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Walter “Pop” Goltz: Artist/League Secretary/Teacher of the Woodstock Art Colony-Pt. 2: Later Life

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

By Bruce Weber

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

Self-Portrait, 1950

Private Collection

Around 1910, Walter Goltz was appointed as secretary of the Woodstock School of Landscape Painting, and became deeply involved with the institution’s growth and development. This came at approximately the same time as John F. Carlson's appointment in the later part of 1910 as the replacement for Birge Harrison as teacher and head of the Art Student League of New York's summer school. Goltz was responsible for overseeing the construction of a permanent studio and dormitory for students. The architect of these structures is not known, and Goltz also may have been involved in their design.

The League's studio was erected on Tinker Street, a short distance from the Cooper House, where Goltz lived during his initial years in town. There students received critiques, attended lectures, worked on rainy days, displayed their art, viewed exhibitions, and attended dances or social events. The building serves today as the home of the Christian Science Church.

Studio of the Woodstock School of Landscape Painting, by 1916

Summer School of the Art Students League

(New York: Art Students League, 1916): n.p.

Former Summer Studio Art Students League

Current Home of Christian Science Church

Saturday Critique in Studio of Woodstock School of Landscape Painting, by 1916

Summer School of the Art Students League

(New York: Art Students League, 1916): n.p.

View of Sanctuary of Christian Science Church, East Wall , Woodstock, New York

The dormitory was also completed in 1912. Located near Rock City Road, the building still stands on the north side of Lower Byrdcliffe Road, back and across from where the road intersects with the start of Bellows Lane. The dormitory had nearly two dozen ample-sized bedrooms, and showers, baths, and sleeping porches for students.

Dormitory of the Woodstock School

of Landscape Painting, by 1916

Summer School of the Art Students League

(New York: Art Students League, 1916): n.p.

Former Dormitory of Art Students League, Lower Byrdclffe Road

The artist A. B. Titus reported in The Woodstock Pochade, in August 1912, that the “new studio building that Pop Goltz has put up for the students of the Art Students League is a noticeable addition to our town. It has the best floor for dancing this side of Wappingers Falls. He also got up the magnificent new dormitory where are housed the 217 male students of the class, where showers, soap, and other luxuries abound.”(1) In alternate summers, female students resided in the dormitory.

In 1932, Carlson acknowledged Goltz’s contribution to the creation of the studio and dormitory buildings, which he felt was long overdue: “Enough praise cannot be given Mr. Walter Goltz, who supervised the labors of building [the studio and dormitory], without the remuneration. Without this tireless help from Mr. Goltz, the buildings would have cost a fabulous sum, if they had ever been completed at all. Like most too-honest labor, his tireless services were never really appreciated by the League’s home office, nor scarcely by the colony itself. Therefore, I offer this tribute to the fine integrity of the man.”(2)

Artists Arriving in Woodstock After Getting Off the West Hurley Stage, c. 1912

Historical Society of Woodstock

Goltz served as the welcoming committee to students arriving in town from West Hurley on the stagecoach. A visiting newspaper reporter remarked that “‘Pop’ Goltz, whose tender years little entitle him to the designation, receives [arriving students] with sweet languor. It is his office in the league’s summer school to tour the village with early arrived feminine students in search of board and lodgings . . . . Goltz puts up his best drawing room manner when he is trying to squeeze an extra student into one of the boarding houses already crammed to the roof with embryo genius.”(3) The reporter further noted that Goltz dealt out the art supplies at the League studio, and “does a rushing business in the materials which go to immortalize the fleeting moods of nature’s loveliness in Woodstock.”(4)

Samuel Brown Wylie (1882-1962)

Walter “Pop” Goltz Critiquing Student,

c. 1911-1917

Historical Society of Woodstock

Between 1911 and 1917, Goltz served intermittently as Carlson’s teaching assistant, sometimes alone or in the company of Frank Swift Chase. The Art Students League of New York’s official records indicate he served as Carlson‘s assistant in 1913 and 1914.(5). He is also known to have served as an assistant sometime previous to 1913, as well as in 1916. In August of 1912, Titus credited Goltz with assisting Carlson when necessary.(6) The school brochure of 1916 refers to Goltz as “a teacher of ability and experience.”(7)

Students Going Out to the Fields, by 1916

Summer School of the Art Students League

(New York: Art Students League, 1916): n.p.

Prospective students did not have to take an examination, or have previously undertaken study to attend the summer school, and could enter at any time in the season. Special attention was paid to beginners, and the school's prospectus promised that the “principles of landscape painting taught in the school are as applicable in the winter season as to the summer, and to marine studies, as well as field and meadow subjects.”(8) Students worked in the fields, meadow pastures and on rocky hillsides, laden with sketch boxes, easels, canvases, umbrellas and stools. All work was done out of doors under the principal supervision of Carlson’s assistant's, who were responsible for enforcing the ideas and suggestions made by him in his weekly studio lectures in front of the class.(9)

Former Home and Studio of Walter Goltz,

Current Site of the

Historical Society of Woodstock

North Facing Windows - Former Ground Floor Studio of Walter Goltz

[The original ground floor windows have been replaced in recent years]

In April 1915, Goltz hired the carpenter, cabinet, and clock-maker Iris Wolven to to remodel a wooden out building into an art studio and second story home on a lot up the hill from the Cooper House and the studio of the Art Students League.(10) Around this time Goltz began to seriously suffer from illness, and was only expected to live a few months. Both the cause of his suffering and an explanation for his recovery are revealed in a notebook documenting Goltz family history, kept by the artist’s younger brother, Alexander, who reported that in 1916, Walter “had been ailing for quite some time and lost about twenty-five pounds and was doctoring for quite some time and at last he found out what was the trouble. He discovered he had a tape worm about thirty foot long and after getting the head out on June 1, 1916 he then began to get his health back and was also gaining weight.”(11)

Report on Health of Walter O. Goltz, 1916

Notebook of Alexander Goltz,

Goltz Family Archives

In 1918, Carlson resigned as head of the Woodstock School of Landscape Painting. Two years later he founded the Broadmoor Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he taught summers until 1922. Following the closing of the Art Students League summer school that year (it reopened following World War II), Carlson returned to town and established the John F. Carlson School of Landscape Painting, which was in operation until 1938. For most of this period Goltz served as Carlson's assistant. To grab the attention of potential students a series of monthly ads for the school were placed in the American Magazine of Art, which broadcast that the faculty consisted of Carlson and Goltz, and that applicants should send inquiries to “Mr. Walter Goltz, Woodstock, N.Y.”

Advertisement “John F. Carlson School of Landscape Painting,” April 1923

American Magazine of Art

In 1923, the Woodstock magazine The Hue & Cry published a satirical account of an art student coming into town on the stagecoach and asking a citizen he encountered about the whereabouts of art classes. The citizen directed the student to go see Goltz, who advised him that “the Carlson studio is just the place for you. You can be very comfortable there. It is the big studio behind the Nook.”(12) This structure, housed in a former barn, served as the first temporary studio of the League and as the first home of the Woodstock Library. The building, which no longer exists, appears on the Rudolph and Margaret Wetterau map of 1926 featuring the locations of artist houses and various other buildings in town. The Center for Photography in Woodstock is housed in the former location of the Nook.

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

Landscape, c. 1925-1930

Private Collection

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

On the Sawkill Creek, c. 1935

Private Collection

From 1911 through 1937, Goltz exhibited his work regularly in Woodstock and at prominent annual exhibitions around the country, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1924, 1929, 1930, 1931), Corcoran Gallery of Art (1926, 1928, 1937), and the National Academy of Design (1911, 1915-1918, 1922-1923, 1926). The works that he showed at these annual exhibitions were all landscapes with the exception of a still life shown in 1937 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. From the listings of titles we learn that most of the pictures were scenes in autumn or winter, and featured local mills, mountains, rivers and village subjects.

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

A Village in Winter, 1926

Private Collection

Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial

International Exposition

Bronze Medal Winner

In 1926, Goltz was awarded a bronze medal at the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition for his painting A Village in Winter, which was his most honored landscape. The exhibition celebrated the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which took place in nearby Independence Hall. Thirty foreign nations participated in the exposition, which attracted seven million visitors. Paintings were shown at the 68,000 square-foot Palace of Fine Arts. The award may have spurred interest in Goltz’s work in the city; his canvases Village in Early Spring, November Morning and Landscape were reproduced in the catalogs for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual exhibitions of 1929, 1930 and 1931. Village in Early Spring is a variation on his bronze medal winning picture, and, likewise, reveals the increased geometric complexity of his compositions of the time, his seeking out and adoption of especially interesting points of view, and bold interplay of light and dark.

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

Village in Early Spring, by 1929

Reproduced in Catalog

of the 124th Annual Exhibition,

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1929)

A Village in Winter was also shown at the annual exhibition of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1927, and in 1931 the canvas was awarded the John I. H. Downes Prize at the annual exhibition of the New Haven Paint and Clay Club. Established in 1900, the club was founded to support the visual arts in New Haven and beyond. The oldest continuously active art club in Connecticut, it continues to draw on members and exhibitors from across Connecticut, New York and New England, where its showings feature landscapes of the Northeast by contemporary artists working in traditional styles.

Advertisements for the Walter Goltz School of Landscape Painting, 1933 and 1937

Woodstock Artists Association Archives

Beginning in about 1933, Goltz ran his own school for around ten summers. Advertisements for the “Walter Goltz School of Landscape Painting” dating from 1933, 1937 and 1942 are located in the Walter Goltz file at the Woodstock Artists Association Archives. Through the decades many artists credited Goltz as their teacher, including Edna Thurber, Carl W. Peters, Robert E. Motley, David Anderson, Regina Martin Gates, Lucy Street, Stewart LeConte and Tom Riley.

Walter Goltz (1875-1953)

Landscape, c. 1947

Private Collection

Tom Riley (1932-2022)

Woodstock Landscape with Houses, c. 1949

Private Collection

Riley studied with Goltz in the summers of 1947 and 1948, when he was in his later teens. As a high school student he was obsessed with the idea of becoming a landscape painter. His brother Bill was friendly with a young woman who was renting property from Goltz, and through this association Riley met and became his sole student at the time. In the fall of 1949, Riley went away to study at the Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University outside Philadelphia. After returning to Woodstock, he continued to paint and was a member of the Woodstock Artists Association for many years.

Recently, Riley wrote about his experience studying with Goltz for a forthcoming autobiography. The account provides valuable information and insight into what students gained from their study with Goltz and of Goltz’s own practice as a landscape painter through the years:

“I was brought to his studio home located upon a hillside near the school’s location. His studio was large with high north windows. Light filled the room and paintings were everywhere. Within moments I sensed his consciousness. He was receptive and his responses were a discovery to me. I had brought examples of my drawings to show him. These he observed carefully and very much liked what he saw. I became his student for the summer season. Incidentally and fortunately, I was to be his only painting student that summer.

He took me to a local art supply store and selected whatever I required for this new venture: paint box and palette, a variety of tubes of oil paint, brushes, 12 inch by 16 inch painting panels, oil and turpentine.

Most of the process of painting for that season was plein-air, or working outside with a portable paint box and easel. On the first day of this painting venture, we chose a scene, a sanctuary in nature which captured our attention. It was mid-day. We set ourselves up with small canvas, folding chairs and our easels. I sat next to my teacher and slightly behind him for observation. Contemplation and focus initiated the adventure. Before us, a landscape with large and small trees presented itself, a partially hidden building, and the distant mountains.

He then spoke about the image before us: how sunlight created and affected form and color and its tonalities, creating harmony and depth in the landscape’s images against the sky and distant mountain forms. A specific bristle brush was chosen at the beginning to apply thinly mixed pigment for the general re-creation of what was observed. Pigment was increased as the forms developed and depth evolved. Explanation accompanied the procedures and I observed this process as a meditation. My teacher articulated what he did as he proceeded, explaining so carefully everything he chose to do as the work went on: ‘This is tonality. There are so many greens here, and by doing this, depth enters and light is focused, creating the third dimension.’ He took me into the heart of this experience, this creation.

I had become amazingly immersed in the observation of this experience. Now it was

my turn to re-create what I had beheld. I began quite fervently following his procedure. Yet something within me wished to improvise. My teacher, rather than being disturbed, assisted me in my various choices and helped in forming and refining them. With his assistance, direction gained clarification, discovery and achievement.

That was the challenge—to create the image in a way which satisfied one’s observation of nature. This proved to be a study in the technique and process of plein-air painting. Goltz helped in the fulfillment of this challenge. This was a language he taught me.

Also, through my inquiries into his artistic path, a very meaningful awareness of the history of art in the Woodstock Colony manifested. Goltz loved his work and his long-time artist companions. I had the opportunity to meet several of these older artists—Henry Mattson, Alexander Archipenko, Alfeo Faggi and Eugene Speicher. Hearing so many of their remembrances deepened my connection to Woodstock’s past. It was a revelation to me to have become, in a certain sense, a part of the experience of this artistic tradition.”(13)

At the time of Tom Riley’s study with Goltz, the artist was living at least part of the time in the former Cooper House on Tinker Street. Following Evelyn Cooper Lasher’s death in 1945, Goltz served as executor for the estate, and inherited her house and its contents. He soon rented out his house up the hill, and the cottages he acquired in a real estate transaction in the spring of 1948.(14) The artist and writer Norbert Heerman rented the bottom floor of the house, and used it as his studio. Following the death in 1950 of Martin Schütze, founder and longtime president of the Historical Society of Woodstock, his second wife, Frieda Schütze, rented the building's second floor. In 1953, Arthur S. Goltz organized a public auction of the personal property his brother inherited from Lasher, including drop leaf tables, marble top stands, bureaus, chairs, dishes, stoves, Boston rockers, clocks, lamps, floor coverings, Chase organ, trunks, and wooden chests.(15)

Goltz began suffering from a heart ailment in the mid-1940s. He died on September 30, 1953. Funeral services were held at the Clark Funeral Home in Buffalo, and he was buried in the family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Relatively few of Goltz’s paintings have surfaced over the decades. Following his death, Heerman discovered a trove of paintings in a locked closet in his two-story house, and set to work cleaning and varnishing them for a memorial exhibition of Goltz’s art held in January 1954 in the lobby of the Kingston Theatre. Heerman informed the press that Goltz had received repeated invitations in his later years to show his work in exhibitions in New York, Woodstock and other places, but refused to show anywhere, in spite of the fact that he was painting regularly for a few hours every day, and creating large and small canvases drawn from his imagination.(16)

Walter Goltz (1875-1956)

Self-Portrait, 1950

Private Collection

Goltz’s house in Woodstock was sold in January of 1954 to Marion E. Comeau, who wanted to preserve the wooded ambiance and privacy of her and her husband’s house and acreage up the road, which her parents, Edgar and Kate Eames, acquired in 1910, after they were lured to the area by the enthusiastic descriptions of Margaret Goddard (later Mrs. John F. Carlson).(17) In 1976 the Comeau’s property was bequeathed to the Christian Science Church in Boston. (The Eames' were devoted Christian Scientists — they first met at a Christian Science sanitarium.) The church offered the property, which consisted of 76 acres of scenic fields, woodland and Sawkill frontage, for sale to the Town of Woodstock. In 1979, the town acquired the Comeau property, and in 2009 it was placed under easement with the Woodstock Land Conservancy.

In 1982, the Historical Society of Woodstock moved into Goltz’s former residence. The society regularly holds exhibitions in Goltz’s old work space. The building stands as a testament to the legacy of Goltz’s seminal role in the history of the Woodstock art colony, and, felicitously, is only a short distance away from a long and beautiful nature walk along the banks of the Sawkill.


For their assistance in researching and writing this piece on Walter Goltz I would like to especially thank the Goltz family and Tom and Cathy Riley. In addition I would like to thank the following people for their help: Jean White, Amanda Green, Heidi Abbott, Jim Zeeb, Matthew Leaycraft, Tim Leaycraft, Ed Sanders, Mikhail Horowitz, Kim Apolant, JoAnn Margolis, Janine Fallon-Mower, William Lanford, Violet Snow, Greg Shea, and Hoang Tran.

(1) A. B. Titus, “Building Notes,” The Woodstock Pochade 1 (August 1912): 1.

(2) John F. Carlson, "The Art Students League in Woodstock," Publications of the Woodstock Historical Society, no. 9 (September 1932): 17.

(3) “Pochades! Pochades! Fresh Pochades Daily!,” The Salt Lake Herald-Republican, July 28, 1912, p. 29.

(4) Ibid., p. 29.

(5) A. B. Titus, “History,” The Woodstock Pochade 1 (August 1912): 2.

(6) Email from Stephanie Cassidy, Historian and Content Manager, Art Students League of New York, December 2, 2020.

(7) Summer School of the Art Students’ League (New York: Art Students League of New York, 1916), n.p.

(8) Ibid., n.p.

(9) J. Nilsen Laurvik, “The Art Students’ League Summer School,” International Studio 53 (May 1911): lxiii. A photograph of Carlson and Goltz studying a student canvas out in a field appears in Smith, p. 167. The photograph is part of the Anita M. Smith Collection.

(10) “Woodstock,” The Kingston Daily Freeman, April 7, 1915, p. 2.

(11) “Notebook of Alexander Goltz,” Goltz Family Archives.

(12) “Art Comes to Woodstock,” The Hue and Cry 1 (July 21, 1923): 4.

(13) Tom Riley, “More Light: An Artist’s Life with Meher Baba,” forthcoming.

(14) “Real Estate Transaction,” The Kingston Daily Freeman, May 6, 1948, p. 13.

(15) “Auction Sat., Oct. 31m 1953, At 10 A.M.,” The Catskill Mountain Star, October 16, 1953,

p. 5.

(16) “Goltz Memorial Opens at Kingston Theatre,” The Kingston Daily Freeman, November 5, 1953, p. 15.

(17) “Deeds Recorded,” The Kingston Daily Freeman, January 27, 1954, p. 7.

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