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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
 
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Jan. 7 - Pittsfield
Four Freedoms March & Rally

Dec. 3 - Hudson
Hudson Winter Walk

Dec. 2 - Pittsfield
Wreath Art Auction

The Four Freedoms Ring Loud And Strong In Pittsfield, Mass.

Lisa Green reports from Pittsfield. Those of us who live in or visit the land of Norman Rockwell are intimately familiar with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech through the Rockwell paintings depicting freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion (on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum). On a cold Saturday, Jan. 7 — the 76th anniversary of FDR’s famous speech — more than 1,500 people walked the talk in Pittsfield, Mass. at the Four Freedoms March and Rally. The event was spearheaded by the Four Freedoms Coalition, a new, non-partisan, diverse coalition of over 150 community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses and elected officials. To an over-capacity crowd at First Church of Christ, speeches by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, James Roosevelt (grandson of FDR), Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, and others emphasized the coalition’s mission: to uphold the American values as stated in the Four Freedoms, reject all forms of bigotry, hate and prejudice, and defend and reclaim the Four Freedoms for all people. Markey urged the diverse audience to remain true to their revolutionary roots by fighting for the values they believe in. “We are not just any state,” he said. “We are the state that begins these revolutions.” Responses to the speeches — and interactions among the participants — were overwhelmingly positive. “This isn’t a rally against anything,” Timothy Mahon, a professor at Williams College, told The Berkshire Eagle. “This is in support of the ideals of the United States.” [Above, inveterate organizer Megan Whilden with Sen. Ed Markey.]


At St. Joseph’s Church, the gathering place for the march, participants were encouraged to create their own signs; Tobi Lanciano and Ellen Lanciano, owners of Tobi’s Limo, flank Jeanet Ingalls and social media consultant Eugenie Sills as they all wait for the march to start.


Pam Rich of Paul Rich and Sons and Sarah Frenkel prepare to march.


Nan Bookless of BookMarc Creative shows off her 4 Freedoms sign; Tina Maffuccio and Joe Maffuccio, a para professional and teacher, respectively, at Reid Middle School, join the crowd.


Marchers head indoors for the rally. Photo: Nan Bookless.


Jason Verschot and Joseph Farnes, both of Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition, flank Peter Marchetti, Pittsfield City Council president (and a speaker at the rally) and Mass. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier; The packed church. Photo: Nan Bookless.


Coalition partners to set up “action tables” at the church following the rally to encourage community members to “commit to one concrete action;” Rosemary Rahns and Chris Tucci of Railroad Street Youth Project at their action table.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/08/17 at 01:37 PM • Permalink

Memorable Parties of 2016

There’s nothing we at RI love more than covering the region’s galas; it’s the perfect opportunity to visit with wonderful old friends, meet interesting new ones, and taste the delicious food and drink produced right here at home. That’s why picking only a handful of parties for our year-end wrap-up is always so difficult. We’d like to thank the residents of this region for being so generous with their time, talent and funding of organizations that improve the quality of life in our area and make residing here a joy. Below is a sampling of the galas, gallery openings, fetes and festivals that make our jobs so fun. (Click here to relive all of 2016’s parties.)

Celebrating a Century Huge congratulations were in order this summer as The Columbia County Historical Society blew out the candles on its 100th birthday cake. The centennial celebration made this year’s First Columbians gala that much more significant.

Go BIFF or Go Home The Berkshire International Film Festival knows how to throw a big-time bash to open its annual film festival, and this year’s was another high-style affair in Great Barrington that included special guest Yo-Yo Ma and a 20-foot pagoda. 

HVA All Day A rare daytime event (because who doesn’t love a late brunch?), The Housatonic Valley Association’s annual fundraiser raised an impressive amount of money thanks to auction items that included tickets to Late Night with Seth Meyers and a meet-and-greet with the host himself, a private studio visit with Diane von Furstenberg, and a five-night stay in Tuscany.

Down on the Farm From cocktails in the Field House and tours of the Learning Garden to dinner in the fields, supporters had free reign of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook at the 9th annual Farm-to-Table Dinner.

We’re Wild About Wilderstein Even a gray day couldn’t dampen the spirits (or the stellar views of the Hudson River) at Wilderstein’s Summer Celebration. The Rhinebeck historic site’s main annual fundraiser saw a large turnout and lots of festive party hats.

Naumkeag Cuts the Ribbon Naumkeag’s Chinese Temple Garden received a facelift for its 60th birthday and a garden party for 300+ friends thrown by The Trustees of Reservations. Guests enjoyed Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres and traditional Chinese performances while reveling in one of the best views in the Berkshires.

The Thrill of the Grill Judging by the successful turnout at the inaugural Grillsdale in Hillsdale, the tasting event will be making a comeback in 2017. When it does, we suggest snagging tickets early to this most delicious of competitions.

Chef Meet Farmer Jaw-dropping views of rolling hills, ponds and mountains? Check. A breakfast spread courtesy of 10 of the finest local restaurants, farms and food vendors? Check. The satisfaction of knowing you helped a great cause? Check. It’s no wonder tickets to this year’s NECC’s Chef & Farmer Brunch sold out.

Welcome to the Jungle Guns ‘n’ Roses would’ve approved of The Wassaic Project’s 2016 summer exhibition, Appetite for Destruction, as it shared the name of the group’s 1987 debut album. We thought pretty highly of it, too, and of the venue’s super fun opening event.

The Curtain Comes Up We love being privy to a good sneak preview of upcoming events, and Powerhouse Theater provided one when it kicked off its 32nd season with an opening party at Canvas in Poughkeepsie.

Famous Faces in Beautiful Places Blythe Danner, Parker Posey, Mary Stuart Masterson, Ally Sheedy, Rocco DiSpirito and many other famous faces showed up at the Fisher Center’s SummerScape Gala at Montgomery Place. And it’s no wonder they did, as guests were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor performance by ballet star Sergei Polunin. 

A New Home for the Hudson Library Seven years of hard work finally paid off when a joyous crowd got to officially enter and explore its new Hudson Area Library.

The Spirit of 1966 Around 300 people ventured out in the rain to help Olana State Historic Site celebrate its 50th birthday with ‘60s-inspired nibbles, tunes and decorations. Only a late-breaking thunder and lightning storm could break up this swinging soiree.

Everyone Knows Nancy In addition to its annual bash, IS183 Art School of the Berkshires threw its first-ever honoree event, the Fitzpatrick Fandango, this year to celebrate its 25th birthday and to thank philanthropist and IS183 co-founder Nancy Fitzpatrick.

The Spotlight Shines on The Sharon Playhouse The Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala paid tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch and awarded his friend Glenn Close an inaugural “Excellence in Musical Theater” honor named after him. 

Black Leather and Feathers Berkshire Museum’s Raven’s Ball was adrift in ebony evening dresses, brocade vests, black leather pants, ascots and sable plumage… until the dinosaur showed up.

No Good Deed Goes Unpartied Berkshire United Way’s annual “Day of Caring” culminated in 50 book houses for children installed throughout the county, and, to celebrate, volunteers and sponsors let loose at Hancock Shaker Village.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/12/16 at 01:25 PM • Permalink

NEPR Jazz Holiday Party Swings With Frank And Ella

Lisa Green reports from Hadley. Whether it was the opportunity to dress up (vintage style), dance to a traditional big band or meet the faces behind the mics, New England Public Radio listeners showed their support at the radio station’s second annual “Jazz Holiday Party” on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House. Hovering over the party were the spirits of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, who came to life through singers Rob Zappulla and Dawning Holmes, as they covered the tunes of the two jazz legends backed by the 18-piece Jeff Holmes Big Band. All proceeds from the evening will go directly to supporting the programs and services of NEPR. [Above, the station’s CEO and General Manager Martin Miller and Pete Sokolowski, substitute jazz host.]


Meg Reney and Tom Reney, host of the program “Jazz a la Mode”; The Jeff Holmes Big Band.


NEPR listeners apparently love to dance as much as they love jazz; Pam Malumphy, executive director of development and major gifts, with Rosie Caine, an NEPR board member, in their finest vintage attire.


Vanessa Cerillo, executive director of marketing and communications, with her sister, Lauren Cerillo.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/11/16 at 09:52 AM • Permalink

Even In Its 20th Year, Hudson Winter Walk Never Gets Old

Lisa Green reports from Hudson. Is Hudson’s Winter Walk as delightful as billed? For this newbie, the answer would have to be yes, yes it is. On Saturday, December 3, parking was, as expected, a challenge, but once past that, the stroll on Warren Street (closed off to traffic) was a convivial mix of shopping, snacking, dining and greeting. Many of the shops sponsored festive activities — live music, dancing, art projects for the kids, not to mention food and drink; there was a petting zoo and an appearance by Santa’s reindeer (sporting some rather alarming antlers). This year’s event, presented by the Hudson Opera House on Saturday, Dec. 3, may have been additionally lively in honor of its 20th anniversary. “We love how creative Winter Walk is, and what it means for Hudson and the surrounding communities,” said Xrystya Szyjka (above, left) of Chatham, who attends every year with her sister, Olya Szyjka (right), from Amsterdam, New York. “Be sure to put in how inclusive it is,” she added. “That’s so important right now.”


Three generations of a family at Hudson Wine Merchants: Laurie Kaplan, Judy Kaplan and Rebeccah Bortz, hailing from Westchester, New Mexico and Manhattan, with a place in Taghkanic; Katie Kappes, Molly Darher and Isabel Newlin (wo)man the bar at Hudson Wine Merchants.


Lilly Becker and Samuel David check out the oils and vinegars at Savor the Taste.


The ladies of Lili and Lou: Proprietor Melinda Slover with Betty Lou Towart, Christina Saxton and Fetayo Cobbins; Jeremy Brunaccioni, Tim Grader and Gordon Alexander, all Massachusetts residents, at Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions.


Leslie Hughes and Brian Hughes, who have a home in Chatham, visit Casa Urbana.


The Etsy building and exterior emit an arts and craftsy glow; FINCH Hudson owners Michael Hofemann and Andrew Arrick.


Like many of the shops, 2 Note Botanical Perfumery offered live music among the merriment.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/05/16 at 10:48 AM • Permalink

Bidding For Good At The Holiday Wreath Art Auction

Amy Krzanik reports from Pittsfield. What’s green, smells wonderful, helps make your house more festive, and provides food to the community? No, it’s not The Grinch after his heart grows three sizes (spoiler alert), it’s the Holiday Wreath Art Auction. The second annual event took place on Friday, Dec. 2 at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the city’s monthly First Fridays Artswalk. Local artists had previously adopted plain evergreen wreaths to decorate however they chose, and the 2016 class of Berkshire Community College’s “40 Under Forty” had created kissing balls. The balls, as well as a selection of “grab and go” wreaths were priced at $25. Ten of the more elaborate art wreaths were chosen for a live auction, where they went for $35 up to $305. The well-attended event, catered by Mission Bar + Tapas, raised over $3,000 for the city’s food pantries.


Jen Glockner, Pittsfield’s Director of Cultural Development, and Shiobbean Lemme; Melissa Bissell, John Bissell and Jen Gokey.


Ali Herrmann, Michael Vincent Bushy and Carrie Jean Converse, all local artists who created wreaths for the show; Colleen Meaney and Karen Choquette.


Tony Dunne and Julia Dixon with Lydia Shulman and Tony D’Angelo of The Beacon Cinema.


Jenn Smith and Bill Laviolette greeted guests, collected proceeds and passed out swag bags; Vincent and Heather McDermott with 1Berkshire’s Laura Brennan.


Participating artist Ann Dobrowolski with Dave and Sheli Turocy; wreath artists Karen Labanaro and Becky Armstrong.


One of the kissing balls, decorated with paper stars; Carrie Jean Converse’s wreath featured colorful birds.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/04/16 at 11:27 AM • Permalink

Festival of Trees 2016: Berkshire Museum Goes Full Glamour

Amy Krzanik reports from Pittsfield. If you roll out the red carpet, the stars will come. All the big names were out on South Street on Friday, Nov. 18 as Berkshire Museum opened its 2016 Festival of Trees with an annual preview party. Now Playing, this year’s movie-themed exhibit, attracted famous faces from the Berkshires and the literal beyond – Charlie Chaplin and Joan Rivers made special appearances. As always, guests were treated to a first look at the trees as they sipped and snacked. And, because a trip to the movie theater isn’t complete without candy and popcorn, both were offered in abundance. The trees are sponsored by businesses, schools and community groups, and proceeds from the exhibition and opening event go toward the Museum’s 20,000-plus education programs each year. Now Playing will be up until Dec. 31.


Berkshire Museum’s executive director Van Shields and wife, artist Peggy Rivers, pose with Charlie Chaplin; Cara Carroll and Laurie Tierney of Dory & Ginger.


Bill and Hinda Bodinger of Berkshire Baby Box pose next to their tree; Judy Fox, Uli Nagel, Anne Legêne and the museum’s development manager Lo Sottile.


The flashbulbs go off for A-listers Kimberly Donoughe, James Campagna, Cassandra Sohn and Alex Sohn as they pose on the step and repeat.


Jen Hines, board member Bill Hines and the Museum’s Nina Garlington; Marc Wrzesinski and Nicolette Cook.


Bernadette Webb, Nicole Lewis and Liz Goclowski; Joan Rivers (Elaine Chez) greeted guests upon their arrival.


Joanne Keefe and her mother, Rosie Keefe, try to never miss a Festival of Trees; Josie Buzzanco and Bob Pothier.


Michael Vincent Bushy and Aliyah Klepetar at her first Festival of Trees; Carly Gaherty, Porter Wincuinas and Jenn Gomez.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/28/16 at 09:47 AM • Permalink

Multicultural BRIDGE Honors Members Of The Community

Amy Krzanik reports from Lenox. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” reads the quote on the button that Berkshire County resident Tommie Hutto-Blake carries in her pocket. The sentiment, attributed to cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, serves as both a reassurance and a call to arms for grassroots organizations seeking change. One such group of citizens is Multicultural BRIDGE, a Lee, Mass. based organization that promotes mutual understanding and acceptance among diverse groups. BRIDGE held its annual awards ceremony at Kripalu on Friday evening, Nov. 17, where it debuted its Peggy McIntosh Equity and Justice Award. McIntosh [pictured left with award recipient Alex Leonard], a feminist and anti-racism activist, gave the evening’s keynote address before her namesake award was given to Reverend Natalie Shiras, Eugenie Sills and Marcia Savage. Additionally, the Cultural Competence Award was given to Wuane Johnstone, Dr. Jennifer Michaels, Marlena Willis and Ty Allan Jackson; the MaryAnn and Bob Norris Community Stewardship Award was given to Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn and John Bissell; the Young Activist Award to Alex Leonard and Elizabeth Orenstein; and the Servant Leadership Award to Hutto-Blake and Nataly Garzon. Senator-elect Adams Hinds read proclamations honoring the recipients from both the Mass. State Senate and Board of Representatives, and the evening concluded with an intimate yet rousing performance from beloved singer Wanda Houston and her band. You can read more about each award recipient on the Multicultural BRIDGE facebook page.


BRIDGE co-founder and executive director Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant with Nataly Garzon; interim vice president Carmen Dockery Perkins, Rev. Natalie Shiras and Marcia Savage.


Wuane Johnstone and Marlena Willis, board president of the Samuel Harrison House; Tommie Hutto-Blake and Elizabeth Orenstein.


Bret Vaks with board members Samantha Herrick and Stephen Glick, and board chairperson Eden-Reneé Hayes.


Adams Hinds and Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant; CATA‘s Margaret Keller and artist Terry Wise.


Casey Jones and Jay Wise, dentists in Lee, Mass. who are BRIDGE sponsors; Alex Leonard with his mother, Luci Leonard, and father, Reginald Leonard, Sr.


Jean Clarke-Mitchell, clinical director at the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County branch of the NAACP; JV Hampton-VanSant, BRIDGE’s youth coordinator, with the organization’s Safara Fisher.


Wanda Houston and her band provided the post-ceremony tunes.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/20/16 at 07:51 PM • Permalink

NWCT Celebrates Excellence In The Arts

Rachel Louchen reports from Torrington. Torrington’s illustrious Warner Theatre welcomed artists, writers, photographers, non-profits, philanthropists and devoted cultural volunteers, all of whom make the Connecticut art scene so rich and vibrant. On Tuesday, Nov. 15 the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council honored members of their community (as well as businesses organizations) that have made huge strides in raising awareness about the arts and culture in the region. The third annual event (there was no regional recognition for those involved in the cultural community in northwest Connecticut prior to 2014) awarded artist Danielle Mailer, historian Ed Kirby, accomplished volunteer Diane Dubreuil, the arts-education organization ASAP, and Litchfield Distillery/Crystal Rock Water, a business that supports numerous cultural organizations. New this year was the surprise lifetime achievement award, which went to Connecticut state representative Roberta Willis [here with NWCT Arts Council executive director Amy Wynn] who also served as the master of ceremonies.


Council board member Jennifer Terzian and Litchfield Jazz Fest executive/artistic director Vita Muir; Connecticut Community Foundation’s John Long and Martha Bernstein with Eileen Marriott, museum director of Kid’s Play.


Maureen Dore and Ali Psomas of After School Arts Program (ASAP) which was one of the night’s honorees; chairman of The Institute For American Indian Studies Edward White, Torrington Historical Society executive director Mark McEachern and curator Gail Kruppa.


Ann Merriam Feinberg, Mattatuck Museum director Robert Burns and Five Points Gallery executive director Judith McElhone, who was honored by the council last year.


SingOut! CT artistic director Alecia Evans and Miles Finch Innovation founder and CEO Anthony Vengrove; Brandon Brownlee and artist Krista Narciso.


Karen Olsen, Barbara Russ and Pam Vogel, assistant superintendent for Region One Schools; artist Michael Quadland, longtime Arts Council board member Pam Baker and Nancy Newton.


Steffen Coleman, director of culture for the state of Connecticut Kristina Newman-Scott and Lynn Gelormino, executive director of the Warner Theatre.

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 11/18/16 at 09:27 AM • Permalink