secret-ish art adventures
December 10, 2013 9:14 AM   Subscribe

on the hunt for international art destinations -- ones that are off the beaten path, and maybe even require some adventure to find?

recently, i went to see Serra's Shift just outside of toronto. it was amazing.

i'd love to hear of other such art destinations, ones that people hear about by word-of-mouth, rumour, and by talking to the locals. it might require hiking, swimming, who knows what to get to it. i love art like this!

ANYWHERE in the world. also any beautiful and abandoned architecture counts, too! you don't have to have been there -- just looking for destinations to research and plan ways there. bonus points if you've done it yourself, but not necessary at all :)

thanks green!!
posted by crawfo to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know "Nimis" at Kullen in Sweden? I was reminded of it because you wrote of hiking or swimming..
posted by mumimor at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: oh wow, no! that is exactly the sort of thing i was hoping to hear about, thank you!

everyone can go ahead and assume i probably don't know any things like these, it'd be totally accurate. art newb!
posted by crawfo at 9:26 AM on December 10, 2013

recently I went on a road trip to slab city, salton sea and salvation mountain in the southern california desert. while landmarks like the mountain itself and the decaying "resort town" bombay beach, for example, aren't exactly secret, there are countless other outworks artworks, junk sculptures, and elaborately spray-painted ruins all over the area. pull over anywhere, hike around, discover.
posted by changeling at 9:30 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Naoshima in Japan is not obscure, but it feels like an adventure to get there, taking a train to a small town to a ferry and then wandering around the island.
posted by moonmilk at 9:36 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

* Lynden Sculpture Garden, which sprawls across 40 acres of farmland in River Hills, WI. Its collection was privately curated over three decades and only opened to the public in May 2010.

* Dr. Evermor's Art Park, which includes the world's largest scrap metal sculpture (the Forevertron) is located in Sumpter, WI.

* Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, a massive earthworks sculpture in the middle of the desert off of a 15-mile dirt road near Brigham City, UT. Some of Mr. Smithson's other earthworks could be of interest as well.

* Similarly, there's Desert Breath, off the coast of the Red Sea near Hurghada, Egypt.

* Charles Ross' Star Axis, which is located somewhere in eastern New Mexico (h/t Rustic Etruscan).

And these Atlas Obscura links have a plethora of other locations that might fit the bill: abandoned amusement parks, incredible ruins, ghost towns, architectural oddities.
posted by divined by radio at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2013

Kind-of-a-self-link: this abandoned hotel is on a trail just outside Woodstock, NY, and the artist who put up an installation inside 20 years ago is considering putting something new up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2013

Pedvale sculpture park in Latvia (self-link to photos I took there).
posted by matildaben at 10:21 AM on December 10, 2013

I would submit the Maryhill Museum of Art.

Have you ever heard someone say, "What in the Sam Hill?" Samuel Hill was a businessman about a hundred years ago, who got rich building roads. He sent a man to look for a place to build a settlement, and the guy came back with an olive branch. The place he'd found was in Washington State, in the eastern part of the Columbia River Gorge.

Sam Hill wanted to establish a utopian settlement there, but that never came off. He did, however, build a nice mansion for his wife, Mary Hill. (They also created a concrete duplicate of the inner circle of Stonehenge, which is known around here as "Concretehenge". Alas, they didn't align it correctly, and it doesn't work to predict eclipses.)

The mansion was converted into a museum. It has one of the most eclectic collections I think I've ever seen. There's a huge collection of chess sets. There's a collection of weapons and armor. There's a collection of non-famous works by Rodin. And there's a special room dedicated to Sam's mistress, Loïe Fuller, who invented the fan dance.

The crown jewel of the collection is the Crown Jewels of Romania, contributed by Queen Marie of Romania, who was a friend of Sam's. They really are gorgeous. (There is also a hallway dedicated to Queen Marie, featuring pictures of her visiting the museum.)

It is a very strange place.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:27 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Wendy's Secret Garden in Sydney, Australia. I'm not sure if it fits your criteria but it's art-related and very beautiful.

Wendy Whiteley was married to Brett Whiteley, Australia's most famous contemporary artist. She is an artist in her own right and when he died in 1992 she channeled her grief into turning a hidden strip of railway land near her house on Sydney harbour into a rambling, tropical garden.

It used to be properly secret; these days it's on Google maps. The best way to enter is via Clark Park on Lavender St, walk down towards the water and look for the gap in the fence.
posted by reshet at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel like this is too obvious, and you probably need to finagle an invitation to see it ... James Turrell's Roden Crater.
posted by jayder at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2013

Also ... Marfa, Texas.

Definitely off the beaten path.
posted by jayder at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Hand of the Desert in Chile
posted by Tom-B at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I went to Lightning Field this summer with a bunch of friends. You have to make reservations, so it's not exactly secret, but it is in the middle of nowhere and does feel like a bit of adventure to get there (you meet at an empty building in a one road town and then are driven there, 45 minutes through ranchland). Spending 20 hours there was a really thought-provoking experience. It's a beautiful installation in a beautiful place and I wish I could have spent more time there.
posted by pombe at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2013

Oficina Brennand in Recife
posted by Tom-B at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2013

The underwater sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor
posted by Tom-B at 11:07 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's lots of art to be seen near Joshua Tree, California. I have visited a few of the more accessible options:
Noah Purifoy's outdoor sculpture museum (call for directions or visit HDTS office below for a map)
Krblin Jihn Kabin
Desert Christ Park

High Desert Test Sites has information on art for the more adventurous, as well as an annual festival--I was on my own in a small rental car so I stuck to the beaten off-beat path.

If you are in this area and want to experience a breath of desolation (eg, Amboy) you can also drive along the mostly-abandoned Route 66.
posted by esoterrica at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

In the United Arab Emirates, al serkal and other galleries in al quoz, bastakiya, galleries in Sharjah and Al Ain.
posted by ambient2 at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Boneyard Project, old airplanes as canvases for graffiti artists
posted by Tom-B at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2013

Kelburn Castle in Scotland, another graffiti project
posted by Tom-B at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2013

São Paulo street art
posted by Tom-B at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2013

and maybe even require some adventure to find .... any beautiful and abandoned architecture counts.

I'm going to take this and run with it.

The Heidelberg Project in Detroit is interesting.

Moving back in time, Bonampak in Chiapas, Mexico contains some of the few surviving Mayan murals that are open to the public. It's easy to arrange a day tour to Bonampak and Yaxchilán (you want an adventure? Try a two hour bus ride to the Guatemala border, a boat ride up the Río Usumacinta river, then an hour hike through the jungle) out of Palenque.

Over in Valladolid, Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer) contains the largest collection of folk art in private hands. We found it easy to call and arrange a private tour.

Going back in time again, Cappadocia in Turkey is fully on the tourist circuit, and the Göreme Open Air Museum is a great place to see the preserved Byzantine painted cave churches. However, the valleys outside Göreme are full of less visited painted caves. Wandering through the countryside and exploring any caves you find (the 'caves' are shallow and well lit) is an awesome adventure.

And you say that you'll hike, swim, or "who knows" to get there ... how about a camel trek across the desert? The Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus in Libya sound fascinating.
posted by kanewai at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2013

The Brøndums Hotel in Skagen.

The story goes that many of the Skagen Painters who stayed there at the turn of the last century couldn't afford to pay their hotel bills, so they gave the innkeeper painters in lieu of rent. When I was there in the 1980's the walls were covered with artwork, and there is a museum next door.

Go off season if you want to avoid the German tourists.
posted by alms at 12:35 PM on December 10, 2013

Maya Lin's Confluence Project includes some pretty out-of-the-way installations, and is awesome.
posted by outfielder at 12:47 PM on December 10, 2013

try to get to the caves of Massafra, Italy
posted by Abinadab at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2013

At the moment maybe too much of an adventure (the artist has said he'll shoot anyone who trespasses) but someday I hope I get to see Michael Heizer's City.
posted by velebita at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2013

The Mutonia sculpture park in the Australian outback. 1, 2, 3.
posted by Kabanos at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2013

Roadside America has you covered (52 states hoo boy) for weird americana art
posted by lalochezia at 4:35 PM on December 10, 2013

Rhyolite, NV is pretty cool
posted by lalochezia at 4:37 PM on December 10, 2013

Walter De Maria's New York Earth Room on the second floor of a building in Soho. I found it surprisingly compelling.

The Monte Alban complex near Oaxaca. Images didn't convey the experience of visiting.

One of the most well-known houses in the country but a bit of a trek to get to (depending on where you start from) Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water is amazing to walk through and the site offers excellent.

The Gropius House home of the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius is less well-known but the tour makes it really interesting.

Visiting the Doria Pamphilj Gallery allows you to see art (Titian, Velasquez, Carravaggio, etc.) in the palace still occupied by the family.
posted by Athanasius at 5:26 PM on December 10, 2013

The Gila Cliff Dwellings have some interesting architecture going on, and have been abandoned for a few hundred years.

There's at least one other smaller cliff dwelling nearby, but it's not really publicized. At least one is marked on some maps of the area. You can also find lots of cliff dwellings in SE Utah, mostly accessible by hiking or some fairly intense 4WD. I was looking for a quite spectacular one I'd seen pictures of, but didn't quite hit it and saw many smaller structures.

There are other cliff dwelling sites that are preserved and officially open to the public, but I especially like the Gila dwellings.

Petroglyphs are generally off the beaten path, and the locations of less protected and preserved ones are usually kept semi-secret to deter vandalism and theft. You can hike at Petroglyph National Monument and see hundreds of them. There are many other sites all over the world.

ones that people hear about by word-of-mouth, rumour, and by talking to the locals

If I post them here, that won't be how people find them anymore, will it now?
posted by yohko at 5:38 PM on December 10, 2013

Ooh, what a great thread.

My entry: the cave churches of Macedonia!

Example: St. Holly Mother Virgin Zaum
The church St. Bogorodica Zahumska is located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, on its eastern part around 20 km of the town of Ohrid near the village of Trpejca. It was built on a stunning location among the rocks on a small beach by the lake in 1361 and can be reached only by boat. The architecture is exquisite, but the main reason to come here is to see the fresco of St.Anna breastfeeding Virgin Mary.

Good times!

posted by feets at 8:38 PM on December 10, 2013

Museum Beelden aan Zee, a sculpture museum at Scheveningen beach in The Hague, is kind of hidden in plain sight. It was built underground so that it can't be seen from the dunes or from the boulevard along the beach.
posted by neushoorn at 12:24 AM on December 11, 2013

Response by poster: WOW I HAVE SO MUCH READING TO DO

guys, i'm so excited i could cry. auuugghhh threads like this are why i love the green! i am super grateful, thank you so much for all of these treasures!!
posted by crawfo at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Am late to this one but Sala Keoku in Thailand.
posted by Shebear at 9:36 PM on December 11, 2013

I just heard about Bill Brand's Masstransicope which is a piece using zoetrope technology and can only be viewed if you're riding a certain route in the NYC subway.

Ancient effigy mounds are pretty awesome and Serpent Mound in Ohio is a beautiful.

Well-known but isolated and requires a plane or chopper ride to view it: Nazca Lines in in Peru. The most spectacular trek to isolated Inca ruins I did in Peru was Choquequirao. You HAVE to hike in and there were literally five people in the whole complex the day we went, unlike Machu Picchu which is beautiful but a circus now.

Carhenge rises out of the prairie near Alliance, Nebraska in the beautiful Sandhills.
posted by dahliachewswell at 4:28 PM on March 26, 2014

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