BERKSHIRES, BERKSHIRES, MA MA
DESTINATION BERKSHIRES, MA
Interior view of Diana Felber Gallery. Photo: Michael Lavin Flower.
he Berkshires are celebrated in song—for classical music, the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes its summer home at Tanglewood between Lenox and Stockbridge, and as a different kind of classic, Arlo Guthrie’s talking blues, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” chronicles both real-life events and the countercultural ethos of Stockbridge. Equally celebrated in story, the area has been a summer colony for the literati of Boston and New York since the 19th century railroad made it accessible. Edith Wharton lived, entertained, and worked in literate elegance at the Mount in Lenox. Herman Melville reportedly gazed out the window of his Pittsfield house while writing Moby Dick, to imagine a whale’s silhouette in the mountainous landscape. Perhaps the Great White Whale grew a few notches vaster as Melville contemplated the Berkshire views.
In this rural region where Massachusetts abuts New York—where rivers meet rock gorges, where farmlands roll into foothills and then rise into mountain ranges—there is also a longstanding tradition of hand-made crafts and innovative fine arts. An art-filled itinerary of the Berkshires could start at the northern end, with two major museums concentrated in the small village of Williamstown. Opened in 1955, in a neo-classical building, the Clark Art Institute showcases Sterling and Francine Clark’s world-renowned collection of American and European art—most notably French Impressionist masterworks and a major collection by American artist Winslow Homer. Its new building, the Clark Center, with a vast reflecting pool, received prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the
United States Green Building Council. The pool’s beauty is more than skin deep—it also serves as centerpiece of an extensive water management system that was a key component in achieving LEED Gold. The Clark now displays contemporary art, currently seen in German artist Thomas Schütte’s site-specific installation, Crystal, set on museum grounds near the top of Stone Hill to frame a stunning view of the Hoosac mountain range. This summer, the Clark is the exclusive venue for Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado, featuring 28 Old Master paintings from the Museo Nacional del Prado that celebrate the role of the nude in Western painting. Works in the exhibition—including 24 never before shown in America—are among the finest of the Prado’s collections. One of the finest college art museums in the
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Art New England 59