variety of mediums, from captivating sculptures to unique architectural follies and thought-provoking installations, Art Omi presents a broad scope of art expressions.
A Sanctuary of Art and Nature
The center, founded in 1992 by real estate developer and literary agent Francis J. Greenburger, encompasses over 120 acres of sprawling meadows, dense forest, and serene ponds that were once inhabited by the Mohican people. The careful integration of art within the natural surroundings creates an enchanting atmosphere, where contemporary art harmoniously coexists with the environment and allows for personal connections with the works.
Dynamic Sculptures and Architectural Pavilions
Scattered through the site there are over 60 sculptures and architectural follies, with new pieces added or rotated each year. Among the dynamic sculptures on view, is “Arrow”, by artist Tony Tasset. Composed of two cojoined sideways arrows (one facing down and the other up), made of aluminum and painted in bold colors (aqua, orange, yellow, and green) the piece is meant to be a comment on the changes in appetite for the arts. Tasset’s work often, as stated on the center’s website, “references the trappings of modernism, pop culture, mass marketing, and consumerism, through a mastery of the vernacular, universal symbols, and recognizable techniques.”
Beyond the sculptures, engaging architectural follies transcend traditional artistic mediums to offer a new experience of space. One notable example of this is the zoid pavilion by LevenBetts, the artistic pair composed by architects/artists David Leven and Stella Betts. The structure, which is based on the repetition of a geometric shape, sparks curiosity with its geometric structure and, inviting us to explore the intersections of imagination, design, and space, generating a stimulating conversation about the influences of built environments on our experiences and emotions.
Not far from the zoid sits “ReActor”, Alex Schweder’s and Ward Shelly’s interactive installation, a wood and concrete floating house. The 44-foot by 8- foot structure rotates 360 degrees atop a 15-foot concrete column in response to its inhabitants’ movements, exterior forces (like the wind or a hand pull), and interior conditions. The artists invite guests to actively engage and become part of the artwork itself.
A common theme of the Art Omi installations is the relationship between nature and human-made structures. An example of this is Caroline O’Donnell’s and Martin Miller’s “Evitim” piece, made with Plywood, wood, and steel, incorporating recyclable pieces from a previous art piece. The work emphasizes eco-conscious design and serves as a reminder of our responsibility to the environment and our ability to create harmonious spaces that coexist with nature.
Residencies, Educational Programs and Events
There is certainly plenty to contemplate at Art Omi, but the organization also aims to foster original, new ideas and works. And thus offers five distinct on-site residency programs in art, architecture, dance, music and writing. Education and community outreach are also an important part of Art Omi’s mission.
Through a diverse range of programs, events, workshops, lectures, the center further enriches the visitor experience and appreciation of the artwork on display. The organization also hosts exhibitions, performances, and cultural events that celebrate the intersection of art, music, and dance. The goal is to create a vibrant and artistically engaged community immersed in the endless possibilities of artistic expression.
By James Mckenzie
All Photography by Paul Clemence
Featured photo: Entrance to Art OMI with Clouds sculpture by Olaf Breuning in the background by Paul Clemence.