Want some quarantine-friendly ways to enjoy art, stellar local food AND the great outdoors? Lucky for us, CapNY is filled with amazing public art! From historic architecture and neighborhoods to public art “galleries” in urban alleyways, CapNY writer Jessica Kelly found six great sites that we can enjoy all winter. Got more ideas? Send them along we’ll add them to the list!
100 S Mall Arterial, Albany, NY 12242
Note: Ice Skating is closed for the season
Empire State Plaza’s Reflection Pool is lined with 16 amazing, monumental mid-century sculptures by world-renowned artists such as Claes Oldenberg, Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly and more. On a gloomy winter day, these pops of movement and color can bring some happiness and perspective. Then, head into the Empire State Concourse to warm up from the frigid temperatures. There, you’ll find dozens of large-scale (and some absolutely huge) paintings, and more amazing sculptures. Check out this video preview of the indoor and outdoor collections! After your explorations, I’d suggest you try a Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich from The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Did you know that Saratoga’s High Rock Park is home to a memorial made of steel from the Twin Towers? The sculpture, titled “Tempered By Memory,” was created by John Van Alstine and Noah Savett in 2012. The artists use the recovered materials to thoughtfully memorialize those lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After a reflective walk through High Rock Park, I highly recommend brunch at Hattie’s, served 10am-2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. They have tasty Bloody Marys, warm biscuits with honey butter, and the best cheesy grits.
Love contemporary art? Then head to Art Omi! This 120-acre sculpture and architecture park is a quarantine-friendly, no-cost way to take in art AND fresh air. You’ll find amazing sculptures (look for the Olaf Breuning work, “Clouds,” towering over 30 feet) and stunning architectural work (don’t miss “Magnetic Z,” by Cameron Wu). Check out this printable map to see all that Art Omi has to offer. Best of all, you can snowshoe or ski through the site! Hungry? Great! Drive 10 minutes to Saisonnier for an artisanal sandwich or cheese board, plus try one or two of their craft beers. And did we mention that they have 125 craft beers available for in-house or take-out?
As a recent transplant to CapNY, I became entranced by the art scene in Troy after seeing the amazing and powerful murals during the Black Lives Matter protests. I was also thrilled to recently find the artwork in Franklin Street Alley. This interactive installation was developed by Joe Lurato and other local creatives. It’s filled with painted murals and structures that ingeniously incorporate the alley’s pipes, ladders, and lights.
If you’re trying to find its exact location, put the address of Dutch Utter Ice Cream Shop in your GPS, 282 River St Troy. It’s the alley right next to it! When you’re finished exploring, walk over to grab an order of some of the best crispy wings CapNY has to offer at The Ruck.
The Capital Walls project, an endeavor of Albany Center Gallery, Albany Barn, and Albany Parking Authority, has sponsored 14 colorful murals (and counting!), by local artists across downtown Albany. Grab this handy tour map before you head out. After snapping some IG photos in front of the murals, stop by Druthers Brewing Company (1053 Broadway, Albany, NY 12204) for delicious mac & cheese like their Memphis BBQ Mac with smokey, tender pulled pork, spicy jalapeño ranch coleslaw, and sweet BBQ sauce.
Outside of Druther’s, be sure to take a peek at Nipper, a four-ton, 28-foot tall steel and fiberglass painted dog statue atop an old concrete warehouse – one of the most IG worthy spots in the downtown area!
Stockade Historic District
The Stockade Historic District is located in the northwest corner of Schenectady, on the banks of the Mohawk River. It is the oldest neighborhood in the city, and has been continuously inhabited for over 300 years. Within it stand about 50 pre-Revolutionary houses in various styles that include Dutch Colonial, Georgian, Federal and Victorian. A good starting point to explore the neighborhood is 100 North Ferry St. This will bring you to the heart of the Stockade, right in front of the statue of “Lawrence the Indian.”
You don’t have to be a history lover to appreciate the gorgeous, unique artistic features of each of the homes. And, in the winter time, there’s an especially majestic feeling as the homes are decorated with winter lights and pines. You can even download a self-guided tour of the neighborhood here! Close by, you’ll find Mad Jack Brewing Co., there to quench your thirst and craving for a warm bite. You can read a review by a popular CapNY food influencer, Tim Walton, here!
Jessica Kelly is a freelance Journalist and Photographer with a focus on food, travel, and entertainment living in New York State. She’s written for Huffington Post, Dame Traveler, Kitchen, Insider, Business Insider, Wine Enthusiast, AAA World Magazine, AAA Northeast, Eater, Cosmopolitan, Times Union, Food52, Thrillist — and now, ACE and CapNY, a new project launching in 2021.