In the hills of the Berkshires, known for its picturesque small towns, there is a rich art scene where you can browse cutting edge art, music, dance, theater, film and video exhibits at Mass MoCA, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (www.massmoca.org), in North Adams. Mass MoCA has been open since 1999 in what was once a factory, but now houses memorable artwork that is both fresh and thought-provoking,
|A street map outside of the museum shows what delights await in North Adams.|
As you walk towards the museum, you will be struck by one of my favorite works, "Tree Logic". "Tree Logic" is Natalie Jerimejenko's tree 'experiment' and is located at the museum entrance. One of the original displays at Mass MoCA, Jerimejenko's six trees have hung upside down since 1999, growing downwards and upwards at the same time. Over the years, Jerimejenko has continually collected data about the trees' growth.
Currently on display, Jena Priebe's installation, "The Secret Lives of Books" is part of the exhibition "Bibliothecaphilia". This particular piece is another of my favorite things at the museum (so go soon so you can see it!) This particular piece is about the books we read and their potential. A book has so much power with an endless supply of knowledge and adventure. I really felt this work related how we can experience many lives through the pages of books, and that was part of the attraction of this piece for me.
No mention of Mass MoCA would be complete without a nod to Sol LeWitt's "A Wall Drawing Retrospective". Opened to the public in 2008, it will be on view for 25 years. The exhibition consists of 105 large-scale wall drawings that LeWitt spent nearly 40 years creating. Taking up nearly an acre of specially built interior walls that were installed per LeWitt's specification, this is the closest thing that MASS MoCA has to a permanent collection.
|Walking up the ramp toward the LeWitt exhibit|
|Just a part of one of the pieces|
For the first time ever, all six of artist Francesco Clemente's exquisitely detailed, embroidered, hand-painted canvas tents have been assembled in one single and dynamic exhibition. "Encampment" is only up until January 2016.
Ran Hwang "Untethered" was one of the most gorgeous installations at MASS MoCA. Using thousands of buttons and pins to create a 140-foot sculpture, the representation of birds was simply stunning.
A visit to Mark Dion's "Octagon Room" is the chance to browse through an abandoned office. But not just any office, this installation is equal parts Victorian sitting room, military bunker and a cabinet of curiosity. The 19th century mania for octagon buildings was the inspiration for this work, and you could visit this room over and over and see something new every time.
Marko Remec: "Totally Totem" is one of the outdoor installations that MASS MoCA is known for. Over 500 convex mirrors wrapped around a massive water tower.
What looks like part laboratory and part library, Michael Oatman's "All Utopias Fell" gives the appearance that an occupant stepped away for a minute, but now it's 30 years later. Although you can see part of the work from the ground, you really need to climb the stairs in the old Boiler Plant so that you can enter and take in the entire piece.
Depending on which way you enter the town of North Adams, one of the things you will possibly see is Franz West's "Les Pommes d'Adam". An outdoor sculpture that takes it's name and inspiration from Adam's apple, most of the public takes it as a different part of the male anatomy.
The Anselm Kiefer's exhibition at MASS MoCA includes "Narrow are the Vessels", a sculpture made of cast concrete, exposed rebar and lead that looks like waves, and "Velimir Chlebnikov", 30 paintings that deal with nautical warfare.
Hopefully you have made it this far, because I have saved my favorite thing for last. An installation that combines video, sound and text, "Eclipse" by Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris is about species extinction. It was one of the most intense art experiences I have ever had. I can't even begin to describe it, but if you ever have a chance to see it, make sure you do! It was fantastic!
If you have a chance to visit the Berkshires, and I would recommend you find your way there, definitely make time to visit North Adams, Massachusetts and stop by Mass MoCA. What museum have you been to that you would recommend to others?