Do you know what they say about the Woodstock Artists Cemetery? People are just dying to get in.
Sorry. That’s a graveyard joke I should have outgrown at 17, but obviously haven’t.
But did you know that the name came not from the founding family, who didn’t establish the cemetery with artists in mind, but from local residents who saw the place as a snobbish affront, a cemetery for the summer elite who fancied themselves too highly to lie for eternity among the common folk in the Woodstock cemetery across the street? Over time this insult has been forgotten so that we now take pride in our Artists Cemetery, for it does indeed hold the headstones for a Who’s Who from Woodstock’s illustrious history as an arts colony. The original founders lie here, Jane and Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, plus Hervey White, as do dozens of others. If graves could talk, the stories you’d start to hear on this quiet lawn…
One of my favorites concerns the founder, an amateur mushroom hunter. At dinner parties he served guests his prized specimens and dimmed the lights for a moment so that they could fully appreciate his wild mushrooms glowing green with bioluminescence on their dinner plates. Sounds yummy, right?
On Saturday, August 18th, our Pocket Guide to Woodstock Village History Walk will pay a special visit to the Woodstock Artists Cemetery led by Emily Jones, whose grandparents, Jane and Wendell Jones, were prominent artists at the Maverick and now lie side by side in the cemetery, as do several other family ancestors. Emily works as the archivist at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, so she’s a budding art colony historian in her own right. We’ll start at 10 am at the Golden Notebook at 29 Tinker Street in Woodstock. The tour fee is a book purchase or $10.
Join us. No zombies, I promise.
* * * *
The Mother Grouse Blog is produced by Will Nixon, author of My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse and Love in the City of Grudges available on-line.