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MASS MoCA's Season Lineup Features Performance Range And Return Of Solid Sound

Jim Levulis

As MASS MoCA embarks on another major expansion, the contemporary art museum announced its winter/spring performance and visual arts lineup.Country rock artist Steve Earle kicks off MoCA’s music series with a show February 7th. Nick Zammuto returns to the North Adams attraction for a live music and video experience March 21st.

Neutral Milk Hotel rounds out the concert series April 17, before the return of Wilco’s celebrated Solid Sound Festival June 26th after a one-year hiatus. The festival’s programming will be announced early in 2015. Aside from music, dance choreographer Lucinda Childs will revive her 1983 collaboration Available Light during a work-in-progress stay at MoCA culminating with three performances in March before a national tour. Berkshire dance staple Jacob’s Pillow partners with MoCA once again, bringing Keigwin and Company to North Adams in April while street break dance crew Storyboard P and the Warriorz comes in February. Performing arts director Sue Killam says offering a range of performers expands MoCA’s reach.

“Whether it’s from concerts to dance to theatre to film, we think all of those genres are important in doing great work in the current contemporary art field,” Killam said. “Also it means that more people can find an entrance to MASS MoCA and our performing arts because there is going to be something that they’re going to be interested in. Hopefully that keeps them coming back and trying other things.”

With 65 to 70 events at the museum’s Hunter Center, club space and outdoor courtyards each year, Killam says performing arts draw some 25,000 people, in addition to the 120,000 annual gallery visitors. As for visual arts, MoCA will feature L.A.-based artist Jim Shaw’s largest show on the East Coast to date, which covers two floors. Shaw is known for paintings based on popular culture, his own religion called Oism and his dreams. Curator Denise Markonish says it will seem like you’re in a maze of political cartoons.

“So in this one you can see there’s Barbara Bush as the burning bush,” Markonish explained. “That other guy is Aleister Crowley who was a late 19th century mystic who invented his own religion. In the back corner you can see Dan Quayle peaking out and he features prominently in one of the paintings as well.”

Chinese artist and member of the cynical realism movement Fang Lijun’s works will be featured on sprawling 25-foot panels as well. Known for its massive displays like Xu Bing’s metallic birds suspended from the ceiling, MoCA’s free entrance day January 31 will give a behind the scenes look at how the museum pulls it off, as described by communications director Jodi Joseph.

“We will hear from art fabricators who will talk about how everything gets into the galleries and how we hang 20 tons of Phoenix from the rafters,” said Joseph.

In the meantime, MASS MoCA is beginning work on a two-and-a-half year, $55 million renovation of 130,000 square feet, nearly doubling its gallery space using a $25 million state grant.

Click here for more on MASS MoCA's winter/spring 2015 lineup.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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