Maria Reidelbach: Biography
Maria Reidelbach has been an advocate for community-based education, activism, and local farming for decades. An artist, journalist, and best-selling author, her work explores the relationship between high art, popular culture, and community endeavor. Long active in the business aspects of art, in the 1980s she combined her work as private art registrar with computer software development, creating some of the first software used for cataloging fine art. Working as a consultant and developer of custom software applications for artists, estates, art historians, and collectors, her client list included Eric Fischl, the Alexander Calder Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Alexander Archipenko Foundation, and others throughout the 1990s.
Reidelbach also curated and co-curated several prominent art exhibitions, notably Alfred Jensen: Paintings and Works on Paper at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1985, and themed exhibitions at Barbara Toll Fine Art and Max Protetch Gallery. In 1987, pursuing an abiding interest in historic Americana, she co-authored Miniature Golf, a social history of the game (Abbeville Press, 1987, with Nina Garfinkel and John Margolies). Her next book, Completely MAD: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine (Little, Brown, 1991), chronicled the complex political and cultural nexus of the eponymous publication, and – widely reviewed – was a hardcover and paperback best seller.
Throughout the 1990s Reidelbach worked on web- and community-based art, installations, and public-art projects, including the public art project The Totally Kid Carousel in Riverbank State Park in New York City (with artist Milo Mottola and Philip Johnson Associates). Involved in the reconstruction of her TriBeCa neighborhood after 911, she worked with the nonprofit group Manhattan Youth Recreation and Resources and with artist Ken Brown, to renovate their miniature golf course, which had been used as an emergency dumping ground. As a staff member, she also helped launch the Downtown Community Center, the first of its kind in Lower Manhattan.
In 2006 Reidelbach created the award-winning public-art teaching-garden, Homegrown Mini-Golf, at one of the oldest farms in the United States, Kelder's Farm in Accord, New York. The project was landscaped entirely in edible plants, flowers, herbs and trees, and featured a public art sculpture known as The World's Largest Garden Gnome, for which she is listed in the Guinness World Records. Reidelbach also created the game-based map, Stick to Local Farms, a project that helps visitors and residents in the Hudson Valley learn about local farms and farmers in face-to-face encounters. A columnist, from 2011 to 2018 she penned “The Yardavore,” a monthly exploration of wild crafting, local food, farms, and farmers for Country Wisdom News.
In 2019, Reidelbach, in collaboration with Jared Buono, Director and Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County, began writing and illustrating an innovative cookbook for our climate-challenged time. Entitled Turning the Tables: Cooking to Thrive in the 21st Century, the book comprises infographic recipes and information about cooking to both reduce climate change and to foster resilient community relationships for the challenges to come.
Deeply involved in nonprofit organizations, Reidelbach is a Board Member and Vice-President of the Rondout Valley Growers Association; was a founding Board member of Re>Think Local: the Hudson Valley Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy; was a Founding Board Member and Chair of the Hudson Valley Current, an alternative currency project from 2012-15, and served as President of the New York Mycological Society from 2007 to 2012. Reidelbach’s Corn Cow Company, which serves as a corporate umbrella for her art, design, and local farming projects, was a founding New York State B Corporation, meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.