by Seth Rogovoy
Slowly but surely, things are loosening up, and there are indeed some openings and live cultural events beginning to take form in and around the greater Berkshire and Hudson Valley region. A lot of thought has gone into most of these in terms of staying safe and enforcing social distancing requirements, so be sure to check details on the appropriate websites and, for my sake as well as yours, keep your masks on.
MASS MoCA in North Adams opened its doors for the first time this past weekend. The 250,000 square-feet of cavernous gallery space at the behemoth cultural laboratory will be open every day from 10am to 6pm except Tuesdays, and admission will be via advance, timed tickets. New exhibits include How to Move a Landscape, Blane De St. Croix’s largest and most ambitious exhibition to date, running literally from the ceiling to below the floor. The result of years of fieldwork and collaboration with leading climate scientists, the exhibition explores climate change and the precarious nature of the world around us.
In Kissing through a Curtain, ten contemporary artists address boundaries and attempts to communicate across them: not just between different languages, but also nations, cultures, media, bodies, and individual minds. Throughout the exhibition, the artists reflect on timely, urgent questions about who has access to which ideas, spaces, and histories.
Next Saturday night, July 18, MASS MoCA will host composer-performer Treya Lam in a re-imagined concert courtyard that takes advantage of an industrial roll-top garage door and adjacent gallery overlooking the brick-lined courtyard to reveal a new stage, dramatically floating 12 feet above the audience. Lam is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist and songwriter whose cinematic songs and ethereal vocals are built on Nina Simone-inspired piano, meditative guitar and lush chamber arrangements. RIYL Norah Jones, Ani DiFranco, Nina Simone, and Kaki King.
MASS MoCA isn’t the only museum in the Berkshires that is now open. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown are also open. Each museum requires advance ticketing reservations for staggered entry, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings indoors. The institutions are also planning to use visitor information gathered at ticketing for contact-tracing purposes, so be prepared for that.
As it happened, the Clark was lucky to have planned its first outdoor exhibition, “Ground/work,” for this summer, with site-specific installations from six different artists. Rather than unveil the collection all at once, the museum is welcoming visitors to view the installation process throughout the summer — a creative solution in response to the delays the artists have had amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And for those of you who need your Tanglewood fix, while you can’t attend a live performance at the venue, you can stream a live or archival performance on almost any night (or day, for that matter), as well as lectures and classes direct from the Tanglewood Learning Institute. This Friday, July 17, at 8pm, actress-singer Lauren Ambrose hosts a BSO musicians recital – featuring violinist Lucia Lin and cellist Owen Young – performing works by American composer Gabriela Lena Frank, Ravel’s Sonata for violin and cello, and Charles Martin Loeffler’s Two Rhapsodies. On Saturday, July 18, at 8pm, eminent violinist Pinchas Zukerman — a frequent performer at Tanglewood with the BSO as conductor as well as violin and viola soloist — is joined by his wife and regular recital partner, cellist Amanda Forsyth, in music from four different countries, streamed live.
PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., will be presenting live performances at its new venue, with limited, socially distanced seating onsite and livestreaming of most events at the same time. Sandbox Percussion will kick things off this weekend with two concerts on Friday, July 17, at 6 and 8pm. The program will include works by Bang on a Can cofounder Julia Wolfe and minimalist godfather Steve Reich’s “Drumming part 1.”