Opus 40 celebrates its 50th

Photo of Opus 40 by Flickr user Bluesguy From NY. Published under Creative Commons license.

This weekend, the Catskills' most enduring monument to one man's artistic vision, the six-and-a-half-acre Saugerties bluestone sculpture known as Opus 40, celebrates its 50th.

Or close enough: Sculptor Harvey Fite worked on the massive sculpture for nearly 40 years, from the day he bought the quarry in 1938 til the day he died working at the site in 1976. But the nine-ton monolith that towers over Opus 40 was raised in 1964, and for Opus 40's caretakers, that's close enough for a birthday party.

On Saturday, May 19, Opus 40 will open for the season with a day-long 50th anniversary celebration. Children's book author Iza Trapani will start things off at 11:30am with a reading for children. At 1:30, Fite's stepson Jonathan Richards will give a talk about the raising of the monolith, which he was there to witness. From 2:30 to 5:30, there will be a square dance, featuring caller Sandy Corey. There will also be a new exhibit of Opus 40 photos from the 1930s through the 1950s on display.

The Hudson Valley Almanac writes that the event was delayed by Irene's raging waters last year:

The event was originally scheduled for last fall, but Tropical Storm Irene got in the way. Opus 40 sustained damage from the storm, and [site director Tad] Richards says that the celebration was postponed in part due to that, and in part because “we felt the community had more urgent things to be dealt with.” An intended performance of The Rocklins, a short play written by Richards based on a story by Harvey Fite about a young boy who learns about life from the spirits of great stone-carving cultures, has been rescheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10.

Opus 40: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Raising of the Monolith. 50 Fite Road, Saugerties, NY. Saturday, May 19, 11am-5pm. Free and open to the public.