Ulster County Executive's Arts Awards 2023
Staats Fasoldt loved to draw with his grandfather when he was growing up in Rensselaer. “It was my thing. I was relatively good at it,” he says. Still, the Rosendale-based artist didn’t get on the arts career path until he was halfway through his undergraduate degree—and then there was no looking back. He received a BA from Empire State College, started taking art courses at SUNY Albany and eventually moved to the Hudson Valley with his wife to get his MFA in painting at SUNY New Paltz.
“The professors at New Paltz had a big influence on my thinking and my work, although some of it took years to sink in,” he says.
Staats started producing watercolor landscapes almost immediately. “Mark Gruber in New Paltz gave me a chance and now he has been showing my work for almost 40 years,” he says. He also plunged into teaching. He worked at Ulster County Community College and SUNY New Paltz, as well as at a local prison for four years. “I learned an enormous amount about life and teaching at the prison,” he says. “In some cases, making art was a lifeline for these guys. It was very rewarding.”
In the mid-1980s, Staats started teaching at the Woodstock School of Art. “It was very small at that point, but I’ve stayed this whole time,” he says, adding that he just stopped teaching last year, and at the same time, resigned as President of the Board of Directors. “It’s a wonderful, vibrant place.”
These days, Staats spends much of his time working on his watercolors. “I’m evolving as an artist,” he says. “I’m still using the visible world as a starting point, but I’m reducing it and formalizing it. I’m really very interested in shape relations and compositional ideas and things like that.”
As the Vice President of the Board of the Arts Society of Kingston, Staats is thrilled to watch the Hudson Valley arts scene grow and prosper. “It’s quite amazing what’s happened here,” he says. “I’ve been here for 40 years; there was very little going on at the beginning—a few galleries here and there, mainly in Woodstock. Kingston was not artsy at all really. But it’s grown to a remarkable state. There is a tremendous amount of artsy energy going on.”