(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The second annual FreshGrass Festival of bluegrass and roots music kicks off the fall season at MASS MoCA the weekend of September 21-23, 2012, featuring headliners including David Grisman, Tony Rice, and Carolina Chocolate Drops. Other highlights of MASS MoCA’s late 2012 visual and performing arts lineup include Xu Bing’s installation in the football field-sized Building 5 gallery; jazz drummer Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra; English folksinger Laura Marling; presentations by Sundance Lab Theater Institute and Half Straddle Theater with PS 121; a Nerd Nite of comedy; and contemporary dance by Emily Johnson.
But the highlight of the season may well be a map – no ordinary map, but a half-century project of imagination by Jerry Gretzinger, which started in 1963 with a doodle of an imaginary town. Today the map comprises over 2,600 hand-drawn panels covering a stunning 2,000 square feet. From October 5 through October 14, Gretzinger sets up his studio in the Hunter Center, and the map is displayed for the first time ever in its entirety during the production of a new documentary film about Gretzinger by Greg Whitmore.
On Friday, October 26, English folksinger Laura Marling, who has mesmerized audiences with her extraordinary songwriting and equally enchanting voice, startlingly reminiscent of early Joni Mitchell (as is her songwriting), takes the Hunter Center stage for a solo show. Other October music highlights include Bandana Splits on October 6 and Loser’s Lounge with a Muppet Music Extravaganza on October 20. MASS MoCA presents comedy with Nerd Nite on Saturday, October 13, an event described as “like the Discovery Channel – with beer.”
November events include music in Club B-10 with Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra on November 3; Alsarah & the Nubatones on November 10, featuring Sudanese-born singer Alsarah, formerly of the Pioneer Valley, later of Wesleyan University, now of Brooklyn; dance with Williams College’s student dance troupe performing LeWitticisms in the galleries on November 1; and Emily Johnson, an Alaska native now based in Minneapolis, offering a work-in-progress showing of her newest work on November 16.
On December 8, MASS MoCA opens an installation by Chinese sensation Xu Bing in the oversized Building 5 Gallery. The centerpieces of his newest work, Phoenix Project, are two monumental (90+ foot long) birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from constructions sites in urban China.
Two theater showings round out the month: a staged reading of Tim Crouch’s My Arm on Saturday, December 1, and a work-in-progress showing of Seagull (Thinking of you) presented by Half Straddle and PS 122 which works with, against, and beneath Chekhov’s The Seagull and includes a Russian folk metal-influenced score on Saturday, December 15.
Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M., closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at MASS MoCA.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.