WILLIAMSTOWN -- American art takes center stage this summer at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, crowning a summer schedule that provides an exceptionally lively program of events and activities. Headlining the season are two special exhibitions opening June 9: "Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History" and "George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci." Both exhibitions are open until Sept. 8.
An exploration of the Clark's extensive collection of works by the noted American artist, "Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History" examines founder Sterling Clark's decades-long pursuit of collecting Homer works and his assertion that Homer was one of the greatest artists of the 19th century.
"George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci" marks the inaugural presentation of a suite of eight paintings by American landscape artist George Inness that recently joined the Clark collection through a generous gift from collectors Frank and Katherine Martucci. These exceptional paintings, which are joined in the exhibition by two Inness paintings acquired by Sterling Clark, range in date from 1880 to 1894, the year of the artist's death. Wanting to do more than simply record nature, Inness experimented with color, composition, and painterly technique to evoke a visionary experience of the natural world.
Also on view through Sept. 8 is the Kidspace exhibition "Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!" at Stone Hill Center. Is a man strong enough to pry open the jaws of a lion? How are birds of prey used in hunting? Are there mountain lions in the Berkshires? This interactive, family-friendly exhibition designed to spark curiosity helps answer these questions and more.
This summer also marks an important milestone for the Clark as it celebrates the fifth anniversary of Stone Hill Center
The final phase of that program is currently under construction and moving rapidly towards completion. A special exhibition in the Clark's galleries highlights the activity under way and provides a preview of the new facilities that will open in 2014. Construction activities on the campus will not affect any programming during the summer and special arrangements have been made to accommodate visitor parking.
Special events, musical offerings, and a full slate of lectures, performances, and film programs round out the summer program and include:
* Summer Clambake, Saturday, June 8, 6:30 p.m.: The Clark kicks off the season's exhibition openings with a traditional clambake. Guests will enjoy a festive evening of food, fun, and music and have the first opportunity to view the new exhibitions. Tickets are $125 ($100 members).
Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
* Americana Family Day, Sunday, June 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Families will have the opportunity to go back in time to experience some of the sights and sounds of nineteenth-century America as painted by George Inness and Winslow Homer. Sing along to performances by a troupe of sea shanty men, enter the pie-eating contest, learn to fly-fish, paint with watercolors, stand on the deck of a ship, play lawn games from the 1800s - and much more. Free admission all day.
* Stone Hill Center Fifth Anniversary Celebration, Saturday, July 27, 1 to 4 p.m.: Join in the excitement as the Clark celebrates the fifth anniversary of Stone Hill Center. Admission to Stone Hill Center is free all day. There will be a cookout on the lawn with grilled fare for sale, and free cake and ice cream will be served at 3:30 p.m.
* Free Fun Friday, Friday, Aug. 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Enjoy free admission to the Clark, with special activities throughout the day for all ages. Grilled barbecue fare will be available for sale from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation.
* Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Friday, June 28, 8 p.m.: The legendary New Orleans band, which has toured the world since the 1960s, promises to wow the crowd. Advance tickets are $42 ($38 members and students) or $45 at the door. Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524. A pre-concert dinner for $27 per person will be served at 6 pm. Space is limited; registration is required. Call 413-458-0524.
* Free Summer Concerts, Tuesdays in July, 6 p.m.: The Clark's popular tradition continues on the South Lawn. This summer's lineup of great music includes Red June (July 2), Across the Pond (July 9), Funk in the Trunk (July 16), Incendio (July 23), and Jammin' Divas (July 30). Bring a picnic dinner or purchase barbecue fare. Fun for the whole family!
* Chamber Music Concerts, Tuesdays in August, 8 p.m.: Enjoy music performed by talented musicians from across the country, including Concertante Chamber Players (Aug. 6), Gryphon Piano Trio (Aug. 13), Dover String Quartet (Aug. 20), and Dorian Wind Quintet with pianist Spencer Myer (Aug. 27). Tickets for each performance are $25 ($20 members, $10 students). Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
* The Audience, Thursday, June 13, 2 p.m.: Helen Mirren stars as Queen Elizabeth II in London's National Theatre Live in HD production. Tickets are $18 ($15 members and students). Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
* Great Art on Screen: "Manet: Portraying Life," Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m.: The Great Art on Screen series begins with the eagerly awaited Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. The Clark's Richard Rand, Robert and Martha Berman Lipp Senior Curator, provides an introduction to the film and hosts questions and answers following. Tickets are $12 ($10 members and students). Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
* Homericana Film Series, Mondays in July and August at 3 p.m.: The free film series alternates each week between classic films depicting events of Homer's era and a Homer documentary. Classic films include "Glory" (July 1), "Little Women" (July 15), "The Yearling" (July 29), "The Magnificent Ambersons" (Aug. 12), and "The Whales of August" (Aug. 26). The documentary "Winslow Homer: Society and Solitude" airs July 8, July 22, Aug. 5, and Aug. 19.
* Great Art on Screen: "Munch 150," Sunday, Aug. 11, 3 p.m.:,The second film in the Great Art series celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch (1863-1944), one of the towering figures of modern art. Jay A. Clarke, the Clark's Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, provides an introduction to the film and hosts questions and answers following. Tickets are $12 ($10 members and students). Purchase tickets at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
* "Winslow Homer, Sterling Clark, and His Institute," Sunday, June 9, 3 p.m.: Marking the opening of Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History, exhibition curator Marc Simpson delivers a free lecture in which he discusses Sterling Clark's extensive Homer collection, surveying the works and examining the career of the renowned painter, watercolorist, and printmaker.
* "Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History," Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m.: The Clark's Michael Cassin, director of the Center for Education in the Visual Arts, presents a free lecture at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Cassin discusses Homer's incorporation of a wide variety of themes and techniques and his exploration of the splendor - and power - of the natural world. For more information, visit www.mahaiwe.org or call 413-528-0100.
* "The Call of the Once-Wild: Winslow Homer and the Adirondacks 1870-1910," Sunday, July 21, 3 p.m.: David Tatham, professor emeritus, Syracuse University Department of Art and Music Histories, speaks on Winslow Homer's four-decade association with the Adirondacks in his free lecture.
* "George Inness: Sacred and Profane Spaces," Sunday, July 28, 3 p.m.: In this free lecture Adrienne Baxter Bell, associate professor of art history at Marymount Manhattan College, explores George Inness's engagement with art as a form of philosophical inquiry--an opportunity to explore ideas about reality, cosmology, and existence. The presentation focuses on works in the exhibition George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci.
* "Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place," Sunday, Aug. 4, 3 p.m.: Thomas Denenberg, director of the Shelburne Museum, presents the free lecture. The rocks and waves of Prout's Neck, Maine, as seen by Winslow Homer, reorientated popular understanding and enabled the transition from sentimental notions of a nostalgic seashore to the modernist vision of the coast.
* "The Wide Frontier: American Landscape Painting in the 19th Century," Aug. 22, 5:30 p.m.: Michael Cassin, director of the Clark's Center for Education in the Visual Arts, presents a free lecture at the Albany Institute of History and Art. Cassin looks at the work of painters such as Winslow Homer, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt and the Hudson River School, who recorded the splendors of the North American landscape.
For more information, visit albanyinstitute.org or call 518-463-4478.
* "North Atlantic Drift: Winslow Homer and French Painting," Sunday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m.: Erica E. Hirshler, senior curator of American paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, presents a free lecture in which she explores Homer's achievements in the context of late 19th-century America's taste for French art and its simultaneous desire for a national style.
* Free drop-in watercolor workshops, Tuesdays in July, 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays in August, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Local artists Andrew Davis and Clare Fox provide instruction for people of all ages and skill levels. Artists are encouraged to observe and paint the abundant natural beauty throughout the Clark's campus. All materials provided.
* Sketching and Painting the Clark's Landscape, Wednesdays, July 10 to Aug. 7, 9 a.m. to noon: Tony Conner's five-week adult class investigates the grand terrain of forests and fields that surround the Clark's grounds.
Open to both beginners and experienced students, participants will work at their own pace with one-on-one guidance to develop skill with watercolor and their landscape painter's eye. Tuition is $165 ($150 for Clark or IS183 members); pre-registration through IS183 is required. To register, call IS183 at 413-298-5252 x100.
* Paint It BIG! Paint It Public!-A Teen Mural Workshop, July 15 to 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Students create an 8-by-16-foot public mural, based on Albrecht Dürer's famous 16th-century woodcut "The Rhinoceros." The mural will be installed in North Adams in conjunction with the city's DownStreet Art program. Local artist Andrew Davis instructs. Open to children ages 12 to 16. Tuition is $250 ($225 members) including all materials. Space is limited; register at clarkart.edu or call 413-458-0524.
Daily talks will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and in the Clark's auditorium, providing insights into the Clark's summer exhibitions, the permanent collection, and the exciting plans for the Institute's future. In addition, a daily presentation will be held at 1 p.m. to provide an update on the Clark's campus expansion program.
The Clark's library will be closed for installation of a new fire protection system from June 1 through Sept. 3.
The Clark is located at 225 South St. The galleries are open daily in July and August (open Tuesday through Sunday from September through June), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 June 9 through October 31; free November through June 8; and free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more info: clarkart.edu 413-458-2303.