The language of art: Robert Angeloch Retrospective at WSA

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Paula Nelson, artist and former head of the Woodstock School of Art (WSA), recalled the first time she met Bob Angeloch, the late WSA co-founder and painter being celebrated with the first of a two-part series of retrospective exhibitions opening 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, July 7. It was summer 1966 and she had come to Woodstock when she learned she could utilize the Ford Foundation grant she’d just received to study painting at the Arts Students League campus in Woodstock, which the WSA now inhabits.

“There were 30 or 40 people in his class then and what I remember from that summer was Bob’s energy, and the enthusiastic way he had us all connecting with each other and our art,” Nelson said. “We’d go out for hamburgers or pizza on these road trips, stopping here and there to sketch…And at the same time he was also working the Art Students League office and maintaining the grounds. His son Eric was six at the time and around a lot at the school. At the end of the summer Bob asked if I wanted to go up to Monhegan Island with him, and with Eric and his wife Nancy and Jean, from the ASL office. So we left town at midnight and drove all night to catch the ferry from Port Clyde so we could then spend a couple of days drawing and painting there before driving back in the same way…”

Nelson noted how Angeloch, who died in 2011 at the age of 88, had first started making his annual creative pilgrimages to the island off the coast of Maine in 1960. She’s since been there over 40 times…usually with Angeloch.

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She noted how, when she married her first husband, another artist, Angeloch converted a 10 foot by 11 foot shack on the school of art campus, built as a New Deal project in the 1930s (and dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt herself), for the newlyweds to inhabit.

“We literally had an ice box that emptied out through a hole Bob drilled into the floor,” Nelson continued. “Later I met John through Bob…”

Nelson was referring to her current husband John Kleinhans, a photographer and former teacher, who took up her thread of Angelochian memories.

“We met at the Center for Photography not long after I got to town,” Kleinhans said of the now-stalwart arts organization he figured the WSA founder visited just once. “He immediately asked me if I’d come help him at the Woodstock School of Art and it was like we immediately spoke the same language. We walked back to my place at the time, on Broadview, and I gave him my resume. Within a week I was made a vice president of the WSA…”

Nelson laughs, recalling how she — also a WSA VP at the time — saw that resume and expected to be meeting an older gentleman. And before long married Kleinhans…all because of Bob Angeloch, as it were.

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