Though the arts-driven culture of Woodstock lends itself to large projects, inspiration for the creation of a mural that is representative of the spirit of Woodstock, set to occupy the eastern and southern walls of Houst, visible from the well-traveled parking lot behind the building, originated far from upstate New York.
Houst & Son Hardware is teaming up with Kathy Anderson and the School for Young Artists in this new artistic endeavor. Plans are in the works for the large mural, a project that is designed showcase the vast creative abilities of the community.
According to Kathy Anderson, who is overseeing the project, the idea came from Jody Bryan, owner of Houst. “She and her husband had gone to Denver, and in this park they have these incredible murals. Jody was taken by the whole effect of the murals and how they were so representative of the community.” Bryan returned, knowing she wanted to bring this same concept to Woodstock.
Specific ideas began to emerge when Anderson and Bryan held a brainstorming meeting, calling on community members to discuss what they would like to see the mural portray visually, as well as thematically. Attendees of the meeting, ranging from children to adults and artists to business owners, unanimously agreed on the image of a tree to represent the town. This tree, based on an ancient one located in Magic Meadow, would also act as a mind map: “The trunk would represent Woodstock and the big branches coming off would represent the larger categories in our community, like the arts. Then the arts would have branches off of there that would be music, theater, dance, poetry, writing, and visual arts,” said Anderson. Other branches could include topics like religion and the natural world, with the tree’s roots representing the town’s rich cultural history.
This concept is taken still further by considering the array of possibilities presented by community involvement. The painting of the tree is only the first phase: it will then be divided into a grid, and community members “can create an image that will fit with the bigger image in terms of light and dark, and at the same time, they can add color. They can have their own unique spot on the tree on whatever branch they identify with,” said Anderson. When the different prints are added onto the wall, the tree will still be visible underneath the personalized creations.
Finally, there is the technological phase. QR codes — similar to barcodes in that one may scan them to be linked to additional digital information — will be added to the building. “If you want to know what an image is about, you hold up your phone to the QR, go to the website, and you’ll be able to find whatever information that contributor wants to have about their particular image,” said Anderson.
This project, if approved by the Town of Woodstock and the Commission for Civic Design (CCD), will move swiftly forward. Though Anderson explained that there would not be a deadline, her vision is to “get this done before it gets too cold again.” Bryan and Anderson are also hopeful that the community will come together to cover the cost of the mural. Much of the money will be generated by contributors making their stamps on the tree, but there are also plans to create a Kickstarter campaign. “Houst is going to provide the scaffolding and prime the walls so that we can do the painting,” added Anderson.
Despite the detailed plans for the execution of the mural, there is still one key component missing: the image of the tree. This is why Anderson will be hosting an Artist’s Enclave on Sunday, April 17 at 1 p.m. at the School for Young Artists. She requests that attendees bring along photographs or sketches of trees to submit.
Just as the mural is essentially a tribute to the Woodstock community, Anderson and Bryan want the process to be equally driven by Woodstockers. They will be looking for volunteers to help with the painting, as well as other phases of the project. The students at the School for Young Artists will also aid with the painting, and Anderson urges other youth in the community to get involved: “The whole thrust of this is that it’s an expression of community.”
If you would like to receive updates on the progress of the Houst mural project, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Kathy Anderson’s Artist’s Enclave will be located at 31 Wittenberg Road in Bearsville.