Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast
Dec. 6, 2022

Kenny Bloodgood's Catskills Connection to a Famed Western Artist

Kenny Bloodgood's Catskills Connection to a Famed Western Artist
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Charles Shreyvogel was an Eastern artist who painted famous Western scenes. His favorite model was also decidedly non-Western. Greene County’s Kenny Bloodgood recounts tales of his great-uncle Grant and his unlikely appearance in some of Schruyvogel’s most famous paintings.

We produced this episode as part of Catskill Historical Views, a collaboration between Catskill Tri-County Historical Views, the Zadock Pratt Museum, and Silver Hollow Audio. After 5 years of publication, Catskill Tri-County Historical Viewshas sadly ceased publication, due to rising production costs and a diminished subscription base. SIDE NOTE: please support your local media -- it matters! The Mountain Eagle is just one the papers we subscribe to, and it's a great source of local news. On REAL newsprint! Delivered! They support us, too! Along with the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce and Briars & Brambles Books. We recently visited Briars & Brambles for the first time, and the selection is fantastic!

As always, you can support this podcast by:

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Thank you!

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Brett Barry  0:01  
Welcome to Kaatscast the Catskills podcast. This week, we say goodbye to one of our favorite publications, Catskill, Tri County Historical views. This biannual Journal ran from 2018 to 2022. And we were sorry to see a letter enclosed with our latest issue, explaining that it would be their last, citing increased paper printing and shipping costs and a subscription base that hadn't kept up with those expenses. It's a blunt reminder that local journalism isn't sustainable without local dollars. And with that in mind, we're happy to support the mountain eagle with our subscription that puts a real hold in your hand newspaper in our mailbox every week. If you'd like to do the same, just click the link in the show notes. Speaking of which, have you clicked the subscribe button for this podcast? Please do on whatever your preferred app is, so you'll never miss an episode. It's always free. But donations absolutely help keep this going. So please do consider clicking the donate button at kaatscast.com. And now onto today's show, which originally aired as part of a series we produced for Catskill Tri County Historical views, called Catskill historical views. In episode five of that series, we spoke with Kenny Bloodgood, about his 84 years in the Catskills and his special connection to some famous Western art. Here is that show.

Welcome to Catskill historical views an audio companion to Catskill Tri County Historical views published by the Gilboa Museum and juried History Center, with support from the zadock Pratt Museum. This is Episode Five, a conversation with Kenny Bloodgood. His talented great uncle grant Bloodgood, and grants connection to famed artist Charles Schreyvogel.

Kenny Bloodgood  2:10  
[Sounds of drone and Kenny talking]

Brett Barry  2:19  
That's Kenny Bloodgood, flying his new drone, and snapping an aerial photo of the house he grew up in 84 years ago. Today, he lives just next door in Westkill New York.

Unknown Speaker  2:30  
Hi, my name is Ken Bloodgood Westkill. I was born here 84 years ago, we lived in a house that my great grandfather built. James Bloodgood. James was in the Civil War. I have a copy of his Civil War records. My father was a cheese maker. We used to have a creamery in town. And he worked as a cheese maker and he has teach cheese making. And my mother was a homemaker, with seven kids. She was a homemaker. I worked in the creamery when I was 15. He made regular whipped cream, cottage cheese, butter, sour cream, powdered milk. I worked at six at night to six morning and I went to school. When school was out, they put me on six morning to six at night.

Brett Barry  3:18  
Ken's Creamery job was just the beginning of a long and varied work life

Unknown Speaker  3:23  
I was in the Air Force for four years a jet mechanic observer on Hunter mountain fire tower one year, and I worked at North Lake, Belleayre. I drove school bus for two years as a substitute driver. I worked Hunter mountain ski bowl. I worked for Kenny Becker electrician for 19 years doing utility work, then worked for Van Etten Trucking... builders in boiceville estimating jobs as an assessor for 25 years. The longest elected assessor in Greene County, and now I work at Williams lumber, so I can see people I can't sit alone all day. I think too much place at home

Brett Barry  3:55  
when he does have time to think Ken has been known to dive deep into genealogical research all the way back to the 10th century.

Unknown Speaker  4:05  
My wife and I done genealogy we got my family... documented here at 900. The first one coming from home from Holland. I have a copy of his Will dated 1699 He had two sons William and John. I'm a descendant of William. Then they migrated up into Dutchess County, from Dutchess County to Palenville, and from Palenville up here.

Brett Barry  4:25  
We asked Kenny about one relative in particular, his great uncle, Grant Bloodgood

Unknown Speaker  4:31  
Oh boy. He was a character and a half. One thing that always takes my mind about him. He says a man in his lifetime should only have one car that's all he needs there's no need of having two cars or three only one. He bought 1923 Chevrolet brand new and that's the only car he had when he died in 1960. His wife stayed in Stamford and running a store little grocery store. He drove around and sharpen lawn mowers, knives, scissors, he chewed tobacco in the car he had to spitoon on the floorboard. He could drag right on and not miss it. He'd done a marionettes. Used his fingers. He made those. He played the bones. I think he had real bones. Now they're made out of plastic; jews harp; spoons. And the other thing that sticks in my mind, he started making violins at age 80. he made his own bowls. He was a man that could never sit still. He used old piano material to make the violins and he used to dressed up as chief Crazy Horse and raise money for the Boy Scouts in Stamford.

Brett Barry  5:31  
Grant Bloodgood didn't take sides though. When he wasn't dressing up like chief Crazy Horse. He was posing as a cavalry man for famed artist Charles Schreyvogel. Schreyvogel was born in New York City in 1861. And some of his most famous depictions of the Western frontier, were painted from a rooftop in Hoboken, New Jersey, to reconcile Schreyvogel's East Coast background with his iconic Western art. I made a call to Michael Grauer, McCasland Chair of cowboy culture and curator of cowboy collections and Western art at Oklahoma City's National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Michael Grauer  6:13  
Well, it was actually city slickers like Schreyvogel and Frederick Remington, from the East Coast who really made the greatest impact on Western art, especially in the turn of the last century. And I'm standing in the Schreyvogel gallery adjacent to the Remington gallery. And these two guys were pretty much emblematic of Easterners in particular, who became enamored of the American West and tried to save it on canvases and in bronze. And so, you know, that's actually a fairly common theme, not only for settlers going from the East Coast to, to the western United States west of the Mississippi, but, but artists in particular, it drew them like a magnet, like flies to honey so to speak. And because of his attention to detail, and also to research is what lends credibility to his work far more than than many other artists who were his contemporaries. He did go out west and make sketches and collect material culture objects to ensure that his paintings are as accurate as he possibly could make them

Brett Barry  7:06  
once fame and fortune gave him the choice, writes Stephen foreman in Catskill Tri County Historical views. He came to Greene County discovered Lexington and bought property there. Just up the road from Kenny bloodgood's. Great Uncle grant.

Unknown Speaker  7:23  
Schreyvogel owned 36 acres uncle grant used to go, I think was the train station in Phoenicia to pick him up. He worked as a handyman on the farm.

Brett Barry  7:31  
Grant Bloodgood would use his skills to build Schreyvogel a Catskills studio. 

Unknown Speaker  7:36  
Yes, this studio is just about a half mile north of here, and you can see it's where they got the great big windows look like they're about eight foot square. When the sun come in in the morning, he could see the paintings.

Unknown Speaker  7:48  
We actually have several paintings in the collection that were painted in the Catskills there's one of his farm and a landscape near his studio. So to be outdoors and to be away from from Hoboken was also critical to the success of his work to be out in nature and sketch and paint there it was was really important to him.

Unknown Speaker  8:05  
So then Schreyvogel said to his wife, he's lean and mean and looks like a trooper in the West. So Schreyvogel asked him if he could build a wooden horse and pose for him.

Unknown Speaker  8:16  
We've got a photograph of him hanging in the gallery posing for one of the figures. Most of those guys had a favorite model. Remington did, of course, another artists who was working in Ridgewood, New Jersey at about same time who became part of the Taos art colony, W. Herbert Dunton. They all had a favorite model who looked Western that was key to have that Western look or at least how they determined the Western looks. So yeah, having a favorite model close by was really critical to the success of their work.

Brett Barry  8:43  
Grant Bloodgood appears in some of Schreyvogel's most famous paintings, including my bunkie seen pulling a fallen companion onto his galloping horse. He appears again, multiple times, perhaps in a painting called on the skirmish line on display at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Unknown Speaker  9:03  
Yeah, we've got a painting called on the skirmish line, and I think he appears in there probably more than once. All of those guys tended to look a little bit alike. But yeah, I suspect probably on the skirmish line contains Mr. Bloodgood. In that painting for sure. 

Brett Barry  9:17  
I asked Mr. Grauer about the scope of Schreyvogel's works at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Unknown Speaker  9:24  
It's actually rather extensive if you include the archival collection, which is housed in our Dickinson Research Center in the basement. It's got great depth and breadth, oil paintings, pencil sketches, watercolors, all different media that he used, including some bronzes and plaster sculptures, and taken in conjunction with that archival and photographed collection. It's one of the most comprehensive Schreyvogel collections you'll see in the US

Brett Barry  9:48  
Schreyvogel's Catskills tinged Western works can be seen in books and online. But curator Michael Grauer reminds us that nothing beats an in person experience 

Unknown Speaker  9:59  
It's critical to not rely on an images you see in books or even online, one needs to see Schreyvogel's work in person. And I'd encourage people to come here to the National Cowboy museum and see this great collection, we were at one gallery all devoted just to him. We also have his paint box, which is a pretty important part of understanding him and as well as the archive. So the thing I would say is you got to see any great work of art you need to see it in person, and don't rely on what you see on your phone. That's not the way to see great works of art.

Brett Barry  10:30  
It turns out westkill's Kenny Bloodgood is also a big fan of real world experiences.

Kenny Bloodgood  10:38  
When I was a kid, you go swimming a lot. Play ball out in the middle of a hay field, they had town baseball teams, you got to know each other. Today, neighbors only know neighbors. Like kids don't hunt anymore. They don't even fish anymore. They're too busy with a cell phone. You gotta get out and do things.

Brett Barry  11:01  
Which is why most days you can still find Kenny at Williams lumber in Tannersville, keeping busy and connecting with his community. If you see him, tell him we said hello. Ask about his drone, or his great uncle grant. For more on the Bloodgood Schreyvogel connection, Catskill Tri County Historical views wrote about it in their 2021 spring and fall editions. Catskill historical views is an audio companion to Catskill Tri County Historical views published by the Gilboa Museum and juried History Center, subscribe for home delivery at Catskilltricounty.org. This series is also supported by the zadock Pratt Museum in Prattsville, New York, and online at Zadockprattmuseum.org. Kaatscast is sponsored by the central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, providing services to businesses, community organizations and local governments in the central Catskills region. Follow the central Catskills Chamber of Commerce on Facebook and sign up for a weekly email of local events at Centralcatskills.org and by Briars and brambles books, the go to independent book and gift store in the Catskills located in Windham, New York right next to the pharmacy just steps away from the Windham path open daily. For more information visit Briarsandbramblesbooks.com or call 518-750-8599 Kaatscast is a production of silver hollow audio. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch and we'll see you again in two weeks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai / AA