Art in a natural setting. More than statuary in a concrete plaza, it's both physically soothing and culturally enriching to see man-made artwork mingling with Mother Nature - even, or especially, when Mother Nature has been given a landscaper's makeover.

A vicarious tour can't do it justice, but perhaps it may inspire you to see for yourself.

 

BRIDGE GARDENS

It took Harry Neyens and Jim Kilpatric 10 years to design and install the Bridgehampton gardens, which they donated to Peconic Land Trust. This summer, the formal gardens and manicured patches of shrubs and perennials are enhanced by "Uncommon Ground," an array of sculptures curated by Cheryl Sokolow of Manhattan's C Fine Art Gallery.

You may mistake Naomi Teppich and Martin Springhetti's "Ocotillo Patch" for three spindly plants sporting pink fauna. But the artists are merely imitating nature. James DeMartis' "Willow" creates a fountain effect in the center of a bowl-shaped rose garden. A rooster crows nearby as we rest under the arbor for a better view. Carol Ross' playful "Kiss Curve & Shout" triptych of polished metal sculptures stands out against the hedges that divide the easily walkable grounds. "Swift II," a lavender helix on a metal pedestal, stands guard at the entrance to another formal garden. Elsewhere, John Van Alstine's "Doryphorus" evokes a Cubist human form from a Picasso canvas.

You can "do" the garden of 17 sculptures in less than an hour. But lingering is rewarding.

 

LONGHOUSE RESERVE

Since acquiring the 16-acre East Hampton property in 1970, Jack Larsen has mingled "aesthetics and spirit" through art and landscaping. Various environments have been created, from the woods where Yoko Ono's "Play It by Trust" presents an all-white chess board, to the lily-padded pond where Magdalena Abakanowicz's "Black Standing Figures" peer at each other from opposite sides, to Dunes Garden, where George Rickey's stainless-steel gyratory sculptures are newly showcased.

Also new: Mel Kendrick's cast concrete black-and-white-striped "Marker" and Ryo Toyano's 12-piece "Organic Stoneware." Along one path from the visitors' entrance to the actual LongHouse, spend a moment enjoying Dale Chihuly's "Jack's Walla Wallas," toylike blown-glass pieces arranged in and about a rowboat. Anchoring one end of a single-lane lap pool stands Miguel Barcelo's "Elefondret," balanced on its trunk like a pachyderm-acrobat. Pay a visit to Willem de Kooning's "Reclining Figure" and Buckminster Fuller's open-air "Fly's Eye Dome," exemplifying abstract art and architectural aesthetics.

 

NASSAU COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART SCULPTURE PARK

You don't have to go inside a museum to visit a museum. The formal garden of the Frick estate has been restored to near-original condition. And the expansive lawn surrounding the mansion - now housing the museum galleries - is dotted with sculptures, many on long-term loan. Regular visitors are familiar with Fernando Botero's rotund "Man on Horseback" bronze. Other major pieces include Alexander Calder's "Sandy's Butterfly," Red Grooms' circus-evoking "Jumbo," Richard Serra's "Extended Elevations - Plumb Run" and, new this summer, Rona Podnick's "Fox," fusing human and animal forms.

Keep on the grass

 

Bridge Gardens 36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays, noon to dusk Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays; $10, $20 for a family; music by Bridgehampton Marimba Band tonight at 6; peconiclandtrust.org/bridge_gardens.html, 631-537-7440

LongHouse Reserve 133 Hands Creek Lane, East Hampton, 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; $10, $8 seniors, children younger than 12 free; next Twilight Tour, 6-8 p.m. Aug. 2, reserve, $30 or $55 for two; longhouse.org, 631-329-3568

Nassau County Museum of Art 1 Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbor, museum hours: 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, free admission to Sculpture Park and formal garden, museum $4-$10, $2 parking on weekends; nassaumuseum.com, 516-484-9337

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