September 30, 2022
By Barrett Seaman—
Like the elegant structure on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles that was modeled, the Orangerie on the grounds of Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, is filled with light that pours through the skylights and arched windows that line its facade. Built by John D. Rockefeller in 1908, it has long been dormant.
Recently renovated and powered entirely by an adjacent solar panel, the Orangerie reopens this month as the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center (DR Center), reconfigured to serve artists of all kinds and, in turn, to serve the public.
Art has long been a hallmark of Kykuit, most notably through Nelson Rockefeller’s collection of modern art housed on the lower level of the main house. Since 2012, there have been music, dance and theater performances on the estate lawn as part of the Culpeper Summer Performance Series. The new DR Center will allow these performances to double each year, increasing from four to eight.
The real difference the DR Center brings, however, is its flexible interior that offers gallery space for temporary art exhibitions, retractable seating for theater productions, and a working studio that provides space for a series of performances. artists in residence who will have it as their own for two months each. These artists will also be housed on the property for the duration of their residency. Rooms in the building can expand or contract to accommodate artists’ needs; the veranda wall at the rear of the building can be retracted to create an indoor-outdoor theater experience.
The DR Center gallery opens to the public on October 1st with an inaugural exhibition titled Inspired encounters: women artists and the legacies of modern art. Courtesy of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), one of the family’s foundations, the exhibition combines earlier post-war works, primarily from the Kykuit collection, with new commissions from a dozen of contemporary female artists. “With this exhibition,” says Katrina London, Head of Collections and Curatorial Projects at the RBF. “We aim to shine a light on the diverse stories and voices of brilliant women who relentlessly pursued artistic success despite the discrimination they faced.
The gallery will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors must book a free entry ticket at a fixed time before the visit. Tickets are available here.
October 15e, the Center will be open to the general public. In addition to Inspired Encountersexhibition, visitors will be able to meet Athena LaTocha, a native of Alaska, now living in Peekskill and the first artist in residence in the studio. At 2:30 p.m., local musician and composer Pablo Mayor will offer a taste of his work Untold Taleswhich will premiere at the DFR Center on November 16e.
“My hope,” says David Rockefeller Jr., “is that the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center will inspire and nurture a new generation of artists by providing high-quality, low-cost access to cultural events and performances, as well as a venue for community arts activities.
Along with its commitment to the arts, the DR Center also reflects the family’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The Center will be “net zero” in terms of carbon footprint and aims to achieve certification as a LEED platinum building. In addition to the solar panel, which will produce more electricity than the building can consume, it will have a rain garden that will conserve water and reduce runoff pollutants.
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