Storm King Benefit: An Intersection of Sculpture, Earth and Dinner

Celebrate the longest day of year surrounded by art and food in New Windsor.

Storm King Art Center's Summer Solstice Celebration-mosphere • photo by Noa Griffel

Storm King Art Center’s Summer Solstice Celebration-mosphere • photo by Noa Griffel

Once again, breathtaking outdoor sculpture park Storm King Art Center, just north of Manhattan, will celebrate the Summer Solstice with an open air feast that integrates art and menu, using local farms to supply the creative and culinary vision.

This year’s event will take place on June 18. Featured chef, Amanda Freitag of Food Network’s Chopped and American Diner Revival fame, along with Shelley Boris of Fresh Company, which runs the food service at the art center and the Garrison Institute took the current special exhibition installment of Dennis Oppenheim as their starting point.

Oppenheim, well known for large scale works that integrate earth as material (the exhibition is called Terrestrial Studio in honor of his approach), brings color and heat to the usual palette of Storm King’s 500 acres of gentle Hudson Valley slopes and fields, studded with 100 large scale sculptures by luminaries such as Alexander Calder, Louis Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi and Maya Lin, among many others.

“In collaboration with Shelley we came up with the inspiration for food connected with a desert climate,” Freitag says. “We wanted to use heat from chilis and smokiness from the grill. Dennis Oppenheim’s cacti have a multitude of color on them and we took our food cue from that. We wanted rich earth tones and bright magenta. The idea of a dusty dry desert with pops of color from a cactus flower or prickly pear fruit.”

Her collaborator, Shelley Boris echoes and expands on the idea. “Much like the artists locating their sculptures at Storm King, my collaboration with Amanda represents a balance,” she says. “A desert inspired menu is set against the late spring Hudson Valley landscape: local squash blossoms evoke cactus flowers and pink rhubarb resemble prickly pear. We are using local cheese, onions, herbs, purslane, pumpkin seed oil, winter squash oil, green garlic and more. At the same time, like the cactus dropped in for a visit to the museum, we have shipped Indian Woman beans, smoked fresh green chiles, prickly pear puree, pine nuts and dried red chiles from New Mexico.”

Dinner will be served family style under the stars, with time for tours of the exhibitions.

Boris said that working together came easy for the two accomplished chef-authors. “I met Amanda through Storm King and long-time mutual farmer friend Guy Jones,” she says. “I am grateful to them for connecting me to Amanda. She is a pro and made it easy to balance both ideas into a creative, cohesive menu. I can’t wait for the solstice.”

“I am very excited for this menu and to celebrate the solstice at Storm King,” says Freitag.

Tickets for the fundraiser start at $150 for reception only and $325 and up for the dinner.

Saturday June 18, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

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Natalia de Cuba Romero writes from her home in Massapequa Park, and chronicles simple seasonal recipes for the produce she gets as a Restoration Farm member at hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com. She is a full-time lecturer at Nassau Commmunity College.