RURAL INTELLIGENCE: It’s easy to miss ‘T’ Space in the woods, but you shouldn’t.
June 15, 2018
One can be forgiven for not knowing about the ‘T’ Space Gallery and T2 Reserve tucked away off secluded Round Lake Road in Rhinebeck, New York before now. The personal project of prolific international architect Steven Holl, ‘T’ Space is an exercise in the artistic synergy of architecture, nature, art, sculpture, music, poetry and environmental conservation.
‘T’ Space just opened to the public earlier this month after years of thoughtful development. Previously opened for a few scheduled exhibitions in the summer, the gallery and the unique buildings and sculpture-dotted trails of the 30-acre reserve are now accessible every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. through the summer.
“We are very proud of this gallery. It’s a gem,” said Director and Curator Susan Wides, whose husband Jim is Holl’s brother and an accomplished graphic designer. Jim Holl designs ‘T’ Space’s printed materials and Steven Holl’s wife Dimitra Tsachrelia is the site’s director of education.
“It’s a family enterprise,” Wides said with a chuckle, adding that the properties are also part of the Steven Myron Holl Foundation.
Holl has created some of the most iconic modern buildings here and around the world. His many active projects include the REACH edition to the Kennedy Center, the Hunters Point Community Library, and Hudson Yards in Manhattan. He acquired his upstate home in 1995 and added the “Little Tesseract” house to it in 2001 as a prototype for his “solar stack” design. He built the ‘T’ Space in his back yard in 2010. Floating above the landscape, not a single tree was felled during construction. The result is, among other things, a striking affirmation that the clean lines of modern architecture and nature can coexist and play together in aesthetic harmony.
The Reserve, which Holl saved from being subdivided in 2014, is home to a summer architecture residency program in the light-bathed converted hunting shack, T2 Studio. But the most visually striking structure on the property is the “Ex of In” house. Arresting from the outside, the “experiment of interiors” is all about the intersecting spherical dimensions of the negative space within the 980-square-foot house. The thought-provoking structure really must be seen to be understood, from its environmentally passive design to the intentional way the light reflection off the frog pond hangs like a dancing painting on the wall. If you really want to get inside, private tours can be scheduled and, believe it or not, you can spend the night in the Ex of In House through Airbnb.
“The Reserve would have been subdivided for five houses before Steven got it,” Wides said. “Instead he made a compressed house that works in concert with the woods and the light.”
The gallery and reserve have already hosted important works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Pat Steir, Richard Tuttle, and many more over the years, accompanied by opening events that further the site’s mission to unite physical art with poetry and music. New pieces are commissioned and poets receive awards. There are two more openings this summer that should be added to any calendar. All the art forms celebrated at ‘T’ Space are meaningfully enhanced by the natural surroundings. You enter the grounds through a discrete trailhead — easy to miss along the roadside — and unconventionally placed windows in all the buildings highlight the perfectly framed views of ferns and moss-covered rocks.
“Being able to renew and reflect in nature is very important,” Wides said. “The surroundings are everything. It makes you more present with the work. It’s centering.”
The current exhibition, “Where None” by Richard Nonas, is a permanent installation, a 900-foot line through the reserve made from 80 railroad ties. The Gallery hosts “Notes on Where None,” visual thoughts on the larger work that echo the space itself in unique ways.
“Every artist fills the gallery differently,” Wides said. “We want to explore the core meanings and values of art.”