March 05 2021 Edition
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By the Way
Giant heads gaze upward, and tall women stretch out in the sun. They look smooth and weathered, as though they have been lying in a river bed for years. Last weekend I came back to Ledelle Moe’s When at Mass MoCA. I wanted to see it again before it closes on Sunday. And I thought about people who would make colossal stone goddesses.

Gamaliel Rodriguez first gave me that idea. I remember him telling me how he felt when he first encountered her exhibit. He sounded awed, as though he had walked into a sanctuary. He said it was like seeing a vast and deep civilization in glimpses.

We were talking together a year ago on a winter afternoon. He was here from Puerto Rico for a few days, installing his 60-foot mural, La Travesía / Le Voyage. He had drawn a landscape of mountains and mills. He was thinking about the relationships between technology and the natural world, he told me. We talked the value of taking time and working by hand.

Walking around the museum afterward, I stepped into When and felt the scale of it — the hollow heads opened like sea caves. I walked through slowly and stood at the shoulder of the woman by the window, looking for her expression, and I wondered about the kind of people who could create a monument like her.

Seeing her this weekend, I thought about time. Ledelle Moe makes her sculptures out of earth from the places where she works, and concrete, but they look like slate and Berkshire marble. It takes months to create an image in stone. This resting woman has heft. She looks as though she will be here for centuries.

How would it feel walk into the center of town and see a woman two or three times human size, looking out with daily lives going on around her? You would see her standing there, curved and earthy and unshakeable. People would talk around her feet, while they’re sending messages and holding meetings and making decisions. On a cold morning you could sit near her out of the wind to drink a slow cup of coffee.

I wonder what kinds of music her people would have. How would their language grow with the idea of honoring a woman rooted in it? You could write a novel to answer that question. Something out of Ursula LeGuin. I wonder what kinds of words would matter to them and come to them naturally … water and earth, learning and opening, birth and bloom … and how they would dance like a doe at dawn. By the Way Berkshires

Stories

In a pandemic spring and summer, A-Ok Barbecue responded with their own homemade doughnuts.

A-Ok Barbecue spices up take-out in style

She is an Australian artisanal bread baker trained in New York. He is a former Manhattan chef and a butcher — a Russian Hungarian Jew from Connecticut. Together, at A-Ok, they are inventing Berkshire barbecue.

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The Prairie Whale in Great Barrington has installed an outdoor oven for making crisp Neapolitan-style pizzas.

The Prairie Whale adapts in a Covid world

At the Prairie Whale in Great Barrington, strings of lights are gleaming above the tables on the lawn. Most of the chairs are full on a Friday night, and voices carry over the grass. The diners and the waiters are all wearing masks.

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Events

Hands clasp gently and warmly in sunlight.

Living through a pandemic

January 21 at 4 p.m. (online)

The Jewish Federation holds a virtual conversation on Community Support for the Emotional Challenges of Living Through a Pandemic.

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Museum leaders Lisa Dent, Executive Director, Artspace New Haven; Tracy Moore, Interim Director, Mass MoCA; Cameron Shaw, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, California African American Museum; and Eric Shiner, Executive Director, Pioneer Works, will speak with Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Social Psychiatrist and Professor, New School, and Cecile Shellman, DEI Museum Consultant.

Mass MoCA and MCLA: In Session

January 21 at 6 p.m. (online)

Mass MoCA and MCLA continue a conversation on anti-racism in the arts with museum leaders Lisa Dent, executive director of Artspace New Haven; Tracy Moore, interim director of Mass MoCA; Cameron Shaw, deputy director of the California African American Museum, and Eric Shiner, executive director of Pioneer Works.

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A sparrow fluffs up in the snow. Photo by Zachary Adams, naturalist at Pleasant Valley Sanctuaries.

Winter Birds at TurnPark

January 23 at 9 a.m.

TurnPark Art Space and Mass Audubon naturalist Zach Adams will hold an evening stroll and conversation on birds and their lovely evening song.

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Scallions float in a bowl of miso soup. Creative Commons courtesy photo.

An Introduction to Koji and Miso-Making at Home

January 23 at 10 a.m. (online)

Mark Phillips of @EarthCultures will give a virtual introduction to Aspergillus Oryzae, or Koji, the fungus responsible for miso, soy sauce, sake and other traditional Japanese fermented foods.

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A microphone waits in golden light. Creative Commons courtesy photo.

Deesha Philyaw speaks at Berkshire NAACP awards

January 23 at 7 p.m. (online)

Deesha Philyaw, nationally award-winning author, columnist and public speaker, will give the virtual keynote in the 2021 Freedom Fund Awards.

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Closeup of Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Worship. Image courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Four Freedoms Coalition: Defending Our Democracy

January 24 at 2 p.m. (online)

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), musician Wanda Houston, Williams College Muslim chaplain Imam Sharif Rosen, youth leader Sadiya Quetti-Goodson and more will join the Four Freedoms Coalition virtually in their annual celebration.

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Community centered artmaker, dramaturg, playwright, poet and performer Micah Rosegrant comes to the Foundry for a month-long residency. Press photo courtesy of the Foundry

Micah Rosegrant: Storymaking through memory

Monday January 25 at 7 p.m. (online)

Community-centered artmaker, playwright, poet and performer Micah Rosegrant offers a virtual workshop on storymaking through memory with The Foundry.

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