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Phoenix Rising — 48 Hours in Portland, Maine

If you've never been to Portland, Maine, you'll be amazed at how this just-right sized city hums with activity in the arts, dining, entertainment, and (of course) miles and miles of gorgeous views.

The City of Portland, Maine rises above the waters of Portland Harbor, which is filled with sailing vessels and pleasure boats. The landmark Time and Temperature building can be seen, reading 5:39; photo by Benjamin Williamson. Keep Reading

Arts & Entertainment

Sponsored by Images Cinema, the only year-round, nonprofit, independent film house in the Berkshires.
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Food & Drink

The aptly named burger, "The Balder," bravely adorns itself with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, and onions, allowing it's brave flavors to shine through. Highly recommended side item? The hand cut wedge fries; photo by James Kennedy.
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Unsung Eats: Valhalla, Adams — mythic taste, priced for mere mortals

Here at Unsung Eats we usually have to search out the rare gems for great food at a good value but in this particular case the eatery found us.  We kept hearing, “Hey, have you tried Valhalla yet?” and when the Greylock Glass ran its Greylock Nation’s Greatest: 2019 readers poll, it was Valhalla Eatery… Keep Reading

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Travel & Leisure

The lush, stone-walled Italian Garden at The Mount provides a respite from Northeastern summer heat and humidity; early morning photo by Kevin Sprague.
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I Am Going to Leave Her Here

The Mount as Edith Wharton’s Feminist Manifesto

The lush, stone-walled Italian Garden at The Mount provides a respite from Northeastern summer heat and humidity; early morning photo by Kevin Sprague.

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Phoenix Rising — 48 Hours in Portland, Maine

The City of Portland, Maine rises above the waters of Portland Harbor, which is filled with sailing vessels and pleasure boats. The landmark Time and Temperature building can be seen, reading 5:39; photo by Benjamin Williamson.

By Robin Catalano

Even on a raw, rainy afternoon, with a uniform blanket of cinder-block gray settling over the sky, it’s easy to see why Portland, Maine, has smitten so many travelers. Raindrops the size of lima beans melt down the sides of buildings. The wind whooshes and gusts, cutting through coat sleeves and tossing hats. Atlantic waves wallop the jagged rocks in a spray of white foam. Still, the city seems just as beautiful, and possibly even more transfixing, as it does when there are blue skies for miles over Casco Bay.

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Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink

Photograph: Public water fountain. Newly installed public water fountains in high traffic/athletic areas grant near luxury-level access to the most basic of human needs; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Newly installed public water fountains in high traffic/athletic areas grant near luxury-level access to the most basic of human needs; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

The title is a line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, spoken by a sailor surrounded by a salty sea. The sailor had no choices, but we do. We have available fresh water, for now, and can choose to use tap water, filter it or not, and bypass the aisles of bottled water when we shop. We can choose to help ourselves and Mother Earth.

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Film Review: The Biggest Little Farm

Emma, the pig, and Mr. Greasy, the rooster, are frequent scene-stealers in The Biggest Little Farm, showing just what's possible with a little inter-species understanding; NEON.
Emma, the pig, and Mr. Greasy, the rooster, are frequent scene-stealers in The Biggest Little Farm, showing just what's possible with a little inter-species understanding; NEON.

A folksy, daydream quality suffuses about half the frames of The Biggest Little Farm, out now from NEON, and showing in artsier cinemas and festivals around the country.

This cinematic pixie dust is the film’s greatest strength. It also risks placing the picture, written and directed by acclaimed wildlife photographer, John Chester, precariously at the edge of fictionalized memoir — not through untruth or exaggeration, but omission and artifice.

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To buy or not to buy, that is the question: Wary shoppers slow retail sales

Mannequins doing their best to incite consumer desire; photo by George Shervashidze, from Pexels
Mannequins doing their best to incite consumer desire; photo by George Shervashidze, from Pexels

Quarterly financial reports often portend the future. The retail apparel numbers are out for the first quarter of 2019, and they aren’t pretty. Sales dropped by 24 percent, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2008, when they were a bellwether for the last recession. People aren’t buying clothing. Maybe some of them read my article about how Fast Fashion is contributing to climate change. If not, they should.

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It’s A Painting, It’s A Drawing, It’s A Sculpture, It’s Ceramics, It’s Beautiful — Lauren Mabry: Fused

Abstract scupture by Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder Black Textured with Striped Interior Detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura
Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder (Black Textured with Striped Interior), detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura

Enter Ferrin Contemporary, a gallery dedicated to ceramic artists, from MASS MoCA’s parking lot and find your self gazing at an array of beautiful, vibrantly colored vessels, relief paintings, and sculptures. What resemble the most vivid, glistening rubber band-like loops hang from a myriad of pegs on voluminous vessels and relief paintings that are round, rectangular, and square. The inside of each vessel is glazed in unexpected hues that play with the sense of depth and width. This is the work of Lauren Mabry, an artist re-imagining the definition, technique, and outcome of ceramics.

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Unsung Eats: Valhalla, Adams — mythic taste, priced for mere mortals

The aptly named burger, "The Balder," bravely adorns itself with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, and onions, allowing it's brave flavors to shine through. Highly recommended side item? The hand cut wedge fries; photo by James Kennedy.
"The Balder" burger bravely adorns itself with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, and onions, allowing its flavors to shine through. Recommended side item? Amazing hand cut wedge fries; photo by James Kennedy.

Here at Unsung Eats we usually have to search out the rare gems for great food at a good value but in this particular case the eatery found us.  We kept hearing, “Hey, have you tried Valhalla yet?” and when the Greylock Glass ran its Greylock Nation’s Greatest: 2019 readers poll, it was Valhalla Eatery in Adams that kept on popping up, so we knew who was going on the short list.

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Mighty Thunders and Borrowed Light open 2019 season at Hancock Shaker Village

Barbara Ernst Prey, School Room, 2019, watercolor on paper; [source Hancock Shaker Village].
Barbara Ernst Prey, School Room, 2019, watercolor on paper; [source Hancock Shaker Village].

by Jason Velázquez

This is the Top Left Corner. Today is Saturday, May 25, and you’re listening to episode #72. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and as always, thank you for tuning in. We have a huge show for you this week. We start off with a short hop over to Lenox where we check in with Shakespeare & Company, whose 2019 season kicks off with the Wavery Gallery. Then we spend the remainder of our show at Hancock Shaker Village, which begins its season with the opening of two major installations, Borrowed Light: Barbara Ernst Prey, and While Mighty Thunders Roll: Popular Artists Sing the Shakers, produced by Jeffrey Gaskill. We’ll finish up with some key segments of my conversation with Matt Lorenz known by his one-man band — The Suitcase Junket. Oh, and we’ve got some boss tracks from his new album to share with you, too.

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Forget Everything You Think About New York State Wine

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels
Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels

by Nancy Koziol

I was living in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001. I was three years into the dumpster fire of my twenties and in more danger than I’ve ever been in my life. It wasn’t the attacks—the carnage and violence erupting in my city—that put me at risk. I was safely across the river. No, it was me who was responsible for the aforementioned inferno, but 9/11 that helped me start to put out the blaze.

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Game of Thrones Has a Serious Girl Problem

Composite image of familiar "Game of Thrones" faces Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen; HBO.
Composite image of familiar "Game of Thrones" faces Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen; HBO.

Like most of the civilized world, I’ve zealously planted myself in front of the TV on Sunday nights for the past eight years to watch Game of Thrones unfold. I’ve largely enjoyed it, at least up until the rush-to-the-finish seasons 7 and 8, which have packed far too much character development and time hopping into a handful of episodes (how did Jaime Lannister and Arya Stark get to King’s Landing so quickly?), in an effort to tie up loose ends dangled but not yet resolved by author George R. R. Martin’s source material. As the series marches toward its final episode this weekend, I’ve come to realize that beyond poor pacing, there’s something more I deeply dislike about it: Game of Thrones has a girl problem.

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Spring tonic

Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

Within minutes of my house, the Green River meanders through a small park along the edge of a cemetery. In a twinkling I can be there, park by the rows of silent neighbors, and carefully make my way through wild edibles, ferns, and other flora wet with mist to sit on the bank and watch the foam rush by. Birds and insects are my only distraction. 

Here I feel my mood lift, pulse rate drop, and general overall feeling enhanced. I will not stay long. I don’t need to. More important is that I do this often. Breathe deeply, think deeply. 

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At the intersection of sound, space, and structure: ELEMENTAL

ELEMENTAL as viewed from the rear of the installation; photo by James Kennedy.
ELEMENTAL as viewed from the rear of the installation; photo courtesy Katya Popova.

Last Friday night I went to the 2019 opening of Installation Space in downtown North Adams to take in a new installation called ELEMENTAL.  The art exhibit is billed by Installation Space as “An immersive installation inspired by the basic structure of things. Its visual form explores the inner world of painting and cardboard, their visceral and abstract qualities—intersection, edge, line, negative space, texture, color, and movement. The installation is composed of sculptural visual elements, real time video re-projection, and sound.  The sound mirrors the visual net of  “the structures” by utilizing an algorithmic process of evolution of a complex modular texture.”  ELEMENTAL is the result of collaboration between two artists who both hold positions at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

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