Opera Gala and more at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild

Maria Todaro

Maria Todaro

The Woodstock Guild’s been busy of late. But it’s going into hyperdrive this weekend with a Friday evening Artist’s Talk at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts featuring landscape painter and SUNY New Paltz art professor Thomas Sarrontonio, a Saturday morning Trail Hike up Mount Guardian from a Byrdcliffe Theater starting point, a Saturday afternoon re-opening celebration for the White Pines outdoor sculpture show by Columbia County’s Stuart Farmery (closed for a film shoot over most of the last month), and finally the 5th Annual Byrdcliffe Night at the Opera gala evening that starts with intimate dinners around Woodstock and finishes with a Byrdcliffe Theater recital by mezzo-soprano Maria Todaro of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice.

Got all that?

Some are saying the flurry of activity has been driven by the sense of responsibility and ongoing stewardship for Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead’s Byrdcliffe experiment and the Woodstock Guild legacy it encompassed in the last century. That’s all on tangible, tactile view in the Byrdcliffe’s Legacy exhibit on view through October 9 at the Kleinert, and encompassing the breadth of the institution’s and town’s fine arts and crafts work of the 20th century. Curated by Sylvia Leonard Wolf, Tina Bromberg, and Karen Walker, the show has a surprising sense of inter-arts accessibility and vision to it, as well as a range of highlights including rare private pieces by George Ault, George Bellows, Robert Chanler, William Hunt Diederich, Robert Ebendorf, Mary Frank, Milton Glaser, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Doris Lee, Judy Pfaff, and Carl Walters among nearly 200 pieces.

“This exhibition starts with Byrdcliffe, and tangibly illuminates how it transformed Woodstock, and the surrounding areas, by spurring the development of other arts organizations and schools for the next hundred years,” writes Wolf of her shared achievement. “And, what is just as remarkable, it is going as strong, or even stronger than ever. Woodstock, and the Hudson Valley, is an established, powerful magnet for creative souls in a wide range of media — visual artists, musicians, writers, art historians, film makers. Indeed, quite a legacy! So, it’s natural that the Guild takes pride in their motto, ‘it all started here.’”


In person, Byrdcliffe’s Legacy moves one from classic arts and crafts and Modernist works, from a multitude of local collectors and collections (and including a rare photo delicacy by Whitehead himself) to a wide sense of what art has become, embracing John Ernst’s fast paintings and Jared Handelsman’s moody moonprints, Isaac Abrams’ psychedelia and Michael Puryear’s exquisitely crafted wall screen.

In other words, it’s enough of a celebration to warrant this coming weekend’s blend of activities that range from a stint with NYSDEC-licensed hiking guide Dave Holden (bring water and rain-gear plus leashes for all dogs) to the wine and cheese chosen to best complement Farmery’s colorful carved wooden pieces on the Whitehead’s old lawn at their original estate in Byrdcliffe (from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, September 17), curated perfectly by artist Katharine Umsted of Hudson.

Not to forget Sarrontonio’s talk Friday night in town, or the black tie many will be wearing to their night out at the opera Saturday night.


 For full information on all things happening at and around the Woodstock Guild Friday and Saturday, September 16 and September 17, call 679-2079 or see www.woodstockguild.org.