Ridgefield (Google Maps location)
May 25, 2017
One of my favorite sub-sub categories of museums is outdoor sculpture gardens. We have several here in Connecticut and all of them are under the radar. Most are appointment only places and the hands-down best one is only open once per year – Hogpen Hill Farms in Woodbury.
The Kouros Sculpture Center could be open 24-7 though and based upon its location, it would still be lightly visited.
It’s out there. As out there as anything in the state, in extreme western Ridgefield on the New York border. (If you go there and are driving west down Mopus Bridge Road and the single-lane country lane turns to dirt, you’ve hit New York. Turn around.)
Hoang and I visited during a driving rainstorm; not ideal for outdoor fun. But we’re troopers and stuck to the plan. After all, I’m not sure when we’ll find ourselves in extreme western Ridgefield together again.
I had reached out to the property’s owner, Angelos Camillos, and asked for permission to visit a week or two prior. He pretty much said, “yeah, sure.”
As I parked right next to his (beautiful) house as the rain pelted our car, I suddenly wondered if we should knock and say hello.
“I’m sure he knows we’ve pulled up,” I thought, “so let’s just poke around the pieces nearest the house and maybe he’ll pop his head out.
So that’s what we did. There are dozens of pieces in the immediate vicinity of the house. Some are cleverly hidden amongst the trees and landscaping, other boldly placed out in the open.
I wish it wasn’t raining.
Because man, it was really raining hard.
As we finished up near the house, I again wondered if we should knock. Mr. Camillos knew we were coming, and we were right on time. I wondered if there were more installations inside.
But then I wondered how happy the Camillos’s would be with two drenched dingalings traipsing around their museum-quality house.
“Let’s walk the grounds and when we come back to the car, we’ll decide,” I lamely offered my wife.
So that’s what we did.
From what I understand, Camillos owned and operated a gallery in Manhattan, but – and I’m assuming here – no longer run one down there. The Sculpture Center in Ridgefield has been around for quite a while and was, perhaps, the first of its kind in Connecticut.
Environmental work by established as well as emerging sculptors has been the focus of the Kouros Sculpture Center in Ridgefield, Connecticut for the past 25 years. Sculpture is everywhere — resplendent on open fields, tucked into intimate corners, under the boughs of nearby trees — and utilizes the space, the hourly changes of light and shadow, and the topography to interact with nature.
On sunny days, rolling grassy hills welcome visitors to languish among the installations. Some are playful and childlike, while others are stark and foreboding. In all, there are about 50 sculptures around the grounds.
On rainy days, rolling grassy hills are not as conducive to languishing. Unfortunately, Hoang and I were only able to quickly check out the more far-flung works.
I really like this place.
So much so that upon returning to our car, we again had the conversation. I had expected the proprietor to greet us… “I say, good folk! You are intrepid art lovers! Please do step inside to warm up and let me get you both a hot Irish coffee!”
I waited in the rain.
It didn’t happen.
And I never knocked. Turns out, there is (or at least was, according to the Kouros website) an indoor component of the “museum.”
The sculptures on exhibit spans a variety of mediums and styles by 50 artists, and interacts with the rural backdrop of sloping fields, patios, and gardens. Paintings, photographs and small sculptures are also on exhibit indoors.
I should probably read about places more before I visit them.
Ridgefield has too many beauty spots to recommend just one, but if you have the time and can find your way to Mopus Bridge Road, and have contacted them beforehand, I’d suggest checking out the Kouros Sculpture Center.