Judd Weisberg Branches Beyond Greene County
Walking through the mountains and hollows of Greene County, stopping in the forest and listening to the rushing of a nearby stream – these events enrich the lives of Catskill residents. They refresh and inspire. For Judd Weisberg, an artist and woodworker in Lexington, they are the muses – the foundation – of his architecture, furniture, and sculptures.
“I started working with wood in 1966,” Weisberg says, “and by the early 70’s, I was splitting mytime between teaching at the Philadelphia College of Art and making furniture at my place in the Catskills.” Weisberg began his career building sets for the theater and gradually moved into commercial projects – outdoor structures and furniture. Back then, only a few wood workers were creating rustic chairs and tables in the Adirondack tradition. Today, the style has grown and expanded. Weisberg calls his particular style “contemporary rustic” – it’s an evolution of design and aesthetics with a sculptural foundation, rooted in the uneven lines and rough-hewn edges found in the mountains. And while his style and interesting choice of woods have caught the attention of collectors around the world, it’s Weisberg’s quality craftsmanship that has won praise among designers and craftsmen alike.
Featured in Daniel Mack’s Making Rustic Furniture and The Rustic Furniture Companion as well as Ralph Kylloe’s Rustic Traditions, Weisberg’s work has been displayed in The Adirondack Museum, The Erpf Catskill Cultural Center Gallery, and in museums across the northeast. His reputation has spread largely through references and recommendations – from collectors to interior designers to architects. With the growth of his name and increasing recognition of his work, Weisberg knew the time was right to improve his workspace in Lexington and establish better control over the marketing of his work.
“I have a unique niche because I use unusual woods – cedars with interesting curves; oak, ash, and maple that bend in interesting ways – species and grades that aren’t traditionally desired by sawmills,” Weisberg says. “And when I heard about the Watershed Forestry Program’s grants, I decided to apply for funds to improve my shop and develop a website.”
The WFP’s grants initiative is a USDA Forest Service-funded economic development program targeting wood-based businesses in the New York City Watersheds. Its goal is to ensure that forestry – the preferred land use to protect water quality in the region – continues to be a viable industry in the Catskills.
Last June, the WFP granted Weisberg funds to expand his studio and install a new dust collection system in the space. The grant also funded the purchase of a personal computer and the development of a new website – www. juddworks.com – to market his unique creations.
“The grant allowed me to create a more efficient, spacious environment for my work,” Weisberg says as he looks at his renovated studio. “I can store more wood and keep it out of the weather. And now I have more space – with better air – to hire an apprentice or two! I’m tremendously grateful to the Watershed Forestry Program for helping me grow and market my work.”