A highly selective preview of cultural events taking place this weekend in the greater Berkshire region, including Kentucky’s answer to Wilco; a tribute to Monk; a festival of Chopin; abstract art at the Clark; a jazzy, urban-folk singer-songwriter at Club Helsinki Hudson, and a whole lot more.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Indie-rock group My Morning Jacket, a perennial contender for the Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammy Awards, brings its moody, rootsy sound to MASS MoCA on Saturday, August 12, at 7:30pm. Pennsylvania rock group The Districts will warm up the crowd for My Morning Jacket.
My Morning Jacket has been called “Kentucky’s answer to Wilco,” as a way to indicate both the group’s geographic (Midwest-meets-the South) roots and its broad and diverse musical palette, as well as its tendency toward experimentation. Rolling Stone magazine calls the group’s music “psych-rock.” The Denver Post said, “My Morning Jacket…[is] among the top live bands in any genre, anywhere.”
(BECKET, Mass.) – Camille A. Brown brings her evening-length work, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, to Jacob’s Pillow, along with dendy/donovan project’s Elvis Everywhere, from Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13. Brown’s work explores representations of black women through modern dance, hip-hop, African-American social dances, ballet, and tap dance with throbbing rhythms, color chalk scenery, and live music. Inspired by an interview with Donald Rumsfeld on his encounter with Elvis Presley in Las Vegas, Dendy’s Elvis Everywhere utilizes the arc of Elvis’s life as a metaphor for the U.S. and its current turbulent political atmosphere.
(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – Caleb Teicher & Company brings its mix of tap, lindy hop, and vernacular jazz dance to PS21 on Friday-Saturday, August 11 and 12, at 8pm, as part of the Chatham Dance Festival. The PS21 program will include Variations, in which three tap dancers make Bach’s Goldberg Variations leap from the page; Small & Tall, in which “small” Macy Sullivan and “tall” Lindsey Jones pair up for a funny and heartwarming duet; and Meet Ella, in which Teicher collaborates with swing legend Nathan Bugh to riff to the music of Ella Fitzgerald.
(LEE, Mass.) – The Ted Rosenthal Quintet will perform a centennial salute to Thelonious Monk at the Lee Meeting House on Saturday, August 12, at 7:30pm, in a program presented by Berkshires Jazz, Inc. Pianist Ted Rosenthal burst into popular consciousness when he won the 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Since that time, he has recorded 15 albums, including “Images of Monk,” which provides the musical foundation for the concert.
(HANCOCK, Mass.) – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert will discuss the current environmental crisis, including the imminent threat of planetary extinction, in the Food for Thought dinner series at Hancock Shaker Village on Friday, August 11, at 6pm.
A resident of Williamstown and visiting fellow at Williams College, Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,’ for which she was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Kolbert will offer her insightful contributions to our understanding of present environmental circumstances, examining the role of man-made climate change in causing what biologists call the sixth mass extinction. The current spasm of plant and animal loss threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century.
(LENOX, Mass., and HUDSON, N.Y.) – Claire McMillan, author of the brand-new novel, “The Necklace,” will discuss her new book at The Mount on Thursday, August 10, at 3:30pm, and at Spotty Dog Books, as part of the free Volume Reading Series, on Saturday, August 12, at 7pm.
McMillan’s “The Necklace” was inspired in part by family heirlooms: McMillan’s husband’s great-grandmother’s scrapbook of Roaring Twenties house parties and volumes of a great-uncle’s letters and journals chronicling his 1907 trip around the world. A six-month stay in India and McMillan’s past experience practicing law also inform the book, a tale that alternates between women of two generations — a bewitching Jazz Age beauty and a young lawyer who inherits a spectacular Indian necklace, along with an even more valuable secret.
(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin, who transformed the aesthetic potential of the piano, will be celebrated at the Bard Music Festival, running for two weekends (August 11-13 and August 18-20) in the Fisher Center at Bard College. Twelve themed concert programs will be complemented by pre-concert lectures, panel discussions, two special events, and expert commentary.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Singer-songwriter Jen Chapin brings her unique style of soulful, jazzy “urban folk” to Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday, August 13, at 7pm, as part of the Rogovoy Salon, a new music and literary series curated and hosted by cultural journalist and music critic Seth Rogovoy.
Chapin, who performed several memorable concerts in the original Club Helsinki listening room in Great Barrington, Mass., has been celebrated for writing “brilliant soulfully poetic urban folk music” (NPR) for well over a decade, beginning with her stunning debut album, “Open Wide,” in 2002, followed up by “Linger” in 2004, which featured such sensual numbers as “Good at Love” and “Little Hours” alongside her sociopolitically charged “Passive People” and her poignant 9/11 eulogy, “Hurry Up Sky.” The song “Let It Show” on 2006’s “Ready” was one of her first songs dealing with the responsibilities of parenthood, while the title track once again was a sultry, bedroom number.
(ANCRAM, N.Y.) – Maria-Christina Oliveras stars in the Obie Award-winning play “We’re Gonna Die” by Young Jean Lee at Ancram Opera House on Friday-Saturday, August 4-5, and again on Friday-Saturday, August 11-12. All shows are at 8pm.
A blend of storytelling, music, and theater, “We’re Gonna Die” examines the universal experience of life’s unavoidable truths. A singer takes the stage, backed by her band, and tells slyly humorous stories about the one thing we all have in common. This play with live music boldly explores some of life’s darkest moments with humor and insight.
The Singer will be played by multi-talented actor Maria-Christina Oliveras, whose extensive theater, TV and film credits include “Taylor Mac’s 24 Hour History of Music” (St. Ann’s Warehouse); “Here Lies Love” (The Public); “Amelie” “Machinal” (Roundabout); “Law & Order: SVU” “Nurse Jackie” “Ugly Betty” “St. Vincent de Van Nuys” and “Time Out of Mind.”
Robb is best known for his lenticular photographic work focusing on the female nude and abstract forms in space, which he makes in series. Robb is regularly testing possibilities with the lenticular medium and creating new immersive experiences using three-dimensional imaging and cutting-edge technology within this and additional mediums.
(LENOX, Mass.) – “Weathered to Perfection,” a new exhibition of photographs by Scott Barrow, is on view at Scott Barrow Photography Gallery through August 18.
“Weathered to Perfection” reveals the efforts of time, with seasons of wind, rain, and sun on what was — once — shiny and new, made by human hands, and longed for by human hearts, transformed into the subtle beauty that only age can bestow.
Some see junkyards and a blemished landscape; Barrow sees mysterious fields of former power houses: well-used, well-loved icons of transportation, vehicles waiting patiently to have their acquired patina rediscovered. Fantastic with rust and peeling paint, metal takes on the colorful iridescence of a fine silk. Hood ornaments gleam even as their chrome plating fails. On city walls and at amusement parks and zoos that stand long beyond their popularity, fading paint reveals a visual history of heart-stopping rides, ice cream parlors and drinking Coca-Cola. Now, weathered to perfection, they are new again.
(HANCOCK, Mass.) – Works by an all-star team of contemporary artists, including Gregory Crewdson, Don Gummer, Stephen Hannock, Jenny Holzer, Maya Lin, and David Teeple, is on view at Hancock Shaker Village, in Making: Then and Now, a landmark exhibition of contemporary art that explores the connection between artists today and an historic utopian movement in the Berkshires, a place both have called home.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts, an exhibit exploring the artist’s inventive and groundbreaking approach to the woodcut, and As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings, which focuses on nature as a long-standing inspiration for the artist, are on view at the Clark Art Institute.
The No Rules exhibition, on view through Sunday, September 24, includes 17 large-scale prints, on loan primarily from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and the Williams College Museum of Art, presenting the full range of Frankenthaler’s experimentation with the medium from the 1970s through 2000s. No Rules celebrates the pioneering spirit that expanded the possibilities of the woodcut and established Frankenthaler (American, 1928–2011) as one of the medium’s great innovators.
The exhibition explores the artist’s collaborations with printers, publishers, woodcarvers, and papermakers that pushed the medium in new directions. In 1994, during an interview with printer/publisher Ken Tyler, Frankenthaler stated, “There are no rules, that is one thing I say about every medium, every picture . . . that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.”
As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings, which focuses on nature as a long-standing inspiration for the artist, is on view in the Lunder Center at Stone Hill from Saturday, July 1, through Monday, October 9.
The As in Nature exhibition comprises a selection of large paintings by Frankenthaler from the 1950s through the 1990s, focusing on nature as a longstanding inspiration. Like many abstract artists, Frankenthaler continually tested the constraints of the genre, at times inserting into her compositions elements of recognizable subject matter that throw the abstract elements into relief. The paintings in this exhibition represent the full range of styles and techniques that she explored over five decades of work; while all are primarily abstract, they also contain allusions to landscape, demonstrating how Frankenthaler’s delicate balance between abstraction and a nuanced responsiveness to nature and place developed and shifted over time. As Frankenthaler once commented, “Anything that has beauty and provides order (rather than chaos or shock alone), anything resolved in a picture (as in nature) gives pleasure—a sense of rightness, as in being one with nature.”
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World, a fully immersive exhibition exploring all aspects of one of the most enduring musical icons of the last 200 years, is at the Berkshire Museum, on view through Monday, September 4.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Nick Cave, the artist known for his wearable sculptures called Soundsuits, turns expectations inside out at MASS MoCA in “Until,” a massive immersive installation. Cave uses MASS MoCA’s signature football field-sized space to create his largest and most overtly political installation to date, made up of thousands of found objects, a rich sensory tapestry. The sheer volume of material that has been gathered is astounding — 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 13 gilded pigs; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; 1 crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — MASS MoCA has unveiled its newly renovated campus with the opening of Building 6, the third phase of campus development that encompasses 130,000 square feet of interior renovations to the museum’s 19th-century mill buildings. The new galleries include works by Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, James Turrell, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, and Gunnar Schonbeck (Bang on a Can), among others.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Works by Pablo Picasso are on view at the Clark Art Institute, along with an exhibition devoted to painter-designer Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Picasso: Encounters includes paintings and prints by the 20th century visionary and is on view through Sunday, August 27.
(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) — On the surface they might seem like an odd couple from two different universes, but for the first time Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol come face to face in “Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol,” at the Norman Rockwell Museum. With 100 works of art, a selection of archival materials, and objects relating to their work and lives, the exhibition will show how both of these internationally celebrated image-makers — among America’s most important visual communicators — created enduring icons and opened new ways of seeing.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – An Inner World: 17th-Century Dutch Genre Painting is on view at the Clark Art Institute now through Sunday, September 17. The exhibit brings together paintings from the Clark and The Leiden Collection, among the largest and most important private collections of Dutch Golden Age paintings in the world. The exhibition features seven exceptional genre paintings by Dutch artists working in or near the city of Leiden in the 17th century.
An Inner World explores the work of Gerrit Dou (Dutch, 1613–1675) and his contemporaries by considering tradition and innovation in the representation of figures in interior spaces, individuals in moments of contemplation or quiet exchange, and the enduring taste among collectors for works created by fijnschilders, or fine painters.