Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hancock Village

Hancock Shaker Village's own Ophelia
Today we took a drive to Pittsfield with the intention of visiting the Berkshire Museum.  It was such a beautiful day that we just kept driving to Hancock and the Shaker Village.  The gardens were beautiful and full of the most unusual herbs.  Some of them are over 6 feet tall and completely unknown to me.  I love the animals the best.  We had the good fortune to be in the wood working house while a demonstration was ongoing.  Both Wayne and I were invited to try the lathe.  All the equipment is run using the power of water and hydraulics.  Those Shakers!  What innovative and creative people.  If only they had a little more libido.  Pics at flickr.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Unknown Hopper

Edward Hopper's early illustrative work is currently exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum.  I was not aware of Hopper's career in illustration.  The earliest of the works were surprising to me.  Had I been presented with them and the challenge to identify the artist, I would have never been able to do so.  The latest of the illustrations (right before totally devoting himself to painting) are more indicative of his solitary, contemplative scenes.  Here is more Information.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Midsummer Night's Dream

Today we met with a possible new exchange person.  She and her husband live in Lenox, which is much closer to all the activities than where we are now.  She is a painter and he is a photographer with his own gallery in Lenox.  How much more perfect could this be?  The main glitch is that they both still work and summer is the prime time for him to make money from the gallery.  So, it will be difficult for them to get away.  But she seemed really open to working something out.  
This afternoon we attended A Midsummer Night's Dream production by Shakespeare and Co.  It was delightful.  Set in New Orleans there was jazz and period costumes from the 1920's.  We have been going to so many Shakespeare productions here and in Boston that we recognize a lot of the performers.  Johnny Lee Davenport played Bottom, and it was nice to see him in a comedic role vs the serious roles we've seen.  Meritt Janson has double duty as Titania and Hippolyta.  We absolutely adored her as Rosalind in As You Like It.  We weren't as enamored with this performance.  Could be a director's doing.  Her voice was squeaky and pleading.  I think of Titania as a really strong, powerful woman.  Rocco Sisto whom we saw as Richard II last year played Oberon.  He was too old in my opinion to play the part of an ageless fairy, but has a very sonorous voice which is lovely to hear.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Natalie Merchant

The day dawned bright, sunny, mild and dry.  We went early to Great Barrington to eat before our Natalie Merchant concert.  The intent to eat octopus at the Agean Breeze Greek restaurant was spoiled by many, many others with the same thing in mind.  So we went to the local Mexican place where we have eaten and know to be good.  Indeed, it was with fresh ingredients and well prepared.  
Merchant was at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.  This was the second show of her tour for a new album.  She's been on sabbatical for a number of years while raising her daughter.  But at 50 she still has a beautiful voice with that identifiable timbre.  She also still twirls and dances to the music as she seems to conduct the band.  The band which had a cello, double bass, viola and 2 violins along with the bass and lead guitars, drums and piano.  The drummer, Allison Miller, and the lead guitar, Gabe Gordon have been with her a while. Merchant seemed a bit nervous and unable to connect with the audience in the beginning.  I had visions of Dylan.  But toward the end and especially during the very long encore she was very relaxed, joking and interacting with people.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Back in the Berkshires

Tanglewood Lawn, James Taylor Concert
The annual sojourn to the Massachusetts Berkshires began last evening.  We are again at Fern Hollow in Becket.  This will be our last year here as the owners have sold it.  We must look for another exchange.
Our friends John and Kathy came last night.  They arrived accompanied by a great thunderstorm.  Wayne braved the rain to cook steaks for us.  The dinner was serenaded by great, fierce booms, cracks and flashes.  The rain was heavy and continued until moments before the Tanglewood concert.  As such, we opted to eat at home and skip the usual picnic on the lawn.  James Taylor still has a sweet, melodic voice and generously donates his performance to the BSO.  There were no fireworks this year.  Too much rain, I guess, to set up in the bowl.