Thor A. Larsen, active artist member

On April 9th, 2011 at 4 pm was the official opening of a new set of art exhibits at the WAAM (Woodstock Art Association and Museum), a fine looking wooden building facing the center of the town of Woodstock. The WAAM contains several art galleries as well as an art museum with a superb art collection of Woodstock artists. Traditionally, the opening of a new show is on the second Saturday of each month except January.

The new show, ‘Far and Wide’,  in the Main Gallery this month was special because it was a Regional Exhibit, containing the works of artists ‘near and far’ whose images were reviewed and selectively accepted by Mr. Patterson Sims, independent curator as the juror. Somewhat unusual in this case was that about 60 percent of selected works of art were various forms of photography. Woodstock artists and art educators, Meredith Rosier and Frank D’Astolfo and several hundred others are enjoying the exhibit in the Main Gallery.

Staats Fasoldt, a local watercolor artist and teacher at the Woodstock School of Art, had an exhibit of a selection of his watercolors at the ‘Solo Gallery’, a gallery which monthly features contemporary artist members.  Staats is discussing his art with several art patrons below on the right. 

The third gallery on the first floor is the Phoebe & Belmont Towbin Wing which has several distinct art exhibits during the year featuring works from their Permanent Collection as well as selected loans of Woodstock Artists. This particular exhibit is entitled,” The Interior Life”.  Woodstock artists whose works are on the walls include Konrad Cramer, George Bellows, Phil Guston, Wendell Jones and John McClellon to name a few.

A large painting, entitled ‘Men Around Stove’ by Bartow Matteson and surrounded by smaller works by Konrad Cramer, George Bellows and Eugene Speicher have captured the interest of art patrons in the Towbin Wing.

The downstairs galleries include the ‘Small Works’, an Active Member Wall and a Youth Exhibition Wall. Each gallery exhibit is changed monthly. The particular exhibit at the Small Works Gallery was juried by Carol March, painter and curator.   

The photo above provides a partial glimpse of the three galleries downstairs. A section of the ‘Small Works’ gallery is straight ahead and the active member exhibit is directly on the left. Left in the forefront is the Youth Exhibit. In this month, the youth artists are from the BOCES School in Ulster County.

The introduction of the Youth Exhibit Hall was started a few years ago and opened up the opportunity of grade school and high school ‘emerging artists’ to show their work and encourage the arts in the public school system. In addition to the Youth Exhibit Hall, WAAM has an art education program run by educator Beth Humphrey which includes in-school programs as well the hosting of school children at the museum.

Josephine Bloodgood is the WAAM director with Carl Van Brunt the Galleries director. They are assisted by gallery associates Patricia Seminara and Mark Kessler. The WAAM is also guided by an elected Board.

The artistic heritage of Woodstock is maintained in the Permanent Collection of 1500 plus paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures and crafts. Josephine Bloodgood is the curator of the Permanent Collection. Josephine is assisted by Ben Caswell. The archives include many file cabinets full of photos, articles and pamphlets of Woodstock artists which are maintained by an archivist Emily Jones. Emily is frequently contacted by researchers around the country doing research on different Woodstock artists.

It is important to note that the WAAM is an artist-owned set of galleries and museum, founded in 1919. The beautiful setting of Woodstock and the proximity of New York City were incentives for the early artists to settle here and then form their own art gallery. The art gallery established a fine reputation even by 1938 when ‘Life’ magazine called the artist-run gallery “local Louvre”.  The permanent collection was established in 1973 and the Towbin Wing built in 1992. The Museum addition to the original name, Woodstock Artist Association, was added in 2007.

Only an hour drive from Southern Dutchess County, the WAAM, and Woodstock’s “Louvre” is an art treasure for art lovers and art participants young and old.