Home Visual Arts 40th anniversary of Woodstock at the Morrison Hotel Art Gallery.

40th anniversary of Woodstock at the Morrison Hotel Art Gallery.



That said, her spirit remains. My girlfriend, all tousled hair and innocent naiveté, asked me if there could ever be another show like Woodstock. Never. Because today, before the show itself, we would hire our press guys. We would pay our photographers. We would check our children into day care and be certain that all was right in the world before we ventured out. There was less of that in Woodstock. Less hope. Thus, more chance for change.

My girlfriend reads Marx and Engels. She understands the things that can be understood. She knows the years of practice, patience and sacrifice that create a revolution. She has seen it wasted in misuse and practice. Her revolution is a desecrated Communism. Her 60s is a Ben & Jerry’s flavor and Rolling Stones appearances at the Super Bowl.


Yet, she is there. Wearing a piece sign around her neck and no bra. She is drinking and laughing, unbothered that it is a Thursday night and she has an important meeting at work the next day. She is laughing and flirting with me, with innocence and power. She is surrounded by images of the same seductive innocence and power. When I asked the Morrison Hotel Art Gallery if I could write about this show, they were unconcerned. How could they tell me whether or not I could express myself? That same alluring freedom running through me, as it passed from picture to movie to them to now.

You could buy a piece and hold it forever on your wall, a reminder of a time when the picture mattered less then the moment. In fact, I encourage every reader to do so. In fact, buy two, one would look amazing at the office. Better yet, just realize what is available when you create a temporary camp, and let a beautiful blonde walk through it. Consider the cost of being in the moment.




  1. The Woodstock Festival did not take place in Woodstock, New York but in the town of Bethel which is sixty-seven miles due west. The second day of that mythic, three-day concert coincided with my eleventh birthday (I am going to be fifty-one on Sunday. Yikes! Where did the time go?). I remember quite clearly my friend Tom Finkle and I riding our bikes up to the bridge on South Street that overlooks Route 17 – a four lane highway which snakes its way into Sullivan County where the great event took place. It looked like a long and narrow parking lot. The New York State Thruway had been shut down. To the best of my knowledge, that had never happened before and has not happened since.

    To say that it was an exciting time to be alive almost sounds redundant. Less than four weeks earlier, two human beings had walked on the surface of the moon, a technological feat that will probably out shine every other event of the twentieth century in the history books that will be written a thousand years from now. As future decades unwind, it is a certainty that the photographic image of half a million kids, partying and dancing in the mud, will not continue to sustain the cultural significance that it does for us today. The years will pass by, the people who were lucky enough to be there will one day be no more, and the Woodstock Festival will be erased from living memory; a mere footnote to a very crowded century. But what a freaking party, baby!

    “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

    Emma Goldman 1869-1940

    Dance with me, Emma!

    The last time I looked at my videocassette of Woodstock (which was well over a decade ago) I wondered about the fates of the half-a-million gathered on the fields of Max Yasgur’s farm in Sullivan County on that distant weekend. The passage of four decades decrees that a third or more of them have passed on. The average age of the attendees was about twenty-two. Today would find them approaching their mid-sixties; the age many of their grandparents were in 1969!

    Where I come from, Woodstock has a special meaning to people because it happened here – or close enough to count. From where I now sit, Bethel is a mere forty-two miles northwest. According to this morning’s local paper, seventy-five media outlets from all over the world will be covering the events commemorating the anniversary this weekend. That’s enough of a reason for me to stay the hell away. I’m not as crowd-friendly as I once was. Besides, I would have preferred to attend the real thing forty years ago. That would have been too cool for words!

    Nostalgia is a permanent human condition. Each generation is nostalgic for the last. It absolutely boggles the mind to think that the year 2049 will find those of us who survive looking back on these hideous times with tender longing. Given our silly human quirks, that will probably be the case. Still, it’s hard not to reflect on the hope that was prevalent in the summer of Woodstock. We want to believe that there is a magical future where, as John Lennon once imagined, there are no countries; nothing to kill or die for. Maybe we will one day arrive at that wondrous place.



    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

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