Berkshire Notes: July 21, 2006
The Card Players by Paul Cezanne, a bequest from Stephen Clark to the Met on view currently at the Clark Art Institute
Nobody will be Judging Amy Brenneman in a new play at the Nikos in Williamstown.
Gloria Reuben co stars in new Nikos Stage production.
Eagle Beach, artStart, Northern Berkshire Creative Arts, Brill Gallery Studio, Stephen Clark Lecture, TV Star Amy Brenneman for Nikos Stage at WTF
Out and About
By Jane Hudson
As if the waves were breaking just around the corner, floods of families brought their pails and shovels to the annual Eagle Street Beach event in North Adams this week. Founded by entrepreneur and artist Eric Rudd more than a decade ago, this surreal extravaganza delights the local mountain dwellers. Rudd initiated the happening to give some delight to the hard times community. Once a year the city enjoys a day at the beach in the heart of the often not so much fun down town.
In the brutal heat of midsummer a hearty group of artists, arts administrators, supporters and other interested parties joined together at Cup and Saucer (great coffee house on Main Street where absolutely everyone goes) to celebrate the launching of ArtStart.com, the website of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center., and met director, Sandra Thomas as well as web coordinator, Krista Andrews. The northern Berkshire START initiative (now known as artSTART) was established to unite communities by identifying, recognizing, promoting, enhancing and preserving art and culture in the northern Berkshires.
Combined with the about-to-be-launched BerkshireFineArts.com (you are here!) this initiative will do a lot to bring the hitherto dispersed energy of this area into critical focus.
While I was there, I met Rebecca DeWitt, director of the Northern Berkshire Creative Arts, newly housed in a terrific space in Heritage Park, North Adams. NBCA was founded after the retreat of ‘IS 83’, a South County community arts program. It was clear that the particular needs and resources of the Northern Berkshires called for a program to foster arts and cultural production. Joining with the public schools, the Center offers classes in visual art, dance, music, and theater as well as offering, in concert with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, programs in art and nature (e.g. ‘toads abodes’, a class in habitats). Rebecca DeWitt had served as assistant director to that program before joining the Contemporary Artists Center in North Adams. She brought the CAC out of crisis at the time, and left it in better shape. She recently retired from the CAC’s board.
The North Adams Open Studios hopes to include NBAC in events targeted for Oct. 14-15. Plans are progressing well, and artists are beginning to respond to the call. Open Studios will involve a number of Mills and galleries along a spine from Mass MoCA to the CAC. Trolleys will convey folks around the route within which a large number of artists will show their work. It will be an exciting time for the Mill city.
On another note, there is a great show of paintings in the Eclipse Mill Gallery. EXPRESSIONS IN COLOR features works by Norman Thomas, Joan Kiley, Ed and Sharon Carson. There has been a steady flow of visitors to the Eclipse Mill including a bus tour with some sixty people. Everyone appreciated the works in the gallery and enjoyed browsing in Gail and Phil Sellers’ ceramic studio. We also look forward to the opening of the Brill Gallery in the Eclipse Mill’s Studio 109 featuring a retrospective of Magnum Photographer Leonard Freed this Saturday, July 22, from 5 to 7 PM.
Clark Art Institute’s August 6 lecture on collection of Stephen Clark
Unparalleled masterpieces, passionate art collecting, sibling rivalry, and museum patronage headline the current exhibition The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The lecture series, bringing alive the characters of brothers Sterling Clark and Stephen Clark, and their accomplishments as collectors, continues on August 6 at 2 pm with Brian T. Allen, the Mary Stripp and R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover MA, discussing "Stephen Clark Collects Eakins to Hopper."
Stephen Clark was a very active collector of American art, seeking through his purchases to enhance the reputation of older artists such at Thomas Eakins, and to support directly the careers of contemporary artists including Edward Hopper. He often acquired these works in
considerable numbers - he owned 14 paintings and watercolors by Winslow Homer, for example - but he also collected single masterpieces by Thomas Anshutz, George Inness, and Frederic Remington. This talk will survey the depth of Clark's collection in this area.
Sterling and Stephen assembled impressive collections of both European and American art, and although they often purchased works by the same artists, the character of their collections differed significantly.
Each lecture will focus on one aspect of either Sterling or Stephen Clark's collections. Together, the lectures provide deeper insight into the similarities and differences between the collecting interests and intentions of the brothers. Individually, the lectures showcase the
masterworks purchased by these two connoisseurs.
The remaining lecture in the series is "Sterling Clark Collects Sargent
to Homer" by Marc Simpson, the Clark's curator of American Art, on August 20 at 2 pm.
Featuring over 70 paintings, The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist
and Early Modern Paintings is the first exhibition to unite the masterpieces collected by Sterling Clark - works byRenoir, Monet, Homer and Sargent, and more - with those collected by his brother Stephen Clark, including paintings by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso. The exhibition examines the brothers' collecting and how they helped to define
the changing taste for Impressionist and Early Modern art in the first half of the 20th century. It explores their relationship, their rivalry, and the influential but ultimately divergent roles they came to play in the arts in the United States.
Amy Brenneman to Star in Williamstown at Nikos Stage
The Williamstown Theatre Festival opens its highly-anticipated production of A NERVOUS SMILE on the Nikos Stage July 26. Filled with unlikely humor, this intense and remarkable play addresses the strain placed on families while caring for severely challenged children. Drawn from a real-life incident, the play invites us to think about the unthinkable. This is the play's second production. It premiered at The Humana Festival in 2005.
A NERVOUS SMILE was written by John Belluso. Mr. Belluso was confined to a wheelchair, and many of his plays feature a disabled character. He died earlier this year at age 36. The play stars Amy Brenneman. While attending Harvard University , Ms. Brenneman teamed with others to form the Cornerstone Theatre Company which customized the classics and performed them with local performers in mostly rural towns. Additional appearances Off-Off Broadway and Off-Broadway followed. On television, Ms. Brenneman received two Emmy nominations for her work on NYPD Blue. She later had a recurring role on Frasier. Last year, she concluded a six year run as star, producer and co-creator of Judging Amy, for which she received three Emmy nominations.
Also starring is Gloria Reuben who received two Emmy nominations for her role on ER. Her Off-Broadway credits include STUFF HAPPENS at The Public and A HEARTBEAT TO BAGHDAD at The Flea . Film appearances include The Sentinel, Kettle of Fish, Shaft, Happy Here and Now. Other TV appearances include Life Support, Numbers, Salem Witchtrials , The Agency, and Feast of All Saints.
Also starring are Scott Cohen (Film: Kissing Jessica Stein, TV: NYPD Blue, Law & Order : Trial by Jury, Gilmore Girls, Broadway: Upcoming LOSING LOUIE) and Deirdre O'Connell (Film: Smoke and City of Angels).
A NERVOUS SMILE is directed by Maria Mileaf, who has an extensive list of credits directing New York premieres, as well as the national tour of ART. Director Maria Mileaf said about the play's writer, "I loved talking with John because he saw the world with intelligence, humor and edge. You can see this in A NERVOUS SMILE. John challenges the audience to see the world with a new perspective. He was especially sly in taking on subjects that we all thought we already knew something about. He liked theatre that articulated questions rather than provided answers.” Ms. Mileaf said of the situation presented by the play, "I think even the parents of able bodied children can easily understand what it feels like to be pushed to the limit."
Amy Brenneman said, "For me, a central theme of A NERVOUS SMILE comes from the old adage about not judging someone until you've walked a mile in her shoes. The circumstances in the play are extreme. The feelings are universal. Hopefully, the audience will understand, and even empathize with people who make decisions that are at face value, incomprehensible. The play is about forgiveness for our humanity and faults. Just being a parent prepared me for this play. All the time I've felt unprepared, or unworthy, or pushed to the limit, or impatient - - I imagine these feelings a thousand fold, and there I met Eileen, the character I play. This play is for parents with disabled children and non-disabled children. This play is for people without children. It is universal, because the playwright is asking all of us to consider the relationship between our identity and our actions, and if we are really the people we think we are."
Gloria Reuben said, "This play has made me begin to think differently about life. The complexities of relationships; the overwhelming demands that are put on the loved ones of severely handicapped children; how no one knows what really happens between a couple; what happens when one's dreams don't come true; how love can flourish and disintegrate simultaneously within a person; how love can make people do things they never thought they would do. And particularly the necessity to connect with other human beings. To me, this play is about all of these things. Every day it makes me delve deeper into these issues . . . into life. It is a piece of art."
A NERVOUS SMILE plays July 26 to August 6 on the Nikos stage. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00, Saturdays at 8:30, with matinees Thursdays at 3:00, Saturdays at 4:00 , and Sundays at 2:00. Tickets are available by phone at 413.597.3400.
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