Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Max Yasgur and the Woodstock Music Festival

Study for Max Yasgur life statue

 by Bill Osmundsen

                                       Back in August of 1969 one of those once-in-a-lifetime events occurred, the Woodstock Music Festival.  Well, you probably thought that's where it was held plain and simple. Woodstock, had always attracted Artist's of all sorts and the name also has a nice ring to it.  Nope, for a variety reasons it couldn't be held there, so the site was moved to Wallkill about 40 miles away. Plans for this location were blocked by town residents and in a last ditched effort the proposed venue was offered to dairy farmer Max Yasgur.  Max had a pretty big operation supplying most of the milk to Sullivan County, NY.      
If you are familiar with farmers with milk cows or cattle you would know they eat a lot a grass and hay, so Max had several large acreages of alfalfa fields and he agreed to lease this land for the concert for $75,000.00.  The land was in nearby Bethel, NY and like Wallkill there was serious opposition to holding the concert in the town. Max won out.     
 The festival organizers told Max, the Town and authorities to expect about 50,000 people, they did however sell 186,000 tickets for $6. apiece.  New York radio stations had announced a 'free concert'  and with the arrival of this mass of people, soon the fences, in place, were knocked down and finally removed, which truly did make the concert 'free' for the half-million people who actually attended the 3-day concert.   It was estimated that about another million people were attempting to attend the concert but were stuck either on the New York State Thruway or on the winding and rural roads of upstate New York.     

 Despite a day or so of rain, drug overdoses, one resulting in a death, the media reported the concert a great success and and a major event for 'the age of Aquarius'. Time Magazine called 'Woodstock' "The greatest peaceful event in history". 

 Because of the deluge of rain the performers feared being electrocuted. The crowd chanted: 'No Rain' but 5 inches fell and during a thunderstorm Joan Baez sang, 'We shall overcome'. Richie Havens made-up his song 'freedom' on the spot, to fill-in stage time. And, Jimi Hendrix performed the 'Star Spangled Banner' to close the show.  The New York Post, Rock music critic,  reported that rendition as "the greatest single moment of the Sixties".

 The logistics of the event:- the population of Bethel rose to the third largest city in New York. No one was prepared for such an onslaught. Food and sanitation facilities were sparse; Governor Rockefeller declared it a disaster area. The Hog Farm Free Kitchen fed up to 190,000 people, 5,000 at a time. A Jewish Community Center made sandwiches with 200 loaves of bread, 40 pounds of meat and two gallons of pickles all distributed by Catholic Nuns. The hungry crowd burnt down a hamburger stand which tried to make an excessive profit by raising their price from 25 cents a piece, to one dollar. But considering 500,000 people showed up, the crowd joyous, exuberant and civil and the event, which has been recreated, has never been this successful.

 As the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival approaches, it will begin on August 15th, 2019 and last until the 18th of August, if it mirrors the 1969 event. A lot of people are reflecting on the event, certainly many feel it was the greatest group music event of the twenth century.  The Bethel Woods  Center for the Arts, which opened in 2006, in fact is a living tribute to the 'festival' and is situated on the very hill overlooking the festival field.  There is a beautiful Concert Pavilion, at the 'Woodstock' location and a Museum Campus overlooks the festival field. This was, of course, all of Max Yasgur's alfalfa field which provided the 'only place' offered for this great happening.

Well, it's said, that 'Hippy' was derived from 'hipster', a term used to describe Beatniks. It was something I saw grow out of Greenwich Village of the early 60's. I had a New Jersey Art Gallery in 1967-8 and the location had previously been a Music Shop, so I inherited some of the musicians who were mostly into Bluegrass. They would roll-up at the end of the day in a 1938 convertible, that the music store owner owned and unload into my gallery their instrument cases, one case always absent an instrument but filled with Sangria Wine. They would play for a couple of hours and the day would end. Sometimes we would migrate onto New York's, Greenwich Village.  That all ended all too soon and with draft and Vietnam, I elected to join the Navy and that's where I spent August 15-18, 1969 in Norfolk VA.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'Coffee Pot Light' by Bill Osmundsen at Fine Art America


 'Coffee Pot Light' also known as the Orient Point Light.
 US National Register of Historic Places.

Located off Orient Point:- I frequently viewed this light from the Cross Sound Ferry which travels from New London CT. to Orient Point, located on the eastern tip of the north fork of Long Island. 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Progress on Alexandra's portrait as a Clay Model

on a rather elaborate armature...

I found myself sculpting right off my preconceived armature, which is the form you use to hold the wet clay model in place.  My sculpture professor at Trinity University, Philip John Evett who was English,  used to talk about Sir Jacob Epstein, sculptor, who he said frequently ended up sculpting right off the form (planned armature) sometimes including the sculpture table as well.  In this case I sculpted right off the supporting 'pipe' to finally arrive where I was happy.  Of course all of the supports will be cut out in the mold making process which I have begun.  See the pic's below to view the beginning of the mold making process.

the clay form is divided for mold separation, shallacked,
and is now ready for 6 - 8 coats of latex molding compound.

Ps:- Evett continues on at age 91....he was vibrant, thoughtful, humorous and inspirational as a professor.  During class breaks we would breakout his sabres, fencing masks and we would duel in the outdoor courtyard.  I was happy to find his u-tube presentation in the form of a monologue given at age 89;-

    Philip John Evett at Blue Star

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steam-Sail Yachts, a bygone era, "Sultana"


"Sultana" by Antonio Jacobsen

My cousins and I have been going over some old family photo's.  Some have been over 100 years old.  And typical of many, there is nothing written on them, to define them.  We have been trying to piece different bits of information to try to fill in the full story.  My Grandfather, Osmund (Oscar) Osmundsen is one of the most interesting subjects in that he sailed out of Stavanger, Norway as a 'Carpenters Apprentice', later settling in Bay ridge, Brooklyn, he became an expert rigger and yacht captain.
  I  know his first captains license was issued around 1911, the year my father was born.  In those days, photo's were rather scarce and mostly formally posed.  On the backs they are frequently printed up as 'post cards' (a penny stamp will do).  So it was unusual to find an old card with 'Pop' (as we all called him) as a hard working crew member on board 'Sultana'.  I had heard that name on the lips of both my father and grandfather and this picture-card must have predated 1911.  Also, the name Harriman, had been mentioned in various conversations I had overheard as a boy.

                                              Oscar Osmundsen, second row from top, first left from rail

The 'Sultana' was built in 1889 by Henderson & Robbins at Erie Basin (Brooklyn) NY for Trenor Park who was a 'silk merchant' and Harvard graduate.  Sultana's launching was witnessed by 500 guests and 1000 spectators.
The New York Times covered the launching of the 187 foot, 3 mast, topsail schooner which cost an estimated $150,000. Mr. & Mrs. Park plans were to sail it around the world  with a group of friends. (The New York Times, pub. Dec. 19, 1889).  Mrs. Park who later sold the boat on her husbands death in 1907, was quoted to have spent her honeymoon aboard the yacht and stated they crossed the Atlantic around 75 times.
In 1907 Mrs. E.H. Harriman of  NYC, became owner.  She was the widow of railroad baron, E.H. Harriman. The life preserver in the picture above was hand labeled with an old style fountain pen 'Sultana' 'N.Y.Y.C. which signified  New York Yacht Club.

 The 'Times' stated the 'Sultana' was launched under the white-starred burgee of the Corinthian Yacht Club of NY, a club founded in 1871.   Park was also member of the NYYC and Commadore of the American Yacht Club. Mrs.Harriman was elected into the NYYC in 1910;-  in any event there are pictures and references sighting the 'Sultana' flew the NYYC burgee.

"Sultana" anchored 1892 

In 1917 the 390 ton yacht was lent under free lease, by Mrs. Harriman to the U S Navy during WWI and outfitted with four 3" guns and two machine guns.  As the USS Sultana (Sp-134) she sailed in a task force to France, arriving on July 4th, 1917,   where she rescued 45 survivors of the merchant ship Orleans which had been torpedoed the day before. USS Sultana landed the survivors in Brest, France where she remained on duty till December 5, 1918.  She was decommissioned and returned to Mrs. Harriman on February 17, 1919.
USS Sultana (Sp-134) during her service in WWI 

Interesting where an old post card photograph can lead. Drop me a line if you know any of the other men on board 'Sultana', pictured above or have any pics of the ship.  We understand the yacht transfered hands 9 times after Harriman sold it.  

Best wishes, Bill

Friday, February 21, 2014

Grand kids make great subjects for portrait sculpture

I'm a little prejudice on the subject of depicting these little darlings.  I have been creating childrens' portrait 'heads' and 'busts' for over 40 years.  I have made portraits of some of my collectors grand kids but this is the first time I have worked on my own granddaughters sculpture.  Alexandra and her mother, Caroline have been
Ali sits at my 'Down Under Art Studio' in Portsmouth, NH
coming down to my studio in Portsmouth to sit for Ali's 'head'.  (A portrait 'head' differs from a portrait 'bust' in that the 'head' is sans shoulders and is a bit more informal in it's presentation.) The finished cast 'head' is mounted on a handsome block of marble or hardwood which will appoint the sculpture work. These pictures show the sculpture process about half-way through the sculpting or modeling process. Clay work unlike carving wood or stone which is only subtractive is the process of adding and subtracting; much like painting it allows a lot of subtlety and refinement to the completed work. The 'clay model' then has a negative mother mold made on it. From there a 'cast stone' or 'lost wax bronze' is created.

As you can see my subject doesn't really stay real still or pose
and posing is not really necessary.

I like to work from life, usually 3 or 4 two-hour sessions are all that is required. The sittings are filled in with photo's that I take at different stages of the sculpture. In other cases I work completely from photo's. The duel busts of 2 sisters pictured below was completed only from photographs supplied by my client. Notice the 'polychrome' patina. The 'patina' being the coloration of the sculpture and polychrome indicating a number of various colors. Finishing the sculpture in this way is really a look back to the way the ancients; Greeks would finish their marble carvings and bronze casts. I also could have completed this work in a variety of traditional bronze 'greens' or 'browns' which were typically arrived from by the washing of 'copper nitrate' for blue-green or 'ferric nitrate' for brown. The 'Sisters' are cast in 'stone' which has the advantage of being about half the overall cost of a 'lost wax bronze'.
"Sisters"   Cast Stone     (c) William Barth Osmundsen

Visit my "Down Under Art Studio"
at the
Ben Franklin Block Building
75 Congress St.,
Suite LO2
Portsmouth, NH

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Southern Atlantic Ocean Rowers Capsized

After a 2,700 mile row and 73 days at sea our friend and Fox Sculpture advocate Jorden Hanssen and his crew had to abort their remarkable attempt to row across nearly 4,000 miles of ocean from the western coast of Africa, Dakar, Senegal to Miami, Florida.  This is one of the broadest stretches of open Atlantic Ocean.  The distance being about 1,000 miles longer than Harbo and Samuelsen's legendary North Atlantic crossing aboard Fox in 1896.

Hanssen and his 3-man crew were capsized in their 29 ft. ocean rowboat.  They were unable to right the boat and activated rescue beacons and a life raft which they maned while waiting for rescue.  Their journey ended about 400 miles north of Puerto Rico.

Capsizing is a real danger in any small boat ocean crossing.  In 1896, the Fox was broadsided mid-Atlantic and capsized however Harbo and Samuelsen both tossed out of the  boat, righted the 18 foot vessel, with handrails they had built especially on the keel. Loosing many articles and food stores they continued rowing north to the shipping lanes and hailed the Bark, Cito (a square sailing ship) who replenished the Fox's  supplies and gave Harbo and Samuelsen a meal onboard.  After their visit and weeks later, the Fox, 55 days from New York Harbor,  arrived at Britain's Sicily Islands.

Jorden in a letter supporting our Fox Sculpture Project credited his inspiration in ocean rowing to the original Fox crossing.  Although made in a comparatively primitive open wooden boat the Fox crossing was never bested for 114 years.

Whether these crossing are made by modern vessels or not they require the same legendary iron men that sailed wooden ships.  We know Jorden will return again to make continued attempts at ocean crossings.

You may like to learn more about Jorden Hanssen at his blog OAR Northwest or view his recent Today Show Interview.

Best regards, Bill