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Opinion

  • Dimitri Hvorostovsky Dies in London

    Superstar Baritone an Opera Icon

    By: Paul J. Pelkonen - Nov 23rd, 2017

    Dimitri Hvorostovsky was at the forefront of a generation of singers that, in the 1990s, invigorated the opera houses of the West when they left the recently collapsed Soviet Union. His U.S. debut came in 1993 in a Lyric Opera of Chicago production of La Traviata. His first role at the Met was as Yeletsky in 1995, a role he would sing eight times that season. He died in London at the age of 55.

  • Villa Dolores by Rafael Mahdavi

    Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 30th, 2017

    Since the 1980s, the artist Rafael Mahdavi has been a colleague and friend. For many years, in addition to painting, photography and sculpture, he has been writing. Recently, he published a second book Villa Dolores a memoir of childhood and adolescence with another volume, already written to follow. He is also revisiting, editing and preparing for publication several novels. This memoir is relatively brief, just 173 pages, but compact , polished, explosively evocative and poetic. I took my time reading brief chapters of two or three pages. Each was a distilled and detailed anecdote, some horrific in nature, that flowed like an intimate conversation.

  • Berkshire Museum Top Arts Story of 2017

    Coverage Morphed from Local to National News

    By: Charles Giuliano - Dec 26th, 2017

    A decision on an appeal by Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, to halt the sale of 40 key works of art at Sothebys on behalf of the Berkshire Museum will be decided by the end of January. Van Shields, now on medical leave as director of the museum, and board president, Elizabeth "Buzz" McGraw, announced their $60 million plans for a New Vision in July. What started as a local story has morphed into national and global coverage. The outcome of this unethical attempt at deaccessioning by a pariah museum may have a game changing impact on the mandate of all American museums' commitment to preserve and conserve collections for future generations.

  • Berkshire Museum Will Gut Its Collection

    Matter to be Settled with Supreme Judicial Court

    By: Charles Giuliano - Feb 10th, 2018

    A compromise is a deal that neither side is happy with. Other than a few hard fought concessions the Berkshire Museum will now gut the museum and its collection in pursuit of its vulgarian, populist New Vision. It's tarnished leadership, including director, Van Shields and board president, Elizabeth McGraw, will have a tough job earning back the trust and support of a community which they so adroitly alienated.

  • Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968

    Ryan H. Walsh’s Landmark Study of the Counter Culture in Boston

    By: Charles Giuliano - Mar 12th, 2018

    For most of 1968 the then struggling Irish musician and composer, Van Morrison, was on the run from his mobbed up New York manager. Living on Green Street in Cambridge, with local musicians he performed gigs and worked on what became the iconic album Astral Weeks. This is the focus of an enthralling book by Ryan Walsh fleshed out in the context of a meticulously researched account of the vibrant counter culture of that year of living dangerously. Through what evolves as a page turner we learn about Mel Lyman and his Fort Hill Cult, their paper Avatar, founding of WBCN FM as the rock of Boston, the Boston Tea Party, the Bosstown Sound, and Boston After Dark/ Phoenix. Along the way we encounter films, The Boston Strangler and Titicut Follies,as well as LSD gurus Tim Leary and Baba Ram Dass. Long overdue this fiftieth anniversary book sets the record straight.

  • Meet Me in Milwaukee

    Intersections Summit Addresses Social Justice

    By: Charles Giuliano - Mar 27th, 2018

    From March 23 to 25 Milwaukee Repertorty Theatre hosted a conference Intersections Summit. It was convened to address equity, identity and inclusion through diversity and community outreach. In a letter to ATCA president, Bill Hirschman, managing director, Chad Bauman, who hosted us said in part "All in all, nearly 200 theater professionals from 80+ organizations from 30+ states attended including ATCA, TCG, funders such as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and journalists from media outlets such as The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune. More than 50 engagement leaders presented sessions and several of which were live streamed via our Facebook page as well as Howlround."

  • Renowned Boston Arts Critic David Bonetti

    Found Listening to Classical Music

    By: Charles Giuliano - Apr 05th, 2018

    A Berkshire Fine Arts contributor, the renowned arts critic, David Bonetti, was found dead in his Brookline, Mass. apartment while listening to classical music. His writing career started with Art New England and the Boston Phoenix. He joined the San Francisco Chronicle and then St. Louis Post Dispatch. After that he retired writing the occasional feature on the fine arts. In his final years he wrote on opera for this site. He was widely regarded as one of the best critics of his generation.

  • Chicago Theatre Critic Nancy Bishop

    Sharing a Life in the Arts

    By: Emma Terhaar - Apr 06th, 2018

    We met Chicago theatre critic Nancy Bishop during a conference of American Theatre Critics. In the past few years she has covered theatre for us. This is an interview posted to the website she edits Third Coast Review.

  • Legendary Alternative Editor Harper Barnes

    New Journalism in Boston/ Cambridge in the Early 1970s

    By: Charles Giuliano - Apr 14th, 2018

    The recently published book Astral Weeks, by Ryan Walsh, has brought national attention to the counter culture of Boston/ Cambridge in 1968. This extensive interview with Harper Barnes, former editor of the Cambridge Phoenix and columnist for The Real Paper, covers developments in the early 1970s. It was a fertile era that launched careers of numerous arts critics and political commentators. After a stint in Boston, eventually, he returned to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and the city where he continues to reside.

  • ATCA Sondheim Panel

    Five Actors Discuss Their Iconic Roles

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 07th, 2017

    The New York conference of American Theatre Critics Association ended on Sunday morning with a Stephen Sondheim panel at the nightclub Don't Tell Mama. Moderated by the critic Rick Pender, the actors Len Cariou, Harvey Evans, Pamela Myers, Kurt Peterson and Teri Ralston recalled originating now iconic roles. On every level ATCA saved the best for last,

  • Berkshire Museum Stonewalls New Yorker

    Van and Buzz Clam Up to Fake News Requests

    By: Charles Giuliano - Oct 05th, 2017

    Relying primarily on published sources Felix Salmon in the New Yorker has reported on the deaccessioning and New Vision of the Berkshire Museum. As Solomon states “The story of the Berkshire Museum is more than one about a second-tier local institution selling off some art. It’s a story about how fragile museum-industry norms are, how unaccountable a museum director can be, and how much destruction can be wrought during a single secret trustee meeting. (The museum’s new P.R. representative, Carol Bosco Baumann, declined repeated requests to make anyone from the museum available for an interview.)” This is consistent with the museum's bunker mentality of playing hard ball with the media.

  • Van Shields' A New Vision Comes at a Price

    Berkshires Heritage and Legacy Worth More Than $60 Million

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 28th, 2017

    To launch A New Vision for the Berkshire Museum it plans to sell 40 key works for some $60 miillion. That's a pot of gold but comes at a terrible cost to the heritage, legacy and cultural branding of the Berkshires. Van Shiields and the museum board insist that there is no other option. That disrespect raises questions regarding stewardship of the 40,000 works in the collection including 2,395 fine art pieces.

  • Protesting Berkshire Museum's Unethical Sale

    Pickets Planned for Saturday Morning August 12

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 10th, 2017

    The artists and their supporters in the Berkshires will take to the streets on Saturday, August 12, from 9 AM to noon. There will be picket lines in front ot the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. They will provide a visible presence of those protesting the pending sale of 40 choice works and plans to gut and "reboot" the historic museum and collections.

  • Pickets Protest Berkshire Museum Meltdown

    Orderly Demonstration in Front of Museum

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 13th, 2017

    From 9 AM to noon there was an ordely and peaceful demonstration in front of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. Pickets came and went with between 40 and 80 individuals linuing the sidewalk at any given time. Most passing cars honked their support. There was a media presence. While museum director, Van Shields, remained hunkered down in the bunker, board president Elizabeth "Buzz" Hayes McGraw delivered her boilplate message to a TV crew from Albany.

  • David A Ross Opposes Berkshire Museum Sale

    Renowned Former Whitney Museum Director Posts Statement

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 13th, 2017

    The renowned former Whitney Museum director, David A. Ross, in an exclusive statement posted to Berkshire Fine Arts strongly opposes plans initiated by the Berkshire Museum. “This is a sad affair. Perhaps the board, if unwilling to raise funds in the way all museums have to, should resign (along with its feckless director). My feeling is it should merge administratively with another educational non-profit in the region, and then begin the process of stabilization. It would be preferable to see the museum close for a few years of re-organization, than to forever destroy the core of its irreplaceable art collection.”

  • Laurie Norton Moffatt on the Role of Trustees

    Rockwell Museum Director Argues for Respect

    By: Laurie Norton Moffatt - Aug 14th, 2017

    In a key op-ed piece for the Berkshire Eagle, Laurie Norton Moffatt the director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, called on the Berkshire Museum to "pause" its plans to sell 40 works including two by Rockwell. Largely based on her position the story broke in the national media. In the process the rhetoric escalated. In this opinion piece she asks for a wider understanding of the commmitment and responsibilites of serving on boards of non profits. With so many cultural institutions looking for funding from the same small pool of donors there are parfticular and extreme pressures for boards in the Berkshires. She calls for a focus on issues and not individuals.

  • Financial Crisis of the Berkshire Museum

    What Do the Numbers Add Up To

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 16th, 2017

    As a matter of public record we have examined the Federal tax information Form 990 disclosures of the Berkshire Museum from 2011 to 2015. They do not appear to create a profile of a cultural institution in dire straits. The museum is going forward with last ditch plans to sell 40 works of art. It is possible that there has been a dramatic downturn in the past two years? A Berkshire Eagle editorial asked “Why deny access to the museum's profit/loss statements for the past two years?" Based on reports for the prior five years we have questions for the museum, its director, Van Shields, and the board of trustees.

  • Conspiracy to Decimate Berkshire Museum

    Protests Planned for September 9

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 08th, 2017

    Barring intervention by the Attorney General, at best a long shot, plans to sell 40 works of art with two paintings by Norman Rockwell worth as much as the remaining 38 lots, the fall auctions by Sotheby’s in New York appears to be a done deal .For the second time protestors will picket in front of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield from 10 am to 2 pmon Saturday, September 9. This past week Sotheby’s announced a presale estimate of “thirty pieces of silver.”

  • Five Candidates for State Rep

    Race for First Berkshire District

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 12th, 2017

    Last night at Bounty Fair, a North Adams restaurant, five candidates were given ten minutes. They are running to serve the final year of former Rep. Gail Cariddi, who passed away while in office. Running unopposed the Republican, Christine Canning, spoke first. Drawing lots she was followed by Stephanie Bosley, Lisa Blackmer, Kevin Towle and John Barrett III.

  • North Adams Primary Vote September 19

    Mayoral Candidate Tom Bernard Makes a Loft Call

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 16th, 2017

    For the first time in three decades there is an open race for Mayor of North Adams. On Tuesday, September 19, there will be a primary vote for Mayor. Five names will be on the ballot for Mayor- Tom Bernard, Rachel Branch, Robert Martelle, Robert Moulton Jr. and Peter Oleskiewicz. Of these Oleskiewicz has withdrawn from the race. Bernard was invited to the Eclipse Mill to speak with artists and members of the community.

  • Berkshire Museum Financials

    Follow the Money

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 18th, 2017

    Based on an extensive Berkshire Eagle background check of Van Shields, and a failed attempt to create a radical new museum in South Carolina, it appears that he arrived in Pittsfield, a month after being fired, with an agenda. Funding plans that failed there entail selling 40 treasures of the Berkshire Museum. Through intensive study of non profit reports filed with the charity desk of the Attorney General, Thomas White, with knowledge of these matters, has sent us bullet points. They shed light on the "dire straits" forcing the museum to decimate its legacy to rebuild for the future.

  • Flight of the Phoenix

    Former Editor Arnie Reisman Rebuts Editor Harper Barnes

    By: Arnie Reisman - Apr 15th, 2018

    The response of former Boston After Dark editor, Arnie Reisman, to former Cambridge Phoenix editor, Harper Barnes, was too long to post as a comment. Accordingly, we have opted to run it under Reisman's byline. He was my first editor at the Brandeis Univertsity Justice and later hired me for Boston After Dark. There is much yet to be said about alternative media in the 1970s but with this exchange matters get curiouser and curiouser.

  • Seeing Is Believing

    À la recherche du temps perdu

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 05th, 2015

    How long does it take to look at a work of art and remember it, or not, forever?

  • Null

    La Vida Loca

    By: Melissa de Haan Cummings - Jun 22nd, 2015

    Taking a chill pill.

  • Kerouac

    On the Road in Barcelona

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 23rd, 2015

    Alone in Barcelona reading On the Road.

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