Looking up to open sky (June 9 newsletter)

The circle of blue sky framed in the opening in the ceiling seems to float in orbit overhead like a new planet. James Turrell has created artwork from light for more than 50 years, and in his newest work at Mass MoCA, he has turned a concrete water tank into a Skyspace. Looking up ward, leaning back against the curved wall, feels like sitting in an observatory.

It takes time to find, large as it is, out here in the old mill courtyards away from the center of the museum, past the Airstream spaceship on the roof, and the river, and the brick outbuildings where Zarouhie Abdalian’s Chanson du ricochet chants the names of old tools like a ritual — micometer, coping stone, spokeshave, adz.

You walk into a quiet round room with walls the color of canyon sandstone, and the slightest movement echoes here — the acoustics magnify every scuff and finger tap. It’s a space that calls attention to familiar things.

On some limited days they will open it at dawn and at dusk, when the sky is at its most changeable, and for those hours they’ll need reservations, but any other time while the museum is open, the tower is open too. We can always see the sky.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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