Autumn is always a bustling time in many of the Valley's arts communities; museum exhibits are unveiled, film festivals commence, theatrical performances debut and bands and musicians of every stripe launch their fall tours before retiring to the recording studio for the winter. Every fall, we offer a sampling of what we think are some of the most interesting goings-on, new ideas and traditions or institutions. If you can find a few moments to take a break from sipping cider, splitting wood or raking leaves to go roll around in some culture, please consider the options presented in the 2012 Fall Arts Preview.
Still trying to think of somewhere artsy to be on Halloween? If you're looking for mischief, music and maybe even an old-time spooky movie, try the Bing Arts Center in Springfield. There you can indulge your cravings for black-and-white silent vampire movies and black lingerie.
Start with a screening of the classic German 1920s flick Nosferatu. The oldest and perhaps the strangest of the vampire movie genre, this is no Twilight saga, but the real deal, wooden stakes and all. Boston-based Not-So-Silent provides musical accompaniment for an event that aspires to create a genuine vintage movie feel.
On Halloween night, don't dress up like a pumpkin when you can pull on your fishnets and top hats and celebrate in carnival style. The Bing hosts the Carnivale Noire: La Fin Absolue de Monde on All Hallows Eve, featuring performances by Walking Ghost and The Grimm Generation, who set the mood for a graveyard smash with their indie acoustic sounds.
Nosferatu: Oct. 27, 8 p.m, $20; Carnival Noire: Oct. 31, 8 p.m., $15, Bing Arts Center, 716 Sumner Ave, Springfield, (413) 731-9730, www.bingartscenter.org.
Reasons to Live it Up
Jane, jilted on the eve of her wedding, is prostrate with despair, wanting to either "die or just relax." Sister Emily has come home for the wedding with Heather, her latest one-night stand, passing her off as her life partner. Mom is dealing with middle age by regressing wistfully to younger days when her children needed her. The "man" of the house is a twentysomething slacker who's holed up in his room probably doing something illegal.
Reasons to Live, Valley playwright Meryl Cohn's comedy of dysfunction and redemption, is currently playing at the Provincetown Theater, directed by Liesel de Boor, co-founder of the Valley's August Company, and featuring Valley actor Eliza Greene-Smith. It's one of the centerpiece attractions in this year's Women's Week, the lesbian-friendly—make that lesbian-pervasive—P-town bash that's an annual destination on many a Valley calendar. A fall fixture for over a quarter-century now, the festival is a teeming profusion of concerts, performances,exhibits, workshops, talent contests, literary events, dances, mixers and other reasons to live it up with the ladies.
Women's Week, Oct. 8-14, schedule and information at www.womensweekprovincetown.com. Reasons to Live, Oct. 4-14, Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St., Provincetown, (508) 487-7487, www.provincetowntheater.org.
The Young@Heart Chorus is one of Northampton's oldest and most cherished contributions to global culture, having toured the world, recorded several albums and been the subject of an award-winning feature documentary film. How old, you ask? This year marks the legacy group's 30th year.
Most of the celebrations lined up for the Y@H's coming-of-age take place in the form of live performances at Northampton's Academy of Music Theatre, in a three-day string of shows the "youngsters" are calling "Young@Heart Chorus Now and Then." Each performance will feature some of the group's classic trademark tunes from days of yore as well as selections from their newest album, Young@Heart Chorus Now. Guest performers include Trailer Park (Oct. 19), Heather Maloney (Oct. 20) and the Lonesome Brothers (Oct. 21).
In conjunction with the shows, an exhibit at the Forbes Library's Hosmer Art Gallery presents costumes, banners, photos, posters and other memorabilia gathered by Stella Cilman, daughter of Y@H Director Bob Cilman. A reception will be held for the exhibit on Oct. 12.
Young@Heart performances: Oct. 19-20, 8 p.m., Oct. 21, 2 p.m., Academy of Music Theatre, 274 Main St., Northampton, (413) 584-9032 ext. 105, www.academyofmusictheatre.com.
Young@Heart exhibit: Oct. 5-31, Hosmer Gallery, Forbes Library, 20 West St., Northampton, (413) 587-1011, www.forbeslibrary.org. Reception: Oct. 12, 5-8 p.m.
Cinema Paradise City
Glamorous red carpet receptions and buzzing after-parties aren't just for Hollywood anymore. This month, the Valley welcomes back the 16th annual incarnation of the Northampton International Film Festival, which brings some of the best independent films to the big screen at Noho's Academy of Music Theatre. This year's crop includes feature films Booster, Dreams Awake, Il Cacciatore di Anatre (The Duck Hunter), In Montauk, Meherjaan and Schlafende Hunde (Sleeping Dogs), as well as documentaries Dreaming Nicaragua, Eroll Garner, Whiskey and Apple Pie and the opening night headliner Oxygen for the Ears: Living Jazz.
The festival also offers a healthy serving of award-winning short films which range in length from three to 34 minutes: The Ballerina and the Rocking Horse, Bat, A Beautiful Impurity, Exposure and Exit 7A, as well as many others. Shorts of local interest include Eric Carle: Picture Writer and The Closing of Pleasant Street Video. An opening night gala will be held at the R. Michelson Gallery, and a closing/awards ceremony will be held at festival's end at the Academy. Visit www.nohoiff.com for full schedules and ticketing information.
Oct. 5-7, Academy of Music Theatre, 274 Main St., Northampton, (413) 584-9032 ext. 105. Opening Gala: Oct. 5, 9:15 p.m., R. Michelson Gallery, 132 Main St., Northampton, (413) 586-3964.
Returning by popular demand for its second annual installment, the Paint and Pixel Festival once again showcases the illustration work of some of today's leading creators of commercial illustration and comic book art. Distinguished regional artists featured this year are DC Comics artists Shawn McManus (Sandman, Swamp Thing, Heavy Metal magazine) and Jack Purcell (Batman: The Dark Knight, Birds of Prey, Gotham City Sirens, Batgirl and Stan Lee's The Guardian project); book and comic illustrator Greg Ruth (Goosebumps, Conan the Barbarian, Freaks of the Heartland) and underground cartoonist Gary Hallgren (Air Pirates, The New York Times, Vanity Fair). Perhaps most anticipated is an appearance by Western Mass. native and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird.
Founded in 2010 by Peggy Twardowski—wife of comic artist Sean Wang (Runners, The Tick)—the festival provides an opportunity for Western New England book and comic illustrators to mingle, cross-pollinate and promote their work, and allows fans and aspiring colleagues to get an inside feel for the art, industry and general culture buzz of a vibrant artistic community. Attendees have the opportunity to talk with creators, purchase signed books and prints, engage in workshops and listen in on panel discussions, and can even submit their own work for a professional portfolio review. For full details, visit www.paintandpixelfestival.com.
Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free/kids 5 and under, $2/kids 6-12, $5/general, Northampton Center for the Arts, 17 New South St., Northampton, (413) 584-7327.
Arts and Crafts
Once again it's time for autumn—pumpkins, apple cider, leaves changing color and, of course, the Paradise City Arts Festival. To say that festival is a staple event on the calendar of many in the Pioneer Valley would be an understatement; it continues to be, year after year, a place where artists both emerging and established can put their work on display and where patrons, shoppers and just-browsers can go and explore new worlds.
Every year there are fresh faces and exciting wares to discover, from furniture to photographs, sculpture, fashion and fiber art. This year the festival coincides with American Craft Week; in honor of that there will be glassblowing demonstrations with artist Philip Jacobs. Paradise City is full of up-and-coming talent (check out young designer Ashley Conchiere's scarves and textiles inspired by medieval Scotland). "Spell it Out" is this year's special exhibit, in which artists explore visual communication through their media.
Oct. 6-8, Three-County Fairgrounds, Northampton, free/kids 12 and under, $8/students, $10/seniors, $12/general. www.paradisecityarts.com.
"The Bank or the Company needs, wants, insists, must have, as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling... But the monster is sick. Something's happened to the monster."
That's from the classic Depression-era novel The Grapes of Wrath, but it could well describe the pathological monster that spawned the housing bubble and the financial crash of '08. That link drives House/Divided, a piece of contemporary theater that blends live performance with state-of-the-art multimedia and updates John Steinbeck's story of dust-bowl farmers evicted from their land to illuminate today's windstorm of home foreclosures and economic refugees. Created by the Builders Association, whose work uses actual structures to reflect on issues of home and stability, ownership and community, the piece not only enacts "the myriad bizarre, humorous and lamentable [true] stories of the current housing crisis," but constructs a real house onstage, made of materials salvaged from an actual foreclosed house.
At this performance, don't turn off your smart phone. A downloadable app allows you to receive real-time info during the show. A series of special events also surrounds the visit, including the opportunity to sit in on a tech rehearsal.
Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center, UMass-Amherst, (413) 545-2511, (800) 999-UMAS or www.fac.umass.edu for tickets and information.
Lizard Kings and Other Things
Concert films and music documentaries have been an influential phenomenon for at least a couple of generations of music- and movie-loving Americans. Though largely replaced by MTV and YouTube, such films do still get made (see Shine a Light or It Might Get Loud), and remain intimate glimpses into the lives of rock stars and/or invaluable recordings of live performances.
This fall, South Hadley's Tower Theaters bring back all the excitement of these rock-docs and musicological musings in a fall Concert Series featuring concerts in several genres, beginning with Pat Metheny: The Orchestrion Project in 3D (Oct. 4). Subsequent events include Andre Rieu Live in Maastricht 2012 (Oct. 11), Rolling Stones: Some Girls - Live in Texas '78 (Oct. 18), The Doors Live from the Hollywood Bowl '68 (Nov. 8), and Joe Satriani "Satchurated"—Live in Montreal in 3D (Dec. 6).
The films present an opportunity to get inside some of the greatest musical minds and/or transport yourself to another time to witness what have been lauded as some of the greatest live shows by some of history's most iconic performers.
Oct. 4, 11 and 18, Nov. 8 and Dec. 6, 9 p.m., Tower Theaters, 19 College St., South Hadley, (413) 533-3456, www.towertheaters.com.
Far from Extinct
Local heroes Dinosaur Jr. have been through a few different incarnations and churned out a steady flow of vanilla sludge since their origins in the mid-to-late '80s. Along the way, they managed to both raise appreciation for songwriting in punk and indie rock, then save the screeching guitar solo from certain extinction at the hands of later acts like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Now back in their original lineup with J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph, the band can still blow up a room full of ears, and likely will at this gig in support of their latest release, I Bet On Sky.
Rounding out the bill is Dinosaur Jr. Jr., otherwise known as Screaming Females, a more contemporary, Internet-exposed group of indie punks that nonetheless shares a Dino aesthetic, so much so that they hired alternative-era producer Steve Albini to make their latest album, Ugly. A portion of the show's proceeds will benefit The Common School in Amherst.
Nov. 28, 8 p.m., $25, Pearl Street Nightclub, 10 Pearl St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com.
Turns out the difference between Fantasia the movie and Fantazia 360º is a lot more then just a "z." NV Concepts and the Massachusetts Electronic Dance Music Community (MassEDMC) join forces in bringing this extravaganza of light and sound to Springfield's MassMutual Center. A dizzying blend of talent and multimedia including music, lights, fire, dancing, fighting and film creates a feel that's something like Cirque du Soleil meets all-night rave, and promises to be a nonstop cavalcade of stimuli.
Fantazia 360º takes the gymnastics and feathers of Vegas, mixes in a bit of music festival magic and tops it off with some tribal fire, all set to electronic beats and performed on a 360-degree stage for an interactive, audience-driven event that's likely to be unlike anything you've seen before.
Oct. 18, 9 p.m., MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield,(413) 787-6610, www.fantziatour.com.
Once in a while a unique opportunity comes along to see exquisite art that is usually hidden from the public view, catalogued and preserved in a private collection or in some secure basement at a well-endowed institution. Such an opportunity presents itself this fall, when the Smith College Museum of Art hosts the exhibit Drawn to Excellence: Renaissance to Romantic Drawing, which will feature 80 pieces from the private collections of a Smith alumna. These drawings represent styles of line drawing and draftsmanship from France and Italy between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The anonymous collector selected the works to specifically illustrate the best examples of drawing from the period, and a course is being taught at Smith this semester that enables its students to exploit this opportunity for study of the work.
Through Jan. 6., Smith College Museum of Art, Elm Street at Bedford Terrace, Northampton, (413) 585-2760, www.smith.edu.artmuseum.