Woodstock School of Art exhibit typifies its approach

 

Kathy Caraccio and Mary Anne Erickson. (photo by Dion Ogust)

One of the delights of the Woodstock School of Art’s second annual Monoprint Invitational and Exhibition is the way the show both meets and sidesteps expectations. Many artists work their individual styles and personalities into the notably on-the-spot medium; others use its demands to find new means of expression beyond what we’ve come to expect from, say, Robert Ohnigian’s delicate collage works, Kate McGloughlin’s odes to specific landscapes, or Dion Ogust’s clean photographic images.

The same could be said for the ways in which the WSA has been quietly growing under the leadership of new executive director Nina Doyle these past six months. New faculty’s come on board, expanding the classes and workshops being offered far beyond the classic modernist sense of artistry and style long championed at the scion of the first arts’ wave to hit Woodstock a century ago. New collaborations have shifted the average age in WSA studios in a younger direction; there’s a new sense of adventurousness in the air in the venerable but recently upgraded New Deal-era campus’ classic stone buildings.

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“There’s a great energy here,” said Doyle this past week, between fundraising calls and a new coordination meeting with administrators at SUNY Ulster. “The Monoprint exhibit’s opening had a great turnout driven by the 60 artists who were part of it. Our studios are full; people are happy. Art is being created.”

When she came in as new director last Spring, Doyle championed her background as a fundraiser and administrator intent on helping nonprofit boards support their vision. She downplayed her own background in the arts. She was all about connections and hard work in support of others’ creativity.

“I’ve got a number of funding applications in the works,” she said on Tuesday. “We’re building on the buzz this monoprint exhibition’s getting.”

Doyle didn’t mention her own piece in the show, or those from Janice LaMotta and other arts administrators from around the area. Instead, she plugged the low prices on the art, which ranges from $150 to $1500, and includes a number of collectible top talents, including the chance to buy a pair of works by Woodstock’s legendary cultural couple, Shirley and Milton Glaser.

Much mention was also made of the smaller funding opportunities WSA has been taking advantage of this year, from the online Hudson Valley Give, which brought in just under $4000 for operating expenses (Ulster County’s second highest amount for an organization), and the upcoming Giving Tuesday online fundraising blast the week after Thanksgiving.

We go over classes and workshops, several already full (including McGloughlin’s monoprint course and a painting course with Elizabeth Mowry). The standards in various key media or aesthetics and style, with the School of Art’s beloved and well-respected long-term faculty, are all there; but so are newer offerings dealing with up-and-coming materials from cardboard to whatever’s-lying-around.

“We’ve done projects with the YMCA in Kingston and Mill Street Loft, in Poughkeepsie,” Doyle added. “We’ve worked with Byrdliffe and the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, and are making plans for 2018 with the Center for Photography at Woodstock.”

The now-entrenched director’s love for WSA is infectious, and authentic.

“Everyone really has to come out and see this current Monoprint Invitational, which is up through October 14,” Doyle said. “Then starting October 21 Paula Nelson and John Kleinhans are curating ‘Off The Wall,’ a show of works from those who’ve been collecting from WSA artists.”

Talk about getting at the core of what this quiet Woodstock institution has been doing now for decades, and longer than a single generation at this point.

For more on all things involving the Woodstock School of Art, visit www.woodstockschoolofart.org, call 679-2388, or stop on by the campus (and its glorious trails) located at 2470 Route 212, just east of the hamlet itself.

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