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Opinion

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Artist Stephen Hannock On Berkshire Museum

    How Selling the Art Betrays the Community

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jul 22nd, 2017

    Works by Stephen Hannock are in global museum collections. His Oxbow painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be included in a survey of Hudson River artist Thomas Cole. Hannock's mate Sting will also be involved in the project. When he created paintings for his friend's hometown of Newscastle the studies were shown at the Berkshire Museum. He gave one of the studies to the museum to honor philanthropist Nancy Fitzgerald. The fact of that work and the entire fine arts collection of the museum is unknown. We talked at length with the Berkshire based global artist about the impact of the museum's strategy to sell its fine arts collection with a radical makeover as an interactive educational museum for history and science.

  • Berkshire Museum Releases Auction List

    Two Rockwells and 38 Other Works

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jul 24th, 2017

    Initially the Berkshire Museum disclosed plans to sell two paintings by Norman Rockwell but declined to reveal the other works. Under intensive media scrutiny and concerns from the community the museum has posted responses to frequently asked questions on the website and has released the full list of deaccessioned works. The lot has a pre auction estmate of $50 million toward a goal to "reboot" with $20 milion in renovation and $40 million for endowment. The remaining $10 millions will be raised apart from the sale of works of art.

  • Berkshire Museum Ignores Outcry

    40 Works to be Sold at Sotheby’s

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jul 27th, 2017

    In compiling a list of 40 works to deaccession the Berkshire Museum opted to sell no works given by living artists or donors. When Norman Rockwell gave two works to the museum the letter, which is referred to in media coverage, states his wish to share them with the people of the Berkshires. In selling the works is the museum in legal violation of that trust? GIven the sensitivity of what is at stake we demand that the museum make public the artist's letter.

  • Berkshire Museum Stonewalls Critics

    Hires Costly PR to Spin Its Reboot

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 02nd, 2017

    When ethical concerns and second guessing of its "reboot" plans surfaced the Berkshire Museum has spent money it doesn't have for expensive PR and marketing. Heavy hitters have been hired to deflect tough questions from the media and flack the museum's strategy to sell 40 works of art and change its mandate.

  • Rockwell Family Opposes Berkshire Museum Sale

    Game Changer and Time to Rethink the Reboot

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 05th, 2017

    When Laurie Norton Moffett, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, in a Berkshire Eagle op-ed piece asked the Berkshire Museum to "pause" in its plan to sell 40 works the story broke as national news. In daily coverage since then the pro and con has rocked back and forth. I seemed like game over when Joe Thompson, director of MASS MoCA, endorsed the sale and radical plans urging readers to "get real." Then lawyers waded in questioning that the works may or may not be "unrestricted." The controversy went into extra innings when the Rockwell family, in an Eagle letter, stated that the artist never intended for his works to be sold as a last ditch bailout for the poorly managed and curatorially aenemic museum.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • Boston Globe Shrinks Fine Arts Coverage

    Eliminating Cate McQuaid's Weekly Gallery Column

    By: Charles Giuliano - Sep 21st, 2016

    Bad news continues for the arts community. The Boston Globe has announced that it is elminating Cate McQuaid's weekly gallery column. Kington Gallery is circulating a petition to have the vital coverage reinstated.

  • Thoughts

    Critique of Pure Reason

    By: Charles Giuliano - Aug 05th, 2015

    On the nature of all things.

  • Tarzan

    Swingers in the Berkshires

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 22nd, 2015

    A reunion this summer in the Berkshire church that Ray and Alice made famous. This time though I won't be swinging on the rope. Planning to keep both feet on the ground.

  • 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.

  • Nudie's of Hollywood

    Gonzo Rhinestone Cowboy

    Nudie
    By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 24th, 2015

    The orange suit with bolero jacket and rhinestone designs was made for a one hit wonder who never picked it up. Since it was a perfect fit Nudie, the designer of the stars, made me an offer I could not refuse. Wearing it always resulted in total gonzo adventures.

  • Sublimating Text into Image & Image into Text

    Pictorializing the Linear Barcode Symbology at Berkshire Artist Museum

    Henriquez
    By: Robert Henriquez - Jul 01st, 2015

    The art historian, Keith Shaw, has organized That '70s Show which is part one of a Then and Now project for the Berkshire Artist Museum in North Adams, Mass. He asked 15 artists to exhibit selections from some 40 years ago as well as their current work. In the case of Robert Henriquez his single piece is both Then and Now. The concept was conceived in the 1970s but it it only recently that digital programming has progressed sufficiently to realize a singular work of art. This research and technology has resulted in a stunning work of museum level quality.

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