Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Celebrating Community Exhibit

The City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) African American Biography Project, the Samuel Harrison Society, and the Upper Housatonic Valley African-American Heritage Trail are joining forces to present an exhibition celebrating Pittsfield’s African-American culture and heritage. Celebrating Community: Pittsfield’s African-American Heritage” will be on display at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in downtown Pittsfield from Wednesday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, March 8.

An opening reception will be held Saturday, Feb. 14, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and is free and open to the public. The opening reception will have a special focus on collecting images and stories of love, family and relationship within the Berkshires’ African-American community in honor of Valentine’s Day.

The “Celebrating Community” exhibition is in two parts. First, is an installation designed by MCLA Graphic Designer Leon Peters that serves as a guide to African-American history and sites in downtown Pittsfield. This installation coincides with the release of a new brochure that features African-American heritage sites in Pittsfield. The second half is a collection of photographic portraits of contemporary members of Pittsfield’s African-American community by Pittsfield photographer Ernie Kirk.

“Celebrating Community” also includes the opportunity to collect memories, images, and oral histories from the Pittsfield community by videographer Mati Kin in order to continue and expand the story of Pittsfield African-American community, which has had a history and presence here since the Revolutionary War.

Pittsfield has been home to a number of prominent African-Americans. The city was the birthplace of Ulysses “Frank” Grant, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who is widely considered the best African-American baseball player of the 19th century. Pittsfield also was home to the renowned clergyman and civil rights advocate and author, the Reverend Samuel Harrison, who successfully fought for equal pay for African-American Union soldiers during the Civil War. The city also is the childhood home of astronaut Stephanie Wilson, the second African-American woman in space.

Community, church and school groups who wish to schedule a day to visit the exhibit and/or contribute oral histories are encouraged to send an e-mail to Please include the group or organization name, preferred day and time, as well as a contact name and phone number. There will also be an opportunity to scan family photographs and share family recipes and stories.

Artscape Spotlight this Week: "A Story of Solitude"

Artscape is a public outdoor art exhibition that spans the entire downtown Pittsfield area. The exhibition has been ongoing for a number of years, with exciting new additions in each new year. Artscape includes sculptures, banners, and street signs that energize and add whimsy and beauty to our city.

Notable this week: "A Story of Solitude" by Lydia Musco

Standing on North Street between the St. Joseph's Church and the Greystone building is a tall lonesome structure. At seven foot three, such an object would be hard to miss, but it is odd knowing that so many people walk right by it without giving it much thought. Rightly named "A Story of Solitude," artist Lydia Musco put together a sculpture that places emphasis on structure, foundation, weight, time, and existence. The Artscapes around Pittsfield are quite impressive; to stand the test of time and weather is more than noteworthy considering that every artist who participated had to take such factors into account during the construction of each of their pieces. The work that Lydia Musco put together is no exception. At a glance, the sculpture looks to be nothing more than a column of reds, browns, and some greens. On the contrary, it is much more than that. The structure is composed of a stack of irregular slabs of concrete that display an imperceptible yet invoking presence. When studied up close, there are visual cracks and breaks in the structure possibly from weathering, but it still stands tall and independently regardless of which. It seems to exist by its own will despite its appointed state of solitude. Such a figure is epic.

Below is Musco's statement:

"Although this work is influenced by urban environments, it is equally fed by a connection to the rural, wooded landscapes I explored while growing up. My process is informed by methods associated with pouring building foundations, ancient Greek construction of columns, the formation of sedimentary layers, and the work of gravity. I'm thinking about the forms inherent in the accumulation and passage of time, specifically focusing on layers and the building up of a larger form with the stacking of multiple elements."

You can read more about Musco here:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Artscape Spotlight this Week: "Macresco"

Artscape is a public outdoor art exhibition that spans the entire downtown Pittsfield area. The exhibition has been ongoing for a number of years, with exciting new additions in each new year. Artscape includes sculptures, banners, and street signs that energize and add whimsy and beauty to our city.

Notable this week: "Macresco" by Drew Goerlitz

Right outside of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, there is an unexpected work of art. Composed out of an unlikely duo of materials, paper and steel, this sculpture demonstrates an amazing display of strength and balance. Artist, Drew Goerlitz, built this piece from the ground up and entitled it, "Macresco." It's name is just as powerful and appealing as the actual sculpture. Through sunshine, rain, sleet, and snow it stands tall and unmovable.

Below is Goerlitz's statement:

Through my sculpture I explore the synthesis of line, negative shape, mass, and stability. My sculpture remains simplistic, although there is a complexity, not in its appearance but contained within the struggle of weight and balance. This combination evokes a feeling of tension and suggests utility. The function of these sculptures is social, political, and most of all personal. It can be one or all of these things. Its elements, paper and steel, force upon us the idea of our society and the roles that industry and communication take in our lives.

You can read more about Gorelitz here:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Conneticut's Avery Ensemble Performs Ancient and Modern Music Celebrating and Making Light of Love

Saturday, February 21 at 7:30 pm Avery Ensemble will appear in the second concert of their series entitled All’s Fair in Love and War?! at the Lichtenstein Arts Center, 28 Renne Ave., in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Individual tickets are $20 (student and children’s tickets are half-price). The ensemble’s regular personnel, Adriana Jarvis—harpsichord, Annie TrĂ©panier—violin, Steve Larson—viola, and Hans Twitchell—cello & bass viol, will be joined by special guests mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn and violinist Victoria Ferris.

Featuring music for harpsichord, baroque violin, bass viol, mezzo-soprano, strings and electronics by Rameau, Monteverdi, Caccini, Carlo Farina, Mahler and John Adams, this February concert, Fools Rush In, considers the risks of impulsive commitments to love or aggression in a light, fast-paced and humorous program.

The first half features the ensemble in its guise as an early music consort beginning with Rameau’s Quatrieme Concert—a dazzling virtuoso showpiece for Ms. Jarvis at the harpsichord with baroque violin and bass viol accompaniment. The early baroque set of love songs, as well as Mahler’s Rheinlegendchen, later in the program, will feature glamorous guest mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn.

Carlo Farina’s hilarious and wonderful 1627 Capriccio Stravagante will introduce the fiery guest violinist Victoria Ferris in a work that mocks extravagant caprices of amorous or military nature with onomatopoetic invocations of everything from Il Pifferino della Soldatesca e il tamburo to the peculiar sound made by cats during a certain phase of their hormonal cycle.

John’s Book of Alleged Dances (1994) by America’s most popular living composer of art music, John Adams, is an electronically enhanced romp with which the ensemble celebrates dance’s role in courtship. It is a Saturnalia of syncopation unsurpassed by the best of America’s funk and soul music tradition. The string quartet is accompanied by prerecorded rhythm loops.

The Strad praised the “eloquence of [Avery Ensemble’s] tone and phrasing. . . in every bar.” They have been hailed as "an utter delight" by the Hartford Advocate and as "simply outstanding" by Classical Voice of New England. calls their playing “gorgeous… almost mad with excitement” with “a wonderful feeling of collaboration…even as their hearts are aflame.”

Tickets will be available at the door. To order advanced subscriptions or tickets, call 860-523-8931, email [ ], or send a check to Avery Concerts, 143 Maplewood Ave., West Hartford, CT 06119. Checks should be made payable to Avery Concerts. Please include a phone number and/or an email address to receive a confirmation. Tickets will be held at the indoor unless otherwise requested. For more information about the Avery Ensemble, please visit