December 30 2020 Edition
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By the Way
Breathe in — we have time. It seems to slow down when the year is turning, just for a moment or two. A few weeks ago I was walking with a friend at night, wandering into back corners of town I'd never seen before, and she asked me what holiday rituals look like for me.

It was a cold, clear evening, and the buildings by the old railroad station stood high up, like barns on independent towers — grain siloes from the days when you could take a train from here all the way to the coast? We thought we saw a young bobcat disappear into the scrub near the railroad tracks.

It was quiet. We were walking without flashlights, letting our eyes adjust to the dark. And I was tracing the patterns that feel like a holiday, and thinking about how many of them in my family we've made for ourselves. They're about taking time. When I sit by the fire and read the same story aloud once a year, or write to a friend, the words can take on life, even when the friend is at a distance, like holding someone in mind while you're making a gift for them.

Holidays are about remembering, a lot of the time, when I think about it. My mom and I will make a family recipe together and hear and feel the people who used to roll out the dough in another kitchen years ago. And holidays are about looking ahead to shape the year I want to come.

So here are a few clear memories from 2020, in hope for a brighter 2021. As I look back at them, I see that Runa has a new winter album just coming out now. Professor Frances Jones Sneed is leading a virtual community read and conversation on Souls of Black Folk on Tuesday nights (pausing for the holidays and coming back on Jan. 12). The stories carry on.

And if you're looking for an afternoon with the Ain Adhari spring in Bahrain, where travelers rested for centuries, or bohemian French artists in the snow, or WPA photographers in mills and on back roads, or contemporary artists imagining new worlds, our museums are open ... By the Way Berkshires
Checkerberry Birch H2

A handful of 2020 highlights

Gamaliel Rodriguez installs La Travesía / Le Voyage at Mass MoCA.

Gamaliel Rodríguez draws possible futures at Mass MoCA

Gamaliel Rodríguez looked out at the hills shading into a dark twilight purple on a winter afternoon. It took him a year to draw them by hand. They could be the hills of his native Puerto Rico, and they could be here ...

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Celtic supergroup Runa will perform at Dewey Hall.

Runa plays Celtic music with roots and blues

Shannon Lambert-Ryan and her family stood listening to musicians playing a low melody on six-holed cane flutes. The tune rose and fell gently, like the hills on the horizon. She had come with her band to southeastern Oklahoma, to meet people in the Choctaw Nation ...

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Helen Sadler performs as Jane Eyre at the Hartford stage.

Jane Eyre tells her own story on the Hartford Stage

A small, dark-haired young woman is leaning out a window alone. She wants life and companionship. She aches for an active mind and body. She tells herself stories about magical beings in the blackthorn trees. ...

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A company dancer with Zaccho Dance Theatre performs in Between Me and the Other World, an hommage to W.E.B. DuBois. Press photo courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

Zaccho Dance Theatre honors W.E.B. DuBois

Joanna Haigood opens her arms to the sky, shakes her shoulders loose and looks around the room with a lithe movement. She has brought this group together on a winter day in the single digits ...

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Mount Italian Garden in snow H

NightWood: Light and Sound in winter

Through January 3

The Mount presents NightWood, an ethereal outdoor light and sound show formed around original music, winter elements and new experiences.

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MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does

Coded Bias (virtual film)

Images Cinema (online) through December 31

When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms.

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The Norman Rockwell Museum presents the artist's work and other illustrators.

The Four Freedoms returned and re-imagined

Through January 17

Norman Rockwell’s scenes drawn from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms return to New England after an international tour with two new shows of contemporary art, Reimagining the Four Freedoms and the Unity Project.

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Camille Pissarro, Piette's House at Montfoucault, 1874, Oil on canvas. The Clark Art Institute, 1955.826. Image courtesy of the Clark.

First Sunday Free

January 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Clark Art Insitute welcomes the community for a monthly free day. See and hear the galleries in new ways, walk the trails or snowshoe up Stone Hill and warm up with bright images.

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A winter holiday ornament catches the light.

Festival of Trees: Legends of the Berkshires

Through January 10

This year the Berkshire Museum's Festival of Trees will move from the museum’s galleries into shops, restaurants and other locations throughout the city of Pittsfield and surrounding communities.

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