top of page

The Highs & Lows of Reeves Brace (1898-1932): A Tragic Tale of the Woodstock Art Colony, Part 1

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

By Bruce Weber

Peggy Bacon (1895-1987)

Ernest and Reeves Brace, c. 1925

Graphite on paper

Woodstock Artists Association

and Museum

Reeves Brace is best remembered today for her appearance in several photographs, paintings and prints touching on artist life in the Woodstock art colony in the 1920s and early 1930s. During her tragically short career she worked as a painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, illustrator, and printmaker, and exhibited primarily in Woodstock and New York City, where her pictures were frequently noticed by the art critics of the day. Brace committed suicide in New York City at the age of 34 in the midst of one of the darkest years of the Great Depression, and only a brief time after she separated from her husband, the author and craftsman Ernest Brace, who also had an active and productive role in the Woodstock community. This two part article was prompted in part by the recent gift by Ronald Von Lieu of two landscapes and a still life by Reeves Brace, as well as a drawing of Reeves and Ernest by Peggy Bacon, to the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum.

Virginia Blair Reeves Harris Brace was born on January 10, 1898 in Pensacola, Florida. Her parents were Laura and Hatton Harris. A native of Harrisonburg, Virginia, Hatton entered the medical department of the Navy in 1887, where he served as a surgeon and rose to the rank of rear admiral. He died of appendicitis in 1908 at the age of 43, after a return to the Pensacola Navy Yard following a lengthy service at sea. In 1913, Reeves’ mother remarried. She and her husband, Archibald L. Parsons, resided mainly in the Washington, D.C. area, where he was an admiral in the Navy and served for a period as chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and later as chief of Civil Engineers. During the 1930s, Admiral Parsons was instrumental in leading the Navy’s part in the Works Progress Administration, and later was a consultant on the development, design and construction of advanced base floating dry docks—the Navy’s “secret“ weapon in the Pacific during World War II.(1)

“A ‘Bud’ of the Season,” Washington Times, January 5, 1918, p. 6.

A child of Navy life, Reeves (as she was known) spent her teenage years in Washington, D.C. and nearby Maryland. Her sister, Marie, was five years her junior. From 1912 to 1916, Reeves attended National Cathedral School, one of Washington’s leading girls schools. The school was highly regarded for maintaining high standards in both intellectual and physical training.(2) The New York Sun reported that at the school Reeves “was well educated, a tennis champion and an expert golfer and swimmer.”(3)

Reeves made her debut in society in the autumn of 1916. She was formally introduced as a debutante at a tea dance held in December in the ballroom of the Maison Rauscher. The local newspapers reported on the affair, and noted Reeves was attired in a gown of pale pink and silver tissue.(4) After completing high school in June 1916, Reeves attended classes at the Corcoran School of Art.(5) At Cathedral High School she probably studied art with Lola MacDonald Sleeth in the institution’s large and well-equipped art studio.(6)

Kissless Bride:

Mrs. Virginia Blair Reeves

Warner,” Philadelphia Evening

Publc Ledger,

June 7, 1919, p. 9.

Reeves secretly married Henry H. Warner at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan on June 15, 1917. At the time Reeves was 19, and Henry was 18. The couple drove into New York City from the home of their young friends Marguerite and Helene Wittenberg in Montclair, New Jersey, where they were attending a party. (7) The two had met at a previous party at the Wittenberg’s, and following a quick courtship they married and then returned separately to their respective homes in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. They concealed their marriage from family and friends, and remained apart except for rare meetings. Reeves reported that she “never even took walks with him . . . . in Washington, I saw him at the Powhattan Hotel, where my parents were stopping, but we saw each other only in the lobby. We met again at the Chevy Chase Club, near Washington, and we breakfasted there. Father and mother knew nothing about our marriage.”(8). Associates of the couple witnessed the lack of warmth or affection between them, and never saw them kiss.(8) The story of their marriage, and the annulment that ensued, was recounted in the national press, where Reeves was labeled the “kissless bride.”

Finally, in the winter of 1919, Reeves confessed to her mother that she had married Warner. She did so only after learning that he “pitied married people who had children.”(9) Reeves told the court that she informed Warner that her friend Anna Gray and her husband were going to have a child, and that he responded “we simply could not – that he did not have enough money to support me . . . . He was out of employment just before we were wed. Then he got $20 a week [when he was hired as a riveter] at Hog Island [in Philadelphia], and later was raised to $35. I tried to show how we could get along —made out a family budget showing that we could live well enough on $150 a month. [He responded by saying] ‘Yes . . . I suppose that people could live together on $150 a month, but for personal reasons and for lack of interest in you, I could never live with you. I told him that my position was intolerable—that I was married, yet I was not his wife. I insisted upon knowing what I was to be. He repeated that he did not care for me and I realized that there was no love on his part. I told my parents about it then. . . . I was willing at all times to [live with him and] be the mother of his children.”(10)

Ernest Brace, c. 1921

Reeves and Warner’s marriage was annulled in June 1919. About this time Reeves moved to New York, and attended classes at the Art Students League. She met Peggy Bacon in one of her classes, and they became good friends.(11) Reeves also began a romantic relationship with the aspiring writer Ernest Brace, and in January 1920 they were married at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The Washington Times reported that the “bride was one of the popular debutantes of three seasons ago in Washington . . . .”(12)

Ernest Frank Brace was born on April 10, 1893 in the town of West Winfield, New York. His parents were Frank and Martha McDonald Brace. His father owned and operated the town paper, the West Winfield Star. His brother Donald preceded him to Columbia University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator, before stepping down in favor of his friend Alfred Harcourt. Following graduation in 1904, the two joined the publishing house of Henry Holt & Company. Fifteen years later they established the major publishing firm of Harcourt Brace and Company. Brace became a master of the technical and financial aspects of publishing, and developed close relationships with the authors Louis Untermeyer, Carl Sandburg, Katherine Anne Porter, Lewis Mumford, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and William Saroyan.

Ernest Brace graduated from Columbia in 1916, where he served two years as managing editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator, and received a bachelor of arts degree with honors in English literature and history. After graduation he enlisted in World War 1, and served as a yeoman 2nd class in the United States Navy. After his dismissal from the navy in December 1918 he moved to Manhattan, where during the course of 1919 he met and courted Reeves. Following marriage the couple departed for an extended trip abroad. They sailed for Paris in late May of 1920, and spent several months in the French capital before touring England, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy, and making a trip to Algeria.(13) Their travel in Algeria served as the subject of articles by Ernest that appeared in Travel Magazine in November and December 1922. The first article describes a precarious trip through the Atlas Mountains, and the second chronicles a visit to Mzab in the northern Sahara desert. The Braces returned to America in December 1922.

Reeves and Ernest Brace began spending summers in Woodstock in 1924. They may have been drawn to the art colony by Peggy Bacon and her artist husband Alexander Brook, who began summering in the Catskill town in 1919, when they studied outdoor figure painting with Andrew Dasburg at the summer school of the Art Students League of New York. According to their son Sandy, the Brace’s and his parents became “convivial couples” in Woodstock.(14) A photograph in the Brook family archive pictures the four of them together at a fancy dress party.(15)

The Braces quickly became an active part of the artistic community. In a June 1924 production of Salammbo (after the 1862 historical novel by Gustave Flaubert) at the Maverick Theatre in nearby West Hurley, Ernest played the role of the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, and Reeves served as a maid of honor. (16) The cast included a slew of Woodstock artists, among them Brook, Billings, Harry Gottlieb, Robert Winthrop Chanler, Rudolf Wetterau, Paul Rohland, John F. Carlson, Charles Rosen and Paul and Ernest Fiene. The artists Lucille Blanch, Eugenie Gershoy and Margaret Wetterau served as Reeves’ fellow maids of honor.

Title Page, The Woodstock Almanac, 1924

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

The Gentleman Farmer, 1924


The Woodstock Almanac. p. 26

In 1924, Brace collaborated with the artist and illustrator Rudolf Wetterau in editing The Woodstock Almanac. Ernest contributed the poems “The Plumber’s Daughter” and “Patterns” to the satirical publication, which on its title page jokingly admitted to “containing useless misinformation concerning man and beast.” He may also have authored the story “Cow Milking,” which features Reeves’ woodblock The Gentleman Farmer. The print serves as an illustration to the story’s comical account of “the pleasure of watching a real, genuine gentleman farmer reach for bossy’s faucets . . . . He does not grab, as would a coarser nature; he reaches hesitatingly, half shyly, like a bashful maiden reaching for the last frankfurter. Nor does he force the milk out in wide streams that strike raucously against the bottom of the pail. He brings the foaming fluid forth leisurely — almost regretfully, it would seem—in gentle, pearly drops that tinkle musically as they fall against the metal.”(17)

Ernest Brace’s novel Commencement appeared in 1924 when it was published by Harper & Brothers. He dedicated this tale of a collegian’s career in New York City to his wife. Brace attained limited success as a fiction writer. From the early 1920s through the late 1930s he wrote eight novels, but Commencement was the only one to be published until Buried Stream was brought out by Harcourt Brace and Company in 1946 (18). Buried Stream is a character study of a middle-aged man, a success in the business world, who suddenly realizes that his life has become a failure. The book was reviewed by the novelist and Maverick resident Henry Morton Robinson, who explained that the book’s thesis is “that love and art, as well as business and marriage, are curiously atrophied in the modern world.” (19) In 1932, the Woodstock artist and collector Eleanor Rixon published Brace’s story Within Silence (featuring a frontispiece by Konrad Cramer) in a small edition for the Christmas holidays.

Advertisement for Exhibition of Paintings by Konrad Cramer, Lucille Blanche [sic], Reeves

Brace and Glazed Terracottas by Carl Walters, The Arts, December 1924,

Woodstock Artists

Association Archives

In December 1924, Reeves Brace’s paintings were featured in a four-person exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club in New York, alongside the work of Woodstock artists Konrad Cramer and Lucille Blanch, and ceramic sculptor Carl Walters. Her work was mentioned in The New York Times and Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The Times singled out Brace’s depictions of interiors with flowers and figurines of wooden cats, and indicated her monochromatic palette: “The three painters . . . all see Woodstock of the same color, a rather pale and somber gray. Even [the] indoors and flowers are gray, pleasantly gray it is true, but monotonous after too much repeating. Reeves Brace’s cats, even though they are only wood, makes the most amusing composition, because no one who attempts cats can utterly fail.”(20)

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reviewer discussed Brace and Cramer’s efforts on view at the Whitney Studio Club in the context of a recent editorial in the New York World by art critic Forbes Watson. In the editorial Watson “called attention to a certain group of young painters who, in their zeal to prove that art was not necessarily a manifestation of the human spirit which required hushed voices and bent knee, the so-called ‘pompier’ spirit, have gone to the other extreme and in considering everything funny and preposterous have produced the cute attitude and a cute art. It is all very well to be amused at the pageant of life, to cultivate the so-called light touch in art if that is one’s attitude; but in one thing one cannot be cute—and that is the quality of workmanship with which one puts across the cute ideas. . . . In the present collection of paintings in the Whitney Studio Club the cute attitude in the case of two of the exhibitors is well manifested—Reeves Brace and Konrad Cramer. To both painters the Victorian era holds a fund of humor, the shapes of figures affording a fertile source for design and humor. . . . We do not now know Miss Brace’s work except in the present group. Her flower still life tells us that she has sensibility and refinement and belies the rather coarse cuteness of her figure studies.”(21)

The Braces spent January through June of 1925 in France. Prior to their departure the Atlanta Constitution reported that Ernest was “working on a novel which he will finish in Paris.”(22) Upon returning to the United States the couple decided to settle in Woodstock.(23) They initially rented the house of William and Otie Cramer on the Maverick in West Hurley, probably for about a year, and lived close by their artist friends Eugenie Gershoy, Harry Gottlieb, Arnold and Lucille Blanch, Carl Walters, and Austin Mecklem and Hannah Small.(24) The Braces may also have resided on the Maverick in 1924. A native of Holland, William Cramer came to the area in 1919 when he started his architectural career as the builder of several structures in the Maverick art colony.(25)

House of Reeves and Ernest Brace,

Marked at Bottom Edge of

Rudolf and Margaret Wetterau’s

Map of Artist’s Houses in Woodstock, 1926

(Another Detail Below)

Former House of Reeves and Ernest Brace, 145 Ohayo Mountain Road

In August, the Braces acquired more than six acres of land from the artist and real estate speculator Judson Smith, located across the road, and a short distance southwest, of Smith’s home on Ohayo Mountain Road, close to the center of the village.(26) They built a large stone house with splendid views of Overlook Mountain. The property is marked at the bottom of Rudolf and Margaret Wetterau’s map of the artists houses of Woodstock dating from 1926. Among the other artists to reside on Ohayo Mountain Road in the early 20th century were Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Carl Walters, Mary Early, Bradley Walker Tomlin, John McClellan, and Frederick Serger.

Unknown Photographer

Maverick Festival, 1929

From left: ERNEST BRACE, Florence Ballin Cramer, REEVES BRACE,

Konrad Cramer, Helen Walters, Eugenie Gershoy, Harry Gottlieb and Marjorie Barnes, The Gaede/Striebel Archive, Center for Photography

at Woodstock

Unknown Photographer

Yasuo Kunyoshi’s Going Aawy Party, 1931

Detail: Reeves Brace on Lap

of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1931

Unknown Photographer

Victorian Party at Cramers, 1929

Historical Society of Woodstock

Standing (Left to Right):

Arnold Blanch and Konrad Cramer

Seated (Left to Right);


Florence Ballin Cramer

Unknown Photographer

Victorian Party at Cramers, 1929

Left: Carl and Helen Walters


Historical Society of Woodstock

Peter A. Juley & Son

Left to Right: Hervey White, Lucille Blanch, Farrell Pelly, John Carroll, Inez Carroll, Mura Dehn, Arnold Blanch, ERNEST BRACE,

REEVES BRACE, Adolph Dehn (on floor),

by 1932

Smithsonian Museum of American Art

The Braces are pictured in numerous photographs of parties and related entertainments in Woodstock and West Hurley, where the attractive and red-haired artist is pictured in playful exchanges with Ernest, Konrad Cramer, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Charles Rosen. In her diaries of the 1920s and early 1930s, Florence Ballin Cramer mentions the Braces' attendance at various occasions, including a costume party at the home of the artist Henry Billings in the winter of 1930, in which she reported “everyone wore red clothes – some were in costume – the guests were the Mattsons, the Paul Fienes - the Braces – the Judson Smiths, Katherine Schmidt,” and that it “was a foolish party and a gay one – We played the famous old game of pinning the donkey’s tail on but substituted a nude which Henry Mattson drew - on a silk shade instead of the donkey - there was much hilarity . . . .”(27)

Eugenie Gershoy (1901-1986)

The Firing, 1932

Lithograph on paper

Woodstock Artists Association

and Museum

Clockwise from fat left are Farrell Pelly, Yvette LeDoux, Hervey White, Harry Gottlieb, Herminie Kleinert, Helen Walters, ERNEST BRACE (standing behind Walters) Carl Walters, Hannah Small, Eugene Ludins, REEVES BRACE (right foreground)

and Austin Mecklem.

Eugenie Gershoy (1901-1986)

Maverick Country Club (Community Garden), 1926

From Left: Arnold and Lucille Blanch, Gershoy, Austin Mecklem, REEVES BRACE (seated with red hair], ERNEST BRACE, Helen Walters, Carl Walters. Below: Hanna Small, Harry Gottlieb

Eugenie Gershoy (1901-1986)

Maverick Sketch Class, by 1932

Ink and wash on cardboard

Woodstock Artists Association

and Museum

From left to right are Gershoy, Joseph Pollet, Arnold Blanch (seated), Wendell Jones, Jane Jones, Eugene Ludins, Hannah Small. Austin Mecklem, REEVES BRACE (seated in profile), ERNEST BRACE, Carl Walters (at front center), and Helen Walters.

The Braces appear in Eugenie Gershoy’s lithograph The Firing, which centers on Carl Walters fueling his kiln on the Maverick with logs while his friends keep him company in the autumn night air. Hannah Small recounted how Walters did his own firing and often made “a party of it – he had a long kiln and he fed this long kiln with great logs and he’d have a party . . . we’d sit around and drink wine and have fun.”(28) The Brace’s are also among the gaily colored couples depicted in Gershoy’s painting Maverick Country Club, which pictures a tennis match on Arnold and Lucille Blanch’s lawn (which also served as a communal vegetable garden), and they are also featured in Gershoy’s ink and wash drawing Maverick Sketch Class. In the painting, Reeves is the red haired woman seated on the lawn with her legs crossed. Ernest stands to her left.

In the early 1930s, Ernest Brace began to write about art for Creative Art and the American Magazine of Art. He authored articles on the Woodstockers Carl Walters, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alexander Brook, Henry Lee McFee, Henry Mattson, and Arnold Blanch. The articles are important contributions to our knowledge of the early work of a group of key members of the art colony. Brace also wrote articles on such “outsiders” as Charles Sheeler, Jon Corbino, William Gropper and John Sloan.

Brace occasionally reviewed exhibitions on view at the Woodstock Artists Association for the American Magazine of Art. In “Woodstock Considers Contemporary Problems,” published in the autumn of 1934, he discussed the work of Mattson, McFee, Walters, Gottlieb, Gershoy, Doris Lee, Eugene Speicher, Neil Ives, Austin Mecklem, Edward Dries, Russell Lee, Alfeo Faggi, and Arnold and Lucille Blanch.

In the review, Brace summarized the early work of the colony in light of the changes in outlook, content and subject matter which arose in American art during the Great Depression: “Not long ago there was talk among critics of a Woodstock school, which was supposed to be distinguished by a certain somberness and a preoccupation with red barns and outhouses; but this summer, at least, the differences of opinion and temperament inevitable in any community seem to be asserting themselves. The more Important of the Woodstock painters are obviously attempting to face problems which are both contemporary and personal, problems which no longer have to do merely with aesthetic theories. . . . one feels that most of the painters here are alive and moving, that they are willing and eager to face the many problems of their common career. In their work, one senses both aspiration and affirmation.”(29)

About a dozen oils, drawings and prints are known by Reeves Brace. The group includes landscapes, cityscapes, still lifes, animal subjects and a sporting scene. The artist showed regularly at the Woodstock Artists Association from 1925 to 1932, and reviews of these and other exhibitions provide valuable details about her body of work and its critical reception.

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Landscape, c. 1924-1930

Woodstock Artists Association

and Museum

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Woodstock Landscape, c. 1924-1930

Graphite on paper

Historical Society of Woodstock

Brace frequently displayed landscapes at the artists association. In 1925, she showed a group of outdoor pictures she recently painted in France. The following summer she showed a group of landscapes of upstate New York, which a reviewer praised for being “colorful and full of life.”(30) In 1929, an art critic regarded a landscape that was on view as “a crowded but interesting [picture]; the varied greens and details have a direct appeal but the painting lacks unity.”(31) In 1930, The New York Times applauded Reeves' landscapes for their “bucolic lyrics, with their fresh green meadows and limpid streams.”(32) The colorful and panoramic landscape recently donated to the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum features a view from Duchess County looking across the Hudson River toward Kingston. The large pinkish red building in the background pictures a now defunct brickyard.

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Vosburgh’s Mill (Shady Mill), 1927

Woodstock Artists Association

and Museum

John Kleinhans (b. 1942)

Former Vosburgh Mill, Shady, 2021

John Kleinhans (b. 1942)

Tools, Related Objects, Utensils and Materials from Vosburgh Mill, 2021

Private Collection

In July 1927, Brace exhibited Vosburgh’s Mill at the Woodstock Artists Association. The painting, which is another recent gift to the association, features a former turning mill situated alongside the Sawkill Stream on Hutchin Hill Road at the head of the Shady valley, in the hamlet of Shady, located about three miles west of Woodstock. Shortly before the beginning of the Civil War, James and Albert Vosburgh bought the Powder Keg Mill, operated by Timothy Colburn, which produced powder kegs for shipping gun powder, and converted it into a turning mill, where bedposts, table and chair legs, balusters, walking sticks, spindles, rolling pins, candlesticks, and the like were manufactured for local residents and shipped to New York City.(34) In its later years the mill produced baseball bats for professional use.

Attributed to Walter Bobbett


Interior of Vosburgh Mill, c. 1900

Location Unknown

John Kleinhans (b. 1942)

Interior of Former Vosburgh Mill, 2021

By 1880, James Vosburgh was the sole owner of the turning mill, and upon his death nine years later it passed into the hands of his wife Catherine. Following her death in 1902 its operation was taken over by her sons, Stanley R. Vosburgh and Shaffer Newton Vosburgh.(35) In 1922, three years after Stanley’s death, the company became Vosburgh & Stone, after Shaffer was joined by Stanley’s son Craig R. Vosburgh, and his son-in law Arthur Stone.

The two-story, 42 x 65 foot building is hand-hewn post and beam construction. Within the building there is a 20 x 5 foot steel water wheel, which was once turned by the Sawkill's waters. The current structure was built in 1899 to replace the mill built in 1860, which was destroyed by fire. The Woodstock historian Alf Evers resided for many years in a nearby house, which originally served as a home for mill workers.

Craig R. Vosburgh owned and operated the mill into the mid-1950s. In 1935, a flood destroyed the dam's sluiceway, requiring a gas powered engine to replace hydropower. On April 18, 1958, the 3,330 square foot space with its attached store houses and garage was listed for sale in the Catskill Mountain Star. Around this time the newspaper also ran ads advertising the sale of a lathe, various tools and a gasoline engine from the mill. The lathe is now in the collection of the Historical Society of Woodstock, part of the organization’s tool collection, which honors and celebrates the area’s agrarian past and related rural industries. In about 1960, the mill was purchased by the composer, conductor, pianist, teacher and musical director Yehudi Weiner, the director of the Turnau Opera Company at the Byrdcliffe Theatre, who turned the mill into a private home.

As shall be discussed later, Ernest Brace developed an interest in woodcarving in the course of the mid-1920s. This interest may have led him and his wife to come in contact with the mill owners. Reeves was obviously intrigued by the mill’s unusual architectural character, especially the peculiar shape and design of the structure’s northwest corner, whose large upside down v-shaped opening ingeniously allowed for lumber to be smoothly maneuvered and carried into the building.

Upon the exhibition of Vosburgh’s Mill in 1927, the art critic F. Gardner Clough noted Brace’s elevated vantage point, which appears to be made from the perspective of the rooftop of Shaffer Newton Vosburgh’s house slightly up and across the road. Clough sarcastically referred to the work as “a modern painting which throws one’s eyes down on the mill from a height scarcely ever achieved save by aviators . . . giving further proof that artists do have tricks up their sleeves.”(36)

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Ruth's Up, 1932

From 1928 to 1932, Brace painted several pictures of New York City, including Navy Yard, East 10th Street, Jefferson Market, and Ruth’s Up, which is the only one of those four to have surfaced. Navy Yard was shown in Woodstock in 1928. Clough considered this picture “what one might call satire, for to live with such a picture might cause one to long for the out-of-doors.”(37) Brace showed Ruth’s Up at the artists association in 1932. The art critic for the Kingston Daily Freeman regarded the picture as one “of the most pleasant pieces of work by a woman artist. [The painting] is a story of Yankee Stadium, in which as much knowledge of baseball as of painting is evidenced. It is a combination of good story telling and good art.”(38)

In the late 1920s. Brace exhibited in several group shows at the Whitney Studio Club, and its successor, the Whitney Studio Galleries. Among the pictures Brace exhibited at the Whitney were the aforementioned Vosburgh’s Mill (then titled Shady Mill), Jefferson Market and Navy Yard, In 1927, Brace was singled out with artists Moses Soyer, Donald Greason and Jacob Smith for standing “out for certain distinctive qualities of style.”(39)

In the 1920s and early 1930s. Brace exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists and Manuel Gallery in New York City, the Minneapolis Institute, and in an exhibition of Woodstock artists which toured the country under the auspices of the College Art Association. The Minneapolis exhibition included her painting Cats on a Red Cushion, and the College Art Association show included Jefferson Market, which The New York Times art critic Edward Alden Jewell praised for its “brightly naïve vision.”(40) Many of Reeves' works reflect the influence of 19th-century American naïve or folk art, which had a major impact during the course of the 1920s and 1930s on the work produced by the Woodstock art colony.

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Mearn’s View, c. 1930-1932

Lithograph on paper

Historical Society of Woodstock

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Flora and Fauna (Sleeping Cats),

c. 1930-1932

Lithograph on paper

Woodstock Artists Association and Museum

In the early 1930s, Brace participated in the Lithographic Artists Club, which was established at this time in the basement of the Woodstock Artists Association. The club evolved out of the desire to learn “whether this important phase of creative reproduction could not be made a fundamental part of the colony’s activities. . . .”(41) Konrad Cramer managed the club, and Grant Arnold served as the printer. Arnold used the Fuchs and Lang Press that formerly belonged to Hervey White and Carl Lindin for their print-making efforts at the Maverick. He printed lithographs by Brace, Cramer, Arnold Blanch, Eugene Speicher, Arnold Wiltz, Neil Ives, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, John Carrol, Rosella Hartman, Karl Fortess, and Clarence Bolton, among others. In the 1930s, Woodstock was a major center for American printmaking. During the Great Depression artists avidly sought to create work which could most easily be sold at a reasonable price.

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Flowers in White Jug, by 1929

Reeves Brace (1898-1932)

Flowers in Vase on Napkin (Flowers), by 1929

Collection of Arthur A. Anderson

In 1926, Brace showed a group of “very colorful little sketches” at the Woodstock Artists Association.(42) The following year she showed Election Day. The critic for The Hue and Cry wittily regarded this picture as “very interesting to me, native born, especially because I am over seventy and have never seen a polls. I hope to now, after seeing a picture of one.”(43) Brace showed a number of floral still life’s at the artists association. In 1928, the art critic for The Hue and Cry commented that her floral pictures “assume almost every known color.”(43) In April 1929, her still lifes Flowers in White Jug and Flowers in Vase on Napkin were exhibited at the Whitney Studio Galleries.

------End Part 1-------

Many people have assisted in the research and writing of this two part piece. I especially would like to thank John Ed Bradley for his conversation about the art and life of Reeves Brace, and for sharing his file on the artist, which included valuable material gathered by his former research assistant Stephanie Boris, including notes from her conversation with the late Aileen Cramer. Ronald Van Lieu also offered valuable information regarding the artist's work, and provided an introduction to Mr. Bradley. Other people who provided important assistance include Jason and Karen King; Kim Apolant, Librarian, Woodstock Public Library; JoAnn Margolis, Archivist, Historical Society of Woodstock; John Kleinhans; Paula Nelson; Fred R. Martell; Judith Velosky-Martell; Janis Staggs; Erik Swanson; Deborah S. Tankard; Arthur A. Anderson; James Cox; Bunny McBride; Mikhail Horowitz; Elna Clevenger, Archivist, National Cathedral School; Emily Jones, Archivist, Woodstock Artists Association; Hilliard MacDonald; and E. Harrison Sohmer.


(1) Admiral A. L. Parsons,” The New York Times, September 26, 1953, p. 17.

(2) “Cathedral School Has High Rank,” Washington Evening Star, August 21, 1910, p. 70.

(3)“Debutante Eloper Has Tie Annuled,” New York Sun, June 7, 1919, p. 16.

(4) “Miss Harris Debuntante,” Washington Evening Star, December 31, 1916, p. 49.

(5) ’Kissless Bride’ Asks Court to End Trial Marriage,” New York Evening World, June 18, 1919 p. 8. Shelly Buring, The Special Collections Research Center, Gelman Library at The George Washington University, checked the records of the Corcoran School of Art, which are at the library, and failed to discover attendance records for the artist.

(6) The school’s art instructor and art studio is mentioned in “Cathedral School Has High Rank,” Washington Evening Star, August 21, 1910, p. 7. In an email forwarded to me on July 7, 2021, the school's archivist Elna Clevenger provided the full dates of Reeves Brace's attendance, and the full name of the art instructor. I would like to thank Roberta Tarbell for contacting the archivist on my behalf.

(7) “Kissless Bride’ Asks Court to End Trial Marriage,” p. 8.

(8) “Unkissed Bride Asks Annulment,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 6, 1919, p. 3.

(9) “Fair ‘Kissless Bride’ Finds End of Romance in Annulment Court,” Washington Times, June 6, 1919, p. 1.

(10) “Unkissed Bride Asks Annulment,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 6, 1819 p. 3.

(11) The Art Students League of New York does not have records of Reeves attending the school. The information about Reeves meeting Bacon in a class at the school and becoming friends is contained in an undated statement by Sandy Brook, son of Peggy Bacon and Alexander Brook, that accompanied the recent gift of the drawing by Bacon of the Brace's to the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. Hereafter this document will be refered to as “Statement by Sandy Brook.”

(12) “Wed in Philadelphia,” Washington Times, January 8, 1920, p. 6.

(13) “Chevy Chase,” Washington Evening Star, May 30, 1920, p. 30

(14) “Statement by Sandy Brook.”

(15) Ibid.

(16) “The Setting for Salammbo,” The Hue and Cry 2 (June 21, 1924): 4.

(17) “Cow-Milking,” The Woodstock Almanac (Woodstock, New York: n.p., 1924), p. 27. Brace’s short story “Red and Black” was published in the July 5th, 1927 issue of the Woodstock periodical The Hue and Cry.

(18) Robert E. Knoll, Weldon Kees and the Midcentury Generation: Letters, 1935-1955 (Lincoln, Nebraska and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), p. 37.

(19) A copy of Robinson’s review of Buried Stream is inserted in a copy of the novel in the local history room of the Woodstock Public Library. The review is dated June 18, 1946, but is otherwise unidentified.

(20) “Art: Exhibitions of the Week,” The New York Times, December 21, 1924, p. X12.

(21) “A Varied Group at the Whitney Studio Club,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 21, 1924, p. 24.

(22) “Another Author to Go to Paris,” Atlanta Constitution, January 4, 1925, p. 33.

(23) “Not That It Matters,” The Hue and Cry 3 (June 27, 1925): 3.

(24) "Woodstock Notes," The Hue and Cry 3 (July 4, 1925): 1.

(25) "William Cramer: A Woodstock Since 1919 Dies," Woodstock Times, June 5, 1975, p. 8. Cramer's role in designing buildings at the Maverick is an avenue of inquiry worth pursuing.

(26) "Real Estate Transfers," Kingston Daily Freeman, August 22, 1925, p. 7. Janis Staggs and Erik Swanson were very helpful in determining the exact location of the property. Bunny McBride, whose grandmother, the artist Christine Walters Martin, later resided there, was also of great help

(27) “Diary Entry for January 16, 1930,” Typescript, Florence Ballin Cramer Diary, pp. 12-13. I would like to thank Jason and Karen King for providing me with a copy of the typed transcript of Cramer’s diaries.

(28) Small's remark is quoted without a source in Lisa Krotenberg, "Hannah Small," unpublished paper of 1992 for the class "American Art Between the Wars," taught by Professor Tom Wolf at Bard College. A copy of the paper is located in the Hannah Small files at the Woodstock Artists Association Archives.

(29) Eugene Brace, “Woodstock Considers Contemporary Problems,” American Magazine of Art 27 (October 1934): 542, 549.

(30) “Second Exhibition,” The Hue and Cry 4 (July 3, 1926): 1.

(31) I. E. P., “Last Art Exhibit,” The Hue and Cry 7 (August 30, 1929): 4.

(32) “The Public Pulse: Shaffer Newton Vosburgh,” ck,” The New York Times, September , 1930, p. X10.

(33) “The Public Pulse: Shaffer Newton Vosburgh,” Kingston Daily Freeman, August 5, 1935, p. 5. For an informative article discussing the history and passing ownership of the mill see Andrea Barrist Stern, "For Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn: History in the Making at Shady's Vosburgh Mill," Woodstock Times, May 2, 2002, pp. 1, 24, 25. I would like to thank Fred Martell and Judith Velosky-Martell for bringing this article to my attention. In his biography of Alf Evers, Ed Sanders mentions Evers’ desire in 1959 to purchase the mill, which he believed was “the perfect site for a museum dedicated to the Catskills.” Ed Sanders, Alf Evers: Life of an American Genius (Woodstock, New York; Meads Mountain Press, 2021), p. 118.

(34) F. Gardner Clough, “Third Art Show at Woodstock,” Kingston Daily Freeman, July 27, 1927, p. 14.

(35) F. Gardner Clough, “At Woodstock,” Kingston Daily Freeman, otherwise unidentified review of the 3rd summer exhibition of 1928, scrapbook, Woodstock Artists Association Archives.

(36) “Shafer Newton Vosburgh,” Kingston Daily Freeman, August 5, 1935, p. 5.

(37) “2nd Exhibition by Woodstock Group,” Kingston Daily Freeman, July 15, 1932, p. 12.

(38) “Well Chosen Water Color Show at Whitney Club,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 17, 1927, p. 61.

(39) Edward Alden Jewell, “Traveling Show Opens Here: Woodstock Group,” The New York Times, January 3, 1932, p. 31.

(40) “Lithographers Today,” Kingston Daily Freeman, December 12, 1932, p. 2.

(41)) “Drawings and Watercolors: Final Exhibition of the Season at the Gallery,” The Hue and Cry 4 (September 4, 1926): 1.

(42) The Second Exhibition,” The Hue and Cry 5 (July 16, 1927): 1.

(43) I. E. P., “The First Exhibition,” The Hue and Cry 6 (June 30, 1928): 2.

353 views0 comments


bottom of page