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Eliza Edens

Humbird / Eliza Edens House Show at Caretaker Farm

 

Thanks to Sam & Elizabeth Smith for graciously hosting a show right inside their cozy red farmhouse! Music starts at 7. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. Parking is limited — carpooling encouraged! The concert is FREE but donations are encouraged 🙂

Questions? Call Elizabeth: 413-884-5748

About Humbird (MPLS):

After traversing 5 continents and 20 countries with only a guitar and a backpack, Humbird returns home to sing songs from the edge of the world. Combining a wintry longing with the warmth of a familiar folktale, Humbird stretches traditional genres of folk and Americana to embrace the unexpected. This music invites a refreshing dissonance into the house, it leaves breadcrumbs along the path and reflects light back at the stars.

Creating music out of a mosaic of influences like Joni Mitchell, Bon Iver and Bill Frisell, Humbird weaves it all together with powerful lyrics and a stubborn pursuit of the sound of the North. The release of Humbird’s double EP “Elsewhere” and “Where Else” in Summer 2017 is just the beginning.

Find Humbird’s music here.

About Eliza Edens

A Williamstown native born to a gardener & a journalist who would blast The Beatles, Canned Heat, & Peter, Paul and Mary during car rides to-and-from their rural Massachusetts home, it’s fitting that Eliza Edens is a musician who takes an observational approach to the natural world around her. Combining the adventurous fingerpicking of The Tallest Man on Earth, the calm resolve of Laura Marling, and the aching pulse of Bon Iver, Eliza writes tightly wound songs with wistful lyrics and winding melodies that belong somewhere between your tumbledown front porch stoop and a hazy bar in the big city – and leave a little extra space to linger. She is a grantee of Club Passim’s 2017 Iguana Music Fund and is currently crafting a debut record.

Find Eliza’s EP here.

The Cornbread Cafe #5: Western Centuries, Dom Flemons, Oh Susanna, & MORE

The Honey Whiskey Trio released Rye Woman in 2017; submitted photo.
The Honey Whiskey Trio released Rye Woman in 2017; submitted photo.

Welcome! brothers and sisters to Episode #5—of the Cornbread Cafe.

Cazh and cozy, we’re located at the five-corners of Blues, Americana, Folk, Country, and Gospel. And you can sometimes catch an express to Rock ’n’ Roll at the bus stop across the way. We want to be your new fave hang for the best in a sprawling menu of American Roots music.

In this Episode:

1.  “Double or Nothing,” Western Centuries, Weight of the World
2.  “Brick Wall,” Maggie Baugh, Catch Me
3.  “Balaclava,” Eliza Edens, Lowlight
4. “Voice from on High,” Anna & Elizabeth, Anna & Elizabeth
5.  “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” Honey Whiskey Trio, Stories of Love, Death and Spirits
6.  “Jackie,” The Suitcase Junket, Pile Driver
7.  “Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer),” Bumper Jacksons, I’ve Never Met a Stranger
8.  “Hot Chicken,” Dom Flemons, Prospect Hill
9.  “The Real Me,” Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band, The Singles
10. “Wolfsbane Wine,” Molly Pinto Madigan, The Cup Overflows
11. “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight,” Tony Trischka Territory, Great Big World
12. “Lucky” Comanchero, Thrown
13. “Dying Light,” Oh Susanna, Namedropper

Musician bio info frequently comes from the artists, their websites, or their publicists. Click on names below to visit their websites where you can get the full story, photos, and very often video.

Western Centuries

“Double or Nothing” Weight of the World

Western Centuries debut release, Weight of the World.
Western Centuries debut release, Weight of the World.

The worn floor of an old honky­tonk is not usually a place you’d think of as welcoming to bold new experimentation. If you’ve got something new to say, you’d better say it in the form of a brisk two­step that keeps the dancers moving. So it’s doubly impressive that Seattle country band Western Centuries is able to meld wildly disparate influences into an original honky­tonk sound that won’t make dancers miss a step. Formed originally under the name Country Hammer by Americana songwriter Cahalen Morrison, known for his innovative work as an acoustic duo with Eli West, Western Centuries revolves around three principal songwriters–Morrison, Ethan Lawton, and Jim Miller–each with a totally different perspective. Here, Cahalen Morrison channels his New Mexico roots–he grew up exploring lost arroyos and playing drums in a conjunto band–into a kind of blood­red Western drawl. His songs are as influenced by cowboy poetry or his great­grandfather’s Scottish Gaelic poetry as much as his love of George Jones. Ethan Lawton came out of the rough, working­class streets of Seattle’s South end, working in hip­hop and punk before losing his heart to bluegrass. His bone­dry vocals meld intensely with the rocksteady back­beat of his country songs, born from his love of old Jamaican 45s mixed with early bluegrass. Jim Miller comes from the jamband circuit, where he ruled for decades as a founding member of the much­loved band Donna The Buffalo. Throughout, the dancefloor was his temple, and he cribbed ideas from Louisiana Zydeco all the way to the The Band. Western Centuries’ debut album, Weight of the World, released by Free Dirt Records on June 3, 2016, introduces a band of roots music mavericks bringing refreshingly new ideas to their country roots.

Maggie Baugh

“Brick Wall,” Catch Me

Multi-instrumentalist, and singer/songwriter, Maggie Baugh is a young, South Florida based county music sensation! At 17 years old, she has a publishing deal, she is a Nashville Recording artist, singer/songwriter, guitar player and dynamic fiddle player. Maggie Baugh has played fiddle onstage with Neal McCoy and Charlie Daniels Band. (Yes, she is the one that played Devil Went Down to Georgia with Charlie Daniels – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylWjExfL5ew).

Playing guitar and singing, Maggie Baugh has opened in South Florida for Ashley Monroe (of Pistol Annie’s), Craig Morgan, Neal McCoy, Cole Swindell, Phil Vassar, Taylor Hicks, Chase Bryant, Drake White, Josh Dorr, Radio Romance, Drew Baldridge, Montgomery Gentry, John Anderson, Cowboy Troy and Old Southern Moonshine Revival.

Eliza Edens
“Balaclava” Low Light

Low Light, Eliza Edens' debut EP, dropped to critical acclaim in 2017.
Low Light, Eliza Edens’ debut EP, dropped to critical acclaim in 2017.

A native of Western Massachusetts, Eliza has been singing her whole life. Raised on the Beatles and inspired by older folkies Eva Cassidy and Karen Dalton, along with today’s alt-R&B acts Lianne La Havas and James Blake, Eliza ties together disparate influences into her vocal style. With sparse electric guitar textures, wistful melodies, and observational songwriting, her music both enlivens and partakes in the ennui of modern life, belonging somewhere between your tumbledown front porch stoop and a hazy bar in Brooklyn.

Anna & Elizabeth
“Voice from on High” Anna & Elizabeth

Anna & Elizabeth gathered and interpreted 16 traditional songs for their 2015 eponymous release.
Anna & Elizabeth gathered and interpreted 16 traditional songs for their 2015 eponymous release.

Anna & Elizabeth has appeared on stages across the world, including the Cambridge Folk Festival, Brighton Festival, Newport Folk Festival, National Sawdust, Atlanta Museum of Modern Art, Old Town School of Folk Music, Brooklyn Folk Fest; intimate theaters across the U.S., U.K. & Europe; and fellowships to develop their work at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Centrum. They have released two acclaimed full-length albums–Sun to Sun (2012) and Anna & Elizabeth (2015).

In winter 2018, Anna & Elizabeth will release their third full-length album; a continuing progression of their evolving sound. It is co-produced by Anna and Benjamin Lazar Davis (avant-pop outfit Cuddle Magic) and features Jim White of The Dirty Three on drums, and lauded experimental pedal steel player Susan Alcorn (Mary Halvorsen Octet).

Honey Whiskey Trio

“All I Have to Do Is Dream ,” Stories of Love, Death and Spirits

Stories of Love, Death and Spirits
Stories of Love, Death and Spirits

The Honey Whiskey Trio explores harmony in folk, bluegrass and any melody that catches the ear. Through their powerful, yet sweet harmonies, body percussion, haunting melodies and vitality on stage, Honey Whiskey Trio captivates and moves audiences. These storytellers in song found their roots in vocal jazz, all singing in Pacific Standard Time, CSU Long Beach’s award winning vocal jazz ensemble, though at different times. This foundation in jazz gives Honey Whiskey Trio an inherent flexibility to their sound, allowing them to change and adjust their tone to best fit the mood of each song.

In 2013, after singing together for only 5 months, Honey Whiskey Trio won the Harmony Sweepstakes National Competition, also winning Audience Favorite at both the Regional and National sweepstakes. They have gone on to headline the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, the Women’s A Cappella Association‘s SheSings Festival, the South Eastern Minnesota A Cappella Festival, and have been featured artists at the FAR-West Folk Festival, the Rogue Valley Roots Festival, the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival,and the Shedd Institute for the Arts. Called “One of the most talented vocal harmony groups performing today” by John Neal, Harmony Sweepstakes executive producer and ”One of the very best arrivals this year on my stage. Solid in every way and fully entertaining” by Bob Stane, of The Coffee Gallery Backstage, Honey Whiskey Trio is a group you don’t want to miss experiencing live.

The Suitcase Junket

“Jackie,” Pile Driver

Matt Lorenz sits alone on a suitcase in the center of a complex construction of upcycled cookpots, saw blades and broken chairs. Artist, tinkerer, tunesmith, swamp yankee. A one-man salvage specialist singing into the hollow of a Dumpster guitar, slipping a broken bottleneck onto the slide finger, railing on a box of twisted forks and bones, rocking till every sound is ragged at its edges, till the house is singing back. Then, unplugging all the amps and letting one mountain ballad soar over the raw strings on that guitar. Every night is a hard-driving, blues-grinding, throat-singing search-and-rescue junket. Sooner or later everything rusts, busts, and gets tossed into the junk heap: iron, bones, leather, hot rods, muskrats, the night, theheart. The goal is to recover it. To waste nothing. To create new ways from old. This is The Suitcase Junket.

Matt Lorenz was raised in Cavendish, Vermont, the son of teachers. He learned to sing by copying his sister Kate. (The siblings are two-thirds of the touring trio Rusty Belle.) Lorenz graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2004, having taught himself to throat-sing thanks to a South Indian cooking class. On moving day, he pulled his guitar, filled with mold and worse for wear, from a dorm Dumpster. He fixed it up and started pulling songs out of it. That was the beginning.

Bumper Jacksons

“Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)” I’ve Never Met a Stranger

The Bumper Jacksons; photos by Michael O. Snyder.
The Bumper Jacksons; photos by Michael O. Snyder.

The Bumper Jacksons are hot and sweet, painting America’s story from the streets of New Orleans to Appalachian hollers. Unafraid to scrap together new sounds from forgotten 78’s, the Bumper Jacksons boldly and elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, DIY style. Honored as the region’s 2015 “Artist of the Year” and “Best Folk Band” from 2013-2015 at the Washington Area Music Awards, the Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagining roots music with both power and tenderness. Bursting at the seams with some of the richest threads of old America, Bumper Jacksons bring you into the center of a party where everyone’s invited and the dance floor never sleeps.

Dom Flemons

“Hot Chicken,” Dom Flemons, Prospect Hill

2014's Prospect Hill, Dom Flemons' first release after leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is an intense whirlwind of a tour through eclectic folk styles and textures.
2014’s Prospect Hill, Dom Flemons’ first release after leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is an intense whirlwind of a tour through eclectic folk styles and textures.

A Phoenix Native, Flemons’ involvement with music began by playing percussion in his high school band. After picking up the guitar and harmonica, he began to play coffee houses and became a regular on the Arizona folk music scene. During that period Flemons wrote his own songs and produced 25 albums of singer-songwriters and slam poets, including six albums of his own. A multi-instrumentalist, Flemons plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum, and quills, in addition to singing. His banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, he was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences.

Christian Coleman and The Blue Zen Band

“The Real Me,” The Singles

Mama Died and Left Me
Papa Died and Left Me
Raised by Wolves on The Mean Streets

Christian Coleman is a 25 year veteran of the Wasatch Front Music Scene. Described as “Bob Dylan meets Muddy Waters”, his solo repertoire consists of Decades of Original Material combined with Classic Blues material from the 1940’s to the present, and Americana Classics that define the Contemporary American Songbook. A One-Man juggling act of Vocals, Guitar, and Harmonica, Christian always brings a signature passion and trademark intensity to every performance!!!

Molly Pinto Madigan

“Wolfsbane Wine” The Cup Overflows

Molly Pinto Madigan's 2017 release, The Cup Overflows, builds on her impressive songwriting and vocal skills with a heightened level of self-assurance that suits her musical direction.
Molly Pinto Madigan’s 2017 release, The Cup Overflows, builds on her impressive songwriting and vocal skills with a heightened level of self-assurance that suits her musical direction.

 

Molly Pinto Madigan, the silver-throated leading lady of the erstwhile folk/roots combo, has released a new CD, “The Cup Overflows.” Molly invited me to share a track from this collection with you, and I had a tough time deciding between them all.

 (from her bio)

“Hailed for her angelic voice and haunting compositions, Molly Pinto Madigan won first place in WUMB’s Boston Folk Festival Songwriting Contest and was named “Artist of the Year” at Salem State University, her alma mater. Since her debut as the lead singer for the teen bluegrass band Jaded Mandolin, Madigan has submerged herself in the dark, luscious world of ballads, drawn to their magic, and her original songs echo with the whisperings of the American and European traditional music.”

Tony Trischka Territory

“I Wonder Where You Are Tonight” Great Big World

Tony Trischka and Territory will perform songs from "Great Big World" and more at the Hancock Shaker Village 08/19. Click the image to buy the album via our Amazon affiliate link.
Tony Trischka and Territory will perform songs from Great Big World and more at the Hancock Shaker Village 08/19. Click the image to buy the album via our Amazon affiliate link.

Trischka, 2012 United States Artists Friends Fellow, is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 45 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with the many voices he has brought to the instrument.

A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka’s interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio’s “Charlie and the MTA” in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. That year, Trischka made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of America’s premier sports-rock band Country Granola. In 1973, he began a three-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.

Comanchero

“Lucky,” Thrown

Since 2003, Comanchero has crafted an Americana sound that combines old traditions with new, Country with Rock, Bluegrass with Blues, Honky-Tonk with Funk, and Roots with Rockabilly. While unique in their own sound, there is something strikingly familiar in Comanchero’s songs that weave influences ranging from The Allman Brothers, The Band, Little Feat, & Led Zeppelin, to today’s contemporaries such as Wilco, The Drive -By Truckers, & Mumford & Sons.

Highlights:
– Boston’s Americana Jam Band since 2003
– Four studio albums
– Songs licensed by PBS (Road Trip Nation) and ABC (20/20 with Diane Sawyer)
– Direct support for artists such as: ZZ Top, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Yardbirds, & Passion Pit
– Winner of Relix Magazine’s “Jam Off” competition & featured in magazine and monthly CD
– Nominated by Red Line Roots for Favorite Local Rock and Rollers
– Over 500 performances including international (Ireland, UK tour)

Oh Susanna

“Dying Light,” Name Dropper

"Name Dropper," by Oh Susanna; 2015
“Name Dropper,” by Oh Susanna; 2015

Suzie Ungerleider began performing as Oh Susanna in the mid-1990s, crafting a persona that matched the timeless qualities of her music, sounds that drew from the deep well of early 20th Century folk, country and blues, yet rooted in her finely-honed storytelling skills. This Canadian songstress has a voice that can pierce a heart of stone. Her superbly crafted songs often tell stories of troubled souls who rebel against their circumstances to attain a quiet dignity. These are tales of longing and love, of small town joys and pains, of our simple feelings and strong passions. These are tales that look into our beautifully flawed human hearts.

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TLC #44: Summer Delights at The Clark—Picasso: Encounters, Orchestrating Elegance & More

Picasso: Encounters looks at artist’s experimentation and collaboration in printmaking

Picasso’s prints and paintings on view at the Clark Art Institute Until August 27

Picasso And Jacques Frélaut, Printer In Vallauris, And Edouard Pignon. La Californie, Cannes, Easter (good Friday) 16.3.1961; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.
Picasso And Jacques Frélaut, Printer In Vallauris, And Edouard Pignon. La Californie, Cannes, Easter (good Friday) 16.3.1961; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.

 

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—Picasso: Encounters, on view at the Clark Art Institute June 4–August 27, investigates how Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) creative collaborations fueled and strengthened his art, challenging the notion of Picasso as an artist alone with his craft. The exhibition addresses his full stylistic range, the narrative themes that drove his creative process, the often-neglected issue of the collaboration inherent in print production, and the muses that inspired him, including Fernande Olivier, Olga Khokhlova, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque.

Organized by the Clark with the exceptional support of the Musée national Picasso–Paris, Picasso: Encounters is comprised of thirty-five large-scale prints from private and public collections and three paintings including his seminal Self-Portrait (end of 1901) and the renowned Portrait of Dora Maar (1937), both on loan from the Musée national Picasso–Paris.

Picasso: Encounters includes a series of four unpublished linocut trial proofs modeled after Édouard Manet’s 1863 painting, Luncheon on the Grass, offering a unique perspective on the artist’s and printer’s process. The four proofs on view were eventually combined to create the final linocut, which is also shown in the exhibition.

Music heard on this show

Thank you to the following brilliant artists for their musical contributions:

Eliza Edens, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and Jeewon Park; photos courtesy the artists.
Eliza Edens, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and Jeewon Park; photos courtesy the artists.

Eliza Edens, who opens for Sarah Lee Guthrie and who blew us away with her March 2017 EP Low Light, from whence the song, “Balaclava” came.

Sarah Lee Guthrie, who will be performing July 1 at the new Shaker Barn Music, Summer Series, at Hancock Shaker Village.

Jeewon Park playing Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude No. 5 in D major, op. 28” on the Alma-Tadema piano; courtesy The Clark Art Institute

Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design

Elaborate design, exquisite craftsmanship in furniture, paintings, sculpture,
and decorative arts of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Alexis Goodin, co-curator of Orchestrating Elegance, explains the deep research that informed Tadema's historical understanding of his subject matter through a discussion of The Sculpture Gallery, 1875; photo by Jason Velázquez
Alexis Goodin, co-curator of Orchestrating Elegance, explains the deep research that informed Tadema’s historical understanding of his subject matter through a discussion of The Sculpture Gallery, 1875; photo by Jason Velázquez

And, as resurgent interest in Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (British, born Netherlands 1836–1912) raises appreciation and interest in his work for a new generation, the Clark Art Institute offers new insight into one of the painter’s most successful and distinctive artistic endeavors—the design of a music room for the New York mansion of financier, art collector, and philanthropist Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819–1902). Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design, curated by Kathleen M. Morris and Alexis Goodin, reunites twelve of nineteen pieces from the original furniture suite, along with paintings, ceramics, textiles, and sculpture from the room for the first time since Marquand’s estate was auctioned in 1903. The Clark’s ornately decorated Steinway piano, acquired in 1997, is the centerpiece of the exhibition.

A Gilded Age Evening at the Clark

 

Gilded Age elegance and exquisite cuisine combine to create an unforgettable evening at the Clark. Guests will enjoy a private, after-hours tour of Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design hosted by exhibition curator Kathleen Morris, followed by a culinary immersion in dining led by noted food writer and historian Darra Goldstein as she invites guest to navigate the intricacies of a Gilded Age dinner.

 

Explore the foods, wines, and table customs of the period while dining on an extravagant menu prepared by Chef Dan Hardy of STARR Catering.

 

Seating is limited to 40 guests at communal tables. Click here to view the menu and make reservations, or call 413 458 0524.

Picasso—Muses, Myth, and Old Masters

Portrait of Olga in a Fur Collar, 1923 (printed 1955). Drypoint on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso, image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.
Portrait of Olga in a Fur Collar, 1923 (printed 1955). Drypoint on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso, image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.

 

“We are delighted to bring these exceptional works to Williamstown to share them with our visitors this summer,” said Olivier Meslay, Felda and Dena Hardymon Director of the Clark. “This exhibition gives us a different look at Picasso and provides the opportunity to study the remarkable achievements accomplished as he worked with different printmakers. Their craftsmanship and his artistry forged new paths that clearly expanded Picasso’s view and broadened his horizons. We are particularly grateful to the Musée national Picasso–Paris for the extraordinary loans they have made to this show –– we are thrilled to be able to bring these incredible paintings to the Clark.”

 

Visage (Face of Marie-Thérèse), 1928. Lithograph on chine collé; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.
Visage (Face of Marie-Thérèse), 1928. Lithograph on chine collé; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.

 

The exhibition begins with a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904). Self-Portrait embodies the despair, isolation, and poverty that marked images created during this period. Following this, visitors encounter The Frugal Repast (1904) which was the artist’s first foray into large-scale printmaking, and was created at the end of the Blue Period. Picasso was living with his lover Fernande Olivier in Montmartre, a bohemian section of Paris, creating art that depicted individuals at the margins of society, such as the poor.

 

Following World War I, Picasso became involved in theater design. It was through this interest that he met his first wife, the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, who performed in the corps of the Ballets Russes. The couple moved to a fashionable neighborhood in Paris where they began to entertain and mingle with the elite, a changed atmosphere from Picasso’s earlier bohemian circles. The artist’s upward mobility, both in the art market and in the sophisticated lifestyle he shared with Khokhlova, began to appear in his art. The drypoint Portrait of Olga in a Fur Collar (1923) depicts Olga dressed in the height of fashion, serenely turning her head to the side.

Marie-Thérèse Walter and The Minotaur

Minotauromachia, 1935 (printed 1936). Etching and engraving on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso, image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.
Minotauromachia, 1935 (printed 1936). Etching and engraving on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso, image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.

In 1927, Picasso met one of the most iconic muses of his artistic career, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Walter would become both an erotic and visual preoccupation for Picasso during an immensely productive time in his life. Her youth and classical beauty are evident in Visage (Face of Marie-Thérèse) (1928), which was created for a monograph on the artist by the Parisian collector and critic André Level.

Free Art-Making Activities Celebrate Abstract Expressionist Exhibition at the Clark Art Institute

 

On Tuesday afternoons from July 11–August 22, 1–4 pm, the Clark Art Institute invites people of all ages to experiment with Cubism. Outdoor art-making stations, located on the Fernández Terrace, encourage participants to make observations from different angles in order to create a unique work of cubist art. This event is weather-dependent. All activities are free, but admission to the galleries will be charged. Clark members, children under 18, and students with a valid ID always receive free admission.

 

ALSO, Beginning July 13, the Clark Art Institute will hold weekly art-making activities in celebration of the exhibition As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings (on view July 1–October 9, 2017). “Off the Wall: Soak Stain” sessions will be held on Thursday afternoons from 1–4 pm through August 31. Participants create a canvas wall hanging inspired by the work of Frankenthaler, an Abstract Expressionist painter, experimenting with the “soak stain” technique the artist pioneered. Activities will be held outdoors at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill. The art-making sessions are free; optional admission to the galleries will be charged.

Luncheon on the Grass, after Manet, 1968; color linoleum cut on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.
Luncheon on the Grass, after Manet, 1968; color linoleum cut on paper; Estate of Pablo Picasso; image courtesy The Clark Art Institute.

Alma-Tadema—Creation of The Music Room

The music room acted as the Marquand mansion’s parlor and formed the social center of the residence. In it, Marquand displayed a portion of his famous collection of European paintings including two works by Alma-Tadema: A Reading from Homer (1885) and Amo Te, Ama Me (1881), both on view in the exhibition. Classical antiquities, including marble sculptures and vases, as well as modern sculpture in the antique style were also found in the room and are represented in the exhibition.

Marquand set no cost limit for the music room project, which was Alma-Tadema’s only commission of this type. The resulting furniture suite, extraordinary in every detail, created a sensation when it was displayed in London prior to shipment to New York. Acclaimed for its imaginative forms, the suite was painstakingly decorated with veneers of ebony and cedar accented with elaborately carved inlays of boxwood, ivory, abalone, and mother-of-pearl. Magazines and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic featured extensive coverage of the furniture and the room, praising the design and craftsmanship, while marveling at the cost: an estimated $50,000 for the piano alone. When the Clark purchased the piano at auction in 1997 for $1.2 million, headlines across Europe and the United States once again touted the price paid for the piano, which was the most expensive sold at auction up to that time. That benchmark was eclipsed in 2000 when the piano John Lennon used to write Imagine sold for $2.1 million.

Alma-Tadema and Classical Antiquity

The Sculpture Gallery, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1875. Oil on panel; Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester; image courtesy the Clark Art Institute.
The Sculpture Gallery, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1875. Oil on panel; Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester; image courtesy the Clark Art Institute.

The Marquand mansion was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt (1827–1895) and completed in 1884. When Marquand commissioned Alma-Tadema, the London-based artist was well established as the premier painter of classical antiquity. Orchestrating Elegance includes several paintings that helped build this reputation: Preparation for Festivities (1866), The Sculpture Gallery (1875), Between Hope and Fear (1876), and The Women of Amphissa (1887). In addition, preparatory sketches and related drawings and photographs demonstrate his ability as a draftsman and his approach to incorporating ancient references in his works.

Alma-Tadema achieved great success during his lifetime. His paintings of imagined scenes from ancient times have influenced directors of films set in antiquity such as Ben-Hur and Gladiator, among others. While admiration for his academic style of painting waned in the early decades of the twentieth century, in recent years there has been renewed interest in his work, and in 2011 his canvas The Finding of Moses sold for $35.9 million—an auction record for the artist. In 2016 The Fries Museum opened the major exhibition Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, which traveled to Vienna and will be shown in summer 2017 in London, the city where Alma-Tadema enjoyed his greatest success.

About the Clark

The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call (413) 458-2303.

Narrative Transcript

Today is Thursday June 29, 2017—I’m your host, Jason Velázquez, and I thank you for tuning in to Episode Number 44 of the Top Left Corner.

Summer is never long underway before I start wondering if it wouldn’t be worth it just to pitch a tent on the lawn at The Clark Art Institute. They wouldn’t mind that, right? I mean, between the special Summer exhibits, music series, lectures, films, classes—all on top of their permanent collection, which never gets old for me—you could keep pretty busy even past Labor Day. And gourmet food is available on site too pretty often, although showers might present a problem…

Well, I had the good fortune earlier this month to preview two exhibits that are on view now, Picasso: Encounters, and Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design. It’s pretty unusual for us to try to cram more than one high-octane presentation into an episode, but like I said, there’s so much going on over there, we kind of have to. Pretty much as soon as you get finished listening to this episode, two more exhibits, both featuring the work of Helen Frankenthaler, will open on July 1st. No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts and As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings. Check the shownotes for more information about them.

But what we’ve got for you today is pretty unique. Firstly, I managed to record a walk-through of Picasso: Encounters given by Jay A. Clarke, who is the Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. I selected segments of that tour and paired them with the actual works she discusses and have the placed images in the shownotes. For example, you can listen to Jay Clarke discuss Picasso’s lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, and study her face in the print that was once shrouded in mystery.

Naturally, I couldn’t include the entire narration in the episode — that would made for three hour show or something, but I did select some of my favorite pieces from the exhibition. Supporting patrons of the Greylock Glass can access the ENTIRE walkthrough of Picasso: Encounters, which makes for a very slick personal guided tour right there in your smartphone or mp3 player. What? You’re not a supporting patron of the Greylock Glass? You should fix that. Go to https://www.greylockglass.com/support/ and contribute either through Patreon.com or PayPal.

I also had the extreme pleasure of a guided walkthrough of Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design. I spend a little less time on this episode talking about it, and for good reason. Appreciation of the re-assembly of the Music Room of Henry Gurdon Marquand goes beyond two dimensions plus sound. You really have to stand in the midst of the different pieces to feel the impact. The collection took a decade of sleuthing and negotiation to bring together, and the result is a luxurious, sensual feast that tries to seduce your fingers into striking a key on the enchanting Steinway Model D or tracing a delicately carved contour in the wood of the Long Sette. The Pieces in Orchestrating Elegance were all conjured into being to interact with each other, to balance each other, to complete each other.

If you’ve already seen the Grand Piano, part of the Clark’s permanent collection, this Summer is the time to experience it again in context. If you’ve never laid eyes on this not-quite-over-top masterpiece, you’re in luck, since once the enchantment of Music Room is dispelled in September, you will never have the chance to see this much of the original collection together again.

Before we make our way into the cool and calm of the galleries of The Clark, though, I wanted to remind listeners that the Shaker Barn Music, Summer Series, curated by Karl Mullen, is under way at the Hancock Shaker Village. If you missed our interview with Dom Flemmons, Grammy Award–-winning founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, I urge you to go back and listen to Episode #42. The second installment of that series will feature internationally loved Sarah Lee Guthrie on Saturday, July 1. Opening for her will be homegrown singer-songwriter Eliza Edens. We are very grateful that both artists contributed songs for this episode. Sarah Lee is joined by her husband, Jonny Irion, on “Circle of Souls” from the 2013 release Wassaic Way. Right now, here’s Eliza with “Balaclava” off her March 2017 EP Low Light.

Again, that was Sarah Lee Guthrie with Johnny Irion and “Circle of Souls.” Before that we heard Eliza Edens and “Balaclava.” You can hear both artists July 1st at the Hancock Shaker Village. Check out the show notes for links to more information.

Now I think we’re ready to talk about Picasso: Encounters.

In addition to the wealth of insights we gleaned from curator Jay A. Clarke, we also spoke Olivier Meslay, who has been The Clark’s Felda and Dena Hardymon Director, since late August of last year. He came to Williamstown by way of the Dallas Museum of Art, and is only the Clark’s 5th director.

That’s Jay Clarke.

Beginning with Olga Khokhlova, the women in Picasso’s life seem to come largely from artistic circles.

As if in a mean-spirited seating assignment at a dinner party, the woman at whom the portrait of Olga may or not be glowering is in the print to the left of the soon to be spurned first wife.

Some of Picasso’s real world muses undergo a synthesis with mythology, as the artist plumbs the depths of his mind. Making one of several appearances in his works, an alarming creature takes center stage in surreal 1935 scene of barely contained internal and external conflict.

Picasso taps into the inspiration of myth frequently, as well as that of his contemporaries and the Old Masters. Would that we cover more ground in this episode. As much as we might have thought we had a good familiarity with the artist previously, Picasso: Encounters, which closes August 27, reveals a character that defies simple definition. Director Meslay suggests that the focus on Picasso’s experimentation with printmaking adds new depth to the understanding both of his personality and his process.

 

Alexis Goodin, along with her co-curator Kathleen M. Morris, have poured tremendous effort and expertise into Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design. Alexis begins our tour of the re-incarnation of the Marquand Music Room. The centerpiece of the room is, of course, the Alma-Tadema Steinway Model D forte, or grand, piano, heard in the intro heard just now, and played by Jeewon Park, who performed Frederic Chopin’s Prelude No. 5 in D major, op. 28.

Alexis continues.

Director Meslay, as one might expect, possesses both depth and breadth in his understanding of the themes, styles, and techniques to be found in the various pieces in the exhibition. Having held a variety of leadership positions at the Musée du Louvre between 1993–2009, including curator in charge of British, American, and Spanish paintings, Meslay’s knowledge is steeped in exactly the types of considerations that Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema brought to bear in the creation of the Marquand Music Room.

Alexis Goodin highlights Alma-Tadema’s intensive field research and scholarship through a discussion of the artist’s 1875 oil, “The Sculpture Gallery.”

 

I know that before I hire an artist to convert my 800 square foot spare bedroom into a music parlor, I’m going to want to know the artist has a track record in Orchestrating Elegance. Fortunately for Henry Marquand, Alma-Tadema had acquired just that experience in the creation of the artist’s own study.

In case you’re wondering if the Music Room was the only grand showcase for Marquand’s tastes, rest assured, his penchant for luxury saturated every corner of the New York banker’s home. It’s just that when you give a world-renowned artist like Alma-Tadema a blank check to create design perfection, the results tend to be perfectly striking.

 

Marquand lived in an era between two industrial revolutions, and his Music Room was completed at the very pinnacle of the Gilded Age. Although he only lived to enjoy the room for about 15 years, knowing that it represented the very definition of refinement surely gave him satisfaction in the sunset of his life. When he died in 1902, the contents of his Madison Avenue mansion were auctioned and dispersed into the four winds, symbolic, perhaps of the end of an age of opulence unlikely to return.

Today’s aesthetics tend toward the demure compared to the conspicuous celebration of wealth of Marquand’s era. With tensions rising between the one percent and the ninety-nine, building and dressing an estate in Gilded Age splendor would strike many as uncouth, or insensitive at the very least.

Then again, it’s difficult to imagine a small handful of men and women today summoning into being a landmark institution such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art the sheer force of wealth and will as did Marquand and his circle. Many of the original works in the MMA were acquired by Marquand, and his lifelong patronage assured that generations of young American art enthusiasts would have access to some of the world’s finest pieces.

Thankfully, enough economic and artistic stars came into alignment during a period that saw a massive concentration of private treasure lead to the public display of so many great works. While the next generation was in preparation for manufacturing empires, Alma-Tadema and his patron Marquand were still studiously Orchestrating Elegance.

The Gilded Age may be a fading memory more than a century later, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little taste of it from time to time—literally, a taste.

Even as I was working on this episode, I received an invitation by e-mail to reserve a seat at the Clark’s Gilded Age Evening.

Gilded Age elegance and exquisite cuisine combine to create an unforgettable evening at the Clark.

Enjoy private, after-hours access to Orchestrating Elegance: Alma–Tadema and Design with a personal tour hosted by exhibition co-curator Kathleen Morris. Then, join noted food writer and historian Darra Goldstein in an exceptional dining experience with a culinary immersion in Gilded Age dining.

Explore the foods, wines, and table customs of the period while dining on an extravagant six-course feast prepared by Executive Chef Dan Hardy of STARR Catering.

Seating is limited to 40 guests at communal tables. Click here to view the menu and make reservations, or call 413 458 0524.

And, as if to prove my initial point about wanting to set up a tent on the lawn, I ALSO got a notice in my inbox about free workshops in Cubism going on afternoons from July 11 through August 22.

So, of course, we’ll have links to both of those items in the shownotes.

That’s our show for the week, written, produced, and edited by me, your host, Jason Velazquez. Thank you so much for tuning in, and we’ll talk again in July. Take Care.

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