A Magnum Opus
Another stop on my Hudson River Valley trip in 2004 was Opus 40, in Saugerties NY, near Woodstock. Technically I suppose you could argue this isn’t a “garden,” but I had read enough about it on the Internet while I was researching my trip that I was very intrigued and wanted to check it out.
I am directionally challenged at the best of times, and this was long before I become joined at the hip with my Garmin Nuvi GPS. I won’t bore you with how many times I got lost en route to this location, but my journey was capped off with discovering on my arrival that the weekday in question was one when the site is usually closed to the public. The powers that be, however, succumbed to my pleas since there was already a painting class working on site. I hastily paid my five dollars admission fee and started exploring, mouth wide open and D100 (no tripod) in hand.
Opus 40 is one of the most unusual created landscapes in the Eastern United States. Its creator, Harvey Fite (head of the Fine Arts Division at Bard College from its inception until his retirement in 1969), spent 37 years fashioning a series of ramps, steps, pools and terraces constructed from stone from a quarry on the site, capped with a nine-ton monolith. Opus 40 was built completely by hand, using only blasting powder and hand tools; no mortar or cement was used.
Some of the ramps have planting wells that contain trees, although a number of these ‘beds’ are now empty, the trees having failed to survive. Some of Fite’s sculptures surround the periphery of the site, although the central structure is by far the most powerfully affecting component of the site. The colors of the stone shift subtly as the light changes, and the effect is arresting.
Opus 40 is located in Saugerties, New York, near Woodstock. It is open on weekends and holiday Mondays. For directions, details on its hours and admission information, visit its website. If you’re going to be in the area, it’s worth a detour.landscape, Travel comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.