Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yesterday I went to the North Adams' Historical Society Museum and the Hoosac Tunnel Museum, both located in the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, MA.

At the Historical Society Museum Marie Rose, a lifetime resident of North Adams, gave me a tour. She volunteers at the Historical Society and Mass MoCA (I also saw her at Bang on a Can). Born in 1938, she has seen the town change over the years. She was an employee of Sprague Electric, formally located in what is now Mass MoCA. The Historical Society was full of objects and images of North Adams history, plus some things like southwest Indian pottery, baskets and dolls, an exhibit on bees, and a rock, insect and small rodent collection. There also was a black-light room dedicated to the disk that Sprague Electric sent the moon. I enjoyed the museum, I enjoyed experiencing it with Marie Rose, but also it made me really sad.

The Hoosac Tunnel Museum helped put in perspective the history of the Hoosac Tunnel and how and why it came to be. The tunnel is a little under 5 miles long and runs through the Hoosac Mountain from Florida, MA to North Adams, MA. There was a video from WGBH made in 1990 that tied everything together nicely. Above is an etching of workers wearing rain slickers while tunneling in the Hoosac Mountain. The mountain is a very wet mountain especially in the western part. When workers would blow up the rocks many times gallons of water would pour out from the rocks, sometimes people would drown. The mountain has 5 different types of rock. The western rocks are softer and moister.

The Western Gateway Heritage State Park is a sweet little park. It is has the Freight Yard Pub, Berkshire Creative Arts (community art center), and a quilt shop. I think it is the smallest state park in Massachusetts, possibly New England.

Pictured above is a piece from the Bang on a Can (BOAC) marathon concert held at Mass MoCA last night. Sorry the picture quality is so poor. The overall concert started at 4pm and went until 11:30pm. It was one of BOAC's marathon concerts. People are free to come and go through out the marathon. This was a relatively short one. They have held 12 and 36 hour concert with a variety of composers. Last nights special guest was Terry Riley.

This piece is called something makes something something. It is composed by Sean Francis Conway, who is on the left in the picture playing the didgeridoo. The two men on the right are Jude Traxler (center) and Mitsutoshi Toda (left) providing percussion for the piece.

Jessica Park had a show up at Gallery 51 in North Adams, MA earlier this summer. I had never seen her work before. I think it is amazing. The show mainly consisted of color copies of her original paintings, so at first I thought they were all digitally done. I was told that since most of her work gets bought from all over the country, they were not able to get many original paintings back for the show.

Some of my most favorite parts of her paintings are the celestial elements in the skies’ of her paintings, the way night sky can appear in the windows of the buildings, her use of color and how carefully she prepares them, and her attention to minute details and staying true to them. In one painting there is an unfinished doorbell with all it’s wiring hanging out. It was a painting that was commissioned by a woman in Boston of her new home. Instead of painting it out like many people who would paint portraits of peoples houses, Park had to paint it in because that is how it was at the time she saw it.

Her favorite color is mint green.

Park appears in a video by Olive Sacks called Rage for Order. This is also the title of her web page. Park’s is an artist with Autism. She lives in Williamstown, MA and works as a mail clerk at Williams College. (Jessica's website) (short article about Exploring Nirvana, a 97 page book on Jessica Parks' art)

Friday, July 25, 2008

I was looking at masks online and came across this.

L'Inconnue de la Seine

The unknown woman of the Seine

"An unidentified young woman whose death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artists' homes after 1900. Her visage was the inspiration for numerous literary works." - wikipedia

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This is an overhead view of the former Northampton State Hospital. If you click on the link below it will take you to the Advocates' (a weekly newspaper in western MA) website, which has an interactive tour of the old main building (the building outlined in red). The main building is a Kirkbride structure. Kirkbride designed many state hospitals throughout New England and the Midwest. He believed the way the buildings were set up would provide the best opportunity for people to heal.

The building looks like a bat or bird from above. The two "wings" of the building were seperated by male and female. The place where they meet is the entrace and area of the building and housed nurses stations and clericle offices. The "wings which housed the patients were set up with the most severe patients at the tips of the wings with each section that comes closer to the center houseing patients who where higher functioning.

For the virtual tour visit

More on Northampton State Hospital:

More on Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride

info about Massachusetts State Hospitals visit

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008