Told through film, music, artifacts, images and archives culled from private collections, the Norman Studer Papers at SUNY Albany, and the Historical Society itself, “Folk Songs of the Catskills — the Spirit of Camp Woodland” stretches beyond the town’s borders to reveal rich chapters in Woodstock’s history still reverberating in the town of today
Witness how 15-year-old camper John Herald listened to counselor Pete Seeger sing, and promptly decided to become a musician. Or how Seeger learned the Cuban song, “Guantanamera,” from another counselor, and at another time wrote three verses based on a Russian folk tune and left it with counselor Joe Hickerson, who worked out the subsequent hit, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” with a group of campers over several evenings.
Camp Woodland (1939–1962) was founded in 1939 by Norman Studer, a former Ph.D. student of John Dewey’s and later founder of Greenwich Village’s Little Red School House, at the head of Woodland Valley Road outside Phoenicia. The idea was simple: to bring America’s democratic roots alive by embracing cultural diversity and a multidisciplinary approach to this nation’s root culture. City kids were brought up to the country and put in touch with old-time Catskill Mountain folks and other imports from throughout the Appalachians to preserve old songs, old ways, lasting cultures.
“Using the camp as a base, campers went on frequent trips into the Catskill mountain communities to collect folk songs, stories and history. Many of these Catskill residents were born between 1870 and 1900 and had grown to adulthood during the transition from the age of homespun to industrialization,” noted former camper Bill Horne in his written memories of what Camp Woodland meant to him and others throughout the area, and entire nation, during its time. “They were the last generation brought up to handle a flail, shape a wooden spoon, skim milk by hand from a flat pan. They had learned a way of life from parents who had been adults during the Civil War and from grandparents who had been alive in the 1840s when the age of homespun had reached its apogee in small-town New York…Their deep-lying roots in their culture gave these people an unmistakable dignity and serenity, even in the face of aging, sickness, and for some, long-inured poverty and despite their recognition that life had already passed them by and progress had rendered obsolete what they were familiar with. They retained a natural self-esteem of those whose American identity developed in an era when men and woman relied on themselves for many of the necessaries of daily life; and who, in the age of homespun, found opportunities to exercise their creative potential.”
Folksongs of the Catskills – the Spirit of Camp Woodland’s opening reception 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, July 31 will include plenty of former campers on hand, along with music and refreshments. The show will then stay up through Sunday, September 12.
Upcoming special events associated with the exhibition will include an ‘On the Porch Series’ presentation by former campers Pat Lamanna and Sue Rosenberg, with music by Hickerson himself, from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, August 14.
“Campers appreciated the importance of these songs and stories to their Catskill neighbors. In the process of collecting them, these neighbors responded warmly to the eagerness and respect of the campers who came to learn from them,” Horne continued about those gentler days now wrapped in memory. “They sang and told stories cheerfully and graciously for their new found friends and appreciated the tribute of having their songs honored and enjoyed, and learned and sung back to them by a new generation.”
Talk about a time lost to us, almost, in our present day…++
The Historical Society of Woodstock’s Eames House museum is open 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more info call 679-8111 or visit www.campwoodland.org.
“Woodstock is pulsating with positive, creative energy,” is how Vivo Fine Arts co-owner Marco Ferrero explained the genesis of he and partner Jennifer Glickman’s new gallery in the barn next to Cucina in press materials sent out to announce the new art venue’s opening party last Saturday, July 24. “It’s the perfect place to showcase dynamic art.”
“Contextualizing art and its process deepens the viewer’s experience and appreciation,” added Glickman, a Bard graduate with a Master’s Degree from Pratt in Arts and Cultural Management and former Aperture Foundation employee, who’s curating the new gallery’s shows.
Glickman and Ferrero, Woodstock residents dedicated to championing the work of “vibrant artists from around the country,” chose the name Vivo, for its translated meaning, “I live.” The gallery has opened with a show of work by Erica Danielle Franz of Maui, Hawaii; Jill Allyn Stafford of Sacramento, California; and psychedelic pioneer Isaac Abrams of Saugerties.
Given Ferrero’s work creating contemporary light shows for such gigs as LSD inventor Dr. Albert Hofmann’s 100th birthday in Basel, Switzerland, Abrams’ trippy pedigree, and Franz’s New Age murals, including one covering the entirety of the new gallery’s insides, Vivo is fast shaping up to be the airbrushed counterpart to Varga Gallery’s more rough-edged Energy Art across town.
But then there’s the idea that got the two Woodstockers interested in opening their own gallery, based on the example of Glickman’s step sister, Jennifer Hoffmann, who courageously and fully lived with breast cancer for nine years before succumbing to the disease last year at the age of 37.
“The gallery’s name and spirited hummingbird logo are dedicated to her memory,” the press materials for the gallery read. “Glickman and Ferrero plan to support art-as-healing therapy through the gallery’s artists, lectures and children’s workshops…A portion of Vivo’s profits will be donated annually to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”
Abrams, who made a splash with the big touring Psychedelic Art show that hit the Whitney and other world museums a few years back, is debuting several pieces of etched-glass sculpture at Vivo in its premiere show.++
The gallery, located at 105-A Mill Hill Road at the Gateway to town, directly across from Route 375, is open Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For further information call 679-2162, visit www.vivofineart.com, or follow the gallery on Facebook.
Away from the hubbub of the town’s Tinker Street/Mill Hill Road main drag, Jamie Barthel’s Lotus Fine Art has quietly maintained its own sustaining cultural scene for years now, as witnessed by the celebratory opening of its most recent summer show last Saturday, July 24.
As has become usual with this venue in the old Brass Rail, one of the town’s more infamous old saloons, what matters is the mix…from the ongoing framing business and Jamie’s painted-glass chandeliers through high-end crafts, including some great jewelry, to a varied selection of paintings and sculptures throughout (with a concentration in the venue’s front-facing, nicely lit main gallery room).
On exhibit now through September 30th are paintings by Long Island artist, Damon Tommolino, an art teacher and co-founder of Chimera Artworks, a group of Long Island artists who blend their artwork with a mission of raising social consciousness, picked up by Barthel through an increasing network of art-loving friends online and owning similar businesses throughout the Northeast. The work is graphic yet richly textured, mixing styles and effects in a populist but aesthetically-refined way.
Complementing the show of Tommolino’s energetic works will be new paintings by Kathleen McGuinness, who seems to have taken great leaps of late with her work, reaching beyond the simply expressionist into something more akin to the Surrealism of dream imagery.
Rounding out the new show will be new mixed media, Zen-inspired pieces by gallery regular David Terrell, some new sculptures from the prolific (and always fun) Steve Heller, and a new line of works from Table Art of Long Island.++
Lotus Fine Art is located at 33 Rock City Road, just up and across from The Colony Café. For further information call 679-2303 or visit www.Lotuswoodstock.com.