Yaddo, circa 1905
|Purpose||To nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment|
|Headquarters||Saratoga Springs, New York|
Yaddo is an artists' community located on a 400-acre (160 ha) estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Its mission is "to nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment." On March 11, 2013 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
It offers residencies to artists working in choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. Collectively, artists who have worked at Yaddo have won 66 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 MacArthur Fellowships, 61 National Book Awards, 24 National Book Critics Circle Awards, 108 Rome Prizes, 49 Whiting Writers' Awards, a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976), at least one Man Booker Prize (Alan Hollinghurst, 2004) and countless other honors. Yaddo is included in the Union Avenue Historic District.
The estate was purchased in 1881 by the financier Spencer Trask and his wife, the writer Katrina Trask. The first mansion on the property burned down in 1893, and the Trasks then built the current house. Yaddo is a neologism invented by one of the Trask children and was meant to rhyme with "shadow".
In 1900, after the premature deaths of the Trasks' four children, Spencer Trask decided to turn the estate into an artists' retreat as a gift to his wife. He did this with the financial assistance of philanthropist George Foster Peabody. The first artists arrived in 1926. The success of Yaddo encouraged Spencer and Katrina later to donate land for a working women's retreat center as well, known as Wiawaka Holiday House, at the request of Mary Wiltsie Fuller.
In 1949 during the McCarthy Era, a news story accurately accused writer Agnes Smedley of spying for the Soviet Union. Smedley had traveled with Mao Zedong to report on the Chinese Communist Revolution and, beginning in 1943, had spent five years at Yaddo. Poet Robert Lowell pushed the Board of Directors to oust Yaddo's director, Elizabeth Ames, who was being questioned by the FBI. Ames was eventually exonerated of all charges but learned from the investigation that her assistant Mary Townsend was an FBI informant. Ames remained director until her retirement in 1969, having overseen the Yaddo community from its creation in 1924. Ames was succeeded by Newman E. Waite who served as president from 1969 until 1977 when Curtis Harnack assumed the position.
Literary critic and eventual Yaddo board member Louis Kronenberger wrote in his memoir that to call Yaddo "a mixture of some of the most attractive, enjoyable, generous-minded people and of others who were weird, megalomaniac, intransigent, pugnacious is only to say that it has housed and nourished most of the finest talents in the arts of the past forty-odd years—the immensely fruitful years of Elizabeth Ames's directorship."
In popular culture
Jonathan Ames' book Wake Up Sir! (2004) is partially set at Yaddo.
Dagger of the Mind (1941), a novel by 1930s Yaddo resident Kenneth Fearing, takes place in Demarest Hall, an art colony modeled after Yaddo.
In You season 1, episode 8: "You Got Me Babe", Blythe helps Beck focus on writing and break through writer's block by disconnecting Beck from her cellphone and the Internet, and setting up Beck's apartment to make her "own Yaddo".
Entering its second century, Yaddo accepts contributions to its endowment and underwriting for specific projects to ensure that the artists' community will always be a place of inspiration. During the Centennial Gift Campaign, Yaddo received large contributions from Spencer Trask & Company and Kevin Kimberlin, the firm's current chairman. Novelist Patricia Highsmith bequeathed her estate, valued at $3 million, to the community.
The current Yaddo President is Elaina Richardson.
Facilities and gardens
Yaddo's gardens are modeled after the classical Italian gardens the Trasks had visited in Europe. The Four Seasons statues were acquired and installed in the garden in 1909. There are many statues and sculptures located within the estate, including a sundial that bears the inscription, "Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways, Pass by, Love stays." While visitors are not admitted to the main mansion or artists' residences, they may visit the gardens.
Yaddo has hosted more than 6,000 artists including:
- Hannah Arendt
- Newton Arvin
- Milton Avery
- James Baldwin
- Leonard Bernstein
- Elizabeth Bishop
- Truman Capote
- John Cheever
- Aaron Copland
- Arthur Deshaies
- Sari Dienes
- Mary Beth Edelson
- Jonathan Elliott
- William Ordway Partridge
- Kenneth Fearing
- Jonathan Franzen
- Daniel Fuchs
- Steve Giovinco
- Philip Guston
- Daron Hagen
- Michael Harrison
- Ruth Heller
- Patricia Highsmith
- Chester Himes
- Langston Hughes
- Ted Hughes
- Alfred Kazin
- Ulysses Kay
- Louis Kronenberger
- Stanley Kunitz
- Jacob Lawrence
- Alan Lelchuk
- Robert Lowell
- Flannery O'Connor
- Dorothy Parker
- Sylvia Plath
- Katherine Anne Porter
- Mario Puzo
- Carl Rakosi
- Ned Rorem
- Carson McCullers
- Henry Roth
- Philip Roth
- Delmore Schwartz
- Clyfford Still
- Virgil Thomson
- Colm Tóibín
- Lionel Trilling
- Anne Truitt
- Byron Vazakas
- David Foster Wallace
- Eudora Welty
- List of National Historic Landmarks in New York
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Saratoga County, New York
- "History", Yaddo.
- "New Sites Recognize More Complete Story of America, including Significant Latino, African American and Indian Sites". US Department of the interior. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- "Yaddo and Substance". Time. September 5, 1938.
Creating at Yaddo last week, at mid-season of the colony's twelfth year , was a typical group of writers and artists who have given substance to Katrina's vision. But whether or not they fit her romantic conception was an open question. By contrast with aristocratic Katrina and the elegant surroundings she provided, most of the season's 27 guests stood out in striking left-wing contrast: Poet Kenneth Fearing (Angel Arms, Poems), Critic Newton Arvin (Hawthorne), Novelists Joseph Vogel (At Madame Bonnard's), Leonard Ehrlich (God's Angry Man), Henry Roth (Call It Sleep), Daniel Fuchs (Low Company).
"One of the show places of the U.S., Yaddo is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) estate with pine groves, vast lawns, artificial lakes with ducks, famous rose gardens, and white marble fountains. The name Yaddo was a baby pronunciation given by the Trask children (all four of whom died in childhood) to The Shadows, a famous inn formerly on the site of the Trask estate, where the Trasks had spent their summers. It was one of the dozen places where Poe was supposed to have written The Raven, and Katrina said it inspired her own poetry.
- History, Wiawaka, retrieved June 9, 2011.
- Ruth Price, The Lives of Agnes Smedley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 5-9.
- The Lowell Affair: Yaddo's Red Scare, NYPL.
- Blumenkranz, Carla, Deeply and mysteriously implicated, Poetry Foundation.
- "Elizabeth Ames, Creator of Yaddo, Upstate Cultural Haven, Dies at 92," New York Times, March 30, 1977.
- Guide to the Yaddo records, NYPL.
- Louis Kronenberger, No Whippings, No Gold Watches (Boston: Little Brown, 1970), 269.
- Fearing, Kenneth (2004). The Collected Poems of Kenneth Fearing. Indiana: Indiana Press University. p. XVIII. ISBN 0943373255.
- "YOU (2018) s01e08 Episode Script: You Got Me Babe". Springfield! Springfield!.
- Kinney, Jim (May 18, 2005). "Vandals Strike Yaddo Gardens". The Saratogian. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Kinney, Jim (May 21, 2006). "Yaddo Vandals' Damage Undone". The Saratogian. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "$1M gift received by Yaddo". The Business Review. Albany, New York. December 17, 1998. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Barron, James; Martin, Douglas (February 18, 1998). "Public Lives; Here and There". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
- Willcox, Kathleen (June 1, 2016). "Patricia Highsmith, Yaddo and America". Saratoga Living. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- Yaddo Gardens website.
- "At Yaddo, statues truly are for all seasons," Daily Gazette Schenectady, New York, January 21, 2017.
- Poetry of Henry van Dyke. The poem was written specifically for the Yaddo Garden.
- "Guests – Lists of Artists". Yaddo.
- Dobrzynski, Judith H. (May 15, 2000). "An Artists' Retreat Reaches Out: Yaddo Celebrates an Anniversary by Shedding a Bit of Its Mystery". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
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