My favorite time of the year commences - here's to crisp & brisk days!
September 29, 2011
September 25, 2011
|photo by jhsinger|
This past weekend we went to the opening of Stephen Vitiello's All Those Vanished Engines at Mass Moca. A site-specific sound installation, Vitiello opened the boiler room, an edifice located in the museum's park & adjacent to the main galleries building, exposing it to the elements by removing the roof & many of its windows so that weather could get in & slowly work at dissolving the remaining guts of the system. The past several days saw more rain, which instead of dampening the spirit of the event actually enhanced it, sending drips of water cascading throughout the building, & leaving reflective pools of water where sloughed off minerals collected along the floor. Vitiello installed lighting & sound throughout, using the organ-like structures to their best effect as resonators & reflectors.
Using a text written by novelist Paul Park specifically for the installation, the sounds & narrative, according to Park, "recall the history of the building as both a producer of sounds as well as a structure haunted by its production. After all, sound was what had animated the entire structure, in memory, and in the actual past, and was still animating it, for example, right now."
Also opening was Jane Philbrick's exquisitely landscaped work, The Expanded Field, which embraced the industrial setting & architecture of the museum's history & integrated interactive elements. Swings suspended from a bridge which cuts along one edge of the museum's grounds, as well as stone & rammed earth structures that hinted at buildings & structures past & held the air of recently uncovered ruins, created a compelling & usable space where museum visitors can sit & gather.
Open to the public was Michael Oatman's The Shining, a 1970s-era airstream space ship that appears to have crash-landed on the museum's grounds. Part of a project entitled All Utopias Fell, Oatman's resurrection of the laboratory & dwelling of Donald Carusi, an enigmatic former employee of the the Sprague Electronics Company, the company that occupied the buildings previous to the museum, add to the mystery of the man's life. The customized craft was accessible from a stairwell & catwalk leading out from the boiler room, & held the air of a hermit's lifework laboratory: the Library of the Sun filled with inspirational & informational books, lines of canned food, rows of yarn gods' eyes that adorned what looked to be light-tubes or fuses, & choppy & grainy films that suggested ancient solar mythologies flickering on the 'cockpit' screen. The craft overlooks Codex Solis, a series of panels of solar energy collectors which provide 7% of Mass MoCA's consumed power, which cryptically beat out a coded rooftop message based on an unnamed quotation.
The opening itself was spirited & atmospheric, taking place under a steely gray sky & on top of ground that was wet & squishy despite straw strewn about to accommodate patrons' well-shod feet. While enjoying delicious local craft brews from The People's Pint, we were delighted to see an elaborate example of a parachute skirt worn, made by artist J. Morgan Puett & worn by the stylish Jennifer Trainor Thompson, Director of Development at the museum, as though she'd floated down from Oatman's silver lozenge to join the crowd.
In what turned out to be the perfect ending to a perfect day, the ride home found us wending our way at spectacular sunset through the Berkshires to avoid storm damaged & closed roads. Following the instructions printed out succinctly on small white strips & handed to us by an enthusiastic & knowledgeable museum staffer, we wove through valleys along the Deerfield River via back roads that were often whittled down to one lane where the river had chewed away its banks, or run-off from the mountains had washed passage away; at one point we had to ford a stream that had bedded down underneath a railway bridge. Arrestingly beautiful but filled with graphic reminders of our region's recent battle with flooding, we were awed by the destructive power of an element that likewise contains so much in the way of inspiration & beauty.
September 20, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 14, 2011
September 11, 2011
This weekend finds me feeling a bit under the weather, undoubtedly the stresses of the past month catching up. Fresh line-dried linens on the bed, a couple of warm & furry cats, a soundtrack by my fabulous d.j. husband, gallons of herbal tea & a knitting project are the best prescriptions I can think of.
Here's to quieter & gentler days...
September 5, 2011
Ever walk into a place & are stunned to find that what you see is exactly what you needed to see right at that moment? Kristin Zottoli & Barbara Minot's show at Through the Music Gallery was just what the doctor ordered, as far as I was concerned.
Kristin Zottoli's gorgeous small scale textured drawings & constructions invite you to get up close & peer into them, & beg to be touched. Zottoli uses materials she finds around her in her daily life, such as tiny mosaics made with diced paint chip samples that create small, studded drawings within delicate & detailed assemblages. Inspired by her work with the blind, her pieces often include braille paper & raised surfaces. She records landscapes while driving, drawing without looking down at the paper & blindly recording her navigations, the resulting sinuous lines a beautiful tracing of her path. What better metaphor for life?
Beautifully complimenting each others' work, Kristin shared the gallery with fellow artist & map maker Barbara Milot, whose wonderful, contemplative works incorporate ink, watercolor, wire, thread, metal & drawings juxtaposed on empyrean photographs of water & air.
Barbara's interest lies in the contrast of the natural & manmade; uncontrollable forces paired with systems created to contain & structure, & immense spaces depicted in an exaggeratedly small scale. As she explains in her artist's statement:
As maps impose an interpretation and organization on the environment, my linear wire configurations impose an unrelated diagram on the spaces depicted in the photographs. I want the original images to be disturbed, and the meanings altered, by the superimposed structures.
Through the Music Gallery always has something inspiring & worth seeing; I feel very fortunate that we have them in our community.
September 4, 2011
downtown & neighboring areas were hit hard by Irene, which followed a path up the Connecticut River valley when it hit New England. Most of the effects were delayed, as the winds that we expected never materialized when the hurricane was (thankfully) downgraded to a tropical storm before it arrived at our doorsteps. The results of the storm crept up later, & many had breathed a sigh of relief once the storm had passed as the effects didn't seem as brutal as predicted. However, unbeknownst to many, the smaller tributaries that collected the heavy rains & ran downstream amassed to create the record-breaking flood levels & destruction we soon saw. Many of us have spent the past week trying to get a hold of friends & family in outlying towns who are cut off by damaged roads, no cell phone or internet reception & downed phone lines, as well as beginning to clean up the damage that was done to homes & businesses.
We were very lucky & were spared any damage to our home, however, the vintage shop that has employed me for the past few months took a heavy hit, as well as many friends' businesses & neighborhoods. Our Farmer's Market was hit especially hard, but the incredible sense of community in our little hamlet brought people out in droves to patch the torn up pieces of land together & get the market up & running again this past weekend. It was a truly remarkable & inspirational feat, & just one of many such stories we've seen & experienced & have had the honor to participate in ourselves this past week.
The work continues, so I imagine my posts will be patchy over the next few weeks. Be safe, & take care of each other!