hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires





BerkshireTheatreGroup.org • 413-997-4444
Unicorn Theatre • 6 East St., Stockbridge, MA
• “4000 Miles” • May 16-Jun. 2 • Tue.-Sat., 7 pm • Sun., 2 pm
• “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” • Jun. 13-Jul. 14 • Tue.-Sat., 7 pm; Wed. & Sun., 2 pm

Colonial Theatre • 111 South St., Pittsfield, MA
• Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” • Jun. 27-Jul. 21 • Tue-Sat., 7 pm; Sun., 2 pm

FortSalem.com • 11 East Broadway, Salem, NY • 518-854-9200
• “Godspell” • May 31-Jun. 9 • Fri. & Sat., 7:30 pm; Sun., 2 pm


GhentPlayhouse.org • 6 Town Hall Pl., Ghent, NY
• “Circle Mirror Transformation,” writ. by Annie Baker, dir. by Brian Wagner • Jun. 7-9, 14-16 • Fri. & Sat., 7:30 pm; Sun., 2 pm





Selections from museum's collection spark questions, conversations


Contributing writer


A group gathers in a Vermont living room in a black-and-white photograph: a white Northeastern family in homespun farming clothes.

The photographer in the corner is holding the shutter release to cue the camera at a distance. He is wearing a cotton dress and a bonnet as simple as a Quaker’s.
The women around him wear caps and dungarees. The whole crew, as deadpan as a daguerreotype, seem to be playing with gender.

They may have been a family party staging a private theatrical event, said curator Jamie Franklin of the Bennington Museum. The museum doesn’t have any information about the context of the photograph, but Franklin is intrigued by the questions it raises.

As part of her new show, “Dark Goddess: Sacroprofanity,” which runs through Aug. 11, Shanta Lee has chosen objects from the museum’s collection to accompany her photographs. They have no captions or descriptions — instead, they come with questions.

Is borrowing an identity through costume offensive, or is it the individual’s road to attempting to understand that which they are not?

The museum’s collection has some 15,000 photographs and negatives, Franklin said. Lee has chosen images and objects she hopes will spark conversations about respect and identity, appreciation and appropriation.

Some of those images can be hard for a contemporary viewer to look at, Franklin and Lee agree. Some raise questions about the photographer’s intent or understanding — or lack of understanding — of the people and cultures they represent. These questions, the artist and curator agree, are deeply important today.

“What is the museum space for?” Lee asked. “Is it the 21st century public square? Is it a space where cultures come together? And sometimes they actually will clash, and we expect that they do clash, and we can bring them together?”
She said she has found it fascinating to see and hear and be part of these conversations, to explore this cultural moment, as museums are in the midst of broader discussions about their mission and whom they serve.

“Museums are asking themselves very hard questions right now,” Lee said. “Museums have been looking at their collection with a very critical eye. Bennington is no different.”

She has interviewed leaders of the Bennington Museum, as well as the Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington and the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, and talked to them about their collection and their legacies as cultural institutions.
And they all, like their counterparts at The Smithsonian and the Met and many more, are grappling with questions about they have in their collections and where some of their artifacts have come from. They see a need to change collecting policies — and to make sure they are respecting the cultures and makers of the communities where they live, and all the communities who have lived here.



‘Richard Estes: Urban Landscapes’ opens at the Hyde


The summer exhibition “Richard Estes: Urban Landscapes” opened May 31 and will be on view through Sept. 15 at The Hyde Collection.
The exhibition features a curated selection of screenprints and paintings by Richard Estes, the celebrated American artist born in 1932 and a pioneering figure in the Photorealism movement.
Photorealism emerged in the 1960s as a counterpoint to the predominantly abstract art of the era. It offers a breathtaking level of detail that blurs the line between painted canvas and photographic precision. Estes’ works, celebrated for their meticulous attention to the nuances of urban environments, offer viewers a lens through which to re-experience the familiar vistas of city life.
Estes is famous for his cityscapes depicting New York, San Francisco, Rome, and other metropolises. Rather than glorifying impressive skylines or bustling urban squares, his cityscapes are intimate, up-close views of storefronts, street corners, restaurants, or bus and subway interiors. Remarkably realistic reflections in glass and metal stun the eye. Estes’ views never include people, and a meditative quiet reigns in his work despite the clamor of city living.
Estes’ celebrations of concrete and girders, plate glass windows, and typeface have a uniquely somber beauty that invites prolonged study and introspection.
The Hyde’s installation of “Richard Estes: Urban Landscapes” will be accompanied by recorded urban soundscapes that allow visitors to experience what Estes might have heard as he snapped his photos. An interactive city model will invite visitors to create their own cityscape.
“Richard Estes: Urban Landscapes” is organized by the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.



Sundials are focus of Brookside event


In recognition of the summer solstice, The Saratoga County History Center Board is pleased to announce a unique program on sundials from ancient times to today.
Jere Blackwelder, former president of the History Center’s board of trustees, will travel through the centuries, exploring how civilizations have viewed time, with sundials as the common element. This event will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, at Brookside Museum, at 21 Fairground Ave. in Ballston Spa.
To attend this event, please register at brooksidemuseum.org.