Dia: Beacon

We used the July 4 holiday weekend to take the train up along the Hudson River to see Dia: Beacon, a museum in what used to be a Nabisco box factory. It’s a huge space and holds a lot of pieces and installations from the Dia Art Foundation’s permanent collection. I think my favorite part may have been the train ride. How nice to see something besides darkness when looking out a train window. Even better when it’s a river going past hills.

Dia: Beacon was only about a 10 minute walk from the train station. Of course, it was about a million degrees (roughly). I had the odd feeling that I was in New Mexico from the heat, the hills, the modern landscaping. Dia: Beacon was huge, and at first it was a shock to be in so much open space, free from crowds. Unfortunately, something about the combination of the heat outside to the stuffy museum air inside then the block line paintings that started the museum just made me feel really dizzy. Still, I saw most of the museum, including a room of Andy Warhol’s Shadow paintings and a long hall of Dan Flavin’s light installations. There were some On Kawara date paintings, a long series where the artist has painted the month, day, and year based on the language and system of the country he is in. If he can’t finish the painting within the day, he destroys it. This same artist also sent his friends telegrams that said “I’M STILL ALIVE.” There was also art by Joseph Beuys, who spent time locked in a room with a live coyote as a performance piece. He also liked to wrap himself and other things in heavy gray felt.

After the museum, we walked to the river. How refreshing to feel gravel and tall grass under my feet! I love cities, but sometimes it’s so nice to leave the pavement and heavily groomed parks behind.

We walked into the downtown area for ice cream, which I’m surprised didn’t turn to steam on my tongue. Okay, I’m exaggerating the heat, it’s what I do. We then caught the train back to Grand Central, and the steel and glass took over the sky again.

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