Art in the First Person: A Weekend in the Berkshires

In our Art in the First Person series, we invite others to share their experiences in and around the art world.  This week, we hear from Ilter Ibrahimof, Founder and Director of Sunny Artist Management, after a weekend in the Berkshires with Art Assets’ President Barbara Paley.

While we joined the rest of the world to celebrate Easter and Passover, we continued to celebrate our biggest passion – art – in the Berkshires over a weekend of delicious food, conversations and visits to numerous museums and galleries. The weather added polish and gleam with it’s constant sunny breeze.

I drove from Montreal on Saturday morning to join our gang as I watched hills trying shave off the winter chills and slowly turn green, and arrived in Lee at the luckiest hour to have breakfast with Barbara Paley, Matti Kolver, David Michael, and choreographer John Heginbotham, who the previous day had shown a work-in-process as a result of a two-week creative residency at the Doris Duke theater of Jacob’s Pillow, one of the staple jewels of the Berkshires. After getting our energy from eggs with fresh arugula a selection of local cheeses (spread on Matzo of course!), olives and fruit, we set out for a visit to Mass MoCA in North Adams. And what a visit!

From the excellent lunch to absolutely fascinating exhibits from Mark Dion, Xu Bing, and Sol LeWitt the museum once again surpassed all expectations.

The Phoenix by Xu Bing was especially impressive, not only the sheer size and industrial beauty of the piece itself, but the story of how it was commissioned and finally completed after much Chinese bureaucratic drama, unveiled on pages of a brilliant illustrated book which were on display in the same giant room where the two massive birds hung. I look forward to seeing it again when it travels to New York’s St. John the Divine Cathedral next month.

Mass MoCA was followed by a visit to MCLA’s Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams run by Barbara’s friend performance artist Ryder Cooley (who was promptly invited to lunch the next day), and to the campus of Clark Institute in Williamstown, where we had Thai food for dinner and SoBe ice cream. The perfect finish to the evening was stopping by the Hevreh synagogue in Great Barrington, where we caught a concert by Matti’s friend Yaeko Miranda Elmaleh and her band. Watching the crowd sway, dance and cry over Yiddish, Sephardic, and Arabic melodies was heart warming. I think we all went to bed very happy that night.

Next day as we continued to digest the richness of the previous day, Ryder arrived for our lunch. Matti’s yam & pumpkin soup, Barbara’s gefilte fish and marinated blue fish, along with more local cheeses and fresh salad was simply perfect. Afterwards we relaxed as Ryder played the CD she recorded for her project XMALIA, which is about a girl who helps distinct animals sing and rediscover themselves before she discovers herself to be a distinct animal. Arrival of calm afternoon light meant saying goodbye, until next time we get together for another adventure filled with art and discoveries.