Byrdcliffe Feathers My Nest

by Josh on September 7, 2006 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized

Byrdcliffe Centennial TileNot all of the souveniers from our trip to the Catskills were lost when I forgot our camera in the rental car. Now that my replacement camera has arrived, I can show off one of them.

This 6-inch art tile was created for the centennial anniversary (1903-2003) of the founding of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony near Woodstock, NY. We bought it at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild‘s Fleur De Lis Gallery in Woodstock where it kept company with some lovely arts in a variety of media created by the current generation of Byrdcliffe artists.

Prior to the trip I had never heard of Byrdcliffe, and it was completely accidental that we stumbled onto them. When I think upstate New York Arts & Crafts colony, I think of the Roycrofters. But it turns out that Byrdcliffe has quite an impressive legacy of its own.

Founded as a utopian society, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild now states that the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony is “possibly the oldest continuously-operating arts and crafts colony” in the United States. The Cornell University website has a great online gallery of historic Byrdcliffe objects that showcases a variety of furniture, pottery, manuscripts, textiles and more. I was particularly struck by the use floral relief carvings and cutouts to ornament furniture panels, which is both lovely and unusual for Arts & Crafts furniture. Today, Byrdcliffe has artist-in-residence programs for writers, visual artists and ceramicists, and the site has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Arts & Crafts style residence of the Byrdcliffe founders, called WhitePines, is currently undergoing restoration.

Tours of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony are available throughout the year, but we didn’t have time to fit that into our agenda during our trip to the Catskills for the wedding of our good friends Liz and Mike. However, we did see enough of the Catskills to be thoroughly charmed. You can bet that if we’re fortunate enough to make it back there someday, we’ll make a point of seeing Byrdcliffe for ourselves.

Now I just need to make (or buy) a nice oak frame for that tile.

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