All the Cool Kids Are Going to DIA: Beacon. Here’s Why You Should Too!

Along Hudson River and through the woods, to DIA: Beacon I went. Spoiler alert: It did not suck.

For its inhabitants, New York City feels like the center of the universe. It’s vibrant cultural landscape means that you can feel like you’ve traveled the world when you’ve only walked ten blocks. And the convenience of the city cannot be beat. From taquitos at 3 am on the Lower East Side to tickets to the ballet at Lincoln Center, with the right footwear, a cultural experience is within walking distance. For these reasons, leaving the City, (note the capital C), seems unfathomable. If you can’t get it here, you can’t get it anywhere.

A museum somewhere in bumblefuck Upstate New York

Personally, the only time I leave the city and remain within state lines is to visit my 91-year old grandmother in Long Island; otherwise, getting me to venture as far as the other side Williamsburg Bridge is quite the todo. So when our lovely Editor assigned me the task of visiting a museum somewhere in bumblefuck Upstate New York, I could feel the separation anxiety start to swell within me. You want me to go where?

Dia: Beacon.

Ok, let’s start with how it’s pronounced. It’s “dee-ah” not “D.I.A.” or “dye-ah.” Dia is a contemporary arts foundation and Beacon is a city located in Dutchess County, New York. Put them together, and you get a shockingly gorgeous contemporary art museum nestled in an otherwise sleepy small town that borders the Hudson River.

NYC DIA:Beacon Hudson

Hudson River road to DIA:Beacon by Frederic Dith

Getting there was also wildly more convenient than I expected, even by my Manhattanite standards. You simply take the Metro-North out of Grand Central to Beacon Station, no train changes required. Sidebar: As much as I hate leaving Manhattan, I love being in Grand Central. It’s got this anachronistic glamour that brings with it the promise of an adventure. Anyway, after an hour and a half ride through the scenic Hudson Valley, you arrive somewhere in nature that feels lifetimes away from the floating mass of concrete that is New York City. The museum itself is a quick ten minute walk from the train station. Just follow the hipper people with Herschel backpacks and lace-up boots until you spot it.

DIA:Beacon Entrance

DIA:Beacon City of Beacon

Full disclosure: my mission to Dia: Beacon was also my second-date with my now boyfriend, who is as equally uncool as I am. All I knew was that he turned down a Met’s game to tag along, so this art shit better be fucking good.

It was.

As we came upon the former Nabisco box-printing factory that now houses the museum, my heart fluttered with childlike excitement. It was early summer, and the grass and trees hugged the mostly brick and glass building, so that it seemed to have sprouted from the earth itself in a Frank Lloyd Wright-y sort of way. I felt that sense of discovery I so often miss in my mostly adult life, which is so wrought with routine. Or maybe i was just excited to see so much grass– a rarity south of 14th Street.

DIA:Beacon

Even if you’re one of those people who finds contemporary art confusing, if not totally ridiculous, the composition of the exhibitions is really quite spectacular. The museum isn’t hard to navigate, but as you make your way through the installations, you can feel yourself getting lost in the quiet, surreal world contained within its walls.

I was thrilled to rediscover names I hadn’t seen since college

I’ll save you my personal feelings on the work itself; that’s on you to discover. However, as a closet art history nerd, I was thrilled to rediscover names I hadn’t seen since college, names like Sol LeWitt and Robert Irwin. And there was something deeply satisfying and nostalgic about getting to appreciate their work outside of a textbook.

DIA:Beacon Sol LeWitt

Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt at DIA:Beacon

DIA:Beacon Robert Smithson Leaning Mirror 1969

Leaning Mirror (1969) by Robert Smithson at DIA:Beacon

North, East, South, West (1967/2002) by Michael Heizer at DIA:Beacon

North, East, South, West (1967/2002) by Michael Heizer at DIA:Beacon

My assignment/date ended with a quick bite at the museum café and bookstore, which as far as museum cafés go, was absolutely delightful. I wasn’t even resenting the train ride back. The experience had surpassed all of my expectations, not to mention the fact that it made for an especially romantic second date.

DIA:Beacon Tag

So after my excursion to Dia: Beacon, did I throw mainstream culture to the wind and set up shop in an artist’s loft in Bushwick. No, I’m still not that cool. However, I left the Hudson Valley with a sense of accomplishment and spiritual satisfaction of having experienced something that expands your mind, and reminds you that the world is a lot bigger than the island of Manhattan. And that is pretty fucking cool.

 

 

DIA:Beacon, 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY 12508

Dia:Beacon

Dia:Beacon, Beekman Street, Beacon, État de New York, États-Unis

Julia Reiss is a Los Angeles-born writer and humorist alive and mostly well in New York City.
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