Arts Briefs: Interactive art in Northampton, museum tours in Hadley, community bands in South Hadley, and more

Published: 06-15-2023 3:32 PM

ARC at A.P.E.

NORTHAMPTON — In 2016, the A.P.E. Gallery started a new program with the acronym ARC: Activate, Research, Create, the idea being to stage short exhibits designed to probe “the relationship between the public, the work, and the space in which it is made,” as A.P.E. described the project.

This year’s programs include the current exhibit, “Stick Show,” by Kole Kovacs, a multi-disciplinary artist who is creating a group sculpture that includes stick contributions from the public. The exhibit, which includes drawings, paintings, and video with sticks as subjects, runs through June 17.

From June 18 to 24, a group of choreographers and dancers will be creating work under the title “Skin in the Game: Investigating Risk & Togetherness,” in which the artists examine the legacy of COVID-19 and how illness affects the ability of people to come together.

And from June 25 to July 1, potter, writer and photographer Michael Medeiros will lead “Story/Sound Arbor,” an “immersive greenspace and oral history preservation experience” that includes three writing sessions designed to help participants visualize and share their experiences in gardens and nature.

Participants can choose to record their experiences for inclusion in an “oral history soundscape” that will be presented in the gallery June 30 and July 1.

For more information on these projects, including how you can participate, visit and follow the link for ARC.


A community band jam

SOUTH HADLEY— The Pioneer Valley Community Band Festival, hosted by the community bands of Amherst, Florence and South Hadley, will bring together up to 150 musicians from western Massachusetts and beyond at the Mount Holyoke College Amphitheater on June 17.

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The free show begins at 3 p.m. and will feature amateur and professional musicians alike, of all ages and abilities, from throughout the region to celebrate live instrumental music.

Thomas Bergeron, principal trumpet for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Deerfield Academy’s music director, will lead the players through what he calls a wide variety of music, “from Sousa to Duke Ellington, Billie Eilish and Ray Charles.”

Also part of the program is an original piece for concert band, “Across A Golden Sky,” by American composer Quinn Mason, whose work was featured in an SSO concert in February, Bergeron says.

In a statement, Priscilla Ross, longtime director of the Florence Community Band, says group members “always enjoy playing under the baton of other conductors. And many of us remember when Tom was up and coming, playing with us! So it will be a joy to reunite under his leadership.”

Saxophonist Ronald Smith, director of music programs at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, will be the featured guest soloist. Smith, a Northampton resident, has performed with artists such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, and numerous others.

The rain date for the concert is June 18.


Community Days at Porter-Phelps

HADLEY — The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, at 130 River Drive, will offer free guided tours of the 18th-century home on June 17, 18 and 24 to residents of some nearby towns.

On June 17, residents of Amherst, Shutesbury, and Leverett will receive free tours of the museum, and on June 18 that offer is good for residents of Hadley, South Hadley and Whately; on June 24 residents from Northampton and Hatfield are invited. Tours take place all three days from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

The revised tour examines the lives of six enslaved Africans who once lived at the site, as well as the home’s transition to a museum.

Afterward, visitors can enjoy complimentary refreshments on the back veranda; they’re also encouraged to explore the grounds and learn about the history of the Connecticut River Valley.

A new National Register historic district, “Forty Acres And Its Skirts,” was recently designated for the property, which encompasses the museum, the Phelps Farm complex across River Drive, and other historic resources and agricultural land in the vicinity.

That project was supported through a National Park Service Underrepresented Communities Grant to the Massachusetts Historical Commission in partnership with the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation.

In addition, the museum’s Wednesday Folk Traditions series, now in its 42nd season, resumes June 21 at 6:30 p.m. with a performance by ReBelle, Valley favorites who combine elements of Rasta, soul, folk, and poetic insurgence.

The concert is $12 for adults and older teens, and $2 for children 16 and under; payment is cash only. Picnickers are welcome on the museum’s grounds starting at 5:00 pm. In the event of rain, performances will be held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley.


Contemplative art in Amherst

AMHERST — New work by painter Lynne Adams is featured this month at Hope & Feathers Framing and Printing, much of it exploring spiritual connections between nature and the human experience.

Adams’ paintings, focusing especially on the landscapes of western Massachusetts, use a fusion of cold wax, a harmonious color palette, and oil paints to “create rich and textured surfaces, enhancing the tactile and sensory experience of her artwork,” according to exhibit notes.

At the Burnett Gallery at Jones Library, meanwhile, painter Nancy Emond is exhibiting her watercolors this month, which the artist says reflect “the deep sense of peace found in the natural world.”

Emond, who like Adams also teaches art, notes on her website that she’s drawn both to small details from nature and well as larger landscapes, and occasionally views of historic homes — much of this close at home. “I am mostly self-taught,” she writes, “taking my love of the natural world and local forests, hills, wildlife and putting it on paper.”

Emond’s exhibit runs through June 30, Adams’ through July 1.


Summer spectacle returns

ASHFIELD — Tickets remain on sale for “The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae,” the summer presentation of drama, dance, music and pageantry by Double Edge Theater that is returning for its second season.

The mostly outdoor performance piece is based on a famous tragedy by Euripides from ancient Greece, but the Ashfield ensemble’s interpretation centers female voices in a way the original play never did.

As program notes for the 2023 version of the production put it, “We look forward to sharing a further developed and re-imagined version of this work: our response to Euripides’ Bacchae in which women’s rites are no longer in hidden territories but freely able to express their deeply held desires.”

This year’s summer spectacle begins with preview performances July 14 and 15, with presentations then running Wednesday through Sunday from July 19 through Aug. 2.

To reserve tickets, call (413) 628-0277 or visit

Compiled by Steve Pfarrer