Fine art that towers, snakes, and plummets; installations of scales and statues that approach the sublime. Dia:Beacon, a museum of contemporary, conceptual art, offers interactive, engaging, must-see exhibits in its permanent collection that don't require a degree in fine art to enjoy.
Dia's Community Free Day on January 12 is the perfect time to explore them. From 11am to 5pm, visitors of all ages can participate in a full day of special workshops, gallery talks, and tours. If you live in the Hudson Valley (Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, or Westchester counties) admission is free.
At 11am, the Beacon Music Factory hosts a special event at the museum, "Exploring the Materiality of Sound and Space." To celebrate their one-year anniversary, the Factory presents the children's program where participants use the galleries as launching points for creating sonic landscapes. There are events scheduled throughout the Community Free Day (see a full schedule here), but here are four reasons to visit Dia:Beacon any day:
1. John Chamberlain: Massive, folding, gestural abstract expressionist sculptures made of materials ranging from crushed automobile parts to mineral-coated Plexiglas to aluminum foil, many of which are enameled by spraying, stenciling, dribbling, graffitiing, and airbrushing with bright, tropical hues and patterns.
2. Michael Heizer: Negative sculpture, known as "Land art" or "Earth art," inspired by the desert canvas of the American West. While some of his pieces are outdoor works (like Double Negative (1969), which comprises two giant rectangular cuts in the irregular cliff edges of a tall desert mesa near Overton, Nevada), North, East, South, West is physically integrated into the Dia building. Gallery patrons are able to approach the seemingly endless deep black holes, offering a sublime experience of both terror and awe.
3. Richard Serra: Sculptural art on a massive scale concerned primarily with movement of the body through its physical contours: an exhibit that depends as much on the art as it does the audience's direct physical experience with it. Dia has an entire annex devoted to Serra's sculptures—a space where you can spend an entire day devoted to the act of labyrinthian strolls.
4. Bookshop & Café: Dia's bookshop is one of the greatest resources for artists' books in the region, carrying over 6,000 titles, including Dia publications; artists’ monographs; exhibition catalogues; publications on architecture, design, and writing; children’s books; regional titles; and periodicals. The café serves light fare with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. A community reception sponsored by the Newburgh Brewing Company will be held in the café at 4pm to close out the day's festivities on the 12th.