ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
by Jesse DeGroodt

 

In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, for many there was a feel of an extended camping trip. A few months in, not so much, but in the meantime we can fill some of our spare moments with some delightful and innovative online programming that may never otherwise have seen the light of day.
At the same time, the arts are more important now than at nearly any time in history. For those in the position to consider throwing your favorite venue(s) a few bucks to help carry them along, you’ll be rewarded many times over in the years to come. As for now, let’s look at a few ideas designed to help ease our passage through this historic time.

 

Jacob’s Pillow’s “Dance We Must: A Virtual Event” takes place on June 20th. Photo: Kyle Abraham's A.I.M; by Carrie Schneider

At Jacob’s Pillow (https://www.jacobspillow.org) in Becket, MA, “Virtual Pillow” takes its visitors on a trip through an enormous, wildly eclectic set of past live performances, including the 1953 purported United States debut of the National Ballet of Canada and a 1996 Gala Performance from Gregory Hines, Dianne Walker and Jimmy Slyde. I got a kicked out of 1950’s “Chit Chat Polka” from Patricia Bowman and 1955’s “At the Still Point” from Emily Frankel & Mark Ryder. Lest everyone get the idea that the Virtual Pillow collection mostly comprises oldies, that’s far from the case. If you’re planning to dig into what Jacob’s Pillow has to offer here, I’d suggest ordering in several days’ worth of meals and snacks and getting down to some serious binge watching.

Peter Yarrow performed with the Curley Lamb (Ria Curley/Chuck Lamb) Duo and can be seen on Caffé Lena’s YouTube page.
Photo courtesy of the artist

The folks at Caffé Lena (https://www.caffelena.org) in Saratoga Springs, NY, have been busy filling their YouTube page with frequent live (and the replays) shows under the “Stay Home Sessions” moniker. Recent performances include the Kevin McKrell St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, Peter Yarrow, and the Curley Lamb duo, featuring Rita Curley and Chuck Lamb. A side note: While by now we’ve grown somewhat accustomed to the sight of live music played in front of empty seats and in folks’ living rooms, and can be thankful for it, this is not a condition I ever plan to fully get used to.

With a trip to https://explore.berkshiremuseum.org in Pittsfield, MA, the Berkshire Museum has offered up a collection of experiences for the community. Said the museum’s executive director, Jeff Rodgers, “This pandemic prevents us from welcoming visitors through our doors, but we are as committed as ever to providing engaging, thought-provoking, educational experiences. We’re ‘open’ online for students, educators, lifelong and early learners, and every one of our neighbors. Our team is working remotely to share new ideas in new ways so that we all may continue learning, creating, and exploring the world together while we are physically apart.”

One of those among us, I guess that would be me, quickly became entranced with the “What’s in the Basement” podcast, available on the website and at many of the usual podcast outlets. Once I pulled myself away from that, it was on to the “Littlest Cinema,” where I took in Botero, a behind-the-scenes documentary of the life and art of Colombian painter/sculptor Fernando Botero. Would I have taken the time for this in the days of the old normal? I have to admit, no, but I’m happy to say here was an opportunity and I took it.

Here’s a new one for sure. The University Art Museum opens the Spring 2020 Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) exhibition virtually featuring the work of the University at Albany, M.F.A. candidates Courtney Bernardo, Sean Corcoran, Maxwell Goodknight, Anthony Jackson (Bugzdale), Erica Kaufman, Ya Li, Arnela Mahmutović, Meghan Mason, Anna Nina Pellicone, and Tzuyun Wei at https://www.albany .edu/museum/mfa2020/mfa2020.html.

Great stuff, and I enjoyed all of it. The words of one candidate, Anna Nina Pellicone, helped pulled me in. As she writes in her accompanying statement, “Through a personal excavation, I collect and repurpose intimate artifacts that have been preciously stored away. These personal relics and other mass-produced items are combined with the common housefly in portraits of significant people from throughout my life. This installation of etchings and mezzotints examines our obsessive fascinations with objects and their associations with individual people.”

Okay, so the 2020 Tanglewood (https://www.tanglewood.org) has been officially been canceled, which I’m guessing didn’t take many by surprise, but in its place, to our good fortunes, comes  the 2020 Tanglewood Online Festival. Let’s let the Tanglewood folks explain this one:

“Although we cannot gather in person this summer, we are pleased to be able to keep the spirit of Tanglewood alive through the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival, a series of digital offerings for all to enjoy. The festival will include both free-of-charge archival offerings as well as newly created content available for purchase. Video and audio streams begin on tanglewood.org July 1, with the ability to purchase starting on June 15.”

“Ticket holders to Tanglewood performances this summer who donate more than $100 worth of tickets to the BSO will receive complimentary access to the complete selection of paid and archival Tanglewood digital content and a tax receipt for the total ticket value contributed. Donations made by August 31 will also be matched by a group of generous donors who have joined together to help support musical artists and programs in these unprecedented times, amplifying your impact.”

 

Odili Donald Odita Echo, 2019 acrylic latex paint on aluminum-core fabricated wood panel with reconstituted wood veneer

In Kinderhook, NY, the Jack Shainman Gallery (https://jackshainman.com), always a good visit for when those days return, has launched its new website with “The Salon,”  Odili Donald Odita’s “Mirror” and “Works on Paper to Benefit Sojourn Domestic Violence Services” from Hayv Kahraman. The latter’s work, it should be noted, has been created during California’s Shelter-in-Place order.