As noted below, I'll be joining Bill Steelman of Essex Heritage at the mic for First Friday at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport on April 5. That's a member event (although you can join that night and still get in on the buffet and drinks). But everyone is invited when I'll be on a panel at the Newburyport Literary Festival on April 27. Ghlee Woodworth and I will talking about Newburyport walking trails, local history, the byway and so forth at 11 a.m. at the Newburyport Art Association. And best of all, it's free! And I'll be the speaker at the Lynn Museum's annual membership meeting in May. In each case I'll be selling and singing the Byway Guide for interested parties.
You might want to start making plans now to spend July 14-15 in Greenfield for the 26th annual Green River Festival. This year's installment of the fun but low-key festival presented somewhat improbably by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce features a celebration of Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday featuring Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family Reunion. But the main-stages lineup would be pretty great even without that. Los Lobos (pictured), Richard Thompson, Ozomatli, Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, Lost Bayou Ramblers with Gordon Gano, C.J. Chenier and Boston's own David Wax Museum top the list. The WRSI stage offers Peter Mulvey and The Crumbling Beauties, Alastair Moock and friends, Session Americana and more.
As usual the event on the ground of Greenfield Community College will feature food, crafts, a dance tent, a wide array of kid's activities and entertainment, and hot air balloon rides. All of it adds up to a pretty good time in Franklin County, which is as gorgeous and green in summer as it can be bleak and cold in winter (when we have one).
Tix info? Early birds: April 2- April 13: $60 for the weekend, $45 per day; Advance: April 14 -July 13- $75 for the weekend, $55 per day; Day-of: $75 per day at the gate. Parking is $15 for the weekend or $10 a day or you can take a free shuttle from sites around town. Tickets are available at www.greenriverfestival.com and various locations in Franklin County. Gates open at noon each day. The Green River Festival happens rain or shine, tickets are non-refundable, and alas, no dogs, tents, or alcohol are allowed.
Boston art lovers might want to pencil in a trip to Maine on their calendars for next fall. Winslow Homer's studio at Prouts Neck will open to the public on Sept. 24, 2012 and should be a major new destination for cultural tourism and scholarship. The Boston-born painter, who is buried in Cambridge's Mt. Auburn Cemetery, lived and painted at the studio from 1883 until his death in 1910. It's already a National Historic Landmark.
The studio was purchased by the Portland Museum of Art in 2006 from Charles Homer Willauer, the great grand-nephew of Homer. The museum has raised $8.5 million toward a $10.5m goal to support the acquisition, preservation, and future of the Studio. It has been restoring the building to the period when Homer lived there.
“The opening of the Winslow Homer Studio will be a pivotal moment in American art history. For the first time, visitors will be able to experience the Studio as it was during Homer’s time and discover the actual location where he created his best-known paintings,” Museum Director Mark H. C. Bessire said in announcing the opening.
OK, "pivotal" might be a little much, but there's no question this is big news for art lovers.
Homer's work includes many iconic images of the New England coast (Gloucester figures prominently after Maine). To celebrate the opening, the museum will present Weatherbeaten: The Late Paintings of Winslow Homer, on view September 22 through December 30, 2012. Comprising more than 30 major oils and watercolors painted at the Studio, Weatherbeaten will feature works from museums including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
The Portland museum rightly boasts of its Homer collection. Homer first exhibited at the Museum in 1893, showing the painting "Signal of Distress." In 1976, philanthropist Charles Shipman Payson gave 17 Homer paintings to the Museum and $8 million to build an addition to house the collection. The museum’s also holds his first oil painting, "Sharpshooter," and a nearly comprehensive collection of 400 illustrations.
Tickets for studio tours won't go on sale until next summer, but if you want to start making plans now, click to www.portlandmuseum.org.
Image credit: Winslow Homer United States, 1836 - 1910 Weatherbeaten, 1894 oil on canvas 28 1/2 x 48 3/8 inches Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson. Photo by Melville D. McLean.
One of our best weeks ever for readership! Thanks everybody! Feel free to show your support by clicking on "Post a flyer" over there on the top right. And now a few links to start off your morning ... Here's a piece on an interesting holiday concert by Juventas and the Lorelai Ensemble. ... Also from the Globe, here's my Stages column about the Salem Theatre Company moving to a new home, its first, despite the bad arts ecnomy. ... The Boston Musical Intelligencer reports that WGBH will discontinue Friday afternoon BSO broadcasts. ... And a writer for North Shore Art Throb writes about her personal connection to Iris Apfel's fashions, now on display at the Peabody Essex Museum. ... And my current favorite for best Christmas song ever? This National Lampoon 1970s soul classic.
Today AOL launches a new travel brand/site/blog called Tripvine, and I'm the arts & culture blogger for their Boston Insider pages. The official launch is today, but we've been posting items on there for some days now, so check us out. Of course we're aimed primarily at people planning on traveling here from elsewhere, but there are arts, food, family and nightlife bloggers now, and more to come. And for the many HubArts readers who work in the Boston arts community, hey, it's one more place I might write about your event/venue/work. Folks from the Peabody Essex Museum, A.R.T. and others will find your stuff already there.
The Neats reunite for a gig at the Orpheum and Kaiju Big Battel takes over the Hynes Convention Center - this year sounds like one of the cooler First Nights lately, that's for sure. More than 1,000 artists are involved, and there are performances at 35 locations.
The annual free Boston New Year's Eve festivities include the 1980s faves The Neats on a bill at the Orpheum with Buffalo Tom and the Lyres. Most excellent. The Army of Broken Toys and Kristin Hersh are among the other rockers playing around the city (although Hersh is on a bill playing old country blues tunes). The jazz and world music side is topped by Berklee alum Anat Cohen, who will be playing her sax and clarinet at the Berklee Performance Center and broadcast live on WGBH FM 89.7 and across the country as part of NPR’s annual “Toast of the Nation" broadcast. Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and the New England Conservatory will collaborate on a program of songs from or inspired by the works of Shakespeare. And Kaiju will bring its live monster mash to the Hynes. Whew! There's lots more too, including regular events like the grand procession and the fireworks. For more info, visit www.firstnight.org. The complete program book is here.
All First Night outdoor events are free, though supported by sales of the First Night button, which is the ticket for admission to all indoor events. This year's button is above; the artwork is by Ekua Holmes. Buttons are $18 (children under 4 admitted free) and will be available beginning Nov. 27 and many retail locations or the web site (where it's just $15 online through Dec. 26).
The Partners in Preservation program, a joint venture of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will spread its $1M in grants widely around the Boston area. The Paragon Carousel won Internet voting by the public last month to snag a $100,000 preservation grant. But in a rare example of good news about arts and culture funding this year, the group will also give major funding to 11 other sites, including: $86,000 for roof, window and exterior repairs and installation of a heating system at Lowell's Boat Shop in Amesbury, just down the road from HubArts HQ; $100,000 to José Mateo Ballet Theatre for restoration of six original stained glass window; $100,000 to the Museum of African American History granted $100,000 to stop water infiltration through the building’s foundation; and $75,000 for structural upgrades and new finishes to the Salem Old Town Hall project. The 11 additional winners were chosen by an Advisory
Committee of civic and preservation leaders plus Amex and the National Trust. Factors considered included public voting results and community
support for the project, the preservation needs of the site, historic
significance, project completion ability, and the role the site plays
in the community. The remaining 13 competing sites get a $5,000 condolence grant. Complete press release after the jump...
When it comes to recreational consumption of fossil fuel, there are few nicer trips in Massachusetts than driving up Route 2 to North Adams on a sunny day in the spring, as we did Saturday. And at the other end of the trip was Mass MoCA, the contemporary art museum spread out in a gazillion square feet of disused former factory space in the center of town, hard by the concrete chute of the Hoosic River. As always the art was a hugely mixed bag, from actual genius to quite mockable silliness. But we never leave MoCA without feeling like we've really been somewhere. And that sensation was especially strong this weekend.
The main reason, of course, was the new Sol LeWitt career review, which went up in November for a long-term stay of, gulp, 25 years. Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective comprises 105 of LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, spanning the artist’s career from 1969 to 2007, and filling most of the 27,000-square-foot Building #7 at the MoCA complex. If you're not familiar with LeWitt, his work seems like a dry intellectual concept. Each wall drawing begins as a set of instructions to be followed in executing the work, as in "A square, whose bottom side lies on the axis between the midpoint of the left side and the midpoint of the bottom side..." Nearly three dozen students, staff and local artists spent six months re-creating the works on the walls of the gallery. Watch a time lapse video of the process. The end result is nothing like a dry concept, ranging from the fine pencil lines of his early stuff to brightly colored pieces as eye-jangling as anything in pop art.
After the jump: More pix, more blather, and a few words on the other works currently on display at MoCA.