The Byrdcliffe Guild looks ahead at 2020

The Woodstock Guild and its legacy arts colony, Byrdcliffe, had a full 2019. Not only did the complex organization — which runs a vital artists in residence program, ongoing crafts workshops, various concerts, exhibitions and other events in its Kleinert/James Center for the Arts — celebrate the 70th anniversary of its stature as a organization for local craftspeople, but it also weathered the departure of executive director Jeremy Adams, who moved on to Art Omi in Columbia County.

We checked in with the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s new Operations/Administration Manager Heather Ohlson to see how things are shaping up for 2020, only to be answered by board president Paul Washington, who included a quote from the former Executive Administrator of Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie and Associate Director of Family Services in Kingston.

“With a full slate of exhibitions, complemented by performances that combine artistic excellence with a welcoming feeling of community, the Kleinert-James Center for the arts continues to be a cultural beacon in the middle of town,” Washington noted in an email.


“Dimensions Variable,” the institution’s big annual members’ exhibition, will run from January 16th through February 16, with an opening reception from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, January 18th. Further exhibitions will include a look at works from last year’s Byrdcliffe Artists-In-Residence from February 27 through March 29; A curated group exhibition of new talents from the Woodstock area and New York City, “The Power Of Ten,” set to run April 9 through May 24; a solo show of Judy Glantzman’s ongoing portraits project commemorating African Americans killed by the police in early summer; a retrospective examining the career of one of the original Byrdcliffe Art Colony’s earliest and most influential residents, Zulma Steele, and her work guiding the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen in its early years in the latter summer; an exhibition in the autumn, “Hermarica,” celebrating the centennial of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S., and then the 21st Annual 5 by 7 Show for the holiday season.

The Byrdcliffe Artists in Residence (AIR) program is expanding somewhat, Washington added, by offering residencies for the full five-month season, May through September, as well as for four-week sessions; as well as by offering residency opportunities during the month of October.   

Washington also noted that the Guild has been undertaking a wealth of infrastructure upgrades: a new walkway for the artists’ studios at the Villetta, some window replacements and tree removals on the Byrdcliffe campus, and new roofing and other internal work completed at the Kleinert-James Center for the Arts on Tinker Street.

“Our focus in renting the cottages at Byrdcliffe — both year-round and shorter-term — is to make all them all part of a vibrant arts and crafts community that continues the vision of the founders of the organization,” the board president said. “As for our other properties, we are currently booking rentals for events at the Byrdcliffe Theatre, the Barn, White Pines, and the Kleinert-James. These are ideal locations for not only for the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s own programming, but also for musical, theatrical, and other performances by third-party cultural organizations — as well as for private events.”

As for Byrdcliffe- and Guild-related events farther afield, the arts colony and its legacy will be the focus of an upcoming special exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum, entitled “Byrdcliffe: Creativity and Creation,” from January 24 through June 14. Plus a number of new fundraising events in town and beyond.

Are any new collaborative projects being planned to play off of last year’s Woodstock Collects success, as well as the town’s accumulated anniversary celebrations?

“We do not have any specific collaborative efforts at the scale of last year’s Woodstock Collects exhibitions. But the spirit of collaboration among the members of the Woodstock Cultural Alliance, founded in 2016, continues,” Washington replied. “Exhibitions such as the one on Zulma Steele and her circle naturally lend themselves to collaboration, and we expect to continue to collaborate with Maverick in offering a world-class concert at Byrdcliffe.”