Arts Fuse critics select the best in theater, visual arts, film, music, author events, and dance for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Boston French Film Festival
through July 14
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Boston has a love affair with French film and this summer festival never disappoints the smitten. It is well curated, usually rounding up a healthy variety of contemporary film genres as well as known and unknown actors and directors. And, of course, there are the usual sexy French romances. Opening night features Philippe Faucon’s Fatima, an emotional comedy-drama about a Moroccan-born mother raising her two teenage daughters in Lyon. See schedule for full details
July 14 (BBQ at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.)
The Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The Brattle’s annual night of “fabulous and fabulously horrible” movie trailers begins with a BBQ at 6:30. If you don’t want to chow down, just come for the cheesy cinema attractions. The Brattle itself assembles this unique evening — it is always a wild ride!
The Killing of Sister George
July 16 at 9:15 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA
The in-depth Robert Aldrich retrospect continues through July. There are many quirky and rare Aldrich films in the series. Sister George followed his Dirty Dozen success. Adapted from an award- winning stage play, the storyline revolves around the popular British TV star June Buckridge, who plays a lovable character named Sister George in a long-running soap opera. Adored by the public, Buckridge is actually a “loud, aggressive, hard-drinking and unapologetic lesbian given to scandalous public incidents.” (TCM) The show’s producers, anxious to end the virago’s career, decide to kill off Sister George. Beryl Reid, who won a Tony for the play’s Broadway production, reprises her role as Buckridge. It co-stars beautiful Susannah York.
– Tim Jackson
So’s Your Old Man and It’s The Old Army Game, A double feature presentation of two of W.C. Fields’ silent films.
July 10 at 2 p.m.
At the Somerville Theatre, Davis Square, Somerville, MA on July 10.
Another amazing treat (post-Metropolis screening) for silent film fans. The Silents Please series presents W.C. Fields’ granddaughter Dr. Harriet Fields for a talk and double feature presentation of two of the legendary comedian’s silent films from 1926, one of which co-stars flapper it-girl icon Louise Brooks. Both films will be shown in 35mm, and feature live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis.
– Bill Marx
Outside the Box Festival
On the Boston Common
More than 100 performances have been scheduled for this year’s Outside the Box Festival. Peruse its various stages on the Boston Common while taking in live performances in music and dance. Once again, this colorful and ambitious festival brings local, national, and international artists to the city.
Sunday, July 24 at noon, 1:30pm, & 3 p.m.
Head to Longfellow’s Wayside Inn for an afternoon of dance and live music celebrating the Wayside’s tricentennial, featuring outdoor performances by Boston’s award-winning Luminarium Dance Company and composer Mali Sastri. This 40-minute performance of contemporary dance and live music (voice and cello) will be presented three times, and is free and family-friendly. Please be advised, the rain date for this event is Sunday, July 24. Visit here for weather updates.
And further afield…
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Jacob’s Pillow Dance
If you missed Hubbard Street’s performance in Boston earlier this year, be sure to hop in the car and head to the Berkshires for another chance! Read my Arts Fuse review.
Great Friends Dance Festival
Great Friends Meeting House
Island Moving Co. presents the seventh annual Great Friends Dance Festival, delivering a different performance each night of the festival. This year’s festival includes a full cast work by visiting choreographer Jennifer Owen from Kansas City, as well as Nomad Contemporary Ballet from New York, and Part of the Oath from Providence, RI, to name a few.
– Merli V. Guerra
The Taming by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Nicole Ricciardi. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Elayne Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, through July 30.
A political satire/farce with a cartoon premise: “Super-patriot Miss Georgia has something bigger in mind for the Miss America pageant than winning a crown. She wants to jump-start a movement to rewrite the Constitution. So she’s locked herself in a hotel room with two captive political opposites and the ensuing conflict plays out in hilarious fashion, complete with a screwball chase scene, underwear gags, and slyly developing sexual attractions.”
The Maids by Jean Genet. Directed by Jim Byrne. Staged by the Provincetown Community Theater Project at the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford Street, Provincetown, MA, through July 10.
Genet’s infamous 1947 tale of sexual gamesmanship “follows the elaborate role playing by two chambermaids (Solange and Claire) … Genet based the play on a real-life tabloid story about the murder of a wealthy woman by her maids. Genet was obsessed with the story and used it as a framework to explore the existence of political and sexual outcasts as well as themes of class hatred. Within the play, there is a continual drawing of curtains, revealing and masking the complex problems of social and sexual identity.”
Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino. Directed by Daniela Varon. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Bernstein Theatre, through August 28.
The regional premiere of a script that examines the trauma of war: “Combat veteran Jess comes home to Florida after three tours in Afghanistan bearing deep physical and emotional scars. An innovative, experimental video game therapy offers an escape from her excruciating pain, but can virtual reality help Jess come to terms with the altered reality of her hometown, relationships, and dreams?”
Cock by Mike Bartlett. Directed by Jeffry George. Staged by Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater at the Julie Harris Stage, Wellfleet, MA, through July 10.
A provocative title to what sounds like another variation on the old love-triangle-showdown: “A good relationship is worth a good fight. John has been in a stable relationship with his boyfriend for a number of years, but when the two take a break, he unexpectedly falls in love with a woman. Torn between the two, and filled with guilt and conflicting emotions, he doesn’t know which way to turn. Both are willing to wait for him to make a decision – and both are prepared to fight.”
Fiorello!, Book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Original production presented by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince. Directed by Bob Moss. Choreography by Michael Callahan. Music direction by Evan Zavada. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Group at The Unicorn Theatre, The Larry Vaber Stage, BTG’s Stockbridge Campus, 6 East Street, Stockbridge, MA, through July 23.
An tantalizing revival of a music that is not often seen. “What is a progressive politic? Look no further than Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning Fiorello!. A big-hearted look at Mayor La Guardia and his battle for the people of New York City.”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Directed by David Auburn. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Group at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage, BTG’s Stockbridge Campus, 83 East Main Street, Stockbridge, MA, through July 16.
Big Daddy and company are in town! “A powerful depiction of greed and deception that lies at the heart of a Southern American family, this Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play will be directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner David Auburn (Proof), returning to the Fitzpatrick Main Stage where he has directed A Delicate Balance, Period of Adjustment, and Anna Christie.”
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Directed by Tina Packer. Presented by Shakespeare & Company at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through August 21.
Shakespeare & Company “will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard during this 39th performance season with a newly configured theatre, and [with this script] will debut its first production in-the-round.” This is one of the Bard’s most notorious texts. Director Packer observes that “every person in the play is racist and sexist” and “ill-will abounds.” Longtime company member Jonathan Epstein plays Shylock in a production that will offer “a visceral display of courtship, prejudice, clashing religions, money, and revenge.”
The Last Schwartz by Deborah Zoe Laufer. Directed by Paula Plum. Staged by the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through July 30.
The New England premiere of a script by Deborah Zoe Laufer, who has “penned another brilliantly funny and provocative examination of family life.”
Twelfth Night: Twelfth Night (or What You Will) and What You Will (or Twelfth Night), by William Shakespeare. Directed by Eric Tucker. Nora Theatre Company presents the Bedlam stagings at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, through July 10.
Another thrilling theatrical venture from Bedlam. Two different versions of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy, both of them staged by the same director and performed by the same five-person cast, whose members share between them all 12 parts. Arts Fuse interview with Bedlam’s Eric Tucker.
My Jane by Daniel Elihu Kramer. Directed by Knud Adams Staged by the Chester Theatre at the Chester Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, MA, through July 10.
The world premiere of Kramer’s adaptation of Jane Eyre. “A struggle to survive. A romance with dark secrets. Two love affairs—Jane and Rochester, and Jane and her readers. The sweeping drama of Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel Jane Eyre is given a contemporary twist as the story of Jane’s journey from Victorian hardship to independence and happiness works its magic on people today.” Arts Fuse review
The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Trip Cullman. At the Williamstown Theater Festival’s Main stage, Williamstown, MA, through July 17.
Not one of my favorite of Williams plays, but it offers an opportunity for “passion, gossip, music, and mystery [to] fill the air in a steamy Gulf Coast town, where possibility and promise ignite.” Obie Award winner Trip Cullman directs Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei. Arts Fuse review
The Kritik, written and directed by Brenda Withers. Staged by Harbor Stage Company, 15 Kendrick Avenue, Wellfleet Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, July 14 through August 6.
A world premiere of a comedy abut a theater critic who — I hope — is seen in a heroic light (at least for a moment or two). “How can one be honestly good when it’s not always good to be honest? A faux-Chekhovian celebration of candor, corruption, and community.”
Once a Blue Moon – Cada Luna Azul. Conceived by Stacy Klein with Carlos Uriona & Matthew Glassman. Devised by the Double Edge Theatre Ensemble. Text by Matthew Glassman and Jennifer Johnson. Directed by Stacy Klein. Presented by Double Edge Theatre in association with Charlestown Working Theater, at Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA, July 15 through August 22.
This indoor/outdoor spectacle an Arts Fuse favorite last summer, so it is nice to see that is back. The show “is the first Latin American based spectacle in Double Edge’s history, taking inspiration from Alejandro Jodorowski’s Where the Bird Sings Best, Lawrence Thornton’s Imagining Argentina, Isabel Allende’s Eva Luna, and other great works of Jorge Borges, Gabriel Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus. The highly visual and imaginative performance will lead the audience alongside the hills, pastures, river, and through the gardens of Double Edge’s Farm, and includes expansive murals and colorful settings by local and international artists.”
Cost of Living by Martyna Majok. Directed by Jo Bonney. At the Nikos Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, through July 10.
World premiere of a script that reflects current hard times: It is “play about four very different people, in four very different circumstances, each trying to get by. Eddie (Wendell Pierce), an unemployed truck driver, reunites with his ex-wife Ani after she suffers a devastating accident. John (Gregg Mozgala), a brilliant and witty doctoral student, hires over-worked Jess (Rebecca Naomi Jones) as a caregiver. As their lives intersect, Majok’s play delves into the chasm between abundance and need and explores the space where bodies — abled and disabled — meet each other.”
The Chinese Room by Michael West. Directed by James Macdonald. At the Nikos Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, through July 23.
A world premiere of a “sci-fi comedy thriller by an Irish playwright.” “A visionary in the field of artificial intelligence, Frank (Brían F. O’Byrne) has built a humandroid to preserve his wife Lily’s (Laila Robins) memory — because she is losing hers. But when he is ousted from the company he founded, he must race to save his life’s work.”
Annapurna by Sharr White. Directed by Keith Stevens. Staged by The Peterborough Players, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, New Hampshire, through July 17.
The regional premiere of a Relationship Play: “After twenty years apart, Emma tracks Ulysses to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere for a final reckoning. What unfolds is a visceral and profound meditation on love and loss with the simplest of theatrical elements: two people in one room.” Peterborough Artistic Director Gus Kaikkonen and Lisa Bostnar star.
Forever, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith. Directed by Steve Stettler. At the Weston Playhouse, 703 Main Street Weston, Vermont, July 14 through 31.
Pulitzer finalist Dael Orlandersmith’s performed her one-woman show Stoop Stories at Weston’s OtherStages in 2014. She returns to the theater “with another celebrated and provocative new work! In this uplifting exploration of the family we are born into and the family we choose, Orlandersmith travels to the famed Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where, by the graves of legendary artists such as Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, she finds unexpected grace in a gripping tale of the legacy a daughter inherits from her mother.”
Mercury’s Ashes: A Rock Monologue, written and directed by Lián Amaris. The Salem Theatre Company presents the Vector Art Ensemble production at Shetland Park, 35 Congress Street, 3rd Floor, Salem MA., July 14 through 16.
An intriguing, if somewhat ghoulish, premise for a one-man play. “Before Queen’s front man Freddie Mercury passed away of AIDS in 1991, he asked that the location of his ashes be kept a secret from the world. Guided by the gravity of fandom, one man believes he has found the remains of the fallen Star that have eluded fans for over twenty years.” “Inspired by real events” this script “shares how the weight of his discovery alters the orbit of a man’s life and irreversibly binds him to the greatest performer of the 20th Century.”
Brendan by Ronan Noone. Directed by Brett Marks and Victor L. Shopov. Staged by Happy Medium Theatre at the BCA Black Box,, Boston, MA, July 15 through 31.
Another entry in what used to be a very hot genre in the theater — the ghost play. “The compelling story of recent Irish immigrant, Brendan, and how his new life in America is suddenly turned upside-down when the ghost of his mother starts following him around. Of course, she has plenty to say about his friends, his shameful lifestyle and how worried she is about him learning to drive on the other side of the road.”
Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Staged by Apollinaire in the Park 2016 at Port Park, 99 Marginal Street, Chelsea, MA, July 13 through 31. Free.
Brooks Reeves will take on the role of Hamlet. The tragedy “will be presented as a Promenade Production, and in Apollinaire summer tradition the audience will move with the action. Audiences will be on their feet for about half the show. All areas are wheelchair accessible. Patrons with mobility concerns who will not be bringing wheel chairs are encouraged to call ahead so a chair can be provided. Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and beach chairs, and a picnic to enjoy along with the harbor views.”
The Good Body by Eve Ensler. Directed by Lindsay Eagle. Staged by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA, July 15 through 30.
This is another humorously polemical feminist work from the author of The Vagina Monologues and the powerful memoir In the Body of the World, which was adapted for the stage by Ensler, who performed the one-woman show recently at the American Repertory Theater. This 2004 script “takes an inside look at our outsides. From botox to bikinis and everything in between” and “explores the all too familiar body image battle females from middle school through menopause face on a daily basis.”
Summer Play Festival 2016: If Not Now, When? Staged by Boston Actors Theater at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, July 15 through 31.
5 new works by local playwrights: The Black and Blonde by Lesley Moreau, Pipe Dream by Samantha deManbey, We have to tell Jacob by George Smart, Why You Should Send me to Mars by Marc Harpin, and Jacks and Queens by M. Lynda Robinson
From the Sea, To Somewhere Else by Monica Giordano. Directed by Noah Simes. Presented by Flotsam Productions at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, July 15 through 23.
The world premiere of what sounds like a whimsical entertainment. “One day, on the shore of somewhere else, a girl tells a boy that she is a mermaid, and it is true.” The script “takes us on a journey with the boy (Jack) and the mermaid (Morissa) as they both search for who and what it is they want to be and try to return Morissa to the sea. Along the way, they encounter a variety of colorful characters, including an endearingly hapless navigator, a pair of poetically inclined pirates, and a villainous assassin/hand model. Featuring music, magic, high-jinks, and danger,” this show “is suitable for all ages, and recommended for those who love to laugh but find themselves surprised to cry.”
– Bill Marx
Renee Fleming sings Wellesz and Berg
Presented by the Tanglewood Music Festival
July 13, 8 p.m.
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA
Fleming joins the Emerson String Quartet for a performance of Berg’s Lyric Suite and Wellesz’s Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (both pieces the focus of a stellar disc they released last year). Brahms’s A-minor String Quartet no. 2 rounds out the program.
Rhapsody in Green
Presented by Boston Landmarks Orchestra
July 13, 7 p.m.
Hatch Shell, Boston, MA
Nature-celebrating music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Tan Dun, Michael Gandolfi, and Ottorino Respighi frame Copland’s Music for Movies in BLO’s season-opener at the Hatch Shell.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Presented by the Tanglewood Music Festival
July 14, 8 p.m.
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA
The chamber orchestra The Knights bring a Bob Dylan-inspired program to Ozawa Hall, featuring Haydn’s Symphony no. 64 (“Times Chang’d”), Schubert’s Symphony no. 5, and Gabriel Kahane’s Crane Palimpsest (plus, of course, an arrangement of Dylan’s eponymous number, among others).
Music for Martha
Presented by Monadnock Music
July 16, 8 p.m.
Peterborough Town House, Peterborough (N.H.)
Monadnock Music’s 51st season begins with Gil Rose leading the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in music written for Martha Graham by Gian Carlo Menotti, Carlo Surinach, and William Schuman.
Yuja Wang plays Ravel and Gershwin
Presented by the Tanglewood Music Festival
July 17, 2:30 p.m.
Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA
Pianist Wang joins the BSO for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Gustavo Gimeno conducts rounds out the Franco-centric program with Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and the Suite from Stravinsky’s The Firebird.
– Jonathan Blumhofer
Ensemble ad Libitum/The Clarinet Collaboration
At St. Anne’s in-the-Fields, 147 Concord Road, Lincoln, MA
At the Chapels at West Parish, 129 Reservation Road, Andover, MA
First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
“The clarinet was the last of the woodwind instruments to join the orchestra as a permanent member and thus the last woodwind instrument to come into its own as a solo and chamber music participant. Virtuoso clarinetist Thomas Carroll showcases the ease with which this instrumental newcomer found a home in chamber music. The broad lyricism of Mozart’s Quartet K.378 contrasts with the raw virtuosity of Crusell’s Quartet in Eb Major, and Vanhal’s Bb Major Trio presents the clarinet as an equal to the violin. Demonstrating the ability of the clarinet to both complement and rise above the string sound, this program foreshadow the works of Weber and Brahms to come.”
– Susan Miron
Guitarist Ben Monder can play inside, outside, whatever you’ve got, with deep technique and creativity (he’s been a go-to guy for folks like Maria Schneider and the late, great Paul Motian). His own orchestral, impressionistic compositions are detailed dreamscapes, and his most recent release, Amorphae (his ECM debut, from January, with synth player Pete Rende, and drummers Motian and Andrew Cyrille) shows him at his uncompromising best. He plays a rare Boston solo show at the tiny Outpost 186 before heading over to the Lily Pad to play with Noah Preminger (see below).
Ben Monder (see above) recorded with soulful and brainy young tenor sax guy and boxing enthusiast Noah Preminger on the latter’s 2013 release, Haymaker. After his show at Outpost 186, Monder will head up the street to join Preminger’s band at the Lily Pad. The band also includes guitarist Tim Miller, bassist Simon Willson and drummer Jongkuk Kim.
BOLT + Luther Grey Quintet
July 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.
In the latest edition of his .01% series, drummer Eric Rosenthal lines up a double-header that includes the exquisitely disciplined free-improv outfit BOLT (with Rosenthal, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and alto saxophonist/lyricon player Jorrit Dijkstra) plus drummer Luther Grey’s quintet (with players TBA).
Carlos Averhoff Jr.
July 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The Cuban saxophonist and composer is joined by two players from his lauded 2015 CD iRESI, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Francisco Mela, as well as pianist Manuel Valera. Averhoff matches a deeply felt understanding of folkloric Cuban tradition with progressive-jazz tendencies of the likes of Greg Osby and Jason Moran.
July 18 at 6 p.m.
Charles Hotel Courtyard, Cambridge, MA.
South African Berklee student Neo Gcab lists herself as “RNB and Neo-Soul,” but I’ll take that “neo” as jazz, based on her video clips. The “soul” part is just as real. This is one of a series of free shows sponsored by Berklee and the Regattabar, taking place in the upper courtyard of the Charles Hotel complex.
– Jon Garelick
World Music and Roots
New Bedford Folk Festival
July 9 & 10
New Bedford, MA
Last year a friend warned me that one of the groups performing at this festival was “a bit too kumbaya.” At first I thought he meant that they reflected the idealistic sprit of the ’60s political folk movement. Then I saw the group and realized that the act literally had the audience hold hands and sing along to “Kumbaya” during every set. That image pretty well sums up the NBFF festival: An authentic throwback to the days when folk meant old union songs, sea chanties, Sacred Harp singing, a smattering of blues, Celtic melodies, and a few contemporary singer/songwriters. Highlights include bluesman Robert Jones Sr. and guitarists Pat Donohue and John Doyle. Note: despite the location, Portugese-language folk traditions were, once again, ignored.
One of the New Bedford highlights, Pennsylvania’s fine roots trio the Stray Birds, will head over to Passim for two nights. Like their obvious influences, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, these musicians treat Americana right, with soulful vocals and great songwriting chops.
Outside the Box
Boston Common, Boston, MA
The demise of the Boston Globe/WGBH Summer Arts Weekend makes the third edition of the free multi-genre Outside the Box festival even more important. The recently-announced full lineup includes noteworthy tango, Cuban, Mexican, Hindustani, and African touring artists as well as a host of local greats. Stay tuned to the ArtsFuse for a full interview with OTB artistic director Georgia Lyman later this week.
Wonderland Ballroom, Revere, MA
One of the best Boston reggae summers in memory continues with this past Arts Fuse interviewee, whose original rocksteady-inspired sound has kept him at the top of the charts in the current reggae revival era. Hopefully Riley will be able to take the stage far earlier than at his last Wonderland appearance. A poorly organized evening led to his set being cut short because of the venue’s curfew.
– Noah Schaffer
Nalami Malani: In Search of Vanished Blood
Through August 14
At the ICA, Boston, MA
Born in Karachi, Nalini Malani came to India as an infant, during the tumultuous 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Now based in Mumbai, Malani is a leading contemporary Indian artist, working primarily in video and installation. This ICA exhibition features “In Search of Vanished Blood” (2012), one of her best-known multimedia installations (she takes the title from a poem by revolutionary Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz). The piece is a whirlwind of moving images from Eastern and Western Cultures: six video projections beam through mylar cylinders, which are themselves hand-painted with “cultural and historical iconography” that fly across the walls of the gallery. The whole is inspired by a 1984 Christa Wolf novel about a struggling female artist.
Through October 2
AT the ICA, Boston, MA
Born in 1966 in Boston, Liz Deschenes has become known for her unabashedly beautiful work in photography and sculpture. This is her first mid-career show; it covers the work of twenty years, including her explorations of the borders of photographic technology and three-dimensional installations, works that probe the nature of seeing, image-making, and display.
Milton Avery’s Vermont
Through November 6
Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT
One of America’s great 20th-century modernists, Milton Avery is considered one of the inspirations for the Abstract Expressionists (Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb were friends). The artist has often been compared to Matisse for his brilliantly colored, carefully composed canvases, which hover on the edge of the abstract without ever crossing the line. Though he was based in New York City, many of Avery’s compositions were founded on work he did during summers spent in the Green Mountain hamlet of Rawsonville, where his friend and mentor, art historian Meyer Shapiro, owned a country house. Avery’s Vermont work captures his family’s vacation life via images of the landscape that proved to be key to his development as a modernist painter. This exhibition includes sketches and brilliant watercolors, often made on the spot; there are also oil paintings, based on the watercolors, that he completed during the winters in his New York studio.
Sensing Space: Reflections on Stone Hill
Through October 31
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
The Clark is one of the few art museums to have its own rural campus: a complex of buildings, art installations, and trails sprawling over the bucolic meadows and woodlands of Stone Hill, just outside the college town of Williamstown, Massachusetts. Jointly organized by a professor of religion and a professor of biology, this exhibition “asks us to consider the idea of place by tracing the history of Stone Hill.. and exploring the meanings it holds.” The exploration ranges from geologic time, through pre-Colonial and Colonial periods, the 19th and 20th centuries, to the present and, although the premise comes across as a bit portentous, it also sounds intriguing enough for a visit to this beautiful piece of New England countryside.
A Useable Past: American Folk Art at the Colby College Museum of Art
through January 8, 2017
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
Over several decades, Colby College’s art museum has quietly grown into one the most important of college and university museums in the country, a source of pride on the campus and beyond. This exhibition celebrates Colby’s collection of American folk art, including examples from one of the first collections to be given to the museum. The definition of “folk art” is notoriously difficult to pin down: in the United States, it usually is often described as the work of professional, though self-trained 18th- and 19th-century artists who often traveled from place to place. But there are many exceptions to the profile. This show will no doubt prove once again that when it comes to “folk art,” you mainly know it when you see it.
Papering the Town: Circus Posters in America
through January 22, 2017
Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT
The circus companies once traveled every summer through American towns large and small. But a lot has changed. The Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, itself the survivor of many mergers and buy-outs, no longer performs in tents or even features elephants. This exhibition features posters from the American circus heyday, ca.1870-1950, when, in the time before television advance teams, each tour stop was peppered with colorful ads announcing the circus’s immanent arrival. The selection features some of the largest examples in the Shelburne collection, including the so-called “Colchester Posters,” discovered in 1991 under the exterior siding of a private home in Colchester, VT.
Whirling Return of the Ancestors: Egungun Masquerade Ensembles of the Yoruba
July 15 – January 8 2017
RISD Museum, Providence, RI
The Egungun (“ancestors”) masquerades of the Yoruba peoples of West Africa are among the most important performance traditions still surviving on the continent. The masquerades, which evoke the poets of ancestral spirits, feature elaborate costumes that designed to show off Yoruba textiles, which are sewn, patched, and appliquéd in layers to swirl around the performers as they dance. This exhibition, organized by a team of art historians and curators, includes works selected from the collections of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at nearby Brown University. It features a newly-created ensemble made by Yoruba craftsmen in Benin.
American Impressionism: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals
July 16 – November 6
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
The Isles of Shoals, a group of rugged, rocky islands in the Gulf of Maine off Portsmouth, NH, was once the locus of a Victorian summer colony, a resort popular with mainlanders who flocked to its cool ocean breezes and brilliant sunlight. The American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam was one of several New England creative types who found inspiration in this spot, a harsh place in winter yet idyllic in the summer months, near to shore yet remote in atmosphere. A collaboration of marine biologists, geologists, and curators, this show is the first in more than a quarter century to focus on Hassam’s island work. It features some forty oil paintings and watercolors, dating from the 1880s to 1912, depicting thickets of bayberry, weathered granite heights and crags, views of the deep blue Atlantic crashing against unforgiving shores, and gardens full of brilliant summer flowers.
– Peter Walsh
Rock, Pop, and Folk
The inveterate and indefatigable singer, songwriter, and bandleader Robert Pollard brings the latest line-up of the Dayton, OH indie/lo-fi legends Guided By Voices to the Paradise next Monday. Get close enough to the stage and you are likely to score yourself a beer from one the innumerable well-stocked coolers with which the members surround themselves.
Cincinnati, OH’s long-running indie quintet Wussy (click for The Arts Fuse’s 2014 interview with singer and guitarist Chuck Cleaver) played to a sold-out crowd at The Midway Café in Jamaica Plain this past April, just short of one month after its album Forever Sounds came out. The group comes to Cambridge next week to visit the Middle East Upstairs, the capacity of which is almost twice that of the Midway.
Hailing from Atlanta, GA, this female trio’s sound and spirit is squarely in the tradition of The Raincoats, The Slits, and—by virtue of the fact that they all have the stage surname Coathanger—The Ramones. Nosebleed Weekend, the follow-up to 2014’s equally punk-ily titled Suck My Shirt, appeared in April. If Thursday night is when you start the weekend early, then check them out at ONCE on July 14.
Rhett Miller made Johnny D’s his stomping grounds for almost all of his solo shows over the past two or three years. Next Saturday, he will play what I believe is his first show in the area since the closing of that beloved venue. Joining him will be Syd Straw (click for my 2013 interview with her), a spectacularly talented singer-songwriter who has collaborated with some of the most significant popular and underground artist of the past four decades.
Other shows coming up in the next two weeks include Girlpool (July 11, Middle East Upstairs), Paper Waves (July 12, Lizard Lounge), Sonny & The Sunsets (July 12, ONCE Ballroom), John Sebastian & David Bromberg (July 16, The Cabot), and Marissa Nadler (July 19, Great Scott)
– Blake Maddux
Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty: A Novel
In Conversation with Lara Van Den Berg
July 11 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Ausubel’s novel explores the plight of a New England family vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard in the late-’70s. The clan has an illustrious past, but it must confront a glaring reality: there’s no money left to keep their privileged lifestyle afloat. The novel explores how each of the family members deals with downward mobility.
Girl in the Afternoon: A Novel of Paris
July 12 at 7 p.m.
The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley MA
Burdock reads from her novel, which combines an exploration of the artistic life with a mystery story: “Born into a wealthy Parisian family at the center of Belle Epoque society, 18-year-old Aimée Savaray dreams of becoming a respected painter in the male-dominated art world; and secretly, she also dreams of being loved by Henri, the boy her parents took in as a child and raised alongside her. But when Henri inexplicably disappears, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the Savarays’ privileged lives begin to unravel. Heartbroken, Aimée tries to find him, but Henri doesn’t want to be found―and only one member of the family knows why.”
Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos
July 14 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Natarajan’s book takes the reader on a tour of the most notorious cosmological discoveries of the past century. She will explain how once controversial theories — of black holes, dark matter, the expanding universe, and the possibility of other universes — became accepted by the scientific community.
Choose Your Own Misery: The Office
July 14 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Face it: the inanity of office life is here to stay. Luckily, one of the writers from The Onion is here with a cynic’s gathering of Choose Your Own Adventure scenarios that help you laugh away your working blues. Will you choose to show up late to work with a hangover, or chuck your big presentation and head off with Debbie, the woman from accounting who is wants to talk about penguins for three hours? Flip the page and see your depressing future unfold!
Dylan Goes Electric: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties
July 15 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
One July night in 1965, Bob Dylan threw down the musical gauntlet by doing the unthinkable and playing an electric set at the venerable Newport folk festival. Folk purists were horrified, Dylan’s fierce creative independence solidified his rejection of the ‘voice of a generation’ label, and ’60s rebellion was never the same. Arts Fuse review