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Peeping Leaves from a New Perspective: Your Guide to a Fabulous Fall Weekend in the Northern Berkshires

By Julia Leonardos

Bags of apples straight from the orchard line your pantry. Your stoop is overrun with decorative gourds and festive hay bales. You’ve swapped your shorts and t-shirts for cardigans and lacquered leather boots. You spent the last three hours bushwhacking your way out of a corn maze, your house smells like the Yankee Candle store and Starbucks had a baby, and the Monday Night Football theme song echoes constantly throughout your hallways. That’s right, folks, fall is upon us: nature’s final, fiery burst of beauty before crisp air turns frigid and brilliant trees become barren.

Fall is a pretty big deal out here in the northern Berkshires and so is the weekend that lands closest to the date of October 12. Some call it Columbus Day Weekend, but I’ll refer to it as most Berkshire locals do: the peak of leaf-peeping season. Yes, it is this weekend that the leaf peepers pack up their cars and head to the Berkshires from all directions to see the leaves at their most vivid. And we welcome you, leaf peepers, with open arms, warm hearts, and plenty of picture-perfect landscapes for you to Instagram, no filter required.

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After a while, though, staring at trees can get a little boring. We get it — you might get hungry, decide to do some activities, or feel a sudden, overwhelming urge to stare at something else (maybe some art?) for a few hours. That’s where we come in. MASS MoCA and a bevy of other northern Berkshire institutions are here for you if (and when) you decide you want to peep some leaves from a new perspective this weekend. Here’s our guide for the upcoming fall weekend, designed to enhance your leaf peeping with art, events, food, and merriment…

 

Day 1: Friday, October 10
Arrive at the Porches Inn in North Adams, MA, after work, then, head to Public for dinner and drinks. By 8pm, be at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for The Source, Beth Morrison Projects’ latest music-theater work-in-progress. It’s all about Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning’s decision to leak the most classified material ever released to the public, and the worldwide media hysteria that ensued. The Source premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on October 22, so this is an exclusive chance to be a part of the process and see the show before it premieres.

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Day 2: Saturday, October 11

View the Radical Words, Make it New, and Raw Color exhibitions at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown before they come down. In the evening, head back to MASS MoCA for the opening reception of Lee Boroson’s Plastic Fantastic, in Building 5, our largest gallery space (yes, that’s the gallery where Xu Bing’s Phoenix was) at 5pm. You can make reservations for the reception here. Next up, just a few steps away in Building 10, is guitar hero Gary Lucas, who is playing his original live score to the 1935 Chinese cinematic touchstone The Goddess (for only the second time in North America!) up in Club B-10, starting at 8pm. That leaves you plenty of time to chow down on some burritos/sandwiches/ice cream at Lickety Split in between the opening and the show.
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Day 3: Sunday, October 12
In the morning, dive into the 900-acre Berkshire wood for some up-close and personal leaf-peeping at Ramblewild forest adventure park. You can zipline, swing, climb, and slide from tree to tree on one of their many forest trails. If you’re like me and you want to have both of your feet on solid ground as often as humanly possible, you can also (free of charge) take a meditative walk in the forest as you watch the other members of your party jump from tree to tree above you.

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In the afternoon, head to the MASS MoCA galleries to relax and rejuvenate by taking in all of our exhibitions at your own pace. As you head home, look out your car window and admire the rolling Berkshire mountain range that has inspired so many literary greats, and Instagram a couple photos so your friends know that you did, in fact, take in some foliage during your fall weekend in the northern Berkshires.

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Posted October 9, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Exhibitions, Lickety Split, North Adams, Openings, Theater, Uncategorized
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FreshGrass and R.O.P.E.S Team up for FreshGround

By Alliey Pevay

With FreshGrass around the corner, I am busy readying the campground for festival-goers. I have realized that FreshGround camping has become an important part of the North Adams community since its inception. As a resident of this city, it is exciting to see its culture intertwines with the culture of MASS MoCA and the bluegrass festival. A portion of camping pass proceeds is given to the R.O.P.E.S. program, which in turn provides organization and logistics to operate the campground, while a local sports team often provides concessions. In the past, campers from R.O.P.E.S. have helped lay out campsites in addition to helping FreshGround campers move in their gear.

R.O.P.E.S. is a camp run by local law enforcement and emergency personnel. The acronym stands for “Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem.” Campers divide into six teams, each led by an officer, and are challenged by low and high ropes courses to encourage teamwork and friendly competition, as well as overcome difficult obstacles physically and mentally.

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Each course has a different objective and a new lesson to be learned. One example of this would be the “Leap of Faith.” This obstacle is a high ropes course in which a camper is hooked to a harness and grounded (via a thick climbing rope) by his or her group leader. A call-and-response communication method is used: a camper starts with, “Team can I trust you?” and the team echoes back, “You can trust us.” “Spotters ready?” comes next, with the leader responding, “Spotters ready.” Finally: “Ready to climb?” and the leader responds, “Climb away.” The camper then begins ascending thirty-five feet up the pegs hammered into a tree until he or she reaches a one square foot platform. Once at the platform, the camper is challenged to leap in an attempt to touch or grab a ball hanging about three feet away before flying back down to the ground.

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As a young camper, I sat on that platform and was too scared to jump, as both my leader and teammates yelled up to me that I would be okay and could make the leap. Eventually someone suggested that I climb back down, and I did so with haste. After one year of R.O.P.E.S., campers may return as mentors who assist leaders in getting the kids through the obstacles. As a mentor, I still was afraid of the aforementioned course, but somehow the campers talked me into putting that harness and helmet back on and trying again. As I reached the platform and gazed down at my team, I was struck again with fear. This time, as my leader picked me up off my feet and scooted me closer to the edge, I heard one camper yell that I would be doing push-ups for the rest of the week if I did not jump. So I laughed and took the plunge and on my way down learned that trust really is key to any relationship.

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As a member of the R.O.P.E.S. program, not only did I learn about teamwork, trust, respect, and all the other usual camp “take-aways,” but having law enforcement officials trust me with campers up in a tree while they set up the next event taught me a great deal about responsibility and accountability as a mentor. This experience gave me the opportunity to take the work I did and use it to form connections through my teenage years and into adulthood. As an intern for FreshGrass I now work with Lieutenant Dave Sacco – who I know well as the head of R.O.P.E.S. – as we map out campsites for the FreshGround area.

R.O.P.E.S. is not only meaningful to me, but to many North Adams families. Having a positive, organic experience with law enforcement has the ability to open the eyes of local youth. The proceeds from each FreshGround camping pass help the program continue growing for years to come, and for that I am grateful.

If you want further information check out R.O.P.E.S.’ website, as well as MASS MoCA’s website for tickets to FreshGrass.

Posted September 10, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, FreshGrass, Interns, North Adams, Uncategorized
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A Kid's Summer at MASS MoCA

By the MASS MoCA Education Team

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-12

Want to feel like a kid again? Take a look inside MASS MoCA’s summer art camps!

Jen

During the week of July 28, our Melody Makers camp created their own musical instruments and constructed a musical obstacle course.  The Bang On A Can musicians, who were in residence at MASS MoCA during the month of July, came by each day and shared their talents with our campers. The Melody Makers tried out instruments ranging from the musical saw to a one-of-a-kind silent guitar that can only be heard through a stethoscope.

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-14

This week our Story Spinners campers are creating shadow puppets, character masks, and elaborate sets and costumes to bring their original tales to life.

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During the last two weeks of August, art camps will continue with the Garden Gnomes & Fairies and Art Ninjas camps. Campers can expect to create fairy and gnome homes in the forest and hone their ninja skills in our expansive galleries.

Come get messy with us next summer or join us sooner for our February break camp!

Kids Teresita

Teresita Fernández, Black Sun (2014). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Posted August 6, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Kidspace, Museum Education, North Adams
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Hardware 15% off for 15 Years

HARDWARE: the MASS MoCA Store and MASS MoCA by Design are having a store-wide, 15% off sale on May 24th in celebration of the museum’s anniversary. Everything in the stores will be 15% for the general public, and an additional 15% off for MASS MoCA members (who already receive a 10% discount on all purchases). Phyllis Criddle is the Retail Manager/Buyer for  both stores and here she shares her picks for what you should look out for next time you’re at the museum.

wastebaskets

These adorable little plastic bins are ready to gobble up your garbage!  16” tall and designed in Denmark, they are available at both Hardware and MASS MoCA By Design. $36 each. Choose from black, green, blue, or pink.

earrings

These fabric button earrings are designed and made by local artist Emily Morris. No two quite alike, we have plenty of styles and colors to choose from! Only $9 each, available at Hardware.

hats

Direct yourself here! Our new baseball hats feature the exact GPS coordinates of MASS MoCA embroidered on the front, and “MASS MoCA” on the back. Available in both red and black. $30 each.

peacock book

The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet is a children’s picture book about fitting in… It is for sale at Hardware in honor of Darren Waterston’s work Filthy Lucre, which features several breathtaking golden peacock paintings. $8.95. Paperback.

madspots

Madspots are large, round, reusable stickers which can be used to decorate your house and car with fun and distinction! Designed by Meredith Alex from Portland, ME. Choose from a variety of available colors and patterns at Hardware. Each pack contains 12 spots of assorted size stickers. $32.

bunny hat

This unique pink bunny mask was made by Huck Delsignore from Pittsfield, MA. It is crocheted yarn over a wire frame, with an adjustable baseball hat base inside for comfort. A one-of-a-kind, truly spectacular piece of work. $320 and available at Hardware. Additional one-of-a-kind masks by Huck are available.

Posted May 21, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Hardware, MASS MoCA by Design, North Adams, Staff, Uncategorized
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Tree Logic Right-side Up

By Joseph Thompson
Director, MASS MoCA

Last Sunday our family took a picnic hike up Stone Hill to check out progress on Tadao Ando’s work at the Clark, and on the way up we visited Natalie Jeremijenko’s first-generation Tree Logic.

Joe's Trees

By first generation, I mean five of the first six Blaze Maples that Natalie drafted into service for the upside-down bio-sculpture that marks the entrance to MASS MoCA’s front door.  The “girls” are doing just fine, by the way, fully budded and regal.  (John Carli of our staff declared them to be girls, not me, but he has earned full rights to impart whatever gender he wants, since he’s tended the trees over these past 15 years).  It’s interesting:  with each passing year there is less and less evidence of Gen 1’s initial existence as experimental indices – the resultant vectors of the gravitropic force of an earth from which they were liberated and the phototropic force of a sun to which they yearned.  That’s my daughter, Izzy, enduring a phototropic effect all her own.

As we looped around Stone Hill, and onto the pastures above The Clark, this exciting view opened up.

Joe Clark

As you can just make out looking through the screen of bare trees, a stack of three trapezoidal reflecting pools/skating rinks have recently been lined with a bright white material:  The geometric shapes are commanding in scale, and central to the overall Ando design, which is in many ways more about landscape, and the framing of views, than about buildings.  The Clark was brave and correct to have retained the pools within the project scope, when I’m sure there were many opportunities along the way to lose them in the name of value engineering.

Walking past the construction site, it occurred to me that our friends at the Clark are probably a bit nervous with the number of heavy vehicles still lingering on their site this spring, but it is always amazing how much work gets done in two months … especially landscaping, which comes together fast, and at the last minute.

This great project is transformative in so many ways, important to all the Berkshires, but especially to those of us within its immediate orbit. I suggest a walk on Stone Hill before the greening of the trees to take it in:  The ambition and etched precision of the project become immediately clear from a high southerly vantage point.  And see if you can find the Tree Logic Gen 1 on the way up.  That’s Trainer and Jennifer with Izzy.

Posted May 1, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, North Adams, Staff, Tree Logic
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Alt Cabs: Where Are They Now?

Our Alt Cabaret series presenting work by emerging performing artists has exposed Berkshire County to lots of unique talent over the years. Beyond bringing unconventional originality to MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 or Courtyard CafĂ©, these artists come away from their performances here with more fans and a clearer path toward greatness. (And so many of them have truly ascended to greatness!)

So the question is, where are these artists now? 

Living Colour’s Corey Glover played a Valentine’s Day weekend show at MASS MoCA on Saturday, February 15, 2003, focusing on songs of love and yearning. His hard-rock edge combined with soulful vocals simultaneously soothed and energized the audience that filled Club B-10.

So where is Glover now? In 2006, he started co-headlining a national tour of Jesus Chris Superstar, a rock opera by Andrew Lloyed Webber, where he assumed the role of Judas with rock and roll drummer, singer, actor, composer, and record producer Ted Neeley. In 2008, he rejoined Living Colour; the band released their fifth album, The Chair in the Doorway, in 2009. A year later, Glover toured with Galactic, a funk and jazz jam band, and in 2011 he recorded his second solo. This year, Glover has been on tours and on the Conan O’Brien TBS show with Galactic and Soul Rebels Brass Band.

Glover as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar

Glover with Living Colour

New York City-based Antony and the Johnsons brought orchestral pop to MASS MoCA on Saturday, March 8, 2003, in conjunction with the opening of MASS MoCA’s Fantastic exhibit, which explored fantastic and outlandish utopian ideals. Antony’s captivating alto voice, along with a velvety combination of strings, bass, piano, and drums took the audience’s breath away. The band’s melodies seemed other-worldly in themselves, making it the perfect partner for Fantastic. 

After their visit to MASS MoCA, Antony and the Johnsons produced several more albums. In 2005, their album I Am a Bird Now won the Mercury Prize for the best UK album. In 2006, they pitched TURNING, an autobiographical film about their journey as musicians. Their third album, 2009’s The Crying Light, ranked number one on the European Billboard charts. The band toured through North America and Europe, concluding the trip at the 2009 Manchester International Festival. Antony and the Johnson’s 2010 album Swanlights received high praise – Stereogum ranked the album eighth in its Top 50 Albums of the Year. The band has performed on Later with Jools Holland and The Late Show with David Letterman. Click here to watch their performance.

Antony performing at the Manchester Opera House

Canadian-American singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright brought her unique style of folk-rock to MASS MoCA on Saturday, August 21, 2004. Wainwright’s success in the Berkshires foreshadowed her ultimate breakthrough as a performing artist.

In 2005, Wainwright released her self-titled debut album, and in 2008 she released her second album, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, both produced by Brad Albetta. Her brother Rufus Wainwright and her mother Kate McGarrigle, also a Canadian folk singer-songwriter, contributed to the album, along with The Who’s Pete Townshed, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, and The Band’s Garth Hudson. Wainwright’s performance at Leonard Cohen’s tribute concert was featured in the film and album, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (click here to watch her live). In 2007, she performed at Bonnaroo and Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, collaborated with her brother at the Hollywood Bowl, and partnered with over twenty female artists to create Sing, a single released on World AIDS Day to raise awareness about the transmission of HIV.

Wainwright in concert

Wainwright and her brother Rufus

Brooklyn-based comedian Eugene Mirman brought his wit and silly humor to MASS MoCA on July 3, 2009, leaving his spectators with full-fledged smiles and aching bellies from laughing so hard.

He is known now for his roles on Flight of the Concords, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and much more. In 2009 the Village Voice recognized Mirman as the Best New York City Comedian, and Paste Magazine ranked him as one of the top ten best comedians in the last ten years. Eugene has released three comedy albums, and published a book titled The Will To Whateva. Every Sunday night, Mirman, along with Julie Smith and Caroline Creaghead, performs a comedy show called Pretty Good Friends. These three jokesters also created the annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, which both celebrates and mocks such events.

Providence, RI’s The Low Anthem came to MASS MoCA on Saturday, March 5, 2011 and hypnotized the public with their vintage instruments and warm melodies. Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowski formed the band in 2006, and now they have four singles and four albums. Indie folk enthusiasts are calling them the next Bon Iver.

Since their enchanting performance at MASS MoCA, The Low Anthem has partnered with British folk rock band Mumford and Sons, toured with folk rock singer-songwriter Iron and Wine, and hosted the Newport Folk Backstage Benefit (July 30, 2011) with Deer Tick’s John McCauley to support the Newport Festivals Foundation. They also performed at Jazzfest in New Orleans and at the first Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, UK in 2011.  Their cover Stories of the Street was featured on the tribute CD The Songs of Leonard Cohen. The band also collaborated with T Bone Burnett on Lover is Childlike, for the soundtrack of 2012’s The Hunger Games, a film based on the eponymous novel by Suzanne Collins. The Low Anthem recorded a self-produced soundtrack for Arcadia, an indie film by Olivia Silver, which won a Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in February. The Low Anthem also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman (click here to watch) and opened for Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band at SXSW in March.

Newport Folk Festival (2010)

The Low Anthem

Part concert, part performance piece, and part electrifying call to action, The Love Show appeared at MASS MoCA on Saturday, October 1, 2011. Featuring five of New York’s most powerful and soulful vocalists, including 1999 Grammy Award nominee Carla Cook and internationally acclaimed singer and WNYC/WQXR/Q2 radio host Helga Davis, The Love Show offered MASS MoCA a riveting and sublime celebration of the concept of love thy neighbor as thyself.

New York-based artist Helga Davis co-starred in The Temptation of St. Anthony, directed by Robert Wilson, from 2001-2006. Since 2007, starred in The Blue Planet, written by Peter Greenaway and directed by Saskia Boddeke, and appeared in VOX, the Contemporary American Opera Lab run by the City Opera of New York. She earned a leading role in the iconic Robert Wilson/Philip Glass production of Einstein on the Beach, and performed in Elsewhere with cellist Maya Beiser and Oceanic Verses by Paola Prestini. Jazz singer/songwriter Carla Cook’s debut album, It’s All About Love (1999), received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. In 2000 she won the AFIM Indie Award for Best Jazz Vocal, released two more albums, and recorded a rendition of Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which appeared on jazz percussionist Steve Kroon’s album, Without A Doubt (2011). She formed The Carla Cook Quintet, and digitally recorded her voice for Sony PlayStation games.

Carla Cook in concert

Written by Hannah Schiff

Posted June 1, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Alternative Cabaret, Artist Spotlight, BLOG, North Adams, The Low Anthem, Uncategorized
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