I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have gone out of their way this past year to tell me to check out the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia. Now I’m usually pretty up to date on my parks and outdoor recreation, so to just now be hearing of this place for the first time at 21 and 3/4 years old came as a shock to me. So when the weather finally warmed up for a hot sec last week, I decided to finally give it a go.
Set up on a little over 100 acres of land, the art park is designed to be an “ever-changing partnership between the artist and environment,” which really is clear as you wander through the exhibits built directly into the landscape. The history behind the park is so interesting to me- a couple by the name of Dorothy and Bob Riester bought the land back in the 50’s to build their house. Dorothy was an artist and wanted to make sure that the land would be around for future artists and the public to use and enjoy. Since then, the park has become increasingly popular, and was even recognized as #2 in the Top Ten Sculpture Parks and Trails by National Geographic. Listed among Naoshima Island in Japan and Artscape Nordland in Norway, I have to believe this is quite the honor.
Now this is where I know I don’t look at art the way I probably should. While the park to me was beautiful and intriguing, the extent of my appreciation were comments along the lines of “oh that looks cool” or “oh that looks weird.” Cool and weird. Four years at a renowned communications school and the extent of the vocabulary in my adjective repertoire is cool and weird. 60k a year put to good use.
Even though I didn’t understand all of the art, one of my favorite exhibits I think I’ve ever seen was the Garden of Reading (and this includes everything at the Louvre; fun fact, the Mona Lisa? Kind a let down.)
But books and nature?! Obviously my kind of place.
This was such a neat space and honestly, another time I would probably bring a book here with me and just spend the entire day reading. Probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said, and I can assure you I’ve said my fair share of nerdy things. But seriously, how cool.
The idea behind this exhibit is that it shows the transformation of wood, all the way from the tree itself to what it becomes as the pages of a book. And, sure enough, although most of the books on the shelves here were made of hardwood, we found several real books mixed in between. How these books stay in as good of condition as they do is beyond me, but the fact that people leaves their favorites here is a really cool tradition and such an organic way to book-share! I’ve seen book-sharing programs (and dog-toy sharing, among other things), at parks before, but it’s always so interesting to me to think that everything you do, and anything you leave behind, is becoming a part of history forever, for someone else to stumble upon.
As we continued around the park, the main trail took us up and over a few ridges, and then led through the woods. Here are some of my favorite exhibits from the first half of our trip:
Okay now we’re getting to the good stuff. The secret garden. Now don’t get too excited, I’m still not fully convinced there even is a garden in the secret garden. I sure as heck didn’t see one (unless you consider the field of overgrown wildflowers and weeds a garden?) Still confused on this one so clarification would be great. There’s a high likelihood that I am also blind and/or directionally challenged so I apologize in advance if that is the case.
Anyway, the space known as the secret garden is still pretty sweet. I mean, anything that has secret right in the name has to be, right? Directly to the left, when you enter the clearing, you’ll see a small campground area, as well as a really cute place to soak up some sun and even have a picnic. There’s also a nice little pond, and some more easy trails to meander around.
Take an immediate right when you enter the secret garden, and this will take you to what I think we’re referring to as the “garden.” Still ?? ???? Really unsure. If I’m not making any sense, here is a picture of me taking a quick nap break in the brush… uh I mean.. garden.
The final stop for us was at this REALLY pretty overlook of Caz Lake. Honestly, this was probably the highlight of the entire park for me. I’m a sucker for a good view, and if you come up here at sunset… OOO baby would that be gorgeous (I have confirmation on this, lookin’ at you Ash). It’s also super secluded, making for a ~romantic~ date spot.
Or, come up here after your hike and crack a couple brewskis (might want to double check on that one actually, not sure if that’s allowed, but someone clearly beat us to it. My only question is who drinks beer out of a straw….)
All this for just a small $5 entry fee! Pretty cool way to spend an afternoon, and then head right down the road for happy hour at Empire Brewing Company (a blog for another day). Find directions to the brewery below: