Berkshire Weekend Cultural Preview, May 2-6, 2012

MICHAEL ALLEN LOWE PREVIEWS COVET PROJECT at FERRIN GALLERY

Michael Allen Lowe's 'Hylas in the Depths'

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – An exhibition of new paintings by Michael Allen Lowe will kick off the year-long COVET project – a series of exhibitions and programs presenting contemporary objects and fine art in all media including design, sculpture, painting, photography, prints, works on paper showcasing contemporary artists creating new works in response to historical artworks in museum collections – at Ferrin Gallery on Friday, May 4, 2012, at 5 – 8 p.m. The opening of the exhibition, called Symplegma after an erotic early 19th century drawing by Henry Fuseli and running through May 19 – will coincide with the inaugural First Fridays Artwalk in Pittsfield.

Michael Allen Lowe defines the focus of his current work as a union of classical systems and contemporary methodology. By employing classical painting fragments as functioning components in a new, imagined environment, Lowe convenes diverse imagery in an investigation of the more tantalizing aspects of painting in both subject and technique – simultaneously demonstrating a learned classical craft and any number of abstract painting styles. The resultant paintings become overlapping layers of imagery and narrative, with the goal of creating a masterful graffiti that speaks of the past, present, and future.

Lowe is strongly influenced by and fascinated with eighteenth and early nineteenth century artists such as Henry Fuseli, William Blake, George Romney, and their contemporaries. He notes the dynamic compositions, powerful narratives, and sensually drawn lines, in particular, as indicative of the work of these artists.

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ETHIOPIAN-AMERICAN FUNK BAND HEADLINES DOWNTOWN FESTIVAL

Debo Band

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.). – Debo Band, the Boston-based group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen, fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye, and specializing in vintage Ethiopian pop-funk, headlines Rock the Block, a festival produced by the Performing Arts Management (PAM) class at performs at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), taking place on Sunday, May 6, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Main Street. The free, street-wide block party will celebrate and embrace cultural interaction throughout North Adams through music and dance.

Other groups slated to appear at the festival are the MCLA Jazz Band, Allegrettos A Capella Group, the Drury Jazz Band, and Spooky and the Nomads. Other MCLA groups performing include the Yorick Shakespeare Club, Nexxus Step Team, and Harlequin Musical Theatre Club. In addition, DJ Leila will perform throughout the day, beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m. Downtown businesses and a variety of Berkshire vendors also will join the block party, connecting and sharing with the North Adams community by offering business specials, as well as later hours of operation.

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VERMONT FOLK-ROCK BAND CHAMBERLIN to PLAY HOUSE CONCERT

Chamberlin

(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Chamberlin, a Vermont-based folk-rock group that has drawn comparisons to My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire and The Band, performs at Billsville House Concerts on Saturday, May 5, 2012, at 8 p.m. The group’s latest album, Bitter Blood, was produced by Scott Tournet, lead guitarist for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, for whom the group opened on a recent tour. For the Billsville show, the rock band will unplug and play an acoustic set.

On a recent covers album, the group covered Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” turning the infectious pop hit into a minor-key folk ballad. The group also essayed tunes by Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and Kanye West on the album, applying the group’s sincere harmony vocals and acoustic guitars to the tunes.

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‘FIRST FRIDAYS ARTSWALK’ in PITTSFIELD to DEBUT

Sally Tiska Rice's 'Mac Book Worm'

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) –  Last November, while visiting two well-attended gallery openings on the same evening in close proximity on North Street, Mary McGinnis, proprietor of Mary’s Carrot Cake shop, and Pittsfield artist Leo Mazzeo came up with the idea of making this type of “arts social” a regular activity.  They did some grass-roots research and quickly determined that there was significant interest in participation from retailers along North Street and the artist community in general for a visual arts-based evening out on the town. Thus, the concept of First Fridays Artswalk was born.

Beginning this coming Friday, May 4, 2012, and running year-round, First Fridays Artswalk hopes to attract art lovers and the merely curious to its mostly indoors art displays in more than 20 venues, including galleries, retail establishments, and hospitality businesses along the North and South Street arts corridor. First Fridays Artswalk will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and a reception for the exhibiting artists will take place in most of the venues displaying art.

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COLLABORATIVE INSTALLATION EXHIBITION OPENING, OTHER EVENTS ANNOUNCED FOR IS183

A segment of 'electrosynthetic' at IS183

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – The site-specific, collaborative installation, electro-synthetic, which has been constructed for the last three weeks by artists Derek Parker and Anne Roecklein, officially opens on Thursday May 3, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires. Parker and Roecklein will speak at the opening about their collaborative process, which involved working in overlapping stages to create a piece that evolved over the three weeks of their Citizen’s Hall residency.

Through the construction of electro-synthetic, Parker, drawing inspiration from the processes used by industrial electricians, and Roecklein, working in collage and assemblage from materials that attempt to replicate nature including faux flower parts, plastic aquarium plants, and items used to make fishing lures, have been exploring the harmony and discord that arise in symbiotic (and parasitic) relationships, where it is difficult to know where one organism, process, or idea begins, and the other ends.

The public is invited to join in the culmination of a project that transformed the functional space of the IS183 Stairwell Gallery into a living, breathing piece of art. electro-synthetic will remain on view through June 8.

On Tuesday, May 8, from 6pm to 9pm, IS183 will present a free film screening of experimental animation. A collection of short films curated by IS183 animation faculty artist and CalArts Experimental Animation alumnus Dina Noto, the program will highlight both contemporary and historical examples of experimental animation – animation approached as a fine art and encompassing a variety of techniques and methods. An evening designed to educate, intrigue, and provoke thought and discussion, the program will feature award-winning short films ranging from character-based to abstract, heart-warming to mind-bending, as well as a Q and A with Noto.

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