ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
by Jesse DeGroodt

 

Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Marco Borggreve

 

Trying to make some lemonade here. Let’s look at our current situation as an opportunity, shall we?

One of the first things I did, personally, when it dawned on me that an isolated lockdown was in the cards, was to take stock of the things I wished I’d done around the house the past few years. No, I’m not talking hammering and nailing and painting and messing around with things that go wwwwwzzzzzzzzzz and all that whatnot—I’d have a better chance with the virus than wrestling with any of that foolishness. Perhaps instead I should thumb through the scads of family photos that have accumulated over time around these parts. Shouldn’t be risking a digit or limb with that one.

On the other hand, I do possess—and I’m certain I’m not alone—some little bit of experience with fiddling around on the internet, and, as I pointed out last month, it’s as good a place as any to locate new entertainment options in these, our cave-dwelling days. We’re fortunate that many entertainment venues and entities have seen fit to reach into their archives and load their goodies online. Others are performing live concerts in their studio or living room or wherever their music takes them. Elton John, put on a bit of a show in his kitchen using one of his kid’s keyboards, for Pete’s sakes. All that said, here goes.


In Williamstown, MA, where The Clark (www.clarkart.edu) remains closed through at least May 4, Director Olivier Meslay recently announced that more than 2,700 high-resolution digital images of works in the museum’s collection are now available for direct download, free of charge, from the Clark’s website. Choose among works from collections of the Old Masters from 1300-1799, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, sculpture, drawings...you get the idea.

 

Hippopotamus ("William"), ca. 1961–1878 B.C., L. 7 7/8 in.; W. 2 15/16 in.; H. 4 7/16 in., figurine, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.


Some 160 or so miles due south, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art) in New York City offers nearly 30 online exhibits, ranging from “A New Look at Vermeer” to “Textiles in the House of Worth.” But that’s far from the extent of it. Categories including works of Mathew Brady, flowers, dogs, teapots and crafts, as well as dozens more, will keep those internet connections humming for quite a while. And then there are the various miscellaneous items, such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1565 “The Harvesters” and “The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne,” the 1872 work of Alfred Sisley, and several hundred thousand more.


In our own backyard, at the Norman Rockwell Museum (https://www.nrm.org) in Stockbridge, MA, the current virtual exhibitions include “Norman Rockwell in the Age of the Civil Rights Movement” and “Norman Rockwell: Presidential Elections Illustrated.” What particularly captured my fancy, in the Virtual Museum Experiences “From the Archives” section, came in “The Art of Norman Rockwell,” which threatened to swallow up an afternoon. Somehow, I managed to escape (probably when I discovered my favorite BBQ joint anywhere ever has begun selling its wares online), but rest assured I’ll be going back for seconds.

 

Norman Rockwell posing with his painting “New Kids in the Neighborhood” (1967), by Louie Lamone (1918-2007), Norman Rockwell Museum

 


For the young and young-at-heart, the Boston Children’s Museum (www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour) offers a virtual walking tour of its three floors of, well, fun stuff that explores…nope, not going to give it all away. You’ll have to see for yourself. No admission charge!


Closer to home, blues legend and Columbia County resident Rory Block has taken to presenting live Friday night house concerts in her Living Room Music Series on Facebook Live at 7:30. Each concert is set to include four songs and stories. “In a time of suffering, music is for healing,” says the six-time Blues Music Award winner, and she couldn’t be more correct.


For those of us who like to eat, here’s an opportunity to simultaneously share a meal—oftentimes the precursor to attending an arts event—and do some good work in what is ordinarily a very social occasion. On Monday, May 18, join with Construct of Great Barrington, MA, for Mayfest 2020 (https://constructinc.org). This is an annual benefit as part of Construct’s 50-year mission to “to provide great places for our south Berkshire neighbors to live that they can afford. Right now, we are also focused on literally sheltering those who cannot safely live at home due to coronavirus—those who have it and first responders who provide support for those who do,” according to Jane Ralph, Construct’s executive director. Here’s what you do: Invite others to join you over social media, order in from your favorite Mayfest restaurant and post to your Construct community through social media.


Beginning in early May, the Boston Pops plans to remain in touch with its fans through a wide range of audio and video content at www.boston pops.org/athome. Meanwhile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has said it will decide by mid-May whether to proceed with its summer season at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA. While we wait for that announcement, the BSO is presenting behind-the-scenes looks, musician’s offstage lives and great performances straight from the BSO archives at www.bso.org/athome. New music is released daily at 10 a.m.


As we’re busy lounging on the lawn at Tanglewood on a mid-July evening with the sun just going down, a warm zephyr passing through and a tasty beverage in hand (okay, okay, we’re all entitled to dream!), 50 years on makes it none-too-soon to celebrate life on the big shed’s stage in 1970. This was the year that promoter Bill Graham helped usher onto the venerable Lenox grounds such acts as The Who, Miles Davis, Santana, Jethro Tull, and Chicago—many of the shows are now available in their entirety on YouTube. As Chicago keyboardist/vocalist Robert Lamm observes at one point during his band’s eye-popping performance, “This [Tanglewood] has to be about the nicest place in the world to play.”


In Lakeville, CT, The Hotchkiss School is reaching into its 15-year catalogue of world-class performances to present weekly Saturday evening rebroadcasts of concerts. The shows begins at 7 p.m. and will continue until further notice—they can be accessed at the school’s livestream page (https://livestream.com/hotchkiss), as well as on its Facebook Concert Series page.

Along those same lines, the Arthur Zankel Music Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, offers “amazing music performed by our students at Skidmore” every weeknight at 7 p.m. on the Zankel Facebook page. Some early concerts featured the Skidmore Guitar Ensemble and the Skidmore African Drumming & Dance.

This is what happens when I have a spot of time on my hands, and if there’s one thing we have now, it’s time. Somehow, I managed to stumble upon something called SlowTV on YouTube. Ever wanted to spend 10 hours watching fractal sheep unfold on your computer screen? How about 10 hours flying over Switzerland? Ocean waves? Regardless of what floats your boat, whether it’s 10 hours of snow, space, fireplaces or whatever, SlowTV has you covered. Great for some background noise, for one, or just watching the world go by, all in 10-hour increments.

Can we take a moment and remember the life of musician John Prine, who succumbed to COVID-19 on April 7 in Nashville, TN? We recall with fondness the times he appeared on area stages. Wish we could have just one more.