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Hudson River School

"We positioned it so that as you approach, you would see it across a big, wide-open meadow," Gehry said by telephone from his Santa Monica office. "And it's covered in stainless steel, which does nice things with the reflections of the clouds and sky. The main problems, if there were any, were budgetary—putting a real opera house, concert hall, and theater, with all the stuff that needs to go in them, into a student building. This is a very professional venue. It can do everything that you can do on Broadway, or in the Philharmonic, only [it's] smaller."

This spring's opening weekends promise an impressive if eclectic mix of dance, theater, and music, from Mahler and Racine to Merce Cunningham and Elvis Costello. In July and August, the Summerscape at Bard performing arts festival, devoted this year to Leos Janacek, will feature the American stage premiere of the Czech composer's opera Osud (Fate), with sets designed by Gehry. "I'd like to think we can harness the same type of excitement that the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been able to generate," says Jonathan Levi, the center's director. "But we're smaller and less established, so we can turn on a dime. Plus, we add acres of grass and a nice building to look at. I'd like people to consider the whole trip, from the time they leave home, as one big piece of theater."

Beacon is also jumping into high gear this spring. Chelsea dealer Max Protetch plans to preview a public sculpture garden in May next door to the Tallix Art Foundry, one of the town's more venerable art institutions. Tallix, which employs about 100 people to turn out works in bronze and steel for artists such as George Condo, Tom Otterness, and Joel Shapiro (as well as public monuments and memorials), moved to Beacon in 1986, when the city was in the public eye mainly as a backdrop for Depression-era movies. Today, Peter Homestead, Tallix's president, draws comparisons with Pietra Santa, an Italian town with a celebrated marble quarry where life revolves around art and culture. "It's not as if Beacon's going to become Tuscany," Homestead says. "But it will be like, 'Oh, Beacon, that's where Dia is. That's where Tallix is. That's where things are happening.'"

Leslie Camhi writes regularly for the New York Times, Vogue, and the Village Voice.

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