By RAYMOND J. STEINER
And so, another Woodstock artist passes from life to the archival records of past legends. Although I’d met and known Bob before I profiled him in the local daily in nearby Kingston, New York — The Sunday Freeman — in March of 1984, it was not until he sat and shared a couple of hours with me in his studio for the interview that I really got to know a bit about both the artist and the man. Like many artists, Bob was a bit reluctant to allow me too far inside his head — that is, until he found out that I had moved to neighboring West Hurley in 1945 and had harbored secret urgings to follow the path of art myself, bicycling past the then summer school of the Art Students League along the (also then) old Woodstock-Saugerties Turnpike and imagining the real artists laboring over easels behind its imposing stone walls. Today, of course, the still-imposing stone building is now the Woodstock School of Art and the old turnpike translated by state mandate into Route 212 — a transition, incidentally — of the building anyway — that boasts the fingerprints of none other than Robert H. Angeloch.
By the Spring of 1984, however, as I sat in his studio on Summers Lane, Bob had already carved out a substantial niche in the long roster of Woodstock notables, already an established award-winning artist, teacher and gallery owner — the Paradox on Mill Hill Road. He’d come to Woodstock in 1948, another WWII vet who first dipped his feet into the artistic milieu at the League’s NYC facility on 57th St., coming to see for himself what had been dubbed by his pre-war forerunners as the “best landscape school” in the world. He was not disappointed — in fact, he was even instrumental in bringing others up to Woodstock through his participation in a joint League/US Army film that urged veterans to consider an art career, both the League’s NYC and Woodstock facilities featured in the film that followed the character he portrayed through, first choosing classes in NYC, then moving up to the Woodstock Summer School. It would not be long before Bob would immerse himself in the Hudson Valley landscape that had been luring artists up to the foothills of the Catskills since the 1800’s — to finally settle into his studio surrounded by long-familiar ‘friends’ of trees, streams, woods, mountains and fields.
We sat amid hundreds of “works-in-progress” in that studio — i.e. sketches that might or might not have major or minor roles in future projects — as he told me his story. He was reluctant at first to share his sketchbooks (many artists are since they are, in fact, akin to personal diaries), only handing them over after I had revealed my own youthful aspirations. What they — and he — revealed that day — and long after we became better acquainted through the years — was a man who had a reverence for life, a keen sense of his own humility in the face of nature, and a man not unwilling to halt his own progress to help a fellow seeker along the way. I regret never having taken a class with him — but then he was one of the many who advised me to avoid classes and simply to follow my own inner promptings. He, like so many others, helped to flesh out the main character in my novel about Woodstock, The Mountain.
Most of all, I regret that he is no longer with us. He exuded a rough, rugged exterior that — as all who really knew him soon discovered — hid a soft, sentimental heart.