The idea behind Woodstock’s role as a center for artists over the past century plus is pretty much the same as the concept behind the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s annual house tour benefits, which hit their tenth anniversary Saturday, July 14.
“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them,” wrote the great 19th century art critic John Ruskin, whose student Ralph Whitehead would go on to found the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony and cement this town’s role as a cultural draw. “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery…An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome.”
The Woodstock hills and dales that drew Whitehead and a number of artists to the area at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century still draw, said Guild executive director Jeremy Adams, and now inspire a contemporary world of artists looking to balance the many changes of our most recent century with growing environmental and humanist concerns. The grand views of our local homes similarly support a wide vista of what art is now, as well as where it’s moving forward to. Which fuels continuing collection of Woodstock creations, and artistic exploration.
So what does any of this have to do with a house tour?
“These compelling spaces and their decor are reminders that Woodstock — as much today as in the days of the burgeoning Woodstock Art Colony — attracts people with its beauty; and those people create beauty in turn,” reads the Guild’s description of its 10th Annual House Tour. “John Ruskin’s proposition that mountain air inspires the artistic faculties is pointedly illustrated by Woodstock — by its artists and by its homes…The House Tour reflects on how style and design savvy are not exclusive to city life.”
More specifically, the tour includes highlights of the past nine years of tours…which means stunning gardens and artist studios, jaw-dropping vistas, architectural masterpieces, and surprising glimpses into the town’s architectural past, including that which has been inspired by Byrdcliffe itself.
It all runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 14, followed by a benefit cocktail party at one of the homes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (It’s Bastille Day, so be prepared for some feisty fun).
Tour tickets and map will be available from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Byrdcliffe Shop on Tinker Street, and the tour itself will be at participants’ leisure.
Also happening at the Guild this weekend, one of this summer’s many highlights, will be a reading by Byrdcliffe artist in residence Elizabeth Primamore at the Golden Notebook on Thursday, July 12 at 6 p.m.; Open Studios for the entire AIR program, at the Villetta Inn on Friday evening, July 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; an artist spotlight at the Byrdcliffe Shop on Tinker Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, a morning hike on Mount Guardian Saturday morning, July 14, leaving from the Byrdcliffe Theater parking lot at 10 a.m.; an all-day artist’s spotlight on ceramic artist Andrew Rouse at the Byrdcliffe Shop on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as another weekend of the Kleinert Gallery’s wildly superb Pageant of Inconceivables ceramics arts exhibit all weekend.
For more information, see woodstockguild.org, call 679-2079, or stop by either the Kleinert, at 34 Tinker Street, or Byrdcliffe, off of Upper Byrdcliffe Road..