Hudson Valley Visual Art Collections Consortium is an online treasurehouse

Bob Dylan, Woodstock, NY, 1968 by Elliott Landy (Collection of Center for Photography at Woodstock)

Bob Dylan, Woodstock, NY, 1968 by Elliott Landy (Collection of Center for Photography at Woodstock)

Just the choice of images now up on the homepage for the new Hudson Valley Visual Art Collections Consortium (HVVACC) website tell great stories: A 1930s-era painting of the Ashokan Dam by Arnold Wiltz, from the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, and a gorgeous collage, Squash by Judy Pfaff, for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Fine Art at SUNY-New Paltz, speak wonders about two-dimensional art bring produced, shown and collected in our midst. The Center for Photography at Woodstock shows Bob Dylan at home in the Catskills circa 1970. There’s a classic photograph of Byrdcliffe co-founder Jane Whitehead representing the Woodstock Guild; the atmospheric Evening Song, by Tona Wilson, from Women’s Studio Workshop. And these are all the tip of a much larger selection of more than 7,000 objects from the collections of the Dorsky Museum at the college, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild and Rosendale’s Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW) that will be added to the www.hvvacc.org website over the coming year.

The current digitization effort started out as discussions about the finding of joint storage space for each institution’s growing collections. Along the way, the idea of a centralized research tool, online, came into view and was eventually funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), as well as from former US congressman Maurice Hinchey and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

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The purpose of the collaborative is to raise awareness of the Hudson Valley’s rich artistic and creative culture, both past and present, and to increase access to the organizations’ permanent collections for the educational benefit of scholars, students, artists, curators, historians, authors and the people of the Hudson Valley and beyond. Like similar shared-service efforts in government and business, the idea was also to “facilitate collaboration among the five organizations.”

“This project is the result of five years of work on the part of the Dorsky and its partners, each of which was required to create digital images of collection objects and to transfer data from existing standalone databases to a new Web-based software program,” said the project’s leader, Dorsky Museum director Sara Pasti. “From the 19th century to the present, the Hudson Valley has been a cradle for artistic creation and innovation. The Dorsky and its partners are thrilled to launch a website that will showcase their collections. The public is in for a treat.”

In addition to this collection digitization effort, Pasti said that the HVVACC received a second IMLS grant in 2013 to support planning activities leading to the development of a Hudson Valley regional visual art collections storage facility and study center that will allow collection artworks to be housed in a central location where they can be easily accessed for purposes of study, research and exhibition development.

But as for the current website: It’s a fascinating compendium of the region, from the 200 or so artist books created at WSW in limited editions over its 40-year history to the works born out of Woodstock over the past century represented by the Woodstock Guild and WAAM selections to a wide cross-section of contemporary art photography out of CPW, and the Dorsky’s impressive collection of objects and arts from its many teaching collections.

The new fascinatingly rich and varied website, www.hvvacc.org, is hosted by the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council and is accessible through its own portal as well as the Hudson River Valley Heritage website at www.hrvh.org.

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