Weekend Detour: Beacon, New York

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October 27, 2012

Located in the sleepy hamlet of Beacon, New York, Dia:Beacon attracts international visitors to its cutting edge design center and surrounding attractions. Residing on the site of a former industrial mecca, and created to house the Dia Art Foundation's larger works, Dia:Beacon provides a unique spot and weekend arts destination just outside the city.

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  Located just a short distance north of New York City, Beacon offers a welcome change of pace—greenery replaces concrete sidewalks and a Bohemian flare permeates the town. With a total population of just over 15,000, this hamlet has a tight-knit feel, and plenty of room for city-weary visitors to breathe in the Hudson River Valley air.
    Located just a short distance north of New York City, Beacon offers a welcome change of pace—greenery replaces concrete sidewalks and a Bohemian flare permeates the town. With a total population of just over 15,000, this hamlet has a tight-knit feel, and plenty of room for city-weary visitors to breathe in the Hudson River Valley air.
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  Just up the road from the Beacon train station, Dia:Beacon’s wide spaces and epic installations allow for total immersion within its unique gallery space. Adaptively reusing the former Nabisco factory's structure, Dia’s design was conceptualized by American artist Robert Irwin, who intended for the museum to retain the site's industrial character.
    Just up the road from the Beacon train station, Dia:Beacon’s wide spaces and epic installations allow for total immersion within its unique gallery space. Adaptively reusing the former Nabisco factory's structure, Dia’s design was conceptualized by American artist Robert Irwin, who intended for the museum to retain the site's industrial character.
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  Working in collaboration with the architecture firm OpenOffice, a sensitive master plan was devised for the museum building and its exterior setting. Today, Dia:Beacon has nearly 240,000 square feet of gallery space.
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  Inside, Dia hosts a wealth of rotating activities, including gallery talks and lectures, Saturday Public Tours, and a Community Free Day that often includes collection tours, workshops, and other design-related events.
    Inside, Dia hosts a wealth of rotating activities, including gallery talks and lectures, Saturday Public Tours, and a Community Free Day that often includes collection tours, workshops, and other design-related events.
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  One of the highlights of Dia:Beacon, this sculpture created by Richard Serra is best viewed in the late afternoon, when its foreboding steel structures both alludes to Dia’s industrial past and the sleek minimalism which permeates its current space.
    One of the highlights of Dia:Beacon, this sculpture created by Richard Serra is best viewed in the late afternoon, when its foreboding steel structures both alludes to Dia’s industrial past and the sleek minimalism which permeates its current space.
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  North, East, South, West, Michael Heizer, 1967/2002. Dia Art Foundation.
In addition to rotating exhibits, Dia also has several works on permanent view. This includes the above piece by Michael Helzer, which gives visitors the feeling of an endless drop when viewed from the right angle. Though roped off for safety reasons, those lucky enough to be allowed past can experience a jarring optical illusion that displaces the senses, while also creating a sense of aesthetic wonder.
    North, East, South, West, Michael Heizer, 1967/2002. Dia Art Foundation. In addition to rotating exhibits, Dia also has several works on permanent view. This includes the above piece by Michael Helzer, which gives visitors the feeling of an endless drop when viewed from the right angle. Though roped off for safety reasons, those lucky enough to be allowed past can experience a jarring optical illusion that displaces the senses, while also creating a sense of aesthetic wonder.
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  One unusual fact about Dia:Beacon is that the galleries are lit almost entirely by natural light. As a result, the museum’s hours may vary seasonally. If you’re planning an upcoming visit, be sure to check Dia’s website for updates.
    One unusual fact about Dia:Beacon is that the galleries are lit almost entirely by natural light. As a result, the museum’s hours may vary seasonally. If you’re planning an upcoming visit, be sure to check Dia’s website for updates.
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  With pieces assembled largely during the 1970s and early 1980s by Dia’s founders, the collection also includes some of the most important artists of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Gerhard Richter, Lawrence Weiner, Sol LeWitt, Cy Twombly, and Blinky Palermo.
    With pieces assembled largely during the 1970s and early 1980s by Dia’s founders, the collection also includes some of the most important artists of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Gerhard Richter, Lawrence Weiner, Sol LeWitt, Cy Twombly, and Blinky Palermo.
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  For those looking to turn their trip to Dia:Beacon into a full-day event, the town offers a plethora of shops within close walking distance. In addition to its easy-going atmosphere, most of the attractions in Beacon are along the stretch of Main street, making it easy to pack in a full day of sightseeing without having to travel too far.
    For those looking to turn their trip to Dia:Beacon into a full-day event, the town offers a plethora of shops within close walking distance. In addition to its easy-going atmosphere, most of the attractions in Beacon are along the stretch of Main street, making it easy to pack in a full day of sightseeing without having to travel too far.
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  If you’re looking for a caffeine refuel, or merely to have a leisurely conversation with other local Beaconers, head over the Bank Square Café on Main street. With a hip clientele, gourmet coffee, and an overall early 90s-meets-modern-design feel, Bank Square could easily be mistaken for one of the better java shops in Williamsburg or Portland. Minus the long wait of course.
    If you’re looking for a caffeine refuel, or merely to have a leisurely conversation with other local Beaconers, head over the Bank Square Café on Main street. With a hip clientele, gourmet coffee, and an overall early 90s-meets-modern-design feel, Bank Square could easily be mistaken for one of the better java shops in Williamsburg or Portland. Minus the long wait of course.
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  Sharing more in common with its Brooklyn brethren than just a love for quality coffee, Beacon also has an emerging bike scene that’s been quickly taking over the area. Opened to cater to this growing demographic, Beacon Cycles has an impressive selection of bicycles ranging from full carbon road bikes to dual-suspension mountain bikes by Kona, Jamis, Surly, DK, and We The People. For those visiting just for the day, Beacon Cycles also offers the chance to rent, providing the perfect opportunity to explore the without needing a car.
    Sharing more in common with its Brooklyn brethren than just a love for quality coffee, Beacon also has an emerging bike scene that’s been quickly taking over the area. Opened to cater to this growing demographic, Beacon Cycles has an impressive selection of bicycles ranging from full carbon road bikes to dual-suspension mountain bikes by Kona, Jamis, Surly, DK, and We The People. For those visiting just for the day, Beacon Cycles also offers the chance to rent, providing the perfect opportunity to explore the without needing a car.
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  In addition to being a great place to pick up some of your favorite Kid Robot designs, Dream In Plastic’s colorful storefront is also home to cult-zine Clutter, and a host of hard-to-find toys and memorabilia.
    In addition to being a great place to pick up some of your favorite Kid Robot designs, Dream In Plastic’s colorful storefront is also home to cult-zine Clutter, and a host of hard-to-find toys and memorabilia.
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  If you get tired of sightseeing and want to grab a bite, Beacon’s food culture has flourished along with its recent design influx. Whether you’re a vegetarian, a world-culture culinary enthusiast, or simply want a good sandwich, Beacon has everything from Egyptian food to a meatless joint to satiate your appetite. Poppy’s, a local favorite, is known for its organic grass-fed beef patties, served without pretension and plenty of flavor.
    If you get tired of sightseeing and want to grab a bite, Beacon’s food culture has flourished along with its recent design influx. Whether you’re a vegetarian, a world-culture culinary enthusiast, or simply want a good sandwich, Beacon has everything from Egyptian food to a meatless joint to satiate your appetite. Poppy’s, a local favorite, is known for its organic grass-fed beef patties, served without pretension and plenty of flavor.
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  Zagat-rated and beloved internationally by people who know good food, Poppy’s is run by local celebrity and chef Paul Yeaple. Food lover extraordinaire and former contestant and champion winner on the Food Network’s Chopped, Yeaple’s crisp fries and engaging persona frequently lure reticent New York City food lovers to Beacon to sample some of Poppy’s delectables for themselves.
    Zagat-rated and beloved internationally by people who know good food, Poppy’s is run by local celebrity and chef Paul Yeaple. Food lover extraordinaire and former contestant and champion winner on the Food Network’s Chopped, Yeaple’s crisp fries and engaging persona frequently lure reticent New York City food lovers to Beacon to sample some of Poppy’s delectables for themselves.
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  While the food is certainly a draw, so is the eclectic décor, which includes vintage signs, pinball machines, and a fully decorated back patio.
    While the food is certainly a draw, so is the eclectic décor, which includes vintage signs, pinball machines, and a fully decorated back patio.
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  The low cost of renting a storefront coupled with an internet retail boom has allowed many small shops in Beacon to retain a lavish storefront while also running a thriving, viable business.
    The low cost of renting a storefront coupled with an internet retail boom has allowed many small shops in Beacon to retain a lavish storefront while also running a thriving, viable business.
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  One place that fits this bill is Hudson Beach Glass, a fully functioning glass studio that’s been creating sculptural curiosities for over 20 years. Conceived by a collective of blowers and artisans, Hudson Glass Shop is open to the public and can also be found online site at hudsonbeachglass.com.
    One place that fits this bill is Hudson Beach Glass, a fully functioning glass studio that’s been creating sculptural curiosities for over 20 years. Conceived by a collective of blowers and artisans, Hudson Glass Shop is open to the public and can also be found online site at hudsonbeachglass.com.
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  Decorative eggs at Hudson Beach Glass.
    Decorative eggs at Hudson Beach Glass.
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  The kiln at Hudson Beach Glass.
    The kiln at Hudson Beach Glass.
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  Another such place is home goods store and designophile paradise, Global Home. Created by two New Yorkers hoping to flee their corporate jobs, owners Joe and Vivian (at Vogue and Martha Stewart Omnimedia, respectively) sold their belongings and decided to travel across the world. On their journeys they came across hundreds of objects of aesthetic delight, and upon their belated return to the states decided to open a shop of their own.
    Another such place is home goods store and designophile paradise, Global Home. Created by two New Yorkers hoping to flee their corporate jobs, owners Joe and Vivian (at Vogue and Martha Stewart Omnimedia, respectively) sold their belongings and decided to travel across the world. On their journeys they came across hundreds of objects of aesthetic delight, and upon their belated return to the states decided to open a shop of their own.
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  Inside Global Home, visitors will find goods ranging from Balinese marriage beds, to glass paintings from Senegal, Moroccan tea tables, and antique Ming-style chairs.
    Inside Global Home, visitors will find goods ranging from Balinese marriage beds, to glass paintings from Senegal, Moroccan tea tables, and antique Ming-style chairs.
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  Dubbed “modern exotic” by its founders, Global Home also features an assortment of internationally curated textiles, home accessories, and designer candles. To check out some of their wares, you can visit their site: globalhomeny.com.
    Dubbed “modern exotic” by its founders, Global Home also features an assortment of internationally curated textiles, home accessories, and designer candles. To check out some of their wares, you can visit their site: globalhomeny.com.
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  For those young at heart (or with actual youngsters) head to Play Toys and Gifts, where you’ll find everything from Mexican jumping beans to candy you thought had gone off the market years ago. If you can imagine a toy, you can probably find it there.
    For those young at heart (or with actual youngsters) head to Play Toys and Gifts, where you’ll find everything from Mexican jumping beans to candy you thought had gone off the market years ago. If you can imagine a toy, you can probably find it there.
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  With a local arts council comprised of several important community figures, Beacon has been paying special attention to growing its local artistic community through public works, festivals, and ongoing activities. For more information, visit BeaconArts (BACA) at beaconarts.org.
    With a local arts council comprised of several important community figures, Beacon has been paying special attention to growing its local artistic community through public works, festivals, and ongoing activities. For more information, visit BeaconArts (BACA) at beaconarts.org.
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  Along with Dia, Beacon’s ongoing commitment to contemporary fine art also extends to the proliferation of new galleries that call the area home. One of its most famous residents, Fovea Exhibitions, specializes in shows centered on photojournalism and is gaining an international reputation for insightful contemporary photography.
    Along with Dia, Beacon’s ongoing commitment to contemporary fine art also extends to the proliferation of new galleries that call the area home. One of its most famous residents, Fovea Exhibitions, specializes in shows centered on photojournalism and is gaining an international reputation for insightful contemporary photography.
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  One of the most popular events in Beacon—and a great way to check out local artists—is their frequently held Beacon Open Studios event. During this citywide event, called "BOS" by residents, artists make their work open to the public, allowing visitors to go on self-guided tours through the studios of their choosing.  Courtesy of LTHubbard.
    One of the most popular events in Beacon—and a great way to check out local artists—is their frequently held Beacon Open Studios event. During this citywide event, called "BOS" by residents, artists make their work open to the public, allowing visitors to go on self-guided tours through the studios of their choosing. Courtesy of LTHubbard.
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  For those looking to explore the more historical side of the area, Bannerman’s Castle provides a glimpse into some of the lesser-known design anomalies of the area—a direct result of the different influxes of immigrants through the region’s history. Created as a fortress to house the arsenal of a colonizing Scotsmen, the castle was often thought to be haunted. Native Americans and Dutch settlers avoided it for fear of “resident spirits and goblins.” The state of New York owns the castle and tours can be obtained through bannermancastle.org
    For those looking to explore the more historical side of the area, Bannerman’s Castle provides a glimpse into some of the lesser-known design anomalies of the area—a direct result of the different influxes of immigrants through the region’s history. Created as a fortress to house the arsenal of a colonizing Scotsmen, the castle was often thought to be haunted. Native Americans and Dutch settlers avoided it for fear of “resident spirits and goblins.” The state of New York owns the castle and tours can be obtained through bannermancastle.org
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