Full schedule at Opus 40, but still no buyer

Photo by Dion Ogust

No news may be good news for Opus 40, said Tad Richards, the stepson of sculptor Harvey Fite and one of the people running the sculpture park that was Fite’s magnum opus. The property has been for sale for several years and was the subject of political controversy because of the town’s involvement with a search for a buyer.

“There’s really not much new to say, except that things are going well, and we have a full schedule of events,” said Richards.

Indeed, there have certainly been more events and exhibits at the park in High Woods. The museum also has a new board of directors, headed by music entrepreneur Bob Karcy, the board president. The vice president is Kathy Miller, Tad Richards is the secretary and his wife, Pat Richards, is the treasurer. Tad Richards also serves as the artistic director, and Pat Richards is the executive director.

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“Opus 40 is coming back to itself,” said realtor Laurie Della Villa, who also serves on the board of Opus 40. “The sculpture is part of Saugerties’s revival. Saugerties has tremendous potential, a high-quality atmosphere.”

Della Villa confirmed that the property is still on the market, but said she is working to find a means of selling the property to an agency or individual who would keep it open to the public and maintain the events, sculpture and associated museums.

The new board of directors is working on trying to find the money to buy the sculpture and associated buildings, said Pat Richards. “But no offer is off the table,” she said.

Among the current and upcoming exhibits is a history of Opus 40’s early years in photographs. The collection includes family photographs and pictures of sculptor Harvey Fite at work on the project. The nearly 40-year period of the sculpture’s development is documented in photos that will remain on display through Aug. 9.

This Friday, July 13 from 6-9 p.m. there will be an event called the “Opus 40 Twilight Music & Dance Party with a Hoose [sic] That DJ party mix – Rock, Country, Hip Hop, Karaoke.” Full-day admission is $15, party-only is $10.

Coming up on Saturday, July 21 is an all-day country dance and barbecue festival, featuring a western swing band, a fiddle trio, clogging and swing dancing lessons and a Southern-style barbecue.

Works by local artists who participated in the Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour will be on display in the gallery from Aug. 11 through Sept. 7, with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10.

Other events include a stone-carving workshop (August 18-19) and the Opus 40 Sculpture Invitational, an exhibit throughout August and September.

The sculpture park is Fite’s masterpiece, but he was also a renowned representational sculptor and one of the founders of the fine arts program at Bard College. He spent 37 years working on the nearly-six-acre Opus 40 until his death in 1976. Richards has maintained the sculpture, the art gallery building and the Quarryman’s Museum, which houses historic quarrying tools of the type Fite used on Opus 40. Two years ago he announced his intention to retire and put the property on the market for $3.5 million. He is continuing to work at Opus 40 while waiting for a buyer, board or artistic organization to buy it. Because the sculpture park is a national, state and local historic landmark, any future owner would have to maintain it as such.

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