Berkshire Weekend Cultural Preview June 2-5


Generation II by Judith Solomon

The Harrison Gallery will present a group show of realist painting by five masters of the genre – Hale Johnson, John MacDonald, Nick Patten, Judith Solomon, Kim Denise, and Carol Gobin, opening with an artists reception on Saturday, June 4, at 5. The exhibition runs through June 29 at the Williamstown, Mass., art gallery on Spring Street.

Hale Johnson paints landscapes that look into the soul of rural America. He is drawn to the architecture and craftsmanship of old farm buildings even as they age and deteriorate. From his rural home in Colrain, Mass., he seeks locations that evoke a strong response to the history of the land and the people who toil there.

John MacDonald, a sixteen-year resident of Williamstown, paints the rivers, woods, meadows and mountains of the Berkshires with the sure eye of someone who understands his subject and paints it head-on with no romantic flourishes or sentimentality. His paintings, rooted in the style of 20th century realism, show landscapes the way they really look. They are generally devoid of narrative content – people, vehicles, buildings – that detract from the simple beauty of the landscape.

Nick Patten paints the interiors of rooms in old houses with direct and reflected light that touches gently on walls and floors to create scenes that are hauntingly still, serene and calm. His paintings bring the eye on a journey through the rooms that give the viewer the feeling of peeking in at a time when nobody else is at home.

Judith Solomon’s still lifes appear to be classic renditions of tea services, table settings and fruit bowls. But the artist has added an unusual twist to her work by mixing family heirlooms – the silver teapot, fine china and lace of her mother’s generation – with the more contemporary cups, sugar bowls and linens from her own kitchen. The juxtaposition of the old and the new creates a dialog between the past and the present that give Solomon’s paintings a subtle sense of conflict. She heightens the drama of her arrangements by reflecting the tableware in the shiny tea service and adds a touch of chaos to her scenes by skewing her subjects, exaggerating their shapes and seeing them from extreme angles.

Kim Denise paints everyday objects she finds in her own home using a pastel medium. The draped fabric behind a common milk glass is a simple cotton napkin from her kitchen drawer, the dishes and cups come from cabinets and the flowers and fruits come from her back yard. She is fascinated by the play of light and the sacredness it imports to the humblest of objects.

On a High Shelf by Kim Denise

Carol Gobin came to landscape painting just eight years ago after extensive study in house building, architectural drafting, graphic design and visual arts. Not surprisingly, her paintings focus on architectural details. She selects parts of buildings – the cupola on a shingled roof, the red barn door or the complex angles where barn walls come together – and washes them in the bright sunlight of the dying day. Her sunset shadows make dark, dramatic contrasts to the brilliant light of the waning sun.

The Harrison Gallery
39 Spring St.
Williamstown, Mass.


“]Women of Will, The Complete Journey: Parts I-V, a five-part series examining some 170 female characters from Shakespeare’s canon from a female perspective and in chronological order, created by and starring founding artistic director Tina Packer, is at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., now through July 10. A combination of riveting scenes and lively, fascinating analysis, Women of Will, The Complete Journey explores themes of love, loss, freedom, control, and violence and power through the heroines of Shakespeare’s text.



This newly finished version of Women of Will is fully expanded and presented in five parts, giving those who saw Packer’s Women of Will Overview last summer a complete look into Packer’s examination of Shakespeare’s words and world. In The Complete Journey, Packer once again uses performance and discussion, as she traces the chronological evolution of Shakespeare’s female characters, and examines Shakespeare’s own journey as a writer

Director Eric Tucker returns to join forces with Packer and Nigel Gore, giving the trio another opportunity to tackle Shakespeare’s canon. Packer and Gore have starred opposite each other in several productions, including Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (which netted Gore an Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in 2010), Antony & Cleopatra, Hamlet, and Coriolanus (Packer’s all-male version in England last year) to name a few.

Each of the five parts of The Complete Journey stands on its own – they can be seen separately or in succession. Each is a wholly independent play. The Women of Will Overview, which plays for a short run later in the summer, gives audiences a snippet from each part to whet the appetite.

Three special performances of the Women of Will Overview run July 26 at 8, July 30 at 8, and July 31 at 3, all in the Bernstein Theatre.



The sixth annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF), taking place from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5 primarily at the Triplex and the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington and the Beacon in Pittsfield, Mass., will feature some 70 U.S. and international independent feature films, documentaries, and shorts. In addition, BIFF will host Q&A sessions with filmmakers; a special screening Pittsfield native Kent Jones’s new film, A Letter to Elia, on Elia Kazan, a collaboration with Martin Scorsese; and a mini-human rights film festival. Over 15 countries will be represented and over two dozen filmmakers will be on hand during the four-day event, which sees the festival expanding to the Simon’s Rock College campus, the continuation of the Next Great Filmmaker Award, and a Juried Prize Award for narrative and documentary films.

The festival kicks-off in Great Barrington on Thursday evening at the Mahaiwe with Page One: Inside the New York Times, a Sundance documentary hit that takes viewers inside the New York Times newsroom and follows closely the inner workings of the Media Desk. Opening night festivities include a cocktail party and light buffet supper for passholders catered by Max Ultimate Food from Boston at the “BIFF Tent” behind the Town Hall in Great Barrington prior to the screening of Page One.

The festival continues its expansion into Pittsfield at the Beacon Cinema on Friday, June 3, with a cocktail party catered by Mission Bar + Tapas prior to the opening night presentation of the Sundance Audience award-winning film Buck, by director Cindy Meehl, and the winning short film of BIFF and the Next Great Filmmaker Award. The director will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening, which will also be the closing night film of the BIFF on Sunday, June 5, at the Mahaiwe.

The 2011 Festival tribute to director and visual effects innovator Douglas Trumbull will be held on Saturday, June 4, at the Mahaiwe.  The festival will also have five short film programs which will showcase some 22 shorts from the Berkshires and around the world.



Percussionist Arti Dixson will perform at "Fiesta!" at Ozawa Hall for CEWM

To kick off the celebration of its 20th anniversary year in 2011-2012, Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) hosts a gala concert at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox, Mass., on Saturday, June 4, at 6. Fiesta! A Latin Splash of Music and Dance embraces the rhythms of Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Spain. The program includes Chick Corea’s jazzy, flamenco-inspired La Fiesta!, performed by accordionist William Schimmel, one of the principal architects of the tango revival in America; Astor Piazzolla’s Grand Tango, choreographed by David Parsons as a 2001 CEWM commission; Ropa Vieja, a hypnotic work by composer-in-residence Jorge Martin and also a CEWM commission; plus works by Granados, Ginastera, and Villa-Lobos.

A Close Encounters tradition that has featured artists ranging from Sigourney Weaver, Richard Chamberlain, and Jane Alexander to diva Dawn Upshaw, and that has seen world premieres of commissioned works by Osvaldo Golijov and Paul Schoenfield, this first major concert of the Berkshire summer season brings stellar musicians and performers to the Ozawa stage in original productions. Joining artistic director and cellist Yehuda Hanani are pianist Michael Chertock, percussionist Arti Dixson, and premier dancers from the Parsons Dance Company.


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