(PITTSFIELD, Mass., August 19, 2011) – It was contemporary photography night in town on Friday night, beginning with a discussion of Gregory Crewdson’s work at the Berkshire Museum, and concluding with a themed dinner at Ferrin Gallery as part of the venue’s Dish + Dine series.
The evening got off to a fascinating start with a duet “performance” by Berkshire Museum director Maria Mingalone and Mount Holyoke College Art Museum director John Stomberg, formerly of the Williams College Museum of Art. With a huge Crewdson original hanging behind them, the two examined the ways in which Crewdson’s work reflects upon modern notions of photography, painting, and film, and the relationship among the three. They also explored Crewdson’s working methods, and how he creates – mostly right here in the Berkshires, where he chooses to stage and produce much of his work – his monumental works.
Afterwards, Mingalone, Stomberg, and others in attendance at the museum met up with a new crowd at Ferrin Gallery, where gallerist Leslie Ferrin had hung production stills from Crewdson’s shoots, as well as works by Nicholas Whitman, Susan Mikula, Gordon Chandler and Michael Eastman, all of which in one way or the other related to Decadence + Decay, the theme given to the summer’s art shows by artberkshires, a collaborative effort between Ferrin Gallery and Sienna Gallery, owned and run by Sienna Patti, who was also in attendance, to curate visual arts programming in the Berkshires for summer visitors.
Mingalone, Stomberg, Ferrin, Patti, and some of the artists in attendance, including Mikula, spoke to how their work related to the Decadence + Decay theme, and/or just simply highlighted the role that contemporary photography plays or is coming to play in their particular venues. The consensus seemed to be that, at least in the early 21st century, contemporary art is synonymous with photography, but as could be seen by the works hanging in the gallery, the photography of one artist or another can be as different as a Rembrandt is from a Picasso. Time, in this case, waits for no one.
A highlight of the evening, of course, was the Decadence + Decay themed dinner prepared by Red Lion Inn executive chef Brian J. Alberg, who took on the challenge – and delivered magnificently – of preparing an all-vegetarian meal. Alberg, who is perhaps best known for cooking with “pork” from pigs he raises on his own, met the challenge splendidly, says this vegetarian, with an almost completely locally sourced menu featuring Wild Mushroom Hominy, Salad of Equinox Bitter Greens, and Dark Cocoa Moon Pie. If Alberg is ever moved to spare his poor swine, he has a future in vegetarian cooking, and wouldn’t it make a strong statement if he turned the venerable Red Lion Inn dining rooms and its associated entities into all-vegetarian venues.
You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.