On August 4th I gave a talk in Woodstock, NY, at the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts about the town’s intertwined histories of art and the counterculture. The program was generously co-sponsored by the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, the Historical Society of Woodstock, Maverick Concerts, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the Woodstock Artists Association. Here was the description of the talk:
Woodstock: the word is shorthand for the 1960s counterculture. Artists as well as writers and musicians contributed to Woodstock’s reputation as a bohemian enclave. As early as 1952 experimental composer John Cage debuted his (in)famous 4’33” — four-and-half minutes of silence. Inspired by Cage, avant-garde artist Allan Kaprow staged a 1962 “Happening” in the forests outside Woodstock for which sculptor Eva Hesse made her first three-dimensional piece. Gerd Stern, an intermedia pioneer and founder of the experimental art collective USCO, moved to Woodstock in 1964. In the late 1960s New York School painter Philip Guston moved to Maverick Road to reinvent his practice. This lecture will explore Woodstock as a ferment of art, experimentation, and creativity in the 1960s, a period in which artists as much as writers and musicians contributed to a growing counterculture opposed to mainstream values.