In 2010, my husband Dave and I bought a farm in Wassaic with the intention of building a new home. We set out to explore our new community, quickly discovered the Wassaic Project, and were thrilled to meet Bowie at the opening of the 2011 Summer Exhibition. Shortly thereafter she and Jeff decided to rent the old farmhouse at our place—serving in part as vigilant guardians of our under-construction house. Over the next year we all became friends, and Dave and I grew increasingly fascinated with the uniquely energetic and creative enterprise that is the Wassaic Project.
One day in June 2012, my phone rang: it was Bowie, telling me that the Wassaic Project was about to receive its 501c3 ruling, and asking if I would consider becoming the first chair of the new board. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for me: I was winding down some other nonprofit activities in Brooklyn and looking for a way to get more involved upstate. After a career working in finance and social service nonprofits, the opportunity to work with a young organization in the arts seemed like a delightful challenge.
While much of my work with the Wassaic Project has been focused on the nuts and bolts of fundraising and administration, the greatest thrill for me has been the immersion into the world of community development, arts education, and emerging contemporary artists—a world I knew little about. Dave and I are now embedded in Wassaic, and our new house is truly a home—one graced with many beautiful works of art created by Wassaic artists. Our admiration for Eve, Jeff, and Bowie—their energy, creativity, dedication and unique working relationship—has only grown with the years.
Dave and I are now embedded in Wassaic, and our new house is truly a home—one graced with many beautiful works of art created by Wassaic artists.
Janet Offensend, Wassaic, August 2017
Photos by Verónica González Mayoral