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David Goldin
November 2009
In Search of Clarence - Part 2
posted:
Overlooking the Ashokan
On a crisp early November morning my pal Mike and I set off in search of Clarence.
I'd spent years learning bits of information about Clarence Schmidt and now I was going to
see where it all happened. We scaled down a steep slope at the top of Ohayo Mountain and began to see signs of Clarence right away. Past enormous stacked stone walls, past foundations to forgotten shrines and into the woods over looking the Ashokan reservoir.

Overgrown and tumbling down
We found grottoes, tall towers of rocks and walls that make my back ache just thinking of hauling that much stone.
It's hard to tell from the photos but these are massive and go up the side of the mountain.

"S" is for Schmidt
Then we began to see more signs of Clarence. Stuff nailed to trees,  a piece of the space shuttle and even the car he lived in after his house burned down. Wait... that's not the car... that's too small.
Mike tidied up the place
At the bottom of where his house had been we found debris all around.
But nothing like it used to be. Now it's just rock formations in disrepair and garbage strew all over.




For Rent: Rustic room w/ view
Then we found it - the Studebaker station wagon upon which he had built a 2 story “tower” with a viewing deck on top.
The view is glorious but It was a strange somber feeling to be standing where once had stood Clarence Schmidt's broken down palace. Nothing like that could ever be built now a days. Not with the newer building codes and the Woodstock Planning board having to sign off on everything. The building inspector would have a melt-down and the high property values make it impossible.


In Search of Clarence - Part 1
posted:
Clarence's House
   A few years ago when I was getting one of my old clunkers fixed at the Bearsville garage I saw a photo on the wall. I had never noticed it before. It was of a crazy house with tons of windows. I had to ask - it struck a chord in me…  like discovering something special that had been lost. I was told it was Clarence Schmidt’s house. A local artist. It had over a hundred rooms. I was in awe. I searched online and found very little. Visiting a friend I noticed a burnt baby doll head in his garden and commented how it looked like it belonged in Clarence’s house. He told me that was where it came from. The place had burned down and was now gone. But hiking around he’d found lot’s of relics left on the mountainside. I ran into another friend and one thing led to another and it turns out he has one of the only copies of a book about Clarence Schmidt.
I got to borrow it!




"Journey's End"
Clarence Schmidt was an "outsider" artist living and working on Ohayo mountain in Woodstock, New York.
Clarence came to Woodstock in 1928 at the age of 31. By 1967, Schmidt had erected a seven-story, multi-roomed architectural complex that encompassed a large tree as its central feature.The interior was an environmental labyrinth. The original cabin completely enclosed and transformed was Clarence's principal living space. He called it his "Inner Sanctum".
Clarence Schmidt
In January 1968 it burned down creating an aurora borealis that could be seen for miles and miles. It burned for days and days. Clarence moved downhill and began working on a new structure, three rooms built on a platform on top of a station wagon. On top was a viewing deck. In 1971 it caught fire and Schmidt barely got out alive. After that Clarence moved off the mountain. Homeless, he was sent, through town agency to an institution in Kingston, NY. where he died.

Here are some photos that David Johnson took when he lived with Clarence 1970-71'.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/artisevidence/sets/72157603811827487/
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