Although Manhattan has numerous venues for contemporary and modern art, those looking for an unparalleled, immersive experience head to Beacon, New York. The Dia Art Foundation’s Dia:Beacon presents an alternative space for displaying contemporary art in the quaint city of Beacon. Opened in 2003 by the Dia Art Foundation, Dia:Beacon houses the foundation’s impressive collection of contemporary works and hosts exhibitions and artist performances.
The Dia Art Foundation promotes ambitious artistic endeavors and creates public dialogue about contemporary art. In the spirit of public education, Dia:Beacon will host a Gallery Talk focusing on Robert Irwin’s work at 2 PM on Saturday, June 8th. These lectures are free with admission and delight first-timers as well as returning Dia members.
The June 8th Gallery Talk will be led by Mitch McEwen, the founder of SUPERFRONT, a non-profit dedicated to innovative, avant-garde architecture. Like The Dia Foundation, SUPERFRONT seeks to support the avant-garde and help the public engage with artistic works. The Gallery Talk will feature Robert Irwin’s work which is on long-term view at Dia:Beacon. McEwen will provide insight into Irwin’s design from an architectural and aesthetic standpoint. This Gallery Talk is especially relevant to Dia:Beacon because Irwin played an integral role in realizing the unique site.
Since receiving the building from International Paper in 1999, to its opening in 2003, the former Nabsico box printing factory has been transformed into a work of art in itself. The Dia Foundation enlisted the help of the architecture firm, OpenOffice, and Robert Irwin to repurpose the building while preserving its architectural integrity. The result is an original space that provides an ideal setting for displaying contemporary art. The building retains its industrial character while meeting the installation challenges that many of the Dia collection’s works pose. For example, Michael Heizer’s North, South, East, West is a dwarfing negative space sculpture installed into the floor of the building. Dia:Beacon has also inspired artists to create site-specific works.
In addition to its ability to accommodate large scale works, Dia:Beacon is noteworthy for its relationship with nature. The sky lights and frosted glass windows provide a welcome contrast to the artificial lighting most museums utilize. Since natural light shifts with weather conditions and the time of day, the art is in a constant state of flux. This aspect of temporality and instability reinforces the idea that visitors are engaging with the art, not merely observing it.
Dia:Beacon encourages visitors to immerse themselves in Irwin’s outdoor landscape design in the West Garden. The West Garden is the ideal location for a casual picnic and features sound installations as well as scenic views of the Hudson. But Irwin’s landscaping extends beyond his authorship of the West Garden.
From the carefully chosen doors to the fruit trees in the parking lot, Irwin had a hand in shaping visitors’ experience at and perception of Dia:Beacon. His greatest accomplishments are; perhaps, these unacknowledged aspects of the site because they create an ideal setting for interacting with contemporary art.
Dia:Beacon is located at 535 W 22nd Street New York, NY 10011 and hosts hour-long Gallery Talks at 2PM on the second Saturday of each month at no additional fee.