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Woodstock Fine Arts Association History

Helen Wright, Shelley Berman, Sarah Berman and Darlene Fiske – Creative LIving 1996

Martha Stewart, Creative Living speaker, 1983, at a lunch hosted by members of the WFAA
L to R back row: Margaret Havliss, Mary Ellen Marunde, Lynn Pensinger, Margaret Grondahl, Ann Clark, Mary Ann Casey and Betty Thomas
L to R front row:
Dodie Berenger, Barbara Parrish, Martha Stewart, and Dot Schnering

Gene Siskel, one of America's most influential film critics, giving a 'thumbs up' to the Creative LIving Program with Val Gitlin, who chaired the committee for several decades.
Creative LIving Speaker 1989

Creative Living Series

Helen Wright, the first president of the Woodstock Fine Arts Association was the impetus behind the Creative Living Series. She attended a lecture program in Barrington she enjoyed, and presented the idea of an entertaining and educating lecture series to the WFAA board. The second year of the series the committee sought Gwendolyn Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, to be a guest speaker. The letter said 'Woodstock is not really as close to the end of the earth as we seem to be." Gwendolyn Brooks found her way to Woodstock and presented a memorable program reading her poetry.

Today, the Creative Living Series is one of the unsung treasures of McHenry County. The remarkable women that started this series almost five decades ago were visionary. In the middle of the cornfields of McHenry County they saw the future. They brought writers, chefs, philosophers, artists, musicians, television personalities, astrologers, photographers, decorators, historians and poets to the historic Woodstock Opera House to educate and entertain. They decided to name the series "Creative Living" which is as timely today as it was in 1964. The success of the series is legendary, as most ongoing lecture series are university based.

In 2013, the Creative Living Series will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

The brochure from 1966 included the following description of the series: "What does Creative Living mean? Cooking? Housekeeping? Tending to children's needs? Heavenly Days - Not Always! To some, Creative Living is an awareness of the world around, of music, art, theatre, history, literature, politics and business.  It is a way of turning the hum-drum of everyday life into a meaningful and rewarding experience."

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