A recent discovery by owner Lizzie Vann and her team, which is renovating the newly renamed Bearsville Center at 291 Tinker Street, came in the form of dozens of sketches by artist John Cuneo covering the walls of two restrooms at The Peterson House, the old white house next to the Bear Café.
They are but a random sampling of sketches by John Cuneo, a local illustrator, who spent many evenings drinking and drawing at the bar at the Bear, inspired by the local color and conversations.
Cuneo explains, “The Bear was my first local watering hole and my social refuge from long hours in my little studio. Like a lot of socially awkward people, it takes more than alcohol to make me comfortable in public places.
“Doodling in bars or coffee shops allows one to be out among the living without having having to…fully participate. To be ‘present’ but not necessarily ‘part of.’ With a blank menu to hunch over (and some social lubricant on the rocks) it’s possible for a tediously self conscious guy like me to pretend he is almost a functioning participant in a local scene.
The previous owners of the complex, [that includes the Little Bear restaurant, the Bearsville Theater and the former Utopia studio that now houses Radio Woodstock, 100.1 FM (WDST)] had the idea to gather some of these doodles and glue them to the walls of the bathrooms of The Peterson House. They requested a couple of portraits for historical validation — Albert Grossman and Christian Baehr of ‘Baehrsville’ are included among the portraits but mostly it was just things from at the bar, copied, cropped and slapped on the walls by the previous manager’s wife who had a way with design and a glue gun.”
Cuneo and his wife Jan have called Woodstock home for many years and they raised their son here. He harbors a hope that someday, a few decades from now, he and his family might qualify as locals.
Internationally recognized for his editorial illustrations, John Cuneo’s work has appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers including Esquire, The New York Times, The Guardian, GQ and on the cover The New Yorker. His drawings are collected internationally and followed by a large fan base.