TOWBIN MUSEUM WING
A Lithographic Legacy
October 24, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Curated by Ron Netsky
Curator’s talk with slides by Ron Netsky: Saturday, October 24, 2pm
Woodstock may be known around the world for a different kind of rock, but for over a century the small Catskill town has been a center of activity for lithography – printing art works from slabs of stone.* A rock and roller is all artists like Bolton Brown, George Bellows, Rosella Hartman and many others needed to create some of the finest lithographs produced anywhere. Woodstock Rocks surveys lithographs created over the last century in the collection of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum.
With its natural beauty and close proximity to New York City, Woodstock has attracted a succession of major artists since it took up the mantle of an arts colony early in the 20th century. Almost from the start it was a part of artistic life in Woodstock to make lithographs. Artists who may never have encountered the medium in other parts of the country were drawn to it here. Why Woodstock?
One of the arts colony’s founders, Bolton Brown, was a major figure in the revival of fine art lithography in America. George Bellows was one of the medium’s greatest practitioners. Margaret Lowengrund, Adolf Dehn and Grant Arnold, all major figures in lithography, lived in Woodstock. Even the WAAM building you’re standing in had an active litho press in the basement for decades.
A slab of lithographic limestone begins about three inches thick. The stone is grained, a drawing is done, and prints are produced. The stone is then grained again, shaved a fraction of an inch. The old image, once so important, is gone forever; a new one can be drawn. This can be repeated hundreds of times, with one stone producing thousands of prints. The more artworks a stone yields, the more the stone is diminished. Some stones used at the Woodstock School of Art today were undoubtedly the same stones used to make many of these art works.
The famous Woodstock concert of 1969 actually took place 50 miles southwest in Bethel. And much of the area’s bluestone has been taken from Woodstock’s quarries to pave cities and towns. So, when you think of the words Woodstock Rocks, the most enduring rocks may be the stones that produced these prints, and so many more, and even more to come.
– Ron Netsky
Ron Netsky is Professor of Art and Chairman of the Art Department at Nazareth College in Rochester NY, where he teaches Printmaking. He also teaches lithography every summer at the Woodstock School of Art. His prints are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and other collections. He was co-curator of Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock, an exhibition that originated at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and traveled to the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago and other museums. He has also curated exhibitions on lithographers Bolton Brown, Harold Faye and others.
* A few of the works in this show were printed from metal lithographic plates