For immediate release: April 25, 2018
ArtCountry Venues Announce Summer 2018 Programs and New Tourism Incentives
ArtCountry Illustration

ArtCountry is nestled in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts and at the foot of the Green Mountains in southern Vermont. The consortium includes the Clark Art Institute, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Bennington Museum, MASS MoCA, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The cultural organizations launched their collaboration last spring and are building upon the synergies created through their activities to provide added incentives and opportunities to attract visitors to the region.

The directors of the five leading cultural institutions give an overview of their summer 2018 plans, highlighting the rich array of cultural offerings and announce discounted admission offers, providing visitors with options tailored to their particular interests. New this year is the five-way ArtCountry Summer Pass which, for the first-time ever, provides visitors with an opportunity to purchase discounted admissions to the participating museums as well as discounted tickets for the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

CLARK ART INSTITUTE

“One of the characteristics that defines ArtCountry is the breadth and diversity of the art experiences that are available here, and this summer, it feels as if the options are more exciting and more interesting than ever,” said Olivier Meslay, the Felda and Dena Hardymon Director of the Clark Art Institute. “At the Clark this summer, we range from ancient iron work to contemporary video art with an exceptional focus on the trailblazing women artists who made their own way despite the entrenched gender barriers that defined the art establishment in nineteenth–century Paris. All of this, set against the backdrop of a beautiful Berkshires summer, makes for an irresistible reason to visit ArtCountry again and again.”

The Clark Art Institute’s summer season kicks off Saturday, June 9 with the opening of two exhibitions rooted in late nineteenth-century France, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 and The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy Normandy. On June 30, the Clark opens its first-ever video exhibition, Jennifer Steinkamp, in the galleries of the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, and on July 1 A City Transformed: Photographs of Paris, 1850-1900 celebrates the beauty of old wrought iron collected largely during the late nineteenth century, a period of rapid modernization in France and Europe.

Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 examines a key chapter in the history of art during which an international group of artists overcame gender-based restrictions to make remarkable creative strides, generating a momentum that led to a more egalitarian art world.  Featuring nearly seventy paintings drawn from prominent collections across the United States and abroad, this exhibition presents renowned artists such as Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, and Rosa Bonheur as well as their remarkable peers including Anna Ancher, Lilla Cabot Perry, and Paula Modersohn-Becker. The exhibition, on view through September 3, 2018, includes moving portraits and self-portraits of artists, intimate depictions of daily life, sweeping landscapes, and dramatic history paintings.

The Clark is the exclusive venue for the exhibition The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy, an exhibition celebrating the craft and beauty of wrought iron. Salvaged by the founders of the Musée Le Secq during the second half of the nineteenth century when wrought iron was being rapidly discarded and replaced with modern materials, the works in this show tell stories of the significance of iron in preindustrial times and provide an opportunity to closely examine the craftsmanship and artistic abilities of the blacksmiths and ironworkers who forged them. The Art of Iron features more than thirty objects including trade signs, masterful locks and lockboxes, utilitarian household objects, and architectural grilles, gates, and balcony railings. The exhibition is on view through September 16, 2018.

The Clark will present the work of Los Angeles-based media and installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp as the subject of its first-ever video exhibition. The exhibition, Jennifer Steinkamp, consists of six pieces including a new projection, conceived by the artist to interact with the Clark’s bucolic 140-acre setting and the architecture of its Lunder Center at Stone Hill. Steinkamp’s cutting-edge art engages with themes related to nature, the passage of time, and beauty.  By deconstructing and re-engineering computer code, the artist utilizes the abstract language of technology to create vibrant images rooted in the natural world. Branches, leaves, and flowers intertwine and overlap in her animations, transfixing viewers with twisting and changing color.  The exhibition is on view June 30–October 8, 2018.

A City Transformed: Photographs of Paris, 1850―1900 will open in the Clark’s Eugene V. Thaw Gallery for Works on Paper on July 1. The exhibition features more than 30 photographs made in the late nineteenth-century as Paris was being transformed through a grand-scale urban renewal plan that set in motion renovation, demolition, and new construction projects. From the heights of cathedral spires and imposing historic monuments to the boulevard and the depths of the catacombs, specially commissioned photographers documented these monumental changes, creating a visual record of Paris, old and new. The exhibition is on view through September 23, 2018.

The Clark will also host a number of cultural collaborations throughout the summer, partnering with Jacob’s Pillow to present Janis Claxton Dance on June 17; Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Fridays @ 3 readings from July 6 through August 17; and WAM Theatre’s premiere of Dominique Morriseau’s Pipeline on August 12.

BENNINGTON MUSEUM

Bennington Museum is the northernmost outpost of ArtCountry and a gateway to the Green Mountains of Vermont—less than 20 minutes from Williamstown and 30 minutes from North Adams. Bennington has been a center of immense creativity in art, music, literature, and innovative manufacturing for over 200 years. On view all the time are the largest public collection of paintings by Grandma Moses, 19th-century Bennington stoneware, and a selection of color-field paintings and welded steel sculpture of the Bennington Modernists, a group of artists that included Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons, Jules Olitski, Tony Smith, and Anthony Caro. The museum’s ambitious summer exhibition program has received national acclaim for recent shows of Alice Neel, Milton Avery, and Grandma Moses.

Crash to Creativity: The New Deal in Vermont, on view June 30-November 4, is the museum’s major summer exhibition. It begins with a puzzle: how did the Great Depression lead to so much creativity in the Green Mountain State? True to the museum’s strength in combining art and history in innovative ways, the exhibition presents photography, paintings, prints, post office murals, architecture, and works of engineering sponsored by federal New Deal programs ranging from the WPA and the FSA to the CCC and the Army Corps of Engineers. Powerful examples of Regionalist and Social Realist paintings include Francis Colburn’s Charley Smith and His Barn, and Ronald Slayton’s quietly optimistic The Planter.

Thinking about Extinction and Other Droll Things: Recent Prints and Drawings by Edward Koren, on view May 12-September 9, features recent etchings and lithographs by Vermonter Edward Koren, who is best known for his iconic cartoons of fuzzy humans published in The New Yorker magazine. This summer’s show features a largely unknown body of prints, some fresh off the press and never exhibited before. Thinking About Extinction, a series of etchings and lithographs, shows curious skeletal creatures in a landscape of ruined Gothic and Classical architecture inspired by Koren’s reading of The Sixth Extinction by Berkshire County resident Elizabeth Kolbert.

Currently on view in the museum’s galleries, Enthusiasms: Personal Paintings by Jessica Park, features private works by Jessica Park, a nationally acclaimed artist with autism living in Williamstown, and is open through May 27. Magic and Mystery: Works by Gayleen Aiken and Duane Michals, on view through June 17, combines recent acquisitions of color photographs by Duane Michals, created while he was based for forty years in nearby Cambridge New York, and lively color drawings by the self-taught artist Gayleen Aiken, who lived in northern Vermont.

“I love how the museums in ArtCountry perfectly complement each other,” says Executive Director Robert Wolterstorff. “We’ve got Mid-Century Modern covered, which fits between the nineteenth-century Impressionist paintings of the Clark and the contemporary art of MASS MoCA. The paintings and sculpture by Anthony Caro, Tony Smith, Jules Olitski, Paul Feeley, and Pat Adams were created right here in Bennington in the 1960s and ‘70s. Add in our great collections of folk art like Grandma Moses and Bennington stoneware and you’ve got every reason to continue up Route 7 to Bennington and discover all that ArtCountry has to offer!”

WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL

The Williamstown Theatre Festival 2018 Summer Season, the 64th Season for the Tony Award®-winning theatre company, will include three world premiere plays, a world premiere musical, and much more.

The season, running from June 26 – August 19, 2018, begins on the Main Stage with the world premiere of The Closet (June 26 – July 14) by Tony Award nominee Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed), directed by Mark Brokaw (Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train) and featuring two-time Tony Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Matthew Broderick (The Producers, It’s Only A Play), Tony Award nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (Something Rotten, Sunday in the Park with George), Tony Award nominee Jessica Hecht (A View from the Bridge, “Friends”), and Ann Harada (Avenue Q, “Community”); continues with the world premiere of a new musical, Lempicka (July 19 – August 1), with book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer and music by Matt Gould (Invisible Thread), directed by Tony Award nominee Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812) and featuring Tony Award nominee Carmen Cusack (Bright Star) and Eden Espinosa (Wicked); and closes with The Member of the Wedding (August 5 – August 19) by Carson McCullers, directed by Lila Neugebauer (The Wolves) and featuring Tavi Gevinson (This is Our Youth) and Roslyn Ruff.

The Nikos Stage season kicks off with the world premiere of The Sound Inside (June 27 – July 8) by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp (Red Light Winter, Essential Self-Defense), directed by David Cromer (The Band’s Visit, Our Town) and featuring Tony Award winner Mary-Louise Parker (Proof, “Weeds”); and also includes the world premiere of Artney Jackson (July 11 – July 22) by James Anthony Tyler (Some Old Black Man), directed by Laura Savia; Seared (July 25 – August 4) by Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck (The Seminar, WTF’s The Understudy), directed by Tony Award nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Present Laughter, Hand to God) and featuring Michael Esper, Steven Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County), and Krysta Rodriguez (“Smash”); and closes out the summer with Dangerous House

(August 8 – August 19) by Jen Silverman (WTF’s The Roommate), directed by Saheem Ali (WTF’s Where Storms Are Born) and featuring Alfie Fuller and Emmy nominee Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”).

“This summer, we look forward to creating a season of new productions that engage with the moment we are living in,” Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield said. “Through world premiere work, new plays and one revival, we hope to illuminate pieces of the human experience not often seen on stage. More than ever, theatre makers feel the urgency to create meaningful, transportive work that reminds us of the depth and possibility of humanity. This summer, a diverse, bold, and brilliant group of theatre artists will meet the adventurous audiences and patrons who have sustained and grown Williamstown Theatre Festival for sixty-four years to create the magic of the Festival, once again!”

MASS MoCA

MASS MoCA launches into the summer season on May 27 with the opening of Taryn Simon: Assembled Audience + A Cold Hole, an ambitious exhibition featuring two new installation-based commissions. In A Cold Hole, the gallery floor is replaced by an expanse of ice with a square hole cut from its center, exposing the dark water beneath. Performers will plunge the icy depths throughout the course of the 10-month exhibition. Inside Assembled Audience, thousands of individually recorded claps combine in an applauding crowd. With these two installations, Simon activates the rituals of the cold water immersion and applause, examining the ways in which individual action and collective belief can reinforce — or disrupt — systems of power.

The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night remains on view through the summer. Work by over a dozen artists illuminate the dark galleries — covering everything from the moon and the stars, to candles, cigarettes, the glow of cell phones, and Lana Del Ray. It’s the perfect escape from the heat if jumping into a cold hole isn’t a to-do.

Elsewhere in the galleries, Liz Glynn paints an immersive and unnerving image of the future in MASS MoCA’s largest gallery; Allison Janae Hamilton: Pitch turns to the sights and sounds of the southern landscape; James Turrell lights up Building 6; Laurie Anderson takes visitors for a ride in her two virtual reality pieces; and Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings fill three floors of space. Also on view across the museum is a rich array of art by Jenny Holzer, Gunnar Schonbeck (Bang on a Can), Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Dawn DeDeaux, Lonnie Holley, Mary Lum, Barbara Prey, Spencer Finch, Rachel Howard, Etel Adnan, and Natasha Bowdoin.

Highlights in the performing arts program include a concert with indie-rock band Grizzly Bear on June 16, Ray LaMontagne with special guest Neko Case on June 29, Courtney Barnett and Vagabon on July 12, and Blondie on August 3. To mark the opening of the new exhibition in Kidspace on June 23 (Come to Your Senses: Art to See, Smell, Hear, Taste, and Touch) Sally Taylor & Friends — including Carly Simon, Kori Withers, Eric Erdman, and John Forte — perform in an intimate one-night-only concert. Bang on a Can, a three-week contemporary music festival, fills MASS MoCA’s galleries and performance halls with new and exciting music from July 12–28. And on September 14–16, the museum campus transforms into a bluegrass and roots haven with FreshGrass Festival, which features the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Indigo Girls, Yonder Mountain Spring Band, and over 50 bands in all.

“You’ll have to slow down this summer: it’s a knockout season of art, destination concerts, intimate nights of folk and indie, staged dance, dance parties, and film under the stars,” notes director Joseph Thompson. “To make it easier, MASS MoCA is making all ticketed museum admission valid for two days with no extra charge. Take time, take part.”

WILLIAMS COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), welcomes the season with its characteristic diversity of exhibitions and programs in an intimate setting. From the first exhibition of bejeweled costumes and props from the Jacob’s Pillow Archives to the museum debut of a gigantic draped painting by artist Sam Gilliam, WCMA brings summer visitors art from a range of cultures and time periods along with dynamic programs.

Enter the world of Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn and visionary modern dancer Ruth St. Denis in the exhibition Dance We Must: Treasures from Jacob’s Pillow, 1906-1940 on view June 29–November 11. Objects from the Jacob’s Pillow Archives, including bejeweled and embroidered costumes pulled from their original touring trunks, photographs, props, and backdrops offer a glimpse into the early careers of this pioneering couple. The Denishawn Company, founded by Shawn and St. Denis in 1914, ushered in a new era of modern American dance. Breaking with European traditions, their choreography connected the physical and spiritual, often drawing—in complicated ways that will be interrogated in the exhibition and associated programming—from ancient, indigenous, and international sources.

Conceptual, architectural, and grand, the lyrical and suspended works of Sam Gilliam (American, b.1933) defy conventional definitions of painting. Gilliam’s pioneering use of pigment on un-stretched material dismantles the prevalent narrative that black artists excel solely in figural representation. Sam Gilliam In Dialogue marks the debut of WCMA’s recent acquisition of Situation VI-Pisces 4 (1972), a signature draped multiform of gigantic scale. In the spirit of Gilliam’s experimental practice, the exhibition has been reinstalled in the gallery space twice to reflect different interpretations. The summer installation, The Topography of Color, which brings Gilliam’s work into dialogue with paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, Gene Davis, Jules Olitski and Morris Louis, is on view June 7–September 3.

For centuries, artists have depicted the varied and intimate nature of humans’ relationship to animals. Wild and domestic beasts have served as deities and food sources; as objects of ornament or sacrifice; as companion or curiosity. At a moment when species are dying off at an alarming pace, RAWR! A WCMA Bestiary considers how artists—both consciously and inadvertently—provide insight into the inner lives of animals, and interrogate our ethical responsibilities to these creatures and to ourselves.  Works from WCMA’s encyclopedic collection explore the representation of animals in art and artifacts across time and across the globe. RAWR! Is on view through September 23.

Exquisite archaeological objects from five Mesoamerican civilizations explore the spiritual and the sacred, plumbing the mutable line between humans, gods, and animals in the exhibition The Seeds of Divinity through August 26.

Each semester, students borrow one of 123 original works of art from WCMA’s WALLS collection to hang in their living spaces. Serving as temporary stewards to works by Albrecht Dürer, Louise Nevelson, Paul Cézanne, Titus Kaphar, and Kiki Smith, among others, students connect with the artworks and record their reflections. This exhibition tells the story of WALLS through the voices and perspectives of Williams students. WALLS (Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces) will be on view June 16 through September 9.

Learn and unwind while exploring some of the quirkiest fields of study at our summer break program series, Ologies. Thursday evenings from July 5–August 23, faculty and expert-led mini courses in the galleries, take on topics from agathology (the study of goodness) to kinesiology (the study of movement). On the WCMA patio, experience artist and maker-led interventions and local food and drink with playful twists on everything from ornithology to mixology.

This summer WCMA will launch a reimagined shop that offers visitors a collection of contemporary design and artisanal goods. With an eye on sustainability, new merchandise sourced from national and international designers offer emotional stimulation that reflects the spirit of the museum. Items include everything from objects for the home to edibles, intelligent toys for all ages to handmade jewelry, textiles to books.

“Our extraordinary line-up at WCMA this summer will be equal parts celebratory and challenging, intimate and expansive, brainy and fun,” said Lisa Dorin, Interim Director of the Williams College Museum of Art. “Culture and nature-filled ArtCountry is like nowhere else in the world. Linger and enjoy, we look forward to welcoming you.”

ArtCountry Tickets and Offers

With so much to see and do, the ArtCountry organizations have teamed to provide visitors with ticketing options that provide great discounts and even greater flexibility.

The premier ticket option is the new ArtCountry Summer Pass providing discounted admission to the Clark, MASS MoCA, and the Bennington Museum and offering a twenty percent discount toward a regularly priced Main Stage ticket at Williamstown Theatre Festival, as well as a twenty percent discount in WCMA’s newly imagined Museum Shop.  The ArtCountry Summer Pass ($50) will go on sale June 1 and will be valid through Labor Day (Williamstown Theatre Festival season ends August 19, 2018).

The ArtCountry organizations also offer a four-way museum ticket, providing discounted admission to the Clark, MASS MoCA, and Bennington Museum and offering a twenty percent discount in WCMA’s newly imagined Museum Shop. The $40 ticket represents a twenty percent savings and is valid throughout the year. A three-way ticket offering discounted admission to the Clark and MASS MoCA along with a twenty percent discount in WCMA’s Museum Shop is also available for $34.

Additionally this summer, the Clark, MASS MoCA, and Bennington Museum will make their individual admission tickets valid for two consecutive days at their normal single day prices. Admission to WCMA is always free.

Three local hotels — Tourists and The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA in North Adams and The Williams Inn in Williamstown— are ArtCountry’s lodging partners and will offer exclusive accommodation packages combining hotel stays and admission offers.

“There’s nowhere quite like ArtCountry,” said Thompson, “so we’re doing everything we can to encourage people to find more reasons to stay, explore, and enjoy. We want them to take time and take part.”

Tickets are available on-site at each of the ArtCountry venues and through the lodging partners.  For full details, visit artcountry.org.