Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 29, 2022

ON THE ROAD: Berkshire Highlights, Summer 2022

by Shera Cohen

Jacob's Pillow, Becket, MA
We almost missed Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble due to an error on our clock. We made it from Lenox to Becket in record time, arriving just as a young intern musician happened to be parked in a white golf cart. We are finding more and more mini carts on the campuses of numerous performing art venues in the Berkshires. 

Cleo Parker Robinson brought her 14 or so young, accomplished, professional dancers to present modern, folk, ballet, and jazz footwork. Robinson narrated each piece prior to each to performance. In hiring dance troupes for its summer season, the Pillow has nothing but the best. Parker Robinson's company recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

For those in the dance field, the Pillow offered classes, community workshops, annual art exhibits in the barn, and Pillowtalk; the latter usually given by Pillow dancers or dance historians. Nearly all of these ancillary programs are free.

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
"Measure for Measure"
"Hymn" was a study in character of two men who, later in life, discover that they are half-brothers. That was not a spoiler, as this knowledge comes early in the play. Not surprisingly, the men first met at their father's funeral. They are complete opposites in beliefs, demeanor, family issues, and dreams. Director Regge Life, kept the play and the actors' bodies and minds working constantly. Dance and song spoke to camaraderie as well as feigned joy between the brothers. The audience could see the end coming. This was the only way to properly complete the play. 

Two important facts to know about Shakespeare & Company: the campus has many theatres, both indoors and outdoors. Check the location before you go. Also, the venue's title might be confusing since only 50% of the plays are Shakespearian; the balance are relatively new works. 

"Hymn" finished its run  on August 28th. "Measure for Measure" runs through September 18th, and "Golden Leaf Rag Time Blues" will be produced September 23-October 30, 2022.

TurnPark, West Stockbridge
TurnPark, perhaps the newest venue on my Berkshire journey, is a mecca for sculpture. Always on the lookout for new art venues in the Berkshires, two years ago I discovered TurnPark by chance. My Plus 1 friend and I traversed the uneven ground and rocks high and low. It's a hiker's dream location. TurnPark's indoor exhibitions of art and sculpture are often unique. A lovely Russian couple showed us the terrain and the many professional huge sculpture pieces throughout the park. It was happenstance that their 16-acre location was on Moscow Road, West Stockbridge. 

No longer in its infancy, TurnPark has coupled architecture studies, performances in numerous genres, and nature. What was once a marble quarry has been recreated into a sculpture park. A natural rock formation on several layers of the ground looks as if it was already designed as seats in an ancient Roman theatre. TurnPark has grown incredibly since my last visit, hosting performances such as modern dance, stand-up comedy, poetry readings, as well as a Ukraine Fundraiser Event.

TurnPark's current exhibit is "New Works - New Walls," through October 31, 2022.

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
Illustrating Race through October 22, 2022

"Love is Wise"
The exhibit examines the role of published images in shaping attitudes toward race and culture. Over 300 artworks and objects produced from the late-18th century to today fill five exhibition rooms. The mission of the exhibit is to show the impact on public perception about race in the U.S. The exhibition explores stereotypical racial representations that have been imprinted through mass publication. It culminates with the creative accomplishments of contemporary artists and publishers who have shifted perspectives through the creation of positive, inclusive works of art, emphasizing equity for all.

Divided into three segments, the first is Historical Perspectives, which examines the history of racial stereotypes in illustration. The power of the images shaped opinions of many White Americans not only against African-Americans, but also Native, Asian who did not fit into the norm of the 18th - early 20th centuries.

The second section looks at the Harlem Renaissance through WWII. The study from Jim Crow laws to Black Pride to The Great Depression to NAACP. Oftentimes specially published magazines printed minority issues for all to read. Women became a large and intelligent force to recon with. 

The final selections of art, posters, images, and cartoons focuses on the 1950's to the present, including Civil Rights, racial unrest, emphasis of mass media. Coupled with these derogatory visual statements is the effort of noted illustrators who have worked to push a sense of hope and cultural pride for the next generation.

Note: Some text excerpts from NRM promotional material.

Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
Rodin in the U.S. through August 18, 2022

Who do you think is the most well-known sculptor of the ages? Probably Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), creator of his famous piece of art -- The Thinker. 

Rodin is considered the most innovative, influential, celebrated, and controversial sculptors of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. For 20 years, he worked for jewelers and masons. He honed his skill as a modeler of clay in other sculptors’ studios, taking evening art classes, and eventually setting up his own studio where he worked from live models. Rodin was interested in expressing human emotion, celebrating classical beauty of real human bodies. Some works expressed sexuality with an unapologetic frankness that was considered scandalous.

Rodin’s way of making sculpture was a blend of traditional and innovative techniques. He began by modeling clay, wax, or plaster to create three-dimensional works. Assistants then used the model to produce a mold, which would be cast in plaster. Rodin could produce multiples and even cut the plaster apart, recombining hands, legs, torsos, and heads to alter a composition, to form a completely new work. 

Surprisingly to me, Rodin never carved marble himself, but hired artisans who executed the carving.  He oversaw every aspect of the transition from clay model or plaster cast to stone. The copies in marble are not identical; the composition remains the same, but details differ, depending on the carver and on the shape of the marble block used.

Note: Some text excerpts from Clark promotion material.

Berkshire Quick-Takes

Artweek Berkshires, the Berkshires, Annual, free events show off works Berkshire artists from 9/15-25.

Berkshire libraries: offer discounted tix to just about everything in the arts; some for residents, some for visitors. 

Berkshire Scenic Railroad, Lenox,, takes passengers on a short, fun ride in an antique RR car, starts in Lenox.

Chesterwood, Stockbridge, www.chesterwood.org2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the
 Lincoln Memorial by Daniel Chester French.

HighLawn Dairy, Lee, www.highlawnfarm.comjust up the street from Big Y, are calves, cows & fresh milk. Demos are offered to groups.

The Pillow's Pillowtalk, Becket, www.jacobspillow.orgenjoy free lectures by dancers and dance historians in the rustic Art Gallery Barn.

Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, www.redlioninn.comreopened, the ground-floor Lion's Den musicians perform for the local & guests. 

Tanglewood, Lenox, concerts are now essentially bugless. I don't know what changed, but I'm happy. 

Williams College Art Museum, Williamstown, https://artmuseum.williams.eduamazing college facility, free, open all year to the general public.