Checking in with the Guild
by Paul Smart
September 22, 2010 10:48 PM | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Byrdcliffe Barn
Byrdcliffe Barn
On Friday evening, September 17, it seemed all of the town’s cultural crowd was ambling up the gravel length of Camelot Road to the Villetta Inn bearing plates of food or bottles of wine. It was the last of the summer’s Potluck dinners and Open Studios events at the venerable artists’ colony, whose residency program still centers the local arts scene’s cutting edge, as well as its more traditionally appreciative collecting crowd.

The spirit of Byrdcliffe seemed very much alive.

On the weekend of September 25, that spirit gets both celebrated and examined. The first occurs at the Byrdcliffe Barn, where there’ll be a special gala-like CornUtopia dance concert event, with dinner, up on the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild’s colony campus on Mt. Guardian Saturday night, September 25. The self-examination then takes place at a special meeting of the Guild, with its board explaining all that’s occurred in the past few months, at the Kleinert/James Arts Center in town Sunday morning, September 26.

Matthew Leaycraft, who stepped away from his seat on the Guild’s 16-member Board of Directors in August to ensure that operations continued to run smoothly over recent months, said this week that both events were part of a larger process of repositioning the town’s largest not-for-profit for greater stability in an increasingly unstable world for cultural organizations.

He described the Saturday night event as a means of drawing the town back up to the treasured Byrdcliffe Barn, which board members spent much of the early summer sprucing up. Leaycraft added that the open Members’ meeting was a chance for the Guild to open its books and clear the air.

CornUtopia — billed as “a celebration of Byrdcliffe and the Woodstock community,” will feature food from Bistro-to-Go, beer from Keegan Ales, local wines, dessert from Bread Alone and music by Studio Stu, The Five Points Band, and Byrdcliffe’s property manager, Matt Stauffer, in what could be termed a post-modern sort of harvest festival.

“The historic Byrdcliffe Barn will be the setting for a celebration and a way of saying thank you to the Woodstock community for their support over the years”, said Board President, Henry T. Ford, an organizer of the event.

Doors will open at 8 p.m. on what’s expected to be a beautiful, moon-swept evening, crisp and clear. It will represent the first major event in the century-old structure in some time...


Sunday’s “Special Meeting of the Members” at the Kleinert/James, set to start at 1 p.m., has published an agenda that includes discussion of current board members, and terms of office; members of the Guild’s 2010 Nominating Committee; current officers; by laws including recent amendments; financial statements for the past five years; a listing of current assets, liabilities, mortgages, lines of credit and loans by directors; the Guild’s credit card balance and current accounts payable; loans from endowment; a report on current discussions regarding the selling of guild-owned property; and plans for hiring an Executive director.

Members of the 16 person Woodstock Byrdcliffe Board of Directors currently include Susan Auchincloss, a retired Episcopal  rector on the board since 2005, and currently its secretary; Nancy Azara, an artist and author on the board since 2006; George Baird III, on the board since 2009, and currently its treasurer; Susan Ball, the Director of Programs at the New York Foundation for the Arts, where she previously served as a NYFA boardmember for 13 years, a boardmember since 2006; Henry T. Ford, a major presence in the New York Beauty and Interior Design Fields, a boardmember since 2006, and currently board president; celebrated graphics designer Milton Glaser, a member since 2004; Frances Halsband architect and past dean of the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, as well as a commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, currently serving as chairman (and a board member since 2004 architect and author Les Walker, who joined the Guild Board in the early 1980s and whose current term began in 2004; and Guild President Emeritus and Board member-for-life Doug James, a life-long jazz drummer and former head of a public relations office in New York who is also on the Advisory Board of the Catskill Center for Photography, the Acquisition Committee of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and a member of the Woodstock Memorial Society board.

New York City gallery owner Peter Nesbett, hired to replace long term Guild Executive Director Carla Smith in June, resigned his position on July 17 blaming the organization’s financial challenges, and denigrating the Woodstock community for being anachronistic.

The Guild board has said that this weekend’s activities, along with some serious internal discussions about what it can best focus on in an age of limited revenues and increased audience competition, should serve to not only restore hope in its mission within the Woodstock community, but hopefully inaugurate some much needed local fundraising.

In addition to being both a fun party, and a means of getting Byrdcliffe and the community back into a position of strength. ++


CornUtopia is Saturday night, September 25 at 8 p.m. in the Byrdcliffe Barn, off Glasco Turnpike on Upper Byrdcliffe Road, while the Special Meeting for Members is on Sunday, September 26 at 1 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, 34 Tinker Street in the middle of town.

Call 679-2079 or visit for further information.

Phillips at Dog House

Woodstocker Susan Phillips works her art. Using the mediums of photography and collage, she not only searches out instances of found beauty in an otherwise overlooked world, she creates examples of the ways in which happenstance shapes aesthetics.

A new show of her work, in tandem with Patti Ferrara of Greene County, opens at The Dog House Gallery in Saugerties, not far from Opus 40, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, September 25.

“The graphics of the street, the many abstractions at graffiti sites, the surrealism of puddle and pond reflections, the mood created by photographing in the rain…” she says of what draws her eye and directs her collage work. “I am particularly fascinated by the fact that at any given second, people, the elements, or random occurrences, can completely alter a scene.”

Viewpoints, the name of the new exhibit, will match Phillips intensely rendered, colorful photos with Ferrara’s oil and watercolor landscapes, most of the Palenville area where she lives.++

The Dog House Gallery is located at 429 Phillips Road, on the corner of Glasco Turnpike, in Saugerties. Gallery Hours are daily, noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

Brown boxing it

Susan Sammis and Howard Goldson, longtime members of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum who are currently filling the walls at Oriole 9 in the center of Woodstock, call their joint artistic efforts Brown Box Creative.

“Our name is derived from the physical appearance of our home (a brown box) which also contains our studio,” the couple say of their efforts, which have also been shown at the Varga Gallery of late.

She’s a photographer, he makes abstract paintings. Their enthusiasm is apparent in all they do, in what has pulled them to art via art appreciation.

It’s all up into the middle of October, when an exhibit of local architects’ paintings and other creative works will be on view. ++

Oriole 9 is located at 17 Tinker Street in the center of Woodstock, and open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For further information call 679-5763 or visit

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