Art Under the Starry Skies of Ghent, NY

It may be wishful thinking on my part, but it seems to me more artists are migrating out of the city to a more bucolic life in upstate New York. Maybe it’s just a Covid thing or an affordable housing shortage, but on a recent trip upstate the signs of artists seemed ubiquitous.

Alas, I couldn’t find any statistics through Americans for the Arts… so, I thought I’d wander around Catskill, New York, and maybe stop in Saugerties and Hudson. This is where folks tell me that artists are joining the ranks of dairy farmers and mountain climbers.  I was thrilled to find Art Omi, an outdoor sculpture park and gallery situated on a former dairy farm in Ghent, New York.

I could burst into song about the 120-acre art park. What that means for the arts, as the great Ella put it – is “give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don’t fence me in.”

This oasis called Art Omi is filled with structural and conceptual projects all in the midst of vacant land. Arts enthusiast Francis Greenburger, a real estate investor, entrepreneur and literary agent, founded the arts center in 1992. With the aim to find ways of connecting to artists, and getting closer to the art, Art Omi presents the works of contemporary artists and architects, offering a range of large-scale works in nature, plus a 1,500-square-foot gallery.

The question that I asked myself was: “Who had ever heard of Ghent, New York before Art Omi?” The answer is…I did!

This visit brought me back to a childhood scene during World War II, in which my mother, a full time teacher, acquired the services of a German nanny for me and my brother. Our Fräulein, as she was known, had relatives who operated a farm in Ghent, where she would take us for a week during the summer. As the story goes, Fräulein told my mother that if World War II succeeded in coming across the Atlantic and into America, she would hide me and my brother on a farm in Ghent, New York. 

So imagine my delight to hear that this is now a place where artists are showing their work under starry skies.

I will never forget Ghent, New York.