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Keeping tabs on the arts

  • "Flood Stage, Shelbure Falls" by Michael Zide
  • PHOTO BY DANIEL ELIHU KRAMER<br/>Caitlin McDonouth-Thayer, left, plays Phillis and Jennifer Rohn plays Joyce in Chester Theatre Co's production on "Body Awareness."
  • PHOTO COURTESY PORTER-PHELPS-HUNTINGTON MUSEUM<br/>Art Steele
  • PHOTO COURTESY PORTER-PHELPS-HUNTINGTON MUSEUM<br/>Honest Harmony
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PIONEER VALLEY CHAMBER PLAYERS<br/>Naren Budhakar plays the tabla.
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SEVENARS CONCERTS<br/>Kirk Whipple and Marilyn Morales
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF R. MICHELSON GALLERIES<br/>Richard Michelson

At Chester Theatre

“Body Awareness,” by Obie Award winner and Amherst native Annie Baker, opens Wednesday and runs through Aug. 11 at the Chester Theatre Co. in Chester Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester.

“Body Awareness” is a comedy about an unconventional modern American nuclear family. Phyllis is a professor at a college where she has organized a series of events for “Body Awareness Week.” She and her partner, Joyce, are hosting Frank, a guest artist whose nude photos are being shown at the campus gallery.

The play follows emerging tensions, while exploring humorous turns of family ties, political correctness and putting labels on people.

Baker’s works include: “Circle Mirror Transformation,” which earned her the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2009; “The Aliens” which earned her the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2010; and “The Flick,” which earned her the Obie Award for Playwriting in 2013. “Body Awareness” earned her the Obie Award for Best Play/Emerging Playwright in 2008.

Tickets cost $35 for weekend performances; $30 for Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Chester residents and students can purchase rush tickets for $10 at the door, or by calling the box office after 4 p.m. on the day of any performance. To reserve, call 354-7771, or visit www.chestertheatre.org.

Zide photography

Black-and-white photography by Michael Zide of Amherst will be on display through August at the Amherst branch of Northampton Cooperative Bank, at 253 Triangle St.

The display includes photographs of local areas, Martha’s Vineyard and the Southwest.

In an artist’s statement, Zide says, “Black-and-white photography lays open the bones of the image, calling it direct and to the point.”

Zide teaches at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls. His work has appeared in the publications Silvershots, B & W Magazine and Today’s Photographer, among others.

For information, call 256-0779 or visit www.michaelzide.com.

At Porter-Phelps

∎ Honest Harmony (Barbara Matthews, soprano; Cindy Naughton, alto; Ijod Schroeder, baritone; and John Vance, tenor) will perform Saturday at A Perfect Spot of Tea at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum. The group’s a cappella performances explore a repertoire of small-ensemble signing from the 12th-20th centuries, often highlighting historical pieces and juxtaposing works of a single style, era or composer.

Seatings are at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Earl Grey Tea and pastries will be served.

Admission is $10.

∎ On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. the Art Steele Blues Band will close this year’s Wednesday Folk Traditions season at the museum.

Steele, a philosopher, poet and raconteur plays blues guitar alongside veteran band members Vishnu Wood on upright bass and Billy Arnold on drums.

Steele’s energetic performances are driven by his experimental philosophies on blues music. Wood has performed with Dizzie Gillespie and Charles Mingus. Arnold has also played with jazz greats, including Teddy Wilson and Charlie Ventura. He is the drummer for the Young@Heart Chorus and teaches at the Community Music School of Springfield.

Admission is $10; $2 for children 16 and under. On Wednesdays, picnickers are welcome on the grounds at 5 p.m.

For information about either program, call 584-4699, or visit www.pphmuseum.org.

The museum is located at 130 River Drive in Hadley.

Queen tribute

The Valley Rock Choir will present a tribute to Queen (the band, not the royal great-grandma) Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 95 North Maple St., Hadley.

Under the direction of Tony Lechner, the 100 voices of the chorus will be accompanied by a live band led by Mitch Chakour in performances of such Queen classics as “Somebody to Love,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

There will be a raffle for Sy’s Fund, which helps young adults with cancer by funding their creative passions, pursuits and hobbies.

Tickets cost $15; $12 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Doors open at 6 on Saturday and 3 Sunday. For information, visit valleychoirs.com.

Sevenars Concert

The Whipple Morales Piano Duo (Kirk Whipple and Marilyn Morales) will present a concert of American music Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Academy in South Worthington, just off Route 112 at Ireland Street.

On the program: Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” a premiere of a work written for them by W. Allaudin Mathieu, and more.

The duo, a married couple, has performed extensively in nearly every U.S. state, and abroad.

Suggested donation of $20 at the door. For information, call 238-5854.

At the Elusie Gallery

“Visual Dreams,” an exhibit by Steven Kennedy, will be on view through Aug. 2 at the Elusie Gallery in the Old Town Hall at 43 Main St., Easthampton.

Kennedy, 42, creates his art using oil sticks, color blending, layering and carving, and experiments in color mixing, self-portraiture, landscapes and self-expressive abstracts.

Kennedy is a member of Riverside Arts in Easthampton, which provides people with disabilities an in-depth opportunity to create art and exhibit their work in the community.

Gallery hours are Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information, call 529-9265 or visit www.eastmontgallery.net.

Calling all chalk artists

The Northampton Center for the Arts is accepting applications for artists to participate in the fourth annual Northampton Chalk Art Festival scheduled for Sept. 6. The application deadline is Aug. 23.

Selected artists are invited to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., rendering drawings in chalk on cement canvasses located throughout downtown Northampton. Artists will receive a $100 stipend.

The top three creations, awarded by a panel of judges, will receive $250, $150 or $100.

The public is welcome to watch the creation of the chalk art, which will remain on display through the weekend. The festival will end with a chance to view the completed works during the city’s monthly gallery walk, Arts Night Out, from 5 to 8 p.m. For information, visit www.nohoarts.org or call 584-7327.

Call for artists

The Northampton Arts Council is seeking submissions for its biennial exhibit at the Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library in Northampton. The theme for the exhibit is “Be Here Now.” The deadline for submissions is Aug. 1.

All artists from Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties are eligible to submit work. Submissions can come in the form of two- and three-dimensional media in any style. Entries will be judged anonymously.

Selected works will be on display Oct. 2-31, with a reception Oct. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m., at the library, 20 West St.

Notification of accepted entries will arrive Aug. 15.

For guidelines and instructions, visit www.northamptonartscouncil.org. For information, call 587-1269.

‘East Meets West’

“East Meets West,” a concert of predominantly Indian music, will be presented by the Pioneer Valley Chamber Players Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Prakasa Yoga Studio, 152 Ball Road, Goshen.

The players are Daisy Paradis, sitar; Naren Budhakar, tabla; Akal Dev Sharonne, flute; and Stephen Katz, cello. Along with Indian compositions (ragas), the performers will present a unique rendition of a French Baroque composition by Blavet, as well as a cello and tabla duet.

Paradis is a cofounder of the Ali Akbar College of Music in California. She’s performed on the sitar in India and extensively across the United States.

Budhakar is one of New York’s most prominent tabla players, and has performed with many of India’s finest classical musicians.

Akal Dev Sharonne graduated from the New England Conservatory, and has enjoyed a recital career which has taken her to the south of France, the Caribbean and Germany.

Katz, once a visiting artist at Amherst College, has toured internationally with the Paul Winter Consort and the Essex String Quartet. He is expanding the rhythmic potential of cello with a technique he calls “flying pizzicato.”

Tickets cost $15; $12 for Prakasa class card holders. For tickets or information, call 548-9645.

In good company

Richard Michelson, author and owner of R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, was named one of four finalists for the Harlem Book Festival’s Phillis Wheatley Award for Young Readers for his book “Twice as Good: The Story of William Powell and Clearview.”

The other finalists were musician Wynton Marsalis, who wrote “Squeak! Rumble! Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!” and all-time NBA leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who wrote “What Color is My World?” The winner was author and activist Kelly Starling Lyons, who wrote “Tea Cakes for Tosh” (winner) and “Ellen’s Broom.” The award was presented last week in New York City.

Michelson is the poet laureate of Northampton and the author of more than 20 award-winning books for children and adults. His books have appeared on the Year’s Ten Best Book Lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and The New Yorker.

The Wheatley Book Awards recognize the best African-American books and writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. Past recipients include Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan, Walter Mosley, Omar Tyree, E. Lynn Harris and Gordon Parks.

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