Fresh-air fiends who love fine art can get the best of both worlds by visiting a sculpture park this summer. The landscaped grounds allow visitors to bask in the sun while wandering amid abstract artforms, lush wildlife, and trees that provide shade for plays, picnics, and quiet contemplation. Here, Benbow Bullock, a professional sculptor and founder of the online International Directory of Sculpture Parks and Gardens, shares the four parks that give him pause.
Di Rosa Preserve Art and Nature (Napa, California)
The 217-acre spread of Di Rosa Preserve includes landscaped hillsides, olive trees, flower gardens, and the gorgeous 40-acre Winery Lake vineyard. The art ranges from ceramic artist Viola Frey’s thought-provoking oversized human figures to conceptual sculptor Paul Kos’ whimsical gutted automobile that hangs from a 150-year-old eucalyptus tree. Step carefully around the live peacocks, Canadian geese, and egrets that freely roam the grounds.
Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, New Jersey)
This park exhibits more than 240 large-scale contemporary sculptures from both renowned and emerging artists. Don’t miss John Martini’s Head 2 Head, a 30-foot-tall, 27-foot-long piece known for its huge Picasso-esque red and blue faces. When you’re finished roaming, take a breather inside the park’s 11,000-square-foot gallery that offers sublime views of a soothing lily pond.
Kansas City Sculpture Park (Kansas City, Missouri)
Between picnics, yoga, and games of frisbee on the 22 pristine acres just outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, visitors can also check out the largest collection of Henry Moore’s work outside of England. Afterward, head straight for One Sun/34 Moons, a sculpture by Walter De Maria (known for his New Mexico Lightning Field) on the north plaza of the new 65,000-square-foot Bloch Building.
California Scenario (Costa Mesa, California)
Stroll this California-inspired 1.6-acre park and bask in famed American artist Isamu Noguchi’s representations of the state’s varied landscapes. See all the horticultural touchesincluding redwood trees, native cactus, and streams and pondsthat symbolize the necessity of water to the people of the state. Bring a picnic and a kite, but don’t ignore the other worksespecially Richard Serra’s Connector, a 64-foot-high sculpture that you can walk inside.