Animalia: An Intimate Portrait of Endangered Species

Artist Dawn Howkinson Siebel’s Portraits of Endangered Species Are a Call to Action
Sunday, November 9, 2014 through Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Animalia: The Endangered at the Hampden Gallery, celebrates the artist’s keen understanding of the life force embodied in these majestic animals. Siebel paints these intimate oil portraits of endangered species, wherein the being-ness of each animal shines forth. Melting into a deep shadow that holds the animal like an embrace, the darkness swallows form and place, and stands in for context. With each stroke of the brush, Seibel champions for the rights of these animals to simply be. The artist reminds us…the animals are disappearing.

This November, UMass Amherst’s Hampden Gallery hosts an exhibition by the multitalented Dawn Howkinson Siebel, perhaps best known for her painted and batik-dyed silk kimono collection sold at Bergdorf Goodman in the ‘80s, and more recently for her Better Angels series, in which she painted over 300 individual portraits of New York City firefighters who served on September 11, 2001 on burnt blocks of wood. Of Better Angels, she says the project evolved from her desire to “create something positive in response to something terrible.”

Her FAC show, Animalia: The Endangered, is a timely follow-up to that work: one that will hopefully spark a positive, urgent response in viewers to an ongoing environmental disaster. “Over 40 percent of all species on Earth are threatened with extinction,” Siebel says. “The ‘threatened’ classification includes 2129 Critically Endangered, 3079 Endangered, and 4728 Vulnerable animal species – and counting. These numbers are two to three times higher than they were only fifteen years ago.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Beloved Schoolgirl Madeline at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans
On View in Western MA, November 15, 2015 – February 22, 2015

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / Lived twelve little girls … the smallest one was Madeline.” So begins each book in Ludwig Bemelmans’ beloved and universally recognized Madeline series about a brave, mischievous, and lovable young girl attending boarding school in Paris. Published in the United States in 1939, the first book about Madeline came at a time when travel opportunities were limited; Bemelmans’ lush, evocative paintings and illustrations of the “City of Light” offered readers of all ages an escape from the ongoing economic and political turmoil occurring across the globe.

Three generations later, Bemelmans’ illustrations- not to mention his precocious heroine!- are just as beloved. Celebrate Madeline’s 75th anniversary in print by visiting Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA,  this winter! The first exhibition dedicated solely to Bemelmans’ work in fifty years, it contains a selection of original artwork from his books, as well as mural panels, objects from the French bar he briefly owned, La Colombe, and personal items such as his well-loved paintbox. The exhibition begins on Saturday, November 15th, 2014, and will run through February 22, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Ragamala: Indian Exhibit Sings A Thousand Words

Miniature Paintings from 17th- and 18th- Century India Capture Moods of Music and Poetry at Williams College Museum of Art

Ragamala represents a dynamic intermingling of music, poetry, and painting in India. Ragamala is Sanskrit for a “garland of ragas,” which are unique musical compositions. Drawn from the museum’s rich Indian collection, this exhibition features sixteen ragamala paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what about a picture that illustrates those words… or even a song? How might you translate the mood evoked by an instrumental song into a picture, painting, or even a poem?

Between the 16th and 19th centuries in India, a classical Indian musical tradition called a raga, took on a new characteristic that did just that.  A raga, which translates roughly from Sanskrit into beauty, melody, and color, is similar to a musical scale: a selection of musical notes arranged specifically to convey, or color, a mood; discrete ragas are used to represent specific times of day and/or seasons.  These complex, richly textured melodies inspired poets to create poems based on the moods they evoked.  Artists then transposed these poems and melodies into paintings that visually convey the moods, events, and seasons represented by each raga and poem, and often include a few lines from the associated poem.

The Williams College Museum of Art will have a ragamala–a set of these miniature paintings–on display between September 27, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  Sixteen miniatures from the museum’s notable Indian art collection will be on view.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pop-Up Mobile Art Boxes Take Art to the Streets

Third Florence Night Out Event Showcases Creative Community Members
Friday, September 19, 2014 from 5:30-8:30pm

A year after the first Florence Night Out (FNO), the widely-anticipated event is back and bigger than ever with an innovative new take on installation art: “Mobile Art Boxes” (MABs), a collaboration between FNO founder Donnabelle Casis, several local artists, and Florence-based business owner Tony Gleason. The MABs are six 8’x8’x16’ storage boxes from Gleason’s company, DIY Mobile Box, that have each been outfitted to contain a multimedia installation by a local artist. The types of art presented in the MABs range from performance to sound art to multimedia to simply the physical installation of objects – and to add to the evening’s excitement, the MABs will be located in unexpected spots throughout downtown Florence. The artists whose work is featured in the MABs are: John Slepian (performance art), Jake Meginsky (sound art/installation), Maggie Nowinski (video), Chris Nelson (installation), Sally Curcio & Anne LaPrade Suethe (installation), The Quarry & The Coast with Mount Emult aka Matthew Newman (short films).

This is a community-based way to engage in installation art while connecting with the many creative people and projects in our area! It’s a great opportunity for a family outing or a Parents’ Night Out: the tremendous number of activities and performances – not to mention delicious refreshments! – should satisfy even the most antsy kids or culture-hungry adults! Read the rest of this entry »

Famed Artist, Henri Matisee Exhibit a Major Coup for Western Mass!

Drawings by Henri Matisse on view at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum now through December 14, 2014

This latest exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is expected to “draw” crowds: an exclusive selection of 45 drawings by Henri Matisse, the widely-known 20th century French artist known best for his colorful, expressive portrayal of the human form in paintings, sculptures, cut paper, and drawings.  The drawings on display span half a century and include both sketches and finished drawings.

Students of art and art history will be particularly excited about this exhibition because it offers an opportunity to interact with original artworks by a historically significant artist right here in Western Massachusetts.  A chance to eliminate the need for excessive travel and planning, while still showing your kids the art of one of the great masters: it’s a foolproof combination!

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Ceramic Exhibit Offers Rare Glimpse Into A Very Distant Past

Ceramics Exhibition Explores Craftsmanship Over 6,000 Years
At Mount Holyoke College Art Museum through May 31, 2015

A wonderful example of ceramics as an “objets d’art.”

Have you ever taken a ceramics class? The feeling of the clay molding into recognizable shapes like bowls and plates is so satisfying, matched only by the feeling of accomplishment once the piece has been fired and glazed and is ready to be used. The creation—and usage—of functional objects has been part of the human experience for as long as humans have existed, and the ways in which these objects are made and regarded has evolved over time. From the purely practical and utilitarian to veritable objets d’art, ceramics have served a wide range of people in an even wider range of ways. And as the world’s peoples grew, developed, and traveled, so did their tools and artwork; this allowed for further dispersion and interchange of ideas and techniques. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Stories from the Kitchen Sink’ Installation Challenges Conventions

Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Comic Multimedia Installation Examines American Domesticity

Submitted Image: Dog Dreams, 2006/2012. Ricky Bernstein, glass and mixed mediaFrom now through Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Community Gallery at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA, will host a special, site-specific installation by Sheffield, Massachusetts-based artist Ricky Bernstein.  The installation, titled Stories from the Kitchen Sink: Bob and Phyllis Learn New Tricks, contains oversized collage-style graphics that depict stereotypically-American domestic scenes.  These “still life sit-com” images are both humorous and critical, drawing attention to past and present ideas about modern life, multi-tasking, and gender roles.

Younger viewers will be particularly interested in these energetic, colorful, stylized representations of American families, and students interested in Pop Art and contemporary art will be able to draw connections between Bernstein and other artists who used graphic, comic imagery, while parents and adults will appreciate the gently satirical sentiments and questions that Bernstein’s installation poses. Read the rest of this entry »

Photography Exhibits Capture Scenes of Everyday Life at Home and Abroad

Local Photography Exhibits Illuminate Regional Histories

This month, two photography exhibitions in Western Massachusetts will offer audiences a similar, yet very different, viewing experience.  Lisa Quiñones’ Balkan Odyssey, now on view at Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery, and Chester Michalik’s Northampton In Time, on view at Historic Northampton starting Friday, July 11, both contain photographs of everyday life and scenes in their respective regions: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Northampton, Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

Harriet the Spy Turns 50!

After surviving early library bans; continues to inspire critical thinking, writing and observation skills in children. 

Now through November 30, 2014, the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst invites you to a special exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of author and illustrator Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 book Harriet the Spy.  The exhibition will feature a selection of original drawings from both Harriet the Spy and its sequel, The Long Secret.  Eleven year old Harriet, the only child of wealthy New York socialites, wants to be a writer, and spends her afternoons secretly observing her friends and neighbors and recording her observations in a notebook.  The book helps readers explore themes of class, gender, and friendship in the 1960’s.

Harriet the Spy is now widely regarded as a classic children’s story – even more well-known and well-loved following its reincarnation as the 1996 film of the same name starring a young Michelle Trachtenberg – but, interestingly enough, when the book was first published in the mid-sixties, it received a good deal of controversy and was even banned by some libraries!  Compared with other children’s and young adult book characters at the time, Fitzhugh’s curious, independent, impatient, and tomboyish young protagonist challenged dominant social ideas about how children, girls in particular, could and should behave.  Many reviewers have since noted, though, that it is precisely Harriet’s fierce independence and desire to understand other people through observation that endears her to readers of all ages.  Her “bad” behavior is relatable, and a refreshingly honest portrayal of childhood, while her struggle to stay true to herself and her ideas in a world that doesn’t understand or appreciate deviance from the norm resonates deeply with readers on their own path to self-discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

MASS MoCA’s “It’s Only Human” Illuminates Art, Science & Education

Art Using X-ray Scans Sparks Discussion of Body Image & More at MASS MoCA
Saturday, June 14, 2014 through Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MASS MoCA’s Kidspace kicks off the summer with a new exhibition and activity program. The exhibition, “It’s Only Human,” features work by British artists Nick Veasey and Marilene Oliver, who are both internationally recognized for their innovative uses of medical imaging technology in their art. Both artists’ works illuminate the complexities of human bodies and the systems by which they are regulated, and inspire dialogue about the inner beauty of all human beings, regardless of our outer appearances, and serve as a creative jumping-off point for discussions of anatomy, health, and wellness, as well as self-image. While this exhibition is on display at Kidspace, visitors of all ages – especially those interested in science and medicine – will find it engaging and educational.

Veasey’s work is often focused on the human skeleton and inner structural elements. He is famous for creating one of the largest X-ray scans in the world – of a Boeing 777 airplane! – and this exhibition at Kidspace features a similarly gigantic X-ray of a bus filled with passengers. Do you think you will be able to distinguish the structure of the bus from the skeletal structures occupying it? Veasey has also X-rayed a person on a motorcycle. What can you infer about his choice to scan vehicles used for human transportation, including their passengers? Why might this be significant? Why it is important to be able to identify the structures embedded within everyday objects and people? Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums’ New Exhibit Snapshots The Emergence of the 20th Century American Individual

Springfield Museums Explore Modern American Masterworks
Friday, June 6, through Sunday, August 31, 2014

Students and enthusiasts of art, art history, and American history will be interested to know that among the works on display in American Moderns are representations of Cubism, Synchromism, Precisionism, Expressionism, and Social Realism, as well as interpretations of folk art and early steam-punk style.

Beginning in June, the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts will play host to a special traveling exhibition curated by and containing key pieces from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell features over fifty paintings and several sculptures by well-known American artists whose works illustrate the multiple schools of thought and representational techniques that developed during the Modern period: Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Joseph Stella, Marsden Hartley, Elie Nadelman, Rockwell Kent, and more. While the works in this exhibition are on loan from the Brooklyn Museum, their presence at the Springfield Museums is a good reminder of the masterworks by these artists and their contemporaries that belong to the Springfield Museums’ own collection.

Though the works by these artists may not seem to have much in common with one another at first glance, they each signify a reaction to a society undergoing rapid and dramatic change. The fifty years covered by the exhibition saw two world wars, the success of the women’s suffrage movement, the short-lived Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and the birth of other youth and activist movements; while new technologies for travel, entertainment, communication, and household efficiency became commonplace over increasingly shorter intervals of time. The world felt smaller, and the United States had established itself as an international power, but not every U.S. citizen had achieved the American Dream.

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The Carle Commemorates Life and Works of Bernard Waber

The Carle Commemorates Life and Works
of Author/Illustrator, Bernard Waber
Tuesday, March 18 through Sunday, June 8, 2014

Last May, children and adults alike mourned the passing of beloved children’s book author and illustrator Bernard Waber. Perhaps best known for his depictions of the adventures of Lyle the crocodile, Waber wrote, illustrated, and published (through Houghton Mifflin) over thirty books over the course of his career.

This spring, Houghton Mifflin and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art have collaborated to put on a display of Waber’s work: both well-known images from his books, plus preliminary sketches and source material and even some of his earlier art from his time as a designer for Condé Nast and Time, Inc. Curated by Leonard S. Marcus, an expert on children’s literature, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Friends: The Art of Bernard Waber will be on view from March 18 through June 8, 2014. The exhibition will be accompanied by a 40-page catalog featuring Bernard Waber’s last interview…  Read the rest of this entry »

Hats, Architecture, and Industry: Things that Inspired Dr. Seuss

Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!

The Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! exhibition at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a selection of original hats collected by Dr. Seuss over a period of 60 years. Exhibit up through March 8, 2014. Special Dr. Seuss Birthday celebration on Saturday, March 1st from 6-8pm.

Sam-I-Am, Yertle the Turtle, Marvin K. Mooney, the Cat in the Hat, and other silly Dr. Seuss characters have been well-loved by young readers for decades. Best known for his invented words, imaginary animals, and silly yet thought provoking plots, Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known children’s authors of all time (and two of his books rank amongst the 20 best-selling children’s books ever).

A native of western Massachusetts, Dr. Seuss drew upon his surroundings in order to create images for his stories. The industrial landscape of his hometown of Springfield is reflected in the zany, unaffected-by-gravity architecture found in many illustrations, and the town of Whoville is rumored to be based upon the city of Easthampton and towering Mt. Tom. He is honored locally by the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, a tribute to the author’s ingenious work. Located at the Springfield Museums, the garden is filled with sculptures pulled straight from the pages – visitors can meet the Grinch, Horton the Elephant, and the Lorax up close and personal.

Many of Seuss’ beloved characters, in addition to creative anatomy and goofy personalities, sport headgear the likes of which have never been seen before – until now. For the first time ever, Dr. Seuss’ personal hat collection will be on view! Northampton’s R. Michelson Galleries (132 Main Street) will host Hats off to Dr. Seuss, a nationally touring exhibition that includes not only Seuss’ collection of head fashions but selected works from a secret art collection – all of which have been adapted from Seuss originals.

The exhibition will be on view at the galleries through March 8th, 2014, and fans of all ages and sizes can enjoy a special event in honor of what would’ve been Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday (held a day early!) from 6-8pm on Saturday, March 1st… Read the rest of this entry »

UMass Exhibition Examines Changes in Historical American Landscapes

A Genius for Place: American Landscape of the Country Place Era
A Panel Exhibition from the Library of American Landscape History

The UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting a traveling exhibition called “A Genius For Place,” on view now through May 10th, 2014.  Organized by the Library of American Landscape History (LALH), the exhibition illustrates and analyzes the chronological development of North American landscape design throughout the “Country Place Era,” or the period of time (1890 to 1930) between the Gilded Age through the end of the Great Depression.  During that time, many wealthy American families, convinced that their hectic, crowded, and unclean city lives required periodic retreats to the fresh air and far-ranging vistas of the countryside for renewal and recovery, erected country “cottages” (some of which were more extravagant than the average mansion today).  Of course, these homes were not complete without elegantly sculpted garden paths, man-made reflecting pools, outdoor courtyards, and a spectacular view to top off the experience of nature-filled country life.  Landscape architects creating the perfect outdoor environments for their clients employed a wide range of techniques, structures, and both modern and historical iconography in their designs.  It was a transitional moment, both for the country as a whole and for the practice of landscape design.

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Robin Karson, founding director of LALH, sees the Country Place Era as a significant time in the history of American landscape architecture: balancing on the cusp of the twentieth century, still weighted with the ideas and traditions of bygone years.  One such was the notion of the genius loci, or the “spirit of the place.”  While in some cultures this spirit takes the form of a protective, guardian-like presence, Western cultures more commonly use the phrase “spirit of the place” to refer to a site’s distinctive energy or aura.  In her book A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era, Karson suggests that landscape architects during this time were guided by the genius loci to preserve the natural beauty and quirks of the original landscape while injecting more modern, experimental architectural elements into their designs… Read the rest of this entry »

Landscape Photography Exhibition Encourages Visual Literacy

Landscape Photography Exhibition Encourages Visual Literacy

“The Eye is a Door” by photographer, Anne Whiston Spirn as Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.

From now through the end of August, the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA will be home to a major exhibition of works by Anne Whiston Spirn. Spirn, a renowned author and photographer, has for decades drawn connections between her photographs and the work she does as both teacher and scholar in the field of landscape architecture.

A graduate of Radcliffe College and the University of Pennsylvania, currently teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms. Spirn thinks of photography as a way to more deeply understand landscapes (and all associated fields like geology, anthropology, history, etc).

Her work promotes visual literacy – “the ability to read and analyze visual information” – through her thoughtful use of artistic strategies like composition and framing, the juxtaposition of natural and man-made structures, and focused attention to colors and textures.  Read the rest of this entry »

Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

This Valentine’s Day, spread friendship and kindness throughout your community by participating in Hilltown Families’ 6th annual Handmade Valentine Swap! Participation is easy – all you have to do is sign up, make ten handmade valentines and drop them in the mail, and you’ll receive ten handmade cards in return. Not only is the event an opportunity for families to connect with others in their community, participation allows families the opportunity to be creative together – an activity that can lead not only to creative-free play, but can also offer hands-on learning in fields like physics, chemistry, geometry and cultural studies!  Read on…

History Exhibition Recalls Holyoke’s Industrial Past

Echoes of Industry:
The Death and Rebirth of Holyoke’s Mills
Jan – Feb, 2014

With 25 mills near the end of the 19th century, Holyoke was the largest paper manufacturer. Today these mills are reminders of another age – victims of fire, demolition or a new purpose. What remains offers a silent dignity that demands to be recorded.

This January and February, Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke remembers the city’s past through a display of artwork by Eric Broudy. “Echoes of Industry: The Death and Rebirth of Holyoke’s Mills” contains photographs Broudy took of the old, run-down mills – their exteriors and vast interiors, the “architectural details with rubble and shattered windows” – and a video installation featuring footage of Holyoke mills being given new life, through the development of creative spaces like art galleries, dance and yoga studios, offices, restaurants, even homes, in these once-mighty industrial structures…

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Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “Dancing Princesses: The Picture Book Art of Ruth Sanderson”


Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “Dancing Princesses: The Picture Book Art of Ruth Sanderson”
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – Sunday, March 9, 2014

One of the special holiday displays in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s “Distinguished Illustrator Series” this winter will feature over 60 works by noted picture book illustrator Ruth Sanderson. Described as “beautiful” and “jewel-like,” by NRM director, Laurie Norton Moffatt, the works on display include original paintings and drawings by Sanderson, in addition to costumes that the artist commissioned to correspond with her illustrations. The subjects of these works hail from a selection of Sanderson’s beloved books – some classic tales re-told, some original tales, and each one embellished with enchanting imagery – including The Twelve Dancing Princesses; The Sleeping Beauty; Cinderella; The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring; and several others…

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Musical and Visual Interpretations of Classic Childrens’ Poems at The Carle

Leave Your Sleep 
by Natalie Merchant & Barbara McClintock
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Nov 26, 2013 — May 4, 2014

The album Leave Your Sleep, which Merchant spent five years researching and writing, originated from a collection of poems — from such notable poets as E.E. Cummings, Ogden Nash, and Edward Lear — that come alive through an eclectic blend of styles, from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic influence.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art welcomes families to a special showcase of the art and collaborative work that resulted in the picture book Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The book, published in 2012, followed the release of Merchant’s very successful double album of the same name two years prior. She transformed a selection of classic children’s poetry from poets including Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, and E.E. Cummings into a collection of original songs that comprise an eclectic blend of styles from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic.

Merchant’s collaboration with McClintock is an attempt to make these poems and ideas even more accessible and exciting to kids: beautifully rendered in watercolors, a “parade of witches and fearless girls, blind men and elephants, giants and sailors” play out the ideas and emotions that the music evokes. “My hope is that this collaborative book of poems, pictures and music will provide many enchanted hours to children eager for beauty and the sort of adventure that happens between the pages of a book and the words of a song,” says Merchant.

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Wendell Minor’s America: Premier Historical Picture Book Illustrator on Exhibit at Norman Rockwell Museum

Exhibition Celebrates 25 Years of Work by Historical Picture Book Illustrator Wendell Minor
Saturday, November 9, 2013 – Monday, May 26, 2014

Image credit: Wendell Minor, “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home,” 2008. Cover illustration for “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home” by Robert Burleigh, Henry Holt and Co. Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, invites families to “Wendell Minor’s America,” a special exhibition featuring more than 150 original artworks, artifacts, and references from illustrator Wendell Minor’s distinguished portfolio.

The award-winning illustrator drew his way through childhood in Aurora, Illinois, inspired by the richly illustrated magazines that were so much a part of American life during the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition celebrates his many cover illustrations and his 25th anniversary illustrating children’s books, each of which has been inspired by Minor’s love of history, art, science, and the natural world…

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ARTeens: Art Program for Teens in Franklin County

ARTeens: Free Art Program for Teens at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Franklin County teens have a new after school option this school year!  The Art Garden, a community-supported art-making studio, is hosting ARTeens, a free after school art program in Shelburne Falls.  Co-facilitated by local artists Phyllis Labanowski and Jane Beatrice Wegscheider, ARTeens offers local middle and high school students a space to exercise their creativity, try out new materials, and work on skills in creating a variety of different styles of artwork.

Held on Tuesday afternoons from 3-6pm, the program begins on Tuesday, October 22nd and will run in three different six-week sessions throughout the school year.  In order to participate, interested teens must complete an application (a short and simple one!) including basic information about themselves and their artistic interests.  Applications must be submitted by Monday, October 7th, and students will be notified about participation by Monday, October 14th.  While the series is free for Franklin County teens, those residing in other counties may be able to tuition into the grant-funded program.  Students at Mohawk Trail Regional School can utilize bus transportation from the school in order to get to The Art Garden; others will need to arrange their own transportation…

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Art History and Music Studies at the Amherst Cinema this Fall

Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure
Tour of London’s National Gallery Exhibition
Screens at Amherst Cinema this Fall

The latest in Amherst Cinema’s EXHIBITION screening series, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, documents and deeply examines the Johannes Vermeer‘s works on view at the London National Gallery. The film, hosted by British art historian Tim Marlow, tells the story of Vermeer’s life, a Dutch painter from the 1600′s, and gives viewers a chance to experience both the exhibition – which, notably, includes several works by Vermeer that have never before been exhibited together – as well as some stunning close-up footage of the paintings themselves, accompanied by Marlow’s knowledgeable analysis of the works.

The exhibition focuses on the popularity of music as a theme in Dutch paintings, and illustrates this connection quite clearly through its inclusion of “Lady Seated at a Virginal,” “Lady Standing At A Virginal,” and “The Guitar Player,” all by Vermeer himself. To highlight the significance of the instruments’ inclusion in the paintings – and the differences between the instruments and their two-dimensional representations – authentic 17th-century virginals (similar to harpsichords), guitars, and lutes are on display along with the artwork…

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Tibetan Sand Mandala on View at UMass

“Healing the Earth”: Tibetan Sand Mandala on View at UMass Fine Arts Center Concert Stage

The Asian Arts & Culture Program at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center opens its 20th Anniversary season with an outstanding event that speaks to transformation and healing of our planet and ourselves. The Fine Arts Center Concert Hall stage hosts Healing the Earth: the Tibetan Sand Mandala, a visual artwork exploding with color and design, created on by eleven Tibetan monks.

Among all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In the Tibetan language this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor.  The literal translation means a “mandala of colored powders.” This week come see eleven Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery at work as they use traditional instruments to lay down the finest grains of colored sand to produce a work of art that explodes with color and detail.  This unique event happens at UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst, MA from Wednesday, September 25th – Friday, September 27th, 2013 and highlights the power of the healing arts to ignite peace and tolerance throughout the world.

Over a period of days, millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place in a circular design – a mandala – drawn on a flat platform.  The mandala, using traditionally prescribed symbols, geometric shapes, and images, is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.  The experience of viewing this sand mandala will be particularly educational for those interested in, or studying, math and geometry, visual arts and color theory, world cultures, community values and traditions, and respect for the environment.

Sand Mandalas are an ancient Tibetan art form that were used to teach compassion, environmental relations and impermanency. With Tibet being one of the last ancient civilizations, teaching kids the history behind this ancient art form can supplement their global awareness of world civilizations and cultures. Witnessing the making and destruction of one of these amazing sand mandalas joins art and history together into a creative and tactile demonstration.

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Museums Trace Jewish Community’s Rise “From Shtetl to Suburb”

“From Shtetl to Suburb: One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley”
Illustrates Jewish Experience in the Pioneer Valley at the Springfield Museums
Through March 2nd, 2014

“The story of Jewish immigrants and their work to develop a thriving community over the last century is a fascinating tale of courage, hard work, and perseverance,” states Guy McLain, Director of the Wood Museum of Springfield History. “Their story is unique, but also emblematic of the challenges faced by so many immigrant groups throughout America’s history.”

The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, in conjunction with several noted local organizations and guest curator Dr. Stuart Anfang, invites you to learn about the history of the Jewish community in Western Massachusetts from the late 19th century through the present.  By combining artifacts, photos, film, and personal histories, the exhibition offers multidimensional insights into the experiences of Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms of Czarist Russia in the late 19th century.  The exhibit also illustrates the growth of their community in the North End of Springfield, the eventual decline of such inner-city neighborhoods in the aftermath of World War II, and the 1960’s relocation of Springfield’s Jewish community and synagogues to Longmeadow and other parts of Western MA following a major urban renewal project in the North End…

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Springfield Museums Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico
New Exhibit at Springfield Museums
September 10th, 2013 – May 11th, 2014

Fiesta represents an exciting combination: a detailed documentation of botanical and ecological phenomena, a reflection of Hispanic culture and perspective, and an example of formal watercolor techniques. Regardless of the prior knowledge and experiences visitors may bring to this exhibition, everyone will be able to connect with Vargas’ work. – Meet artist Josie Vargas at a special reception at the D’Amour Museum on Saturday, September 14th, 2013 between 6-8pm.

Josie Vargas, artist and adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design, will exhibit her watercolors at the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts this fall.  The exhibit, Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico, is part of the Springfield Museums’ celebration of Hispanic History Month, and contains works that are inspired by the mood, colorful foliage, and landscapes of Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens in New York.

Vargas draws inspiration from the vibrant photographs she takes while traveling, and from the words of Edgar A. Whitney: “You are not artists… you are shape makers.”  Her interest in tropical plants stems from her upbringing in New York City, where only a few hardy plants thrived on the city streets, and her visits to Puerto Rico, from whence her family originates and where the colorful plants are equal parts showy and resilient.

Her bold, energetic paintings celebrate the plant and animal life in Puerto Rico, and demonstrate her commitment to the “traditional” style of watercolor painting.  However, unlike many watercolor artists, whose images are relayed in ethereal pastel tones, Vargas’ works are “bold, sensual,” and truly saturated in color…

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Women and Food Photographic Exhibition in Easthampton

Women and Food Photographic Exhibition
September 3rd – September 30th
Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery

Springfield Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, her daughter, Mahmooda, and son, Dawud.

Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery will display local artist and writer Sarah Platanitis’ photographic project, “Women and Food,” this September.  Platanitis edits and writes for the blog Sarah in the Kitchen, and developed The Women and Food Project while working on articles for the blog, for which she visited women from many walks of life in their kitchens and food-related spaces.

“During interviews, I would hear such great side stories that I sadly couldn’t include in the pieces. Still, I wrote them down anyway, hoping that one day I could go back and spend time again with these women,” says Platanitis. “I wanted to learn more about why they do what they do when it comes to food.”

When asked how she thought this exhibit would appeal to a younger audience, Platanitis explains, “I think a younger audience would benefit from seeing the exhibit because the women in the Project are great role models.  They are successful at their work, they give back to their communities and they love what they do…”

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Local Contemporary Artists’ Work On View at Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center

Local Contemporary Artists’ Work On View at
Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center
August 9 – August 30, 2013

Stop by Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center between 5-8pm on Friday, August 9, 2013 for the exhibition’s opening reception in conjunction with Northampton’s monthly Arts’ Night Out festivities!

The Northampton Center for the Arts, A.P.E. Gallery, and the Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center have teamed up for another exhibition of contemporary art by local western Massachusetts artists. This month’s featured works are by Taiga Ermansons and Kim Carlino. Each artist’s work draws on Northampton and its history for inspiration.

Weather by Taiga Ermansons: Ermansons’ delicate tissue creations – often made on the terrace of her Northampton home – record specific moments in time, either through the intervention of weather elements (such as rain) on the tissue or through the use of embroidery techniques much like the ones Northampton women would have used over one hundred years ago…

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Contemporary Islamic Art & Events in the Berkshires

Contemporary Islamic Art & Events in the Berkshires
Art Exhibit, Documentary, Music & Eid Celebration

The art exhibit, Islam Contemporary, is just one of several featured events in August that celebrate Islamic art and culture. Over the course of the month, there will be a community Eid celebration, a documentary screening and discussion with the directors, and a concert of classical Middle Eastern music. Find out more about these events!

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield are holding a joint art show, Islam Contemporary, for the month of August, opening on Friday, August 2nd in conjunction with the Pittsfield First Friday Artswalk in the Cultural District. The exhibition features twenty-five artists who hail from around the world, some Muslim, some non-Muslim; some emerging artists, some well-established. Included in the exhibition are works by the Berkshires’ own local artist Daisy Rockwell, granddaughter of Norman Rockwell, and Boston-based Pakistani artist Ambreen Butt. The works on display range from reinterpretations of traditional South Asian art, to critiques of the Western media’s portrayal of women, to statements about multidimensional cultural and gender identities, to attempts to use art to connect communities during times of crisis.

This exhibition offers contemporary and varied perspectives on Islamic art, history, and culture. Students of Middle Eastern studies may find this particularly informative, though families are likely to also learn much from the ideas and images on display. Aziz Sohail, the curator of the exhibition, says, “…this exhibit provides a platform for authentic and diverse voices that grapple with an ever-changing heritage. We hope that the show dispels stereotypes and sparks discussion by facilitating a complex and nuanced look at Islamic heritage and culture.” After (or during) your visit, ask your family to think about the works on display and compare the people and lives that they represent to their own lives. What is similar? What is different? What were they surprised by? What new information were they able to absorb/digest over the course of their visit?

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African American Art and History Exhibition in the Berkshires

Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980
Williams College Museum of Art
Opening Day: Saturday, July 20th at 2pm
Williamstown, MA.

By the early 1960s the West Coast became highly visible among the
international arts community. African American artists such as Betye Saar made some of their earliest important works at this time. [Image credit: Betye Saar. Black Girl’s Window, 1969.]

Now Dig This!  Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 opens at the Williams College Museum of Art this Saturday, July 20th and will run through December 1, 2013.  The exhibition chronicles the vital legacy of the African American arts community in Los Angeles, examining a pioneering group of black artists whose work and connections with other artists of varied ethnic backgrounds helped shape the creative output of Southern California.

Visiting this exhibition will give visitors first-hand exposure to a wide variety of works done by African-American artists who were active during this twenty year time period.  Visitors will have a chance to consider how the art being made – and social perspectives about art – in this period underwent rapid change, as artists moved from traditional methods like painting and drawing to techniques like conceptual and performance art.  The exhibition illustrates not only a major shift in American art but in American public thought – perfect for students of American history, civil rights movement, pop culture, and, of course, art.

On the opening day of the exhibition, join Kellie Jones at 2pm, exhibition curator and associate professor in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, for a first look at the show.  Hear about the research and curatorial choices that made this exhibition possible, and learn more about the forms of art on display – through which many artists of the era critiqued the social, political, and economic state of the country…

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Eric Carle Museum Cast a Call for Caterpillar Sculptures

Artists of All Ages are Invited to Participate in Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts Call of Caterpillar Sculptures!

Celebrate the beloved and iconic caterpillar – as well at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s 10th anniversary – by building your very own caterpillar sculpture out of recycle and/or found materials. (Photo credit: Eric Carle Museum)

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a family favorite all around the world – over 33 million copies have been sold since it was first published, and it has been translated into over 50 languages!  The little green caterpillar has munched its way through the pages of the books and into the hearts of multiple generations.  The story provides Eric Carle’s signature illustrations and a silly story, plus it gives young children an age-appropriate first taste of nature education.  It is rare to find a developmentally appropriate nature-related book for young children, but Carle’s classic tale beautifully weaves fantasy and reality together, teaching young children about the life cycle of a caterpillar while still managing to include bright illustrations and fun details.

 Celebrate the beloved and iconic caterpillar – as well at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s 10th anniversary – by building your very own caterpillar sculpture!  The Carle has put out an open Call for Caterpillars of all kinds to be submitted for use in the museum’s Children’s Book Festival on June 8, 2013 (and for the chance to receive an original doodle by Eric Carle!).

Photos of the submitted pieces will be shown during the festival, and three random entries will be shown in their three-dimensional original form in the museum’s galleries.  Museum staff ask that caterpillars be created using recycled and/or found materials, such as plastic bottles, wood, metal bottle caps, and packing materials.

Pieces should be submitted in photo form, and can be created by caterpillar-enthusiasts of all ages!  Visit the museum’s website for more information on submissions and the festival itself (www.carlemuseum.org).  All submissions are due by May 31st.  Happy upcycling!

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