The holiday traditions in Woodstock art

There’s an arts tradition for most things in and around Woodstock, epecially the upcoming holidays. We’re talking here about the big communal arts exhibits and sales that kick off over the coming fortnight, beginning with the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum shows that open this week in anticipation of big parties next weekend, including a December 7 artists reception and a Friday evening, December 6 Holiday Open House to be held in tandem with the entire town’s big bash kicking off the season.

A few weeks back, gallerist James Cox and artist Mary Anna Goetz pulled out their collection of one-of-a-kind Christmas cards for a workshop in the area, aimed at getting folks beyond Hallmark and similar store-bought emblems of seasonal sentimentality. They showed off works by local artists, each one quirky and heart-felt, as well as some of the items they made each year, including the annual summation letters many of us have come to expect this season…or spend weeks crafting ourselves. Then they pulled out a special collection of cards created by Woodstock’s most celebrated artists over the years, which the local arts community cherished then, the same way we all savor Santa’s arrival each Christmas Eve now.

It turns out collections of classic Woodstock holiday cards, all handmade, aren’t as rare as one might think. They show up in homes this time of year as well as at the Historical Society and other institutions that regularly trot them out, like advent calendars, to remind us all of the town’s bounty past as well as present (and hopefully future). Think Bellows’ and Speicher’s long friendship, the many exes who passed among each other in the community, the long reach of the Cramers. 

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Or the popularity of last weekend’s November 23 card making workshop at the Historical Society with artists Sarah Mecklem and Roberta Sickler, as well as the Historical Society’s annual Holiday Exhibit and Sale set for the first two weekends in December.

So what’s on the agenda, starting this weekend (more on the big openings, including the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s annual 5×7 show/sale, opening December 7, in next week’s paper)? 

The big open-armed WAAM holiday exhibit has its soft opening on Friday, November 29 and, as with so much contemporizing of the arts scene these days, has been renamed “The Gift” this time around (taking the place of their last juried show, “Material World”). Also showing through December 29 will be new diary-like paintings by Eric Erickson that follow in the post-abstract milieu created by Woodstock arts giant Philip Guston in the last century, replacing coffee cups and cigarettes with oddly familiar shapes from instructional diagrams; a small works collection juried by Marist College Digital Media professor Matt Frieburghause; and the Youth Exhibition Space exhibit Portraits: Known and Unknown Faces, Face the World, created by Onteora 4th, 5th and 6th graders inspired by art from the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum collection. 

The openings all run from the official receptions December 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a number of annual and exhibition awards to be handed out amidst the event. The Friday Open House on December 6 will include Holiday Crafting, portraiture by Onteora students, a bake sale…

“The season of giving provides moments to celebrate the gift of creativity. For WAAM’s 2019 Holiday Show (The Gift) member artists submit works of 26 inches or less, reasonably priced, framed and ready to hang, perfect for Holiday gifting,” reads this year’s Artists Association press blurb on what to expect. “The exhibition also provides a sanctuary for weary shoppers and those who seek a bit of inspiration from a room full of works manifesting the gift of the creative spirit that can be found in each of us.”

Let the festivities begin.

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