NEW YORK – When Sullivan County announced plans to create a “peace dove trail” commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock, everyone wondered where the proposed fifty dove statues would go, and some decided to circumvent the county’s decision and build their own.
The Sullivan Catskills Visitor’s Association allotted fifty doves, each painted by local artists, made from fiberglass and standing 5’ high, 12” wide, and 7’ long. Artists were instructed to use the “1960 color palette,” and use artist Peter Max as inspiration. They had to create a design that was “indicative of the community’s character.” But where the doves ended up was ripe with controversy.
According to Christine Saward, a member of the Phillipsport Community Center (PCC), fifteen of the doves went to various townships; the remaining thirty-five went to private commercial establishments, leaving some communities like Phillipsport out of luck. Saward said community members had tried to get their own dove, but were unsuccessful. County-sanctioned doves were then gradually unveiled across the county between May 13 and June 7.
“We tried, time and again, beginning last December to become an active participant in the Dove Art Project,” said Saward. “However, our phone calls went unreturned, our emails went unanswered, materials requested went undelivered. We asked our county legislator to help, to no avail. We spoke with Sullivan Renaissance staff, who have worked with us to great success for more than fifteen years and they agreed to advocate on our behalf, to no avail.” Saward noted that eventually the community had been notified that the price for a dove would be $1,400, despite other areas receiving them for free.
“An opaque process driven by pecuniary interests hardly evokes the spirit of Woodstock,” said PCC President Bob Speziale.
The PCC then banded together to create their own, unsanctioned, peace dove. The dove body was constructed and donated by artist Paul Kean. The dove graphics were designed and painted gratis by longtime Phillipsport artist, Kathleen Anderson. The concrete base for the peace sign was donated by friend and neighbor, Earl Thornton. And the installation was completed by PCC Trustee, Andy Weil.
The PCC will have its dove’s official unveiling on Sunday, July 7, at 1 p.m. at the Gateway Gardens, flanking the entrance to Phillipsport. (After the unveiling, the PCC will hold its monthly meeting, with a presentation of its two 2019 scholarship awards for Ellenville High School seniors.)
But that community wasn’t the only Sullivan group feeling left out. Artist Undine DeFilippo created a dove for White Sulfur Springs, a hamlet in Liberty, on Route 52. DeFilippo designed and painted the seven-foot dove herself. DeFilippo said the doves were about “increasing the awareness of peace, love, hope, and music” and encouraging people to come and visit the area. She added, “The more doves the better.”
Other Sullivan County residents have started Facebook groups, allowing people to locate and share any doves they find, on or off the official dove trail. So while the county may provide a trail of fifty “official” doves, grassroots efforts by passionate community members are taking it upon themselves to expand that trail.