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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mass MoCA a mecca of contemporary art

It's marvelous
Mass MoCA a mecca of contemporary art
By Kory Loucks
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 4:06 PM EDT
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Just two hours away, the sprawling, stunning Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is never the same place twice.

Unlike many museums, MASS MoCA, one of the largest contemporary art museums in the country, has no real permanent collection, and most of the exhibits remain for about 10 months.

Anytime is a good time to visit, but MASS MoCA really comes to life in the summer, with not only art installations, some of which are truly mammoth, but also concerts and live performances through out the summer months and into the fall.

The museum employs 65 full-time employees, most of whom work on maintaining the extensive 100,000-square-foot facility.

MASS MoCA Marketing and Public Relations Director Katherine Myers said visitors love the ever-changing exhibits, knowing that each visit is different than the last.

The museum, which celebrated its 12th anniversary over Memorial Day weekend, originally started with $35 million from the state of Massachusetts; most of the funds were used to refurbish the spacious 19th-century mill.

Today, the museum is independent and self-sustaining, receiving its income from admission fees, the gift store, leasing office space, and a relatively small endowment.

Against all odds, Myers said, the museum is surviving, despite the economy.

“It still continues to be fragile, but its better than when we started,” Myers said.

Their paid docents give tours of the gallery, telling viewers about the artwork and the artists.

What sets the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art apart from most museums is its lack of a permanent collection, unless you consider the semi-permanent “Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective.”

The collection of 105 wall drawings is a collaboration between Yale University Art Gallery, the Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA.

Covering 27,000 square feet on three massive floors, it has been in the museum since 2008, and is on loan for 25 years, at which time it will consider whether to continue displaying the collection.

LeWitt, a Hartford native who died in 2007 at age 78, was intimately involved with designing the space where his works are displayed.

“It’s like the artist curated his own show,” Myers said.

Rather than paint the artwork himself, LeWitt detailed instructions for others to duplicate his works, but for the most part, they can be replicated at only one location at a time.

For the most part, MASS MoCA does collect art, but has constantly evolving, new exhibits, Myers said, adding that she finds children in particular enjoy the contemporary art.

“Kids love it here because they have no expectations about what art is supposed to be,” Myers said.

For adults, she recommends they leave their “desire to explain everything at the door.”

She said that their Kidspace — although designed for children — is a place where everyone can create art based on a theme, at no additional cost.

The museum also has a summer schedule full of live performances, including its second Wilco Solid Sound Festival, which attracted more than 5,000 fans last year.

The festival is scheduled for three days, beginning on Friday, June 24, with comedy, music, and, of course, lots of art.

The Charlie Chaplin silent film “The Kid,” with live score by guitarist Marc Ribot, will be shown at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.

The museum, at 87 Marshall St., North Adams, Mass. is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and closed on Tuesdays.

Admission is $15 for adults and seniors, $10 for students, $5 for children ages 6 to 16, and free to children 5 and younger.

For more information, call 417-664-4481 or visit:

Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament also offers food, wine, and fashion

Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament also offers food, wine, and fashion
By Kory Loucks
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 10:07 PM EDT
NEW HAVEN — Wimbledon might have its strawberries and cream, but the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament has its delectable lobster rolls, delicious crepes, top-quality hot dogs and hamburgers, and much more at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale starting Friday, Aug. 20.

“Our overall strategy is to have something for everyone,” Anne Worcester, tournament director, says of the tournament’s food offerings, adding that with all the choices, “It’s impossible to lose weight this time of year.”

In the food court the tournament will have selections including lobster rolls at One Fish, Two Fish, crepes at Crepe Express, grilled high-quality hot dogs and hamburgers at The Café, gourmet pizza at Courtside Pizza, and ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s.

Worcester says New Haven has become an international culinary destination, and it has been the organizers’ goal to feature some of the area restaurants at their Food and Wine Festival from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

This is the third year for the event, which sold out in the first five weeks, Worcester says. Tickets cost $125, and the festival will include selections from 21 New Haven restaurants and box seat tickets to that evening’s tennis match.

Master chef and cookbook author Jacques Pepin adds star power to this popular event. Pepin is a tennis fan, which made the pairing a natural.

“He’s passionate about tennis,” Worcester says of Pepin. “That’s how we made the connection.”

Each of the restaurants was asked to offer a savory and a sweet dish.

Donna Curran, co-owner with Chef Denise Appel of Zinc and Kitchen Zinc Artisan Pizza and Bar, says the event gives them an opportunity to feature some of their food, including chilled corn and cilantro soup with blue crab salad and summer melon terrine with basil and yogurt foam.

Their offering from Kitchen Zinc will be toasted quinoa with arugula pesto and Hudson Valley goat cheese buttons with raspberry drizzle.

“It’s a fabulous way to spend a night,” Curran says. “Once you get your ticket you can eat as much as you want. It’s a lot of fun and a great bargain too.”

David Foster, who owns Foster’s, is serving edamame hummus on sesame flat bread and for his sweet dish he is serving s’mores crème brulee, with white chocolate crème brulee and chocolate ganache, graham crackers, and toasted marshmallows.

“These are both part of our menu and indicative of what we offer,” Foster says. “So if you like it you can come to our restaurant.

“I think it is a great thing,” Foster says of the festival. “It is a great way to showcase the restaurants in town.”

Chef Jean Pierre Vuillermet with Union League Café is serving a sophisticated dish of braised beef cheeks with a condiment of mixed vegetables and capers in white wine with orange zest.

Vuillermet says it is similar in flavor to a beef bourguignon but lighter.

The dessert is a chocolate pot de crème, which is like a rich and velvety chocolate mousse.

Vuillermet says he is a tennis fan who has been involved with the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament for years.

He says he enjoys the food and wine event because “it gets us out of the kitchen and gets us to meet with other chefs.”

Chef Claire Criscuolo, with her husband Frank, owns the vegetarian restaurant Claire’s Corner Copia and the Italian restaurant Basta Trattoria next door.

From their vegetarian restaurant, which has been in New Haven for 35 years, they are going to offer a trio of brochette with toppings of truffle and organic mushrooms, artichokes, and organic white bean with broccoli rabe.

For their sweet offering she says they will have mini cupcakes and their signature Lithuanian coffeecake.

“We have gotten quite a cult following” for the coffeecake, Criscuolo says.

From their Basta restaurant, they are offering orecchietti pasta with organic arugula from their garden, extra virgin olive oil, young garlic, and flecks of pepper from the Amalfi coast in Italy.

“It’s so much fun,” Criscuolo says. “It’s a beautiful combination of a joyous event with excitement. It’s the most exciting day of the year.”

Other participating restaurants include 116 Crown, Barcelona, Bentara, Bespoke, Caseus, Central Steakhouse, Geronimo, Heirloom, Ibiza, John Davenport’s, L’Orcio, Miso, Pacifico, Thali, and Thali Too.

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, another sold-out event is the wine-tasting evening, featuring a representative from Riedle Crystal who will speak about why using the right wine glass is just as important as choosing the right wine.

The event also includes a wine tasting, light hors d’oeuvres, and a suite pass to the Courtside Club overlooking Stadium Court.

There still are some tickets available for the tournament’s third annual Vineyard Vines Ladies Day Luncheon and Fashion Show hosted by Island Time, on Thursday, Aug. 25, starting at 11:30 a.m., which will include a fashion show and luncheon, along with box seats to the afternoon’s tennis matches.

Worcester says some of the male tennis players escort the models, who are wearing fall fashions, down the runway.

“It’s really quite amazing,” Worcester says.

All the participants receive a gift bag filled with valuable items that alone are worth at least as much as the $105 ticket price, she says.

For more information, visit the tournament’s website at:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My pal Al...

Al Jarreau played at a free concert today at Stern Grove and before the show I got to go back stage to his dressing room and say hello. I interviewed him last year for the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut when he put on a show at University of Connecticut, and had such a wonderful time.

Not bad for a man in his 70's who has won seven Grammy Awards over four decades...

I was great to see him once again. He is just a doll...