DIA:BEACON ART MUSEUM

By Joseph Caplan

Situated on wooded acreage along the Hudson River, the Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries occupies a former Nabisco factory replete with enough skylights to capture your attention, if only for a moment.

The aesthetics and holistic balance of the museum aside, on display is a tour of unfettered creativity tidily ordered to embrace the curious onlooker. The casual observer might readjust their preconceptions of artistic constraints, as most pieces at the Dia have shattered those inhibitions decades ago. A brave new world of geometric shapes, reconfigured materials or ingenious allocation of space mystify the visitor.

What differentiates the Dia:Beacon from say, a museum in Manhattan?

First is the integration of the museum both aesthetically and ecologically into the environment. The lush acreage embraces the museum, while the landscape compliments the contours of the river estuary.

Second is the interaction or role of the pieces on display with the visitor. Rather than a display of static artistic works isolated from the viewer, the Riggio Galleries nourish a tactile sense of cerebral connectivity with their sculpture by the juxtaposition of pieces with the architectural elements of the gallery itself. Indeed, whether the geometric pieces in the floor of one gallery, or the volumetric pieces on the floor of another, spark the intellect to decipher whether art is what is there, or what is not.

                            John Chamberlains Sculptures

                           John Chamberlains Sculptures

Third, of course, is the introduction of radical artistic static and sculptural pieces to the novice audience. While the artistic process is both a function of time and material, here on display, is a selection of work which has both withstood the test of time and embraced unorthodox materials.

Fourth is the degree of involvement to which the Dia:Beacon cooperates with the local community to offer their Education Programs and Community Free Day.

Fifth is the intellectual commitment to the Hudson Valley sustained, nurtured and shared by both the artistic and financial community of the Dia:Beacon. The sustained impact upon the young mind, the uninitiated or even the developed connoisseur of contemporary art, is unarguably the magic of the museum.

Illumination is the final word about Dia:Beacon. The interplay of static, sculptural and visual art with the structural elements of a re-purposed factory, set within the gorgeous river valley is, without a doubt, a naturally invigorating event.

                                                                        Michael Heizer's 'North, East, South, West'

                                                                       Michael Heizer's 'North, East, South, West'

The Dia:Beacon merits applause for their innovative revitalization of vacant space and consequent financial boon to the nearby Beacon Business community plus the sheer prestige the museum lends to the region.

Highly recommended, a tour of their Riggio Galleries simply inspires the imagination and creates a favorable impression. No photography is allowed, so leave your camera at home. However, the imagery you leave with certainly might last quite a while. A word of appreciation to their attentive staff at the gift shop, cafe and, of course, the Riggio Galleries.

Dia Art Foundation is a nonprofit institution envisioned by Heiner Friedrich, Philippa de Menil with art historian Helen Winkler. Dia:Beacon opened in May of 2003
3 Beekman Street, Beacon, NY 12508
www.diaart.org