Art Omi's 120 acre sculpture and architecture park, which features residency programs for international artists, writers, dancers, musicians and architects, is open and welcoming visitors in Columbia Country.
What You Need To Know
- Art Omi's 120 acre sculpture and architecture park is open and welcoming visitors in Columbia Country
- The park is currently home to more than 60 sculptures and architectural works
- Art Omi is open daily and free to the public
"We thought about closing in the beginning, but our regulars begged us to stay open, so we really stopped and thought about it," said Art Omi Executive Director Ruth Adams.
And so Art Omi is open and has been throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's been lovely, people are so grateful," Adams said. "Even at the worst times of the pandemic, just the idea that you could go somewhere and breathe and relax and walk, I think has been really meaningful for people."
If you've never driven State Route 22 in Columbia County and been greeted by a giant deer sculpture when you arrive at Art Omi, well, you've been missing out. It's been in Ghent for 28 years.
"We started as a international artist residency program, so we invited 30 artists from all over the world to come and make work together in an old barn, so they did that and shared their work with the public," Adams said.
Over nearly three decades, the program has grown with writers, dancers, musicians and most recently, architects. The park is currently home to more than 60 sculptures and architectural works.
"It's a nice walk through mowed areas, so it's safe from ticks and things like that, but you can kind of make your own way," Adams said.
The artistic oasis bends through fields and wooded areas on the property, making it not only a spot to take in the works of artists in residency, but an easy spot to take in nature too.
"There's not an order it and you can turn a corner of a hill and find a surprise, you can go in the woods and see something on the pond or the bog," Adams said.
With a few changes, like signs asking visitors to wear masks when they can't social distance, relocated bathrooms, and their cafe closed for the time-being, they're still expecting to see upwards of 35,000 visitors this year from near and far.
"We have the show in the gallery but you have to register," Adams said. "It's still free, but you have to register, so there's timed entry and it's safe to go in the gallery and that will only be open right now, Friday Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m."
And it’s not just a great day trip to get out of the house. If you’re looking for something for the kids to do, they have art enrichment programs as well.
"We have a virtual tour on the website," said Art Omi Director of Education Sasha Sicurella. "And if you check out our calendar we also have curatorial tours that are a live feed tour by one of our curatorial assistants."
If that's not hands on enough, Sicurella says when schools closed and their weekend workshops shuttered, they wanted to ensure kids could still make art. They launched a weekly email blast called "Creative Momentum," with projects that became so popular, parents and grandparents started doing them too.
"Then the projects became shared amongst teachers and so we really did create some kind of momentum, maybe more than we anticipated doing," Sicurella said.
That momentum spilled over again, as they wondered whether they'd have Camp Omi this summer.
"We started designing something that was more remote, so it was Camp Omi 'in a box' and that program is a box of a beautiful art materials that comes with project cards and illustrated prompts for children to do," Sicurella said. "But it also has an online component where our teaching artists were making videos and reading stories to the kids."
The weekly activity boxes are available for 6-10 year olds and there's preschool box for 3-5 year olds, you just have to order them online and pick them up.
As Upstate New York entered Phase 4, Art Omi was also able to welcome socially distant groups of six children to one teaching artist to make art on site.
"So they walk through the park, they're getting an up close and personal tour of the sculptures, they're doing socially distanced games and drawing activities with their own set of markers," Sicurella said. "And again, it's really about the interaction and those social moments with this as the backdrop."
Whether you come for a simplified Camp Omi experience, to pick up Camp Omi in a Box, or just a trip on tankful, Art Omi is fun for the whole family.
"It's summer time and the kids are just wanting to get out and run, and they can do that here in a really safe place and a natural environment," Sicurella said.
Art Omi is open daily and free to the public. There are park maps, including a special map for sculptures great for kids to interact with. Leashed dogs and bikes are permitted on the property.
For more details on Art Omi as well as upcoming events, visit their website.