There is no better backdrop for sculpture than the open air, in this writer’s humble opinion – especially when the works are made of natural materials like stone, as most of the 200 works at the five-acre Bradford Graves Sculpture Park in Kerhonkson are. The sculpture park opens on Saturday, May 4 for its fourth season, remaining open through October 27 by appointment only.
Bradford Graves (1939-1998) was a sculptor who worked primarily in limestone, inspired by archaeology and a feeling of connection to the Earth. His work has contemporary sensibilities, and yet also recalls ancient megaliths and monuments. His widow, Verna Gillis, opened the sculpture park four years ago, after moving most of Graves’s work from his studio to the site.
The sculptor taught at the Parsons School of Design and was a professor of Fine Arts at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where, by the account of one student, Graves was “the nicest, kindest man I met in college,” known as “Brad” by his students rather than “Professor Graves,” and never seen without clay-stained overalls and marble or limestone dust on his hands.
The Bradford Graves Sculpture Park has a “Please Touch” policy, with each work positioned on a bluestone slab from local quarries that can be sat upon. The Mirror Pavilion features sculptures from the series “This Mirror Can Crack a Stone,” inspired by Thoreau.
There are smaller pieces and bronzes on display in a gallery. Drawings and prints, as well as his extensive personal library, are available upon special request. All of the sculpture is for sale, with prices given on request. The sculpture park also welcomes photographers for photo shoots.