Woodstock art colony


Located in the Catskill Mountains of New York state, the Woodstock Art Colony is one of the oldest and best-known artist colonies in the United States. Less than three hours drive by car from Manhattan, it was described by an early chronicler as a 'refuge and a center for the race of dreamers.' (Wagner 29) It was composed of artists, writers, and others seeking a contemplative, creative environment, and members, beginning with the colony's founding in 1902, relished the splendid isolation of the area. Founders made the first effort to establish an organized arts and crafts community. Bolton Brown, print maker and teacher, assisted the wealthy Ralph Whitehead with finding a suitable location, which came to be known as Byrdcliffe. That colony soon "burst out of Byrdcliffe and spilled over much of Woodstock, losing its original social objective and taking on a lustier, sometimes even rowdy, character as it spread." (Smith, 18) Subsequently art schools were founded including the summer school of the Art Students League. The Colony became so popular that it rivaled artist colonies in Gloucester, Massachusetts; New Hope, Pennsylvania; and Shinnecock, Long Island. Artist and writer Anita Smith became a leading figure in Woodstock and wrote a respected history: "Woodstock History and Hearsay". Sources: "American Art Review", April 2003, pp. 96-98; David Wagner, "Pike's Peak Vision: Broadmoor Art Academy"; Anita M. Smith, "Woodstock History and Hearsay"