Last post it was DownStreet, this post I begin Upstreet, Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District to be more accurate and precisely named. While my personal artistic focus has decidedly shifted from a largely active creating artist to that of a more advocacy centered approach, I have somehow eked out hours of time to put my work, and that of some of my brilliantly talented colleagues, into two successive “First Fridays Artswalk” showings. The first, covered in a previous edition of this blog, was during the September version at First United Methodist Church, as part of the “Pathways to Peace” special edition limited run.
Photograph (c)Barbara Schmick.
This time out was at Unusual Wedding Rings and More, 137 North Street, in the Crawford Square. Eight of my photography heroes and I are showing black and white photography there for the month of October. The exhibit, “It’s Complicated”, is one of those life as art, art as life kind of things, with my colleagues and I putting work up that explored some of the ins and outs of socialization centering in the creative sector of the human experience. Another previous post (click HERE) further illustrates.
Running late, as seems de rigueur since I moved to New Ashford, I found the scene gratifyingly hopping and buzzing with high energy when I arrived at the venue. Serious photographiacs and scenesters alike were excitedly milling about and finding a groove in the proceedings; all interesting stuff and nice confirmation of both the success of the theme and the popularity of my colleagues, the venue, and the “Artswalk” concept as a whole. Wonderful.
So as an arts blogger that normally makes Pittsfield’s “First Fridays Artswalk” a regular inspiration for a post and an advocacy project, I was torn between staying for the opening of a show I curated and hung, with colleagues Karen Schiltz and Susan Sabino most graciously helping and providing valuable support and assistance, and heading out and about for the excitement of more openings in this particularly strong line-up of top-rate arts experiences.
Photograph (c)Susan Sabino.
After a time of seeing, experiencing the concept of the show aloft, crawling, running, burrowing, and all manner of existentiallizing, I opted for a brief circumference and intersection with other things that were happening in the immediate area.
Photograph (c)Susan Sabino.
From Unusual Wedding Rings, my first step beyond was to make a mandatory visit to the Lichtenstein Center to absorb some of the brightly colored essence emanating from the walls, courtesy of Douglass Truth. I say mandatory because when a Douglass Truth show is on the walls locally, it is definitely a must see at some point. Truth, a long time stalwart of the area arts scene, returns to Pittsfield to show work after a hiatus with a gorgeously chosen selection of popular favorites to hang as a retrospective. “•Everything I Know • Paintings 1997-2013” is the title of the show.
Photograph (c)Susan Geller.
After enjoying the show at the Licht, my path took me over to the Onota Building for a stop in to see the tandem show on the walls there featuring the work of Lucie Castaldo and Holly MacDonald. Entitled “Anatemno: I Cut Up, Cut Open”, the two Hudson Valley artists “collaborate on an exhibition exploring a non-traditional look at human anatomy, using cut paper, fiber, and up-cycled materials.”
“Both artists referenced corporeal worlds. Castaldo’s ‘Pulmonary Avenues’, ‘Synathrosis’ and ‘Fontanels’ are clean, precision cut works of paper (made, coincidentally with a surgical knife). MacDonald’s work is the tactile opposite. Made of hunks of pulpy, red, felted wool, her works suggest flesh and giant cells. On the refreshment table, amidst the chips, guacamole, and gluten-free treats, I spied a little animated video of toasters zipping about a table doing a toaster dance of sorts. There was no title or associated information – curious.”
Photograph (c)Ramona Fabregas.
Beyond “Anatemno”, my steps brought me a short ways south and east to the Whitney Center for the Arts and the opening reception for “Hunger.” This exhibit features the photo realistic work of three artists working in pastel and acrylic. As the promotional material for the show states, Barbara Groff, Ria Hills, and Paul Snyder, have indeed created images that look good enough to eat.
So, with some sort of virus working against me and not feeling 100%, I cut my evening short here and decided to head back north to New Ashford to get some rest and to hopefully feel better prepared to start in onthe next day with a full slate of interests.
Saturday, I did feel marginally better, not all-in good, but I definitely wasn’t staying home; too many wonderful sights and sounds to be a part of. My first order of business was to head back to some of the “Artswalk” venues to have a look at a few highlights that I missed the evening before.
First “Artswalk” redux stop was to have a closer, slower look at Douglass Truth’s work at the Lichtenstein. Important exhibits are always nice to experience the excitement and thrill of an opening, but also need to be savored in the more subdued ambience of a second post reception viewing.
After the Licht, like a proud parent, wink, I did stop in for a quick look again at “It’s Complicated.” Still complicating, but happy for all and so glad it came together in the way it did thematically, schematically, and emphatically well for everyone. Congrats Nick De Candia, Susan Geller, Ken Green, Alan Hayes, Grier Horner, Lisa Merullo, Susan Sabino, and Karen Schiltz!
Further north in the Brothership Building storefront window space is Michael Vincent Bushy’s “Ossuary.” This block print installation is a nice culmination and arrangement of many works of slightly smaller than scale human bones.
ˈ Syllabification: (os·su·ar·y)
Pronunciation: /ˈäSHo͞oˌerē, ˈäs(y)o͞o-/
noun (plural ossuaries)
a container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed.
Beyond Bushy’s seasonally appropriate display, I visited Steven Valenti’s Clothing for Men. Here, Denise B Chandler is showing, “Color and Form: Fine Art of Denise B Chandler” a beautiful display of recent photographs. “Reflections”, another solo show of recent work, opened Saturday as well at Stockbridge Coffee and Tea. Chandler will be opening a third solo, “Eyes on View” at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace Café on November 1.
Next up was an exterior view of the latest BCC Intermodal Gallery offering. This show features the charcoal and pastel drawings of students J. McNutt and Janet Richardson in a show titled “Passions Reflected in Art.” Fitting perhaps that I would be outside looking in and incorporating window reflections into my photographic documentation of this one.
Working my way back, I was again struck by the way reflections paired well with the artwork being shown in Kinderhook Realty. Claudia Shuster is showing lovely examples of her fine art portraiture work here. Shuster, one of the artists with a studio at NU Arts gallery + studios, is available for portraiture commissions should one be interested in working with her on a project.
The Marketplace Café was the last stop on this post openings “Artswalk” tour. Morris Bennett is showing a selection of his abstract work there. Bennett’s method of working here is to approach the work from all four sides of the surface, rather than choosing one orientation and leaving it that way on an easel throughout the process of painting the piece. Influenced by nature and music, the work draws the viewer in and playfully challenges one’s perception of space and composition.
Having temporarily appeased the “Artswalk” yen, the next order on the day’s menu/agenda was to spend some more time at the Whitney Center for the Arts. This visit was for the purpose of enjoying a chamber music concert there performed by a trio on baroque instruments.
The group, consisting of Anne Legêne, Susan Ogata, and Larry Wallach, performed on viola da gamba, Klotz violin, and harpsichord respectively. Performance pieces included Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 B Minor, Gamba Sonata in G Major, and a Buxtehude Trio.
The music here was utterly transporting and delivered with impassioned precision. It was a very special delight and wonderfully indicative of the direction in programming the Center is moving towards.
In addition to the performance pieces, the three members also gave background summaries describing the history, construction, and function of their respective instruments. These summaries were interjected over the course of the program and were followed by the presenter being the featured instrumentalist in the piece immediately following the presentation.
The viola da gamba, Anne Legêne informs, originally was considered an instrument of regal status, as its size and construction costs economically dictated, while the violin was considered “low-class” and common. Over course of history, though, the instrument fell out of favor. It is fretted and chorded like a guitar and, unlike the cello, the bow is held underhand.
Susan Ogata said her instrument was produced by the Klotz family and because of the era it was made in, is considered an historical violin that is different in many regards from its modern counterpart. In terms of the neck, it is angled less back and as such, the gut strings have less tension, providing a sound that more deeply resonates than the modern version. The bow is shorter as well and has a more outward curve to it. The instrument also was made prior to the time that the chin rest was developed.
Harpsichordist Larry Wallach talked about his instrument last, describing it as a modern construction that is historically correct to earlier versions. It is a single manual (one keyboard) version constructed from a single butternut tree by a maker in Norfolk, CT named Carl Dudash. Harpsichords operate via plucked strings, as opposed to hammered, are wider than pianos, and have much finer, delicate strings.
Following the performance and presentations, a wine reception and meet the musicians session was held, which I would have enjoyed staying for, but time and my schedule did not allow for.
The Housatonic Valley Art League’s small works show was next in line for the day’s activities. This annual event is a popular and well-received happening that takes place traditionally in the Welles Gallery, located in a separate wing on the southern side of the Lenox Library. It is a nice showcase for some smaller scale work by the League’s artists and often used as a proving ground for experiments and departures from an artist’s usual way of working. As a Board Member and Vice President of the League, it was also a good opportunity to touch base and discuss League matters with other Board members.
Heading further into South County, my next stop was at Sohn Fine Art in Stockbridge to attend the opening reception of the latest show there. “NUDE” is a fabulous group show featuring the work of gallery artists John Atchley, Peggy Braun, John Clarke, Greg Gorman, Eric Korenman, Hildy Kronen, Jack Krove, Mona Mark, Matuschka, Irmari Nacht, Lincoln Russell, Cassandra Sohn, and Savannah Spirit.
The work here covers a broad range of styles and voicings on the subject and includes “Gustav Klimt-like monoprint photographs by Peggy Braun, Hitchcock-era hand-toned silver gelatin prints by Hildy Kronen, Kama Sutra book sculptures by Irmari Nacht, and paranormal panoramic scenes by Lincoln Russell.”
Attesting to the popularity and exciting success of the show, normally when one arrives very near the end, one can expect a substantially thinned crowd. When I arrived with 20 minutes left to go during the scheduled time, the crowd still spilt substantially out into the dusking street.
After this most southerly stop during the day’s travels, I turned again northward for the last. To the Lichtenstein again it was for a poignant, to understatedly say the least, program of readings by Douglass Truth and piano by Evan Lurie. The collaboration of paintings, spoken word, and music was thoroughly complete and, for the second use of the word in this blog piece, transporting.
Truth profoundly covered all the big topics in open, heartfelt language, while Lurie soloed and at times wove his own symbiotic compositions into and around the fabric of Truth’s spoken words. And the paintings, of course, punctuated in sentinel-like correspondence. If you missed, wise things to do? Go see the exhibit. Buy or borrow Mr. Truth’s books.
And, we are at the end of another arts indie blog entry. Hope you have enjoyed, shared in some of the experiences, either in person or somewhat vicariously. One more quick reminder before the very end, this Thursday, 6PM is the Creative Social @ the Whit. It is a casual networking event designed to be relaxed and pleasurably productive. Hope you can stop in to the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, see old friends and make new, and have a nice time talking and sharing in the open, creative environment. See you? Hope so!