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Big Color for Spring

Posted on February 04, 2022Written by Deirdre McKenna
Updated on October 11, 2022

Vilaj Imajine 2021 High 1

Galleries & Museums Showcase Artists that Take Their Cues from Nature

As serene as the Berkshires are blanketed in white snow, our eyes begin to crave a more vibrant and saturated color palette as Spring approaches.

For an infusion of color and joy, visit the exhibit Close Up and Far Away at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, presented in partnership with Community Access to the Arts (CATA). These paintings and drawings, created by artists with disabilities, include works created on site in the BB gardens and off site. The works span a wide range of styles and media, all in response to the natural world. You’ll see flowers, wildlife portraits, and landscapes that incorporate the vivid textures, colors, and patterns found in our local environment. All works are for sale, with commissions supporting the individual artists. On view in Stockbridge from March 3-27.

© Tomm El-Saieh; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Farzad Owrang.

The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown brings the large-scale (4×6 feet) works of Haitian-born artist Tomm El-Saieh to its public spaces in Imaginary City, on view through January 2, 2023. The free exhibition is presented on its lower level and the Manton Research Center’s Reading Room. El-Saieh’s layered, textural paintings have a visual vocabulary that moves fluidly between abstraction and figurative suggestion. In the titular work, Vilaj Imajinè, we are presented with what seems at first glance like a bird’s eye view of the rhythm and complexity of city life. One can imagine the microcosm of a computer motherboard, or the grid-like structure of city streets as seen from above. El-Saieh’s inability to return to his home of Port-au-Prince in recent years has positioned him to consider the meaning of home and identity from afar. The rich visual approach to the subject matter evokes a kind of excavation of memory. 

Eric Schumann, a CATA artist at work at the Berkshire Botanical Garden

Just down the street at the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), El-Saieh will curate an exhibition of works by contemporary Haitian artists to be presented in spring.

On February 18, WCMA will open Strict Beauty, featuring artist Sol LeWitt’s (1928–2007) printmaking in the form of lithographs, silkscreens, etchings, aquatints, woodcuts, and linocuts. LeWitt’s work is conceived to invite the viewer to experience the powerful visual impact of pure geometry, line, and color, enticing the eyes to follow the rhythms and movements of the shapes and marks. 

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing at MASS MoCA Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing at MASS MoCA

To dive deeper into the impact of LeWitt’s large-scale work, travel to North Adams for the MASS McCA show Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, installed in a 27,000-square-foot structure known as Building #7, a historic mill building on campus. You can trace the development of LeWitt’s visual explorations that run the gamut from methodical and intricate black and white line drawings to compositions with big, bold blocks of primary colors.

Opening March 12, MASS MoCA has 2 shows that give visitors an opportunity for immersive experiences on a massive scale. In Weep Holes, the sculptural work of Lily Cox-Richard examines how materiality, objects, re-use, and interdependent systems reveal cultural ideas and values. In 700,000:1 | Terra + Luna + Sol, artist Amy Hauft has created installations that visitors can move through on two levels, reflecting on a human body’s relationship to the curvature of the earth, the sun, sky, and moon. 

By Virginia Bradley

In Great Barrington, stop by the group show at Bernay Fine Art, on view through March 6 to see the work of Dianne Ayott. Her highly patterned, vibrational color fields are a feast for the eyes. While in town, make sure to book a studio visit with contemporary abstract painter Virginia Bradley. The broad spectrum of colors and textures in her work are inspired by geologic and oceanographic formations.

While you’re in south county, pay the Normal Rockwell Museum a visit to see The Artist’s Process: Norman Rockwell’s Color Studies.

The colors of Spring enliven our field of vision and stir our senses. Our galleries and museums offer an abundance of ways to deepen that experience, to enjoy–and be fascinated by–the endless ways our artists interpret the world around us.

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