In a region as abundant in cultural events as the Pioneer Valley, it would take far more pages than we have available to highlight all of this summer's offerings. That said, the writers and editors at the Valley Advocate have sifted through the crowded events calendar and picked out a few of the gems.
Bhargavi Balasubramanian is an instrumentalist, vocalist and teacher who has taught in the U.S., India and many Middle Eastern countries. Her instrumental specialty is the chitravina, a typically 20- or 21-stringed lute whose use is integral to the Carnatic music traditions of Southern India. She has performed in solo engagements and as part of an ensemble also featuring flute, violin and percussion. Balasubramanian has also toured widely in the U.S. and abroad, been featured on many television programs and received a great deal of support from arts and cultural organizations in her native India. She performs this week in Springfield.
June 6, 8 p.m., $10, Bing Arts Center, 716 Sumner Ave., Springfield, (413) 731-9730, www.bingartscenter.org.
Artist, activist, and photographer Matuschka exhibits her collection A Body Biography at a time that coincides with the 20th anniversary of her work "Beauty Out of Damage." This intensely intimate and shockingly beautiful self portrait represents her battle with breast cancer. After the portrait was displayed on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Magazine in 1993, Matuschka quickly became an international icon and radical photographer of the breast cancer movement.
Spanning the artist’s 40-year career, A Body Biography features Matuschka’s mixed-media pieces and chemically manipulated prints that range from portraiture to abstract compositions. The unifying theme of her body is re-interpreted with various emotional undertones throughout the broad range of her work. Matuschka’s exhibit serves as a homecoming for the artist, who began her initial studies and photographic explorations in the Berkshire area in the 1970s.
Through July 1, Sohn Fine Art Gallery, 6 Elm Street, Stockbridge, www.sohnfineart.com.
When it comes to Celtic rock, you’d be hard-pressed to find a harder-rocking bunch of players than Boston’s Dropkick Murphys. The longstanding American heirs to the tradition of the British/Irish Pogues visit Mountain Park this summer for a show that’s sure to stir your blood with an onslaught of banjo and pipe fury in fine Massachusetts style.
Aug. 16, 8 p.m., $31, with Swingin’ Utters, Mountain Park, Route 5, Holyoke, (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com.
Don’t Let the Artist Out of The Box
The Eric Carle Museum honors comedic author and illustrator Mo Willems (pictured) with a full day of creative drawing exercises, gallery exhibits, and film screenings in conjunction with The Carle’s new exhibit Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems. Willems, often referred to as “the Dr. Seuss of our generation,” is the creator of iconic children’s book characters such as the beloved Elephant and Piggie, the Knuffle Bunny, a stubborn pigeon and others.
The new exhibit focuses on the artist’s non-illustration compiled over the past 20 years and recently published in his new collection Don’t Pigeonhole Me. Other components of the exhibit include recent whimsical sculptures and ceramics, original illustrations from his classic works, and the sculpture “Red Elephant,” which will be a permanent resident of the Museum.
Opening reception: June 22; June 22-Feb. 23, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, East Gallery, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst, (413) 658-1100, www.carlemuseum.org.
Community members of all ages, experience and backgrounds come together for Dance Generators’ compelling multigenerational performance that relieves age-based stereotypes by showcasing the beauty in the diverse human form. Dance Generators, a company consisting of dancers ages 20 to 80, approaches the art of dance through teamwork and an innovative creation process. This annual performance operates under the artistic direction of Kristin Horrigan and guest choreographers Fritha Pengally, Jen Polins and Maureen Shea; it also includes improvisation by the company dancers.
This year, Dance Generators will be joined on stage by Amherst’s adult choir DaCamera Singers. Cummington’s youth group Dolphin Dancers plays an integral role in the performance as well. This season’s work celebrates the themes of human relationships, the nature of loss, intersections , and contradictions between the living body and its projected image. Tickets are available at the door 30 minutes before the show. Advance reservations are recommended.
June 8, 8 p.m.; June 9, 3 p.m., $5/kids under 12, $10/students, $15/general, Kendall Theater, Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, (413) 320-3299, www.dancegenerators.org.
Ruby Slippers & Glass Ceilings
Actress Jayne Atkinson hosts a celebrity panel discussion later this month titled Claiming Her Place, considering the challenges women face in the entertainment industry. Atkinson, known for television roles in serials including Law & Order, Gossip Girl and House of Cards and twice nominated for Tony awards for stage performances in The Rainmaker and Enchanted April, is joined by Lauren Ambrose (pictured, Six Feet Under), Michel Gill (House of Cards), Linus Roache (Law & Order), Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show), and fellow Tony nominee Marin Mazzie (Ragtime, Kiss Me, Kate).
The panelists will share their personal and professional stories, and the evening will also include a sneak peek of WAM Theatre’s fall production of Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, whose main engagement at Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage runs from Nov. 7 to 24. The event is a benefit for WAM (Women’s Action Movement), an organization founded in 2009 by Kirsten van Ginhoven and Leigh Strimbeck, which uses theater to benefit women and girls worldwide and—in accordance with its “dual philanthropy” mandate of supporting both humanitarian causes and the arts—also provides paid work for scores of theater artists.
June 30, 7 p.m., $35-50, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington, (413) 528-0100, www.mahaiwe.org.
Every year, the grounds of Greenfield Community College fill up with people of all ages, people who take in an alarming amount of music over a span of many hours and two days. Get there early enough, and you can ante up for a hot air balloon ride, too.
The occasion is the Green River Fest, and it’s become an institution because of its solid and surprising lineups of musical acts. Topping this year’s bill are Gogol Bordello (pictured), The Devil Makes Three, The Skatalites, and JD McPherson.
There’s plenty of entertainment for kids and adults, and the bill also includes a sampling of Valley players, including And The Kids, Lux Deluxe, Spanish for Hitchhiking and Rusty Belle.
July 20-21, Greenfield Community College, I-91 Exit 26, Greenfield, (413) 773-5463, www.greenriverfestival.com.
A.P.E. Arts presents two artists’ work in its June 14-30 exhibit that focuses on the iconic and totemic. Mark Guglielmo’s photomontages take pieces from familiar imagery and rearrange them into reconstructions that seem to channel focus or power. Gugliemo (aka local rapper Vesuveo) steeped himself in the medium for 25 years, beginning at a young age with a 1982 Kodak Instamatic camera and progressing through high school and college photography programs. This exhibit, Shards of Illusion: Photomontages, is supported in part by the Northampton Arts Council.
Toby Barnes creates intricate mixed-media pieces that focus on things revered, worshiped or memorialized, taking cues from high school lockers, dorm room walls and roadside homages to car accident victims in his exhibit Altared States. Playing with oft-examined but ever-relevant themes, Barnes’ combination of painting, photography and installation compares and contrasts things such as the “sacred and everyday; beauty and decay; and memory and permanence.” Barnes is inspired by spiritual/artistic forms like Buddhist mandalas and frequently combines these influences with found objects to create “altar simulations.” Barnes has a B.F.A. From Cooper Union and an M.F.A. From the University of Michigan, and exhibits internationally, including in many Asian countries whose art and culture his work often draws upon.
June 14-30, A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery, 126 Main St., Northampton, (413) 586-5553, www.apearts.org.
There’s little that equals the gorgeous abandon of klezmer. This summer brings a local festival of all things klezmer when Yidstock hits Amherst’s Yiddish Book Center for a celebration of what the Center dubs “New Yiddish” music. The lineup is impressive: Klezmer Conservatory Band, Margot Leverett & the Klezmer Mountain Boys, Klezperanto, Wholesale Klezmer Band, Steven Bernstein and Frank London, and Golem. Workshops and dance lessons complete the mix.
July 18-21, Yiddish Book Center, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, 1021 West St., Amherst, (413) 256-4900.