Heading North on Interstate 87 (part 1)

Posted on | July 15, 2011 | Posted by John Heiden

Friday July 8, 2011, 8AM

Landing at JFK on the AA redeye from L.A., I quickly make my way to the rental car counter and on to one of my favorite places – the Holz Farm in Phoenicia, NY. I’m working with George Holz this weekend on his celebrity portrait book documenting almost 30 years of famous (and a few infamous) subjects. On this trip I’ve decided to finally visit Andy Goldsworthy’s wall at Storm King on my way up Interstate 87, about halfway to my Catskills destination. I’ve probably driven by Storm King a few dozen times over the years since George bought a simple 60s A-frame on 7 acres back in 1987. I became aware of Goldsworthy’s Storm King installation after admiring his work for years and while researching k.d. lang’s, Hymns of The 49th Parallel cover art.

Without a map, and hopelessly dependent on my rental’s navigation system I quickly find that it doesn’t recognize Storm King’s address, 1 Museum Road. I call the SK automated directory and try to commit the directions to memory since I can’t find a writing instrument. Per the phone instructions I take the correct exit and head East, instead of West, quickly getting lost. Nevertheless, I discover that there is an interesting world off I87 between Manhattan and Phoenicia. I also have this deep realization of why Jeri (my wife) has always insisted that we have trees on our street and as many as can fit on our property. I’ve always known that she misses the seasons and the trees of her native New Jersey and it becomes quite clear in these lost minutes how lush and beautiful the landscape of her youth is and the mark it made—quite different from the Scrub Oak and brush and barren hills surrounding the Central Coast of California where we met.

While retracing my route I end up coming across a sign directing me to DIA:Beacon. Yes! I have wanted to visit the DEA:Beacon since reading about it in the publicity blitz celebrating its opening a few years ago. My first experience with DIA was back in 1979 when Jeri and I moved to NYC and were staying with our friend Tad Brady on Thompson St. in Soho. He introduced me to De Maria’s, Broken Kilometer on West Broadway and Earth Room on Wooster St. It was very strange kind of art – and although I didn’t quite understand it, it felt like being in church – contemplative and spiritual. I spent many hours with both sculptures and try to visit them whenever in NYC.

I finally make it to the DIA:Beacon parking lot, admire the grounds and start my self guided (random) tour of the facility. Initially I’m overcome by the beautiful transformation of this massive brick industrial factory. I quickly connect with the Donald Judd gallery and around the corner the Dan Flavin gallery brings back a rush of memories from my first exposure to his work in the early 80s at Leo Castelli on West Broadway. After spending a few hours and discovering the beautifully crafted and simple interactive work of Franz Erhard Walter I decide to try to make it to Storm King before they close in a couple of hours.

As I drive the sky starts turning ominously grey. By the time I pay admission and park, the sky is turning black with lightning strikes in the distance. Within minutes it’s hailing with thunder & lightning in the surrounding meadow. So close, but the day has been good and the art inspiring. I leave thinking that I was able to witness Storm King with it’s namesake roaring through. I imagine it’s sort of like being at De Maria’s Lighting Rod Field in New Mexico when a large electrical storm hits. An end to a memorable day – I will have to visit Andy’s wall on another trip.