NY Times review May 1-2015

Art & Design


May 1, 2015


From the 1920s to the ’70s, Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, an artist couple who spent much of their time in Woodstock, N.Y., not only hosted numerous fund-raising parties but also painted landscapes and portraits, acted in plays and silent films, photographed each other, bought real estate, designed gardens, and made enameled plaques and candles.

“They got an astonishing amount done,” the historian Joseph P. Eckhardt said. “Their reaction to the sun coming up was, ‘What do we want to do today?’ ” Their love story is detailed in Mr. Eckhardt’s new book, “Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason,” published by WoodstockArts.

 Nan Mason took this photo of herself and her partner Wilna Hervey in 1971. Credit: Historical Society of Woodstock; Joseph P. Eckhardt


Mr. Eckhardt is also affiliated with the Betzwood Film Festival at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa., which will screen a selection of Hervey’s films on May 9.

Hervey, like Mason, was about six feet tall, and was typecast in slapstick movies, playing a befuddled strongwoman who could hoist trolleys, train tracks, telephone poles and clotheslines, “breaking everything but a sweat,” Mr. Eckhardt writes.

The couple remained devoted to each other through their many career phases, in an artists’ colony not known for stable relationships.

“They were kind of conventional in an unconventional community,” he said.

On June 12, an exhibition featuring the women’s artwork, Valentines, candles and home movies opens at the Historical Society of Woodstock.



A version of this article appears in print on May 1, 2015, on page C26 of the New York edition.