Storm King Art Center hosted its 12th Annual Gala in the South Fields of the Art Center’s 500-acre grounds. The Storm King Award, an annual recognition of meaningful contributions in the fields of visual arts, landscape, and nature conservation, was given to Director Emeritus David Collens. Collens joined Storm King in 1974 and served as Director and Curator from 1976 to 2015 and Director and Chief Curator from 2015 through 2021.

Guests enjoyed cocktails, dinner, and a sunset tram tour of the South Fields, which feature several large-scale sculptures and site-specific commissions. Remarks were given by Nora Lawrence, Artistic Director and Chief Curator, and John Stern, President of Storm King:

Lawrence said: “David has spent much of his life and career thinking of the possibilities that this incredible space might provide to artists. I can tell you that he approaches every artist’s proposal with wide eyes and a smile. His love for Storm King is, among this crowd, the stuff of legend. Still, I can also attest that he likes absolutely nothing more than to connect over this love of Storm King with an artist—finding that fit with them between Storm King’s land and their vision, learning about their interests and inspirations. He’s a people person—someone who opens up fully one-on-one. I’m sure so many of you have felt that bond with him over the years—one that connotes infinite possibility and joy.”

Stern said: “I grew to understand David’s way of seeing as dimensional and subtle, and fully comprehend an artist’s intent. David has been a true partner to artists and their ambitious projects, and to the Art Center itself with the careful siting of each artwork. It has brought each one to its best state of being, in the most advantageous sites both for the sculpture and those who view it. It is my pleasure to salute you this evening, David, for all that you have helped develop in this marvelous place for nature and sculpture. You have Storm King in your heart and are truly at the heart of Storm King. Bravo David.”

Gala co-chairs Roberta Denning and Cynthia Hazen Polsky gave remarks before a heartfelt video tribute featuring notable Storm King artists Collens championed throughout his 48-year tenure at the Art Center.

Upon receiving the Storm King Award, Collens said: “Storm King has been a way of life to me. It’s something that is dear to my heart, just seeing and breathing it. In 48 years, my philosophy has been, number one, working with artists and treasuring what they want to do. I never thought I would be standing here tonight—I am thrilled and honored and continue to be inspired by what’s to come at Storm King.”

The event was well attended by 300+ Storm King supporters, including artists Martin Puryear, Alice Aycock, Chakaia Booker, Kenneth Capps, Josephine Halvorson, Heather Hart, Gilbert Hawkins, Mel Kendrick, Virginia Overton, Stephen Talasnik, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Storm King Trustees in attendance included Courtney B. Vance, Robert Denning, David DiamondChristopher J. Elliman, Cathy Halstead, Miguel Hennessy, Francis Kéré, Debby Landesman, Jennifer Napier Nolen, James H. Ottaway, Jr., Nicholas A. Polsky, Beatrice Stern, Lisa Stern, and Hume Steyer. Additional notable guests included Eric Booker, Nicholas Weist, Helen Drutt English, Barbara Haskell, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Sarah Lawrence, Arthur Sulzberger, Helen Toomer, Robert Denning, and Meredith Westgate, among many others.

Photo CreditsStorm King Art Center. Photography by Angela Pham/BFA.comCourtesy of Storm King Art Center.