Psych Out

PSYCH OUT!!! - Psychedelic Outdoor Sculpture Show at Byrdcliffe Art Colony

The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, located in Woodstock, NY, invites artists working in 3D materials suitable for outdoor installation to submit proposals for PSYCH OUT!!! Submissions should have an affinity, direct or indirect, with the psychedelic movement, especially its evolution and/or its inspiration, over the past 50 years.

The PSYCH OUT!!! outdoor group exhibition will take place on the grounds of Byrdcliffe, founded in 1902 and the site of the original Woodstock art colony. Dates for the exhibition are July 13, 2019 through November 3, 2019. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival: "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music," which was held August 15 to August 18, 1969.

Isaac Abrams, whose New York City gallery Coda first exhibited psychedelic art in 1965, will participate in the exhibition as a special guest artist along with artists whose proposals are accepted. Isaac himself started making art in the psychedelic mode soon after the ground-breaking Coda exhibition. On August 24, 2019, Isaac Abrams will present a range from his lifetime body of work in conversation with critic and curator Carlo McCormick, who has followed Isaac's art for many years.

Curatorial Statement

A pivotal moment for psychedelics began on "Bicycle Day," April 19, 1943, when Albert Hofmann, who discovered LSD, ingested it and then observed the effects of the newly discovered drug while riding his bike in Basel, Switzerland, giving the world its first documented LSD trip.

What followed in the late 1960s was not just an art movement, but a countercultural phenomenon in terms of correspondence with rock music, literature, underground comics, and protest against mainstream politics of the time. Dropping acid and getting high on magic mushrooms became gateways to bend the mind, expand consciousness, and tap the illusive unconscious. Thinking back on the time period, 50 years ago, complete with political turmoil, I recall many who viewed the movement as escapist. But today, I see it as having been the best vehicle to get closer to sanity and a truer understanding of the workings of the world and the broader cosmos.

Bob Dylan once said: "Yesterday's just a memory, tomorrow is never what it's supposed to be." Applying this adage to cultural phenomena pretty well sums up my dilemma of wanting to honor the original psychedelic art movement and rightfully acknowledge and celebrate its somewhat blurry influence on everything that has come later. Dylan's statement might be perceived as inherently self-critical, in terms of time: suggesting a "lamentation" of a period gone by, complete with the notion that its relevance is somehow in question, and owning up to the universal uncertainty of the future, and even the premise of disconnect between the past and the future. Any form of dialogue between what was and what will be has poignancy, especially in the current climate of cultural and political discord, when the whole notion of re-writing the past for convenience becomes a focus of our collective attention and scrutiny.

After some deep soul searching, I say: let's allow ourselves to "time trip" in a way that would make Billy Pilgrim and Montana Wildhack (and Kurt Vonnegut) proud. This exhibition should be all about finding that "wormhole" out there in the universe, re-connecting the past, present, and future in a way that's meaningful for all who participate. I suppose I am looking for an elusive common thread that might provide opportunities for selected works to speak to one another, but without preconceived notions that all must fit into the same jigsaw puzzle. Overall, the more important mission should be to celebrate, rediscover anew, and tap into all that's outtasight!

Deadline for Submission: April 13, 2019 (5:00 pm)

Exhibition Guidelines:

Focus: At minimum, submissions should be in loose affinity with the spirit of the psychedelic movement (including its aftermath, however indirect).

Materials & Equipment: Considering the outdoor setting at Byrdcliffe, artists are invited to submit existing 3D works or proposed, site-specific installations. Participants must supply their own materials and equipment. There are no material restrictions (except for materials or fabrications that would be potentially hazardous or dangerous). Utilizing some natural materials from the site such as leaves and tree branches already on the ground is possible. Minor excavations, no more than 36" deep, are acceptable as long as all disturbances are fully restored after the exhibition concludes. Mounting within trees and shrubs is possible, as long as there is no harm done to them and all mountings are removed after the exhibition concludes. Screws and nails as fasteners into trees and shrubs are prohibited; opt for looped cables and straps with cushions of rubber tubing.

Media: Artists may submit any media, including new or technology based media, as long as power requirements are considered (i.e: placement near a structure that has available power, unless batteries and/or solar panels are utilized). Any artwork requiring power would need to be self regulating: having its own timer or electric eye so that it would automatically turn "on" or "off" during the daily cycle.

Size: There are no size limitations, except for a 20 ft. height restriction. Each artist shall be responsible for their own artwork transport and "engineering," which is especially important for large and/or heavy or fragile works.

Number of Submissions: Artists are limited to one submission. Teamwork and collaboration are acceptable. Each artist would receive credit for collective work, unless a team might prefer a separate entity name.

Installation: Artists and teams of artists shall be responsible for transportation of finished works or materials to Byrdcliffe for site installations. Artists and teams of artists shall also be responsible for all site preparations and individual installations, as well as de-installation and restoration of the site (if disturbed) after the conclusion of the exhibition. Unfortunately, Byrdcliffe is unable to provide power tools or workshop space. Considering the multipurpose functions of Byrdcliffe, incorporating seasonal artists-in-residence programs and some artists living there year round, exhibition participants will be expected to install works and execute site-specific installations as quietly as possible.

Site Location: Artists are encouraged to consider placement within the Byrdcliffe site as part of their respective submissions. A map of Byrdcliffe is included below with this call for submissions, which indicates a general boundary for the exhibition. White Pines, the former residence of Byrdcliffe founders Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead, is at the center of the red dashed overlay boundary on the map. Some photos are also included, but local artists are encouraged to visit the site (if not familiar with it already). Out-of-town applicants may have questions about micro locations within the site boundary, which may require a response that would include additional photos. The curator will place accepted works by artists who do not wish to position them as part of their respective submissions. In the case of multiple artists wishing to have the same spot within the exhibition boundary, the curator will do everything possible to mediate and find the optimum location for each work. The curator will also encourage and expedite a modulated distribution of works throughout the site (reserving the right to re-distribute proposed works, once a slate of submissions has been accepted). This activity will produce a master plan to be shared with all eventual participants, which will be especially helpful for artists with site specific installations.

Site Characteristics: White Pines, at the center of the exhibition site, represents a perfect example of the utopian spirit of the Arts and Crafts community. Construction was begun in 1902 and incorporated a second floor bridge to the Loom Room, which is nestled into a small hill, relative to the main house. Service buildings to the rear form a small exterior courtyard between them and the main house (the courtyard itself is excluded as a place to install art). There is a formal, almost-level grass terrace in the front of White Pines, edged with stone walls. Between the stone walls and Upper Byrdcliffe Road, there is sloping terrain, with areas of both scruffy tall grass and shrubs and an area of mowed grass closer to the access driveway, which is gravel. There is a free-standing, open outbuilding: the Old Kiln Shed, which is in poor condition, but slated for future restoration. Its possible use must be carefully considered in that it may be utilized for visitors to peer into from either side, past barriers, but not actually enter. There are woods to the north of White Pines and to the west as well. The west portion contains remnants of stone garden walls. A seasonal stream runs from the west side to the front, eventually crossing Upper Byrdcliffe Road. A footbridge crosses the stream to the west of White Pines, serving as an entryway to the forest beyond. It should be noted that White Pines and the Loom Room are the two structures that could be considered for providing power. Please note that sites in wooded areas pose a few unique considerations: it is recommended that works be installed at a maximum distance of 25' from an established pathway, to allow visitors easier access. And, since nature can be unpredictable, please be advised that there are trees in the woods that are essentially dying or already dead. While Byrdcliffe has a program of sensitive culling these potential hazards, there is always some risk while working in the woods and visiting works in the woods.

Special Restrictions at the Grass Terrace & the front of White Pines: The grass terrace surrounded by stone walls in front of White Pines has become a popular setting for seasonal outdoor weddings. As Byrdcliffe may rent White Pines occasionally, all artworks installed at the grass terrace and generally at the immediate front of White Pines (including the Loom Room) must have the capability of being temporarily relocated. This means that ground anchorage or foundations would be prohibited, as would be any attachment to trees. Minimal impact stakes, however, are an acceptable means of anchorage on the grass. At the grass terrace and front of White Pines, individual components comprising a work of art should weigh no more than 200 pounds. If a work of art would require temporary relocation and re-installation, this would be performed by Byrdcliffe staff members.

Coordination with Current Exhibition: The Haiku Box Project exhibition is currently on view at Byrdcliffe through June 2019 and consists of 10 works. The de-installation time is assumed to be no later than the end of June. As works are smaller and can be relocated if need be, prospective artists for PSYCH OUT!!! should factor in their current location on the second map included, especially if a long lead time is needed for site installation.

Sonics: If new or technology based media is utilized, provisions for sound shall be at the discretion of participants, however conveyance must be in the form of headphones. Protection of headphones (and all electronic devices) during inclement weather would need to be considered. And, all sound must have the capability of being turned off at night, automatically (as per the earlier "media" requirement).

Insurance: While the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild maintains insurance to cover damage or theft of any works on display, please be advised that there will be no guards, with PSYCH OUT!!! being an outdoor exhibition.

Submission Format: Please email the curator relevant photo examples of your body of work along with a resume/cv and bio. Include a separate page identifying each work with artist name, title, date, and medium. Please also include proposed works for the exhibition and their respective installation and equipment requirements, including general or specific siting. Utilize sketches and/or verbal descriptions to describe and convey all aspects of proposed work, including materials and size.

Acceptance: The curator will notify each applicant by email, and identify artists selected for the exhibition on or around the notification date, below. If work is accepted, you will be asked to arrange your preferred installation date(s) in advance with the curator so we can alert artist residents at the Byrdcliffe colony that there will be activity/noise.

Submissions/Questions/Correspondence:
Please address all to the curator Alan Baer, psychoutbyrdcliffe@gmail.com

Key Dates:

Deadline for Submission: April 13, 2019 (5:00 pm)

Notification: on or around April 26, 2019

On site installation timeframe: anytime between May 10, 2019 and July 10, 2019

Exhibition Dates: July 13, 2019 – November 3, 2019

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 13, 2019, at White Pines (on Byrdcliffe grounds), from 3:00 to 7:00 pm, with introduction of participating artists at 5:00 pm

On 50th Anniversary of Woodstock Festival, Ed Sanders and The Fugs concert: Saturday, August 17, 2019, at the Byrdcliffe Barn, 8:00 pm

Conversation with Isaac Abrams and Carlo McCormick: Saturday, August 24, 2019, at the Byrdcliffe Theater or another location TBD, at 4:00 pm

De-installation: anytime between November 4, 2019 and November 25, 2019

Psych Out


Photos: Corresponding to letters within site map of Byrdcliffe above.

Quick, Down & Dirty

Quick, Down & Dirty

Note: Photos were taken during the Quick, Down & Dirty exhibition in 2011, with participating artists Mark Bennett, Mark Briscoe, Andrea Brown, John Corcoran, Jose Sagastume - Duarte, Perry Gunther, Ruth Hardinger, Rob Hare, Jim Holl, Jeff Johnson, Kieran Kinsella, Joseph Kurhajec, Jonah Meyer, Terry Nelson O’Keefe, Johnny Poux, and Claudio Stalling.

For coordination of available sites, the current Haiku Box Project map is included:

The Haiku Box Project


Bio: Isaac Abrams
Isaac Abrams is a self-taught artist, who began as a painter in 1965. He "discovered" psychedelics in 1962, and then discovered psychedelics again and again…………………………………………
In 1964, Abrams decided there had to be such a thing as psychedelic art. He climbed a tree with Tim Leary to discuss business. In 1965, Isaac founded the first gallery of Psychedelic Art in the world (Coda). And, he had his first one person exhibition in 1966, at Coda. He has exhibited extensively, worldwide. Isaac Abrams's art is represented in numerous books and publications.

To name a few museum exhibitions:
Isaac was represented in The Summer of Love exhibition at the Whitney Museum, the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, the Vienna Kunsthalle, and Frankfort's Schirn Kunsthalle (from 2005 to 2007). In 2008, his work was included in Traces of the Sacred at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Abrams was also represented in the Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia exhibition, at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, the Cranbrook Art Museum, and The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (from 2015 to 2017).

Bio: Carlo McCormick
Carlo McCormick is a critic and curator based in NYC. As a guest curator for The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene from 1974 to 1984 (at NYU's Grey Art Gallery), he identified a diverse cross section of artists that emerged after 1960's psychedelic, pop art, and experimental eras. Carlo has written extensively, with articles appearing in Aperture, Art in America, Art News, Artforum, Camera Austria, Effects: Magazine for New Art Theory, High Times, Spin, Tokion, Vice, and many other journals. He serves as the senior editor for Paper. McCormick's books include "Trespass", a survey of graffiti and urban street art, and "Beautiful Losers", which traces the works of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Currently, Carlo has co-curated PUNK LUST: RAW PROVOCATION 1971-1985 with Vivien Goldman and Lissa Rivera at the Museum of Sex.

Curator: Alan Baer
Alan Baer is an architect with exhibition design experience and served on the exhibition committee of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild from 2006 to 2014. He helped to organize Byrdcliffe events, "Talking Tongues and other Organs" and "Linda Montano Endures as Bob Dylan on his 73rd Birthday". He assisted curator Linda Weintraub with the Ahoy! Where Lies Henry Hudson? exhibition. And, he curated Quick, Down & Dirty and The Sky is Falling! In 1982, in Cincinnati, Alan curated the Architects, Incognito, Anonymous exhibition at CAGE Gallery (Cincinnati Artists Group Effort). He maintains a private architectural practice in Kingston, NY.

Photo at top of page: Isaac Abrams, Trojan Horse, 1990.