The artist Robert Strong Woodward spent most of his life in Buckland – and in a wheelchair. At the age of 21 he was injured in a hunting accident in California where he was living. Paralyzed from the waist down he returned to New England where he was born, studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and then moved to Buckland. It was his intent to make his living as an artist.
He was successful and many of his works capture the beauties of the New England Landscapes. I’d like to mention that he often came to Heath to paint our familiar landscapes. This year the Buckland Historical Society has put out its third Robert Strong Woodward calendar to benefit the Society. The painting above, The Golden Slope, belonged to Beulah Bondi, a famed Hollywood actress who appreared in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, and TV series like The Waltons. The calendar is $20 and for sale locally at the Buckland Town Hall and Buckland Library, Boswell’s Books and Sawyer Hall in Shelburne Falls and Andy’s Pine Shop in Greenfield.
Janet Gerry, a Buckland native, has just published Artist Against All Odds, a biography of Woodward intended for older children. Actually, anyone interested in the history and beauty of the area will enjoy the book, and the story of one of its most distinguished citizen. It would make for a great family Read Aloud during the holiday season. Janet grew up living two houses away from Woodward’s house and studio, hearing stories of his life which she has translated into a true story for the whole family.
Artist Against All Odds includes photographs of the artist, and color plates of a few of his paintings. The book costs $14.95 and is available at Boswells Books and Sawyer News in Shelburne Falls, and the World Eye Bookstore in Greenfield. You can also go online to order the book.
The book and calendar made excellent Christmas gifts. You can (possibly) give yourself a present by leaving a comment here and entering a drawing for Right Rose, Right Place by rose expert Peter Schneider and 2 dozen CowPots made of composted manure for seedstarting. I’ll have the drawing on Saturday, December 12.
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A wonderful posting, Pat, because Woodward’s work is pertinent to gardeners and non-gardeners alike. He so deftly captures and illuminates the landscape of western Massachusetts, not as photographic ultra-realism but with a painter’s eye and with patience, in order to reveal the beauty of this landscape. The Depression era photographer Dorothea Lange observed “the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Something very similar is going on with the paintings of Robert Strong woodward, and I think Ms. Lange would have agreed. Your post underscores how west County is a veritable garden of creative souls blooming right in front of our eyes.
Back to your porcupine: if he hasn’t found the right moniker yet could he have a horticultural name? I was going to suggest John Quill. Of course if his background is Vietnamese he might become Tran Quill.
Hi Pat, have never seen the Cowpots so I’ll have to look for them. In the interim, I’m looking forward to spreading the small load of manure on our vegetable garden.
I have had fun looking back at several of your posts. I love the one about the porcupine in the compost pile. I have only seen porcupines a few times. I find them facinating. Of course if they were eating the bark off my treasured trees and demolishing the compost bin I might have a different thought about them. Native peoples make jewlery out of their spines. I have always wanted to try that. I have seen a dead porcupine but was too squeamish to remove any spines. I would love to read this book. It sounds interesting. I am a big kid.
Peter – I am glad to have found another admirer of Robert Strong Woodward. One of his early paintings hangs in the Buckland Library. Henry would like the porcupine to be named John Quill in honor of his favorite weather man who taught us all about radiational cooling – and to accept seasonal weather in season – without complaint.
Diane – I spread manure too, but the CowPots help our plants earlier – and reduce manure pollution.
Porcupines are fascinating – and the book is a wonderful story about a great man.
Thanks so much for letting me know. I haven’t had the chance to visit much lately. :<( I’d never heard of ‘cowpots’ -such a great idea!