The Exquisite Gardens In Bloom
The Longhouse Reserve Sculpture Garden is in Long Island’s East Hampton. It is a beautifully wooded, exquisitely landscaped, 16-acre garden decorated by about 60 sculptures. Although the pavilion, which houses several other works, was still closed due to Covid during our May 2022 visit, we luckily visited when the gardens and the trees were in full bloom. The blooming foliage was especially striking in the Red Garden where two lines of red posts led down to an arcade of brilliant red bushes. This was in addition to trees filled with pure white blossoms, an arcade covered by flowering wisteria, and rows upon rows of flowering plants.
So beautiful was the garden one could almost lose sight of the primary reason that we visited: To see the sculptures that are themselves artfully placed within the landscaped gardens.
It’s Also About the Art
Nowhere is this synergy between art and nature more striking than with Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass Cobalt Reeds which are framed by abstracted arches above a lovely fountain and looking over a pond covered with lily pads. Not far behind is Ai Wei Wei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads which surrounds a three-quarter circular, grassy mound at the center of which is an amphitheater that highlights Jun Kaneko’s lovely, glazed ceramic “Dango”
Among the dozens of other striking sculptures, all of which are integrated into the landscaped surroundings are:
- Toshiko Takaezu’s solemn “Gateway Bell”
- Claus Bury’s imaginative “Homage to the Brooklyn Bridge”
- Buckminster Fuller’s large, “Fly’s Eye Dome”
- Yoko Ono’s “Play it by Trust” marble dust chess set
- Sui Jianguo’s cast-iron “Legacy Mantle” Mao Jacket;
- Willem de Kooning’s bronze Reclining Figure
- Ray Smith’s “Black Mirror”, a black pool with a hollow star through which water pours into the void
- Steven and Will Ladd’s sculpture which from the side, looks like a stacked cord of wood, but when you get to either end, you find a tunnel surrounded by cross-sections of small trees
- Will Ryman’s lovely, towering, brightly painted red stainless steel “rose bush” with fallen petals strewn. around its base
- And, at the entry/exit of the parking lot, you are greeted with Gaston Lachaise’s towering “Heroic Man”
Does Nature Enhance Art or Does Art Enhance Nature
Although LongHouse’s sculptures may not be as massive or striking as those in larger, open Hudson Valley sculpture parks like Storm King or Art Omni, LongHouse is purposely more intimate than these or most other sculpture parks. Its beauty is in the subtle interplay between art and nature—the beautifully landscaped grounds (especially when they are in full bloom) and especially in how nature enhances the art, and yes, in the way that art enhances nature.