Southern Berkshires

James Van Der Zee photos comes home

He was born in a house on Hubbard Street when Hubbard Street was still a dirt road. He remembered early years in a large, warm family. Around him, people were always  sketching and drawing, singing and playing instruments. He played the piano and the violin, but the instrument that made his name known around the world…

Becket quarry — Ghosts in the machines

Berkshire naturalist Thom smith takes a walk into the industrial past of a Becket quarry. The Chester-Hudson Quarry operated for close to 100 years. It is a skeleton of its past now. When it closed in the 1960s, buildings, machinery and vehicles were abandoned as if the workers finished their shift and left for the…

A treasure hunt for people of hay

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith has gone searching for sculptures, from jazz musicians to refugees to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza …  I have often called Berkshire artist Michael Melle’s sculptures, ‘straw people,’ but they are not straw — he chooses second cutting hay chosen for the best results. These hay and stick sculptures are fluid,…

Clemens Kalischer changing times on film

At the Old Bennington Weavers textile mill, looms hold fabrics for an artist and fashion designer, Tzaims Luksus, known for his graphics on silk. In Brattleboro, artisans at the family-run Anderson Pipe Organ Company are shaping pipes by hand from sheet metal. Crafters go about their work and grey-haired men lean on their snow shovels.…

Kayaks paddle on Benedict Pond

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith paddles in the Southern Berkshires … Benedict Pond nestles in the 12,000-acre Beartown State Forest in Monterey, a year-round destination for the outdoors enthusiast. It is as pretty a small lake as any I have found in Western Massachusetts, and at nearly 1600 feet elevation it offers a hint of northern wilderness.…

Susan Merrill makes summer last

Susan Merrill and her husband, Carl Sprague, are sitting under the grape vines on the terrace outside their old white house, with two corgis underfoot. Susan’s grandfather lived in this house; it has been in the family almost 100 years. They have spent this summer quietly here, seeing friends and family, plays and concerts while…

BTW Berkshire artists in West Stockbridge

The painter caught my eye, standing on the grass outside the old town hall. Straw hat and smock, pallette and easil — a plein air artist made of straw. On the easil, splashes of bright color announced that the Richmond-West Stockbridge Artists Guild has an exhibit running this weekend and next (Aug. 24 to 27…