- A stone-carving student at the annual Hunter Stone Carving Seminar.
All it took was one close-up of a sculptor's hands working a block of marble in the 1972 film Savage Messiah for Kevin VanHentenryck to drop out of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and change career paths. "When I had saved up enough money, I bought three chisels and a hammer, found a rock on streets of Lower Manhattan, and got to work," says VanHentenryck, a Woodstock resident. "The moment I touched steel to stone, I had an epiphany that this is what I was meant to do." His devotion to the ancient artform never wavered (though he did take a brief pause to achieve what IMDB calls, "instant cult status as the engagingly guileless and nerdy Duane Bradley in Frank Henenlotter's marvelously gory and sleazy low-budget horror splatter gem Basket Case").
or the past 44 years, VanHentenryck has sculpted for private commission and taught carving workshops to students of all ages. In 2007, he founded the Hunter Stone Carving Seminar, a free, two-week workshop where students learn the essential carving techniques on massive boulders in the town-designated Bluestones Park. "There are museum quality pieces that students have left behind," VanHentenryck says. "When the stones are full, the idea was they would get placed throughout town of Hunter and we would bring new ones into site for the workshop." This year, however, the seminar's funding from the Greene County Arts Council was slashed by 75 percent. "I'm committed to keeping it free," VanHentenryck says. "We have to find the way forward."