Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sycamores and Dia: Beacon

Last Sunday was a gloriously warm day for New Yorkers - of course, by late February, the bar for 'glorious' is set pretty low: I was thrilled to have temperatures surpass the 40° mark.

In any case, a friend and I celebrated this warmer weather with a trip to Dia: Beacon.

Dia: Beacon is a contemporary art gallery housed in a former cardboard box factory. The large, expansive rooms of the factory, which once housed industrial machinery, now are now indulgently large galleries, flooded with natural light from the pitched skylights. The massive size of the building also allows for quite a few massive (as if there are any other kind) Richard Serra pieces.

The trip itself is lovely as well. Metro North runs a line along the Hudson River and the walk from the train station to the gallery is less than half a mile. During the walk back to the train station, I couldn't help but pause and take a few pictures of this perfect specimen of sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).

I have mentioned sycamores before in my post about London plane trees. Indeed, London planes are a hybrid of sycamore and Platanus orientalis - the plane tree more often found in Europe. Sycamores have larger leaves and whiter bark. The base of the sycamore trunks also have a scaly bark, and only becomes a smooth exfoliating bark further up the tree.

This sycamore is located in a fairly typical microclimate. Sycamores are often found on slopes near riversides and can handle damp spring soil fairly well.

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