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February 2019

Seeing our way clear to sustainability

Prominent pollution in 2006 photo Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped); CC BY-SA 3.0; via Wikimedia Commons.
Prominent pollution in a 2006 photo of Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It could be said that we will not have peace on Earth until peace becomes more profitable than war, but applying this same principle to the choice between fossil fuels and clean, renewable energy is a no-brainer. The benefits of the transition to clean energy are not only numerous but quite profitable.

Fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas, have been the lifeblood of America since well before the Industrial Revolution, and it could easily be argued that fossil fuels made a very large contribution towards making America the economic force in the world that it is today.

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Stranger in a Strange Land: Akram Khan and XENOS

Akram Khan in Xenos, photo by Jean Louis Fernandez, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow.
Akram Khan, in XENOS, photo by Jean Louis Fernandez, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow.

Akram Khan doesn’t just perform his dances; he lives them. In XENOS, which played to a packed audience on February 21 at the Williams College ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, he isn’t just a formidable dancer, but also a skilled actor adept at storytelling through explosive movement, small gestures, and poignant moments of stillness.

Whose war?
Whose fire?
Whose hand is this?

from Xenos, written by Jordan Tannahill
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The Immortal Material

Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials
Smith College Museum of Art

Aurora Robson, Isla, 2014; Plastic debris (PET + HDPE), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic, and mica powder; [Source: Aurora Robson].
Aurora Robson, Isla, 2014; Plastic debris (PET + HDPE), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic, and mica powder; [Source: Aurora Robson].

Plastic. In most cases it is imperishable, non-biodegradable, and close to everlasting. It is so ubiquitous in our life that we barely notice how much we use. According to the New York Times article, The Immense, Eternal Footprint Humanity leaves on Earth: Plastics (7.1. 2018) by Tatianna Schlossberg, 5 – 13 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, and since the 1950s, 4.9 billion metric tons is in landfills or spread throughout the environment. With these facts in mind, it is well worth a trip to Smith College Museum of Art to view, Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials organized by Pennsylvania State University’s Palmer Museum of Art.

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17 Years Boy: Epilogue
Works by Dr. Imo Nse Imeh

Imo Nse Imeh, Ovation, mixed media/canvas, 2018; [Source: artist / Readywipe Gallery]
Imo Nse Imeh, Ovation, mixed media/canvas, 2018; [Source: artist / Readywipe Gallery]

“ To me, this new body of work symbolizes the challenging, yet beautiful journey down the path of healing, to transform the horror of unspeakable tragedy into a renewed sense of life and celebration, I wanted to make something new, I wanted it to be reflective of a dark past, but also hopeful for the future.  It needed to be about healing and the celebration of Black boys.”

Imo Nse Imeh

Following a disturbing rash of racially motivated incidents at Westfield State University, Dr. Imo Nse Imeh, an associate professor at the college, launched a live multi media performance that reexamined the travesty of the death of 17 year old, Trayvon Martin. Using the span of Martin’s life, Dr. Imeh painted a large scale portrait of Trayvon Martin as a video taped performance that culminated in the destruction of the portrait in the final 17th hour of the show. This final hour mirrored the life of a 17 year old boy whose life was cut short for no other reason other than racial hatred. Over the course of the next year, Dr. Imeh created 17 new works, each one integrating fragments from Trayvon Martin’s portrait saved from the first performance.

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Best of Hudson Shopping:
17 unique furniture stores, offering gently used bargains to handcrafted treasures

Much of the great shopping in Hudson, New York can be found on Warren Street; photo by Dan Region.
Much of the great shopping in Hudson, New York can be found on Warren Street; photo by Dan Region.

Shopping is one of those activities that roughly half the population loves, and does partly for the sheer fun of browsing or bargain hunting. The other half won’t step foot in a store until they’re down to the last smear of peanut butter in the jar or are desperate for socks that don’t have built-in ventilation. Whether you love it, hate it, or have an it’s-complicated relationship with shopping, here’s some great news: Hudson, New York, just an hour from Pittsfield, is fast becoming a shopper’s paradise, where you can pick up just about everything you need in a single day.

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What’s in it?

Stracciatella satisfies and nourishes with surprisingly little fuss, photo by Kasey Rogers.
Stracciatella satisfies and nourishes with surprisingly little fuss, photo by Kasey Rogers.

We all seem to have these pivotal moments in our lives. Moments that have come to define us. They’re not necessarily big moments. They’re moments that we easily recall. Moments that influences the way we approach life, for better or worse.

I had this type of moment as a teenager. My mother decided to use food can labels to wallpaper the bottom half of the wall in our kitchen. Don’t ask where she got the idea, but she started collecting labels from friends and family. When she had enough, she trimmed them and I helped her as she used wallpaper paste to stick them to the wall. Soon the lower half of the kitchen wall had a colorful array of labels. Whenever we sat at the kitchen table, it was hard not to read them.

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School Vacations! New Spring Exhibits!

Emily Eveleth, Big Pink, 2016, oil on canvas, [Source: the Artist and Danese/Corey, New York] on view: Like Sugar, Tang Teaching Museum
Emily Eveleth, Big Pink, 2016, oil on canvas, [Source: the Artist and Danese/Corey, New York] on view: Like Sugar, Tang Teaching Museum

School vacations are upon us! In addition, a welcome sign winter will not last forever-new spring exhibits are beginning to pop up everywhere! You can drive within an hour and view a recently opened exhibit composed of internationally renowned artists whose work has focused on sugar, both the sweet and sour aspects, at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs to a beautiful group exhibit, Be Mine, presenting the many interpretations of love curated by Julie Torres at LABspace in Hillsdale, New York, or stay in your own back yard and finally try out the free snowshoes at the Clark Art Institute.

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Year of the Pig: If only politicians were more like them

Your average pig tries to live a pretty clean life, and would likely avoid the Beltway if at all possible; photo by Jason Velázquez.
Your average pig tries to live a pretty clean life, and would likely avoid the Beltway if at all possible; photo by Jason Velázquez.

My image of our leaders in Washington is of a herd of pigs wallowing in the muck. But that’s a disservice to pigs. I love pigs, and I really wish politicians were more like them.

I raised pigs for several years, beginning with Milda, a Yorkshire I had every intention of raising to 150 pounds and putting in the freezer. Like a pink puppy, Milda was soon following me around and visiting the other animals. She was a “Babe.” I decided, “Hey, I like pigs. I want more!” When Milda reached maturity, I trucked her off to a friend with a boar. The union resulted in a litter of fourteen. Of these, I kept five females, rounding out the herd to a half dozen. An extension that included a maternity wing was added to the barn, three roomy straw-filled pens for my girls. And Milda became the matriarch of hogdom.

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The (Very) Bearable Lightness of Being Over the Hill

Dating app, Bumper, pixelmanced by Jason Velázquez.
Theoretical dating app, Bumper, pixelmanced by Jason Velázquez.

In early January, French author and filmmaker Yann Moix took a bath into a cauldron of hot water by declaring in an interview with the French edition of Marie Claire that women over age 50 are “too, too old” to love, and thus are “invisible” to him. He based his argument on the highly scientific theory that a 25-year-old woman’s body is “extraordinary,” whereas a 50-year-old woman’s body is “not extraordinary at all.”

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Two Distinct Exhibits In A Historic Building

Terry Winters, Untitled (2), 1999; gouache on paper, 44 1/4 X 30 1/2 inches; private collection [Source: Matthew Marks Gallery]
Terry Winters, Untitled (2), 1999; gouache on paper, 44 1/4 X 30 1/2 inches; private collection [Source: Matthew Marks Gallery]

Xylor Jane: Counterclockwise & Terry Winters: Facts & Fiction

“I saw it in New York,” or “I saw it in the city” is an often-heard response when an exhibit of well established artists come to the mountains and valleys of western Massachusetts. It happens all the time at MASS MoCA. My response generally is, “Well, did you see it in a gallery the size of a football field? Could you look down on it from above?” One such show, slightly to the east of us, is now on view at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center, which houses the University Museum of Contemporary Art.

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The Green New Deal

Caring about our future and doing something about it are two different things. While both are noble enough pursuits, only one of them will yield fruit.  There has been a lot of talk in the news these days about something called the Green New Deal, and it encompasses both caring about our future and taking action to do something about it. The benefits, both economically and socially, could be countless, the undertaking enormous, and it will require that we inform ourselves, as citizens, the best we can in order for it to succeed.

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New Shows! New Performances! Not to be missed!

Paul Feeley, 1910-196; A Girl With A Doll, in Works on Paper: A Decade of Collecting [source: Bennington Museum]
Paul Feeley, A Girl With a Doll, on view in Works on Paper: A Decade of Collecting [source: Bennington Museum]

Supposedly, February is the off-season for cultural happenings in the Berkshires and neighboring communities. Don’t believe it! From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s incredible Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, New York, to Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, to Smith College Museum of Art’s opening exhibit, Plastic Entanglements, Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials, the breath, depth and diversity of our region knows no bounds. The above are, but a few of the incredible opportunities within an hour of north county to witness new, innovative art or fresh new discoveries of Vermont Folk sculpture. Fortunately most of these exhibits are on view for at least a month and some through the spring season. Plan ahead and enjoy!

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