When the fire has cooled, Karlene Kantner tells me, she will smooth the earth away from the top of the pit and look to see how her vessels have transformed. The heat and flame and smoke leave a patina on their curved sides, and she can never wholly predict the patterns.

She is a ceramics artist in West Stockbridge, and she has been telling me about her upcoming show at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Even in midwinter, artists are working in their studios here, and curators are planning new shows.

They gather in people who have lived here for generations and people from around the world. And they tell me how it feels to take ideas and feelings, a web of them, and make them tangible.

Art in the Berkshires ranges this winter from 17th century drawings at the Clark Art Institute to EJ Hill’s rollercoasters and Amy Yoes’ abstract textile art at Mass MoCA. Contemporary artwork honors Shirley Jackson’s speculative fiction at Bennington Museum, and Hilary Knight, the illustrator and co-creator of the internationally known Eloise books, comes to the Norman Rockwell Museum … For recent stories and photos, scroll on down.
A solo rider coasts down EJ Hill's Brake Run Helix in Building 5 at Mass MoCA. Press image courtesy of Mass MoCA
Photo by Kaelan Burkett

A solo rider coasts down EJ Hill's Brake Run Helix in Building 5 at Mass MoCA. Press image courtesy of Mass MoCA

It’s magic to walk with curator Alexandra Foradas through the long gallery at Mass MoCA at sunset while a rider sloughs down a roller coaster. We watch the light deepen, and we’re talk about EJ Hill and the years he has put on this body of work.

She draws out the themes he lifts up: the excitement and fear in an amusement park ride, the freedom in being able to relax. We talk about the courage in being exposed to public view.

And then on a winter morning Clark-Getty Curatorial Fellow Sarah Grandin talks about the days she spent in Paris, around the corner from the Tuileries, searching through 5 million works on paper at the national library that have never been cataloged.

She found sketches from artists 300 years ago. They were jotting in the margins when it was still new for most people to have paper and a pencil to draw with. They caught the movement of street scenes, hurdy-gurdies, draymen walking draft horses into stone stables with loose hay in the loft.

And they held the momentum of the daily world with a pulse we can still feel beating.

Artists on the loose

Berkshire art stories