Arts Briefs: The Paradise City Arts Festival returns, a steamy prohibition-era musical in Northampton, and more

  • “Blue Ice and Fog,” a photo by Ted Tatarzyn, whose work will be on view at the Paradise City Arts Festival. Image courtesy Paradise City Arts Festival

  • Chesterfield metal sculptor James Kitchen will show his “Steampunk Spaceship” at the Paradise City Arts Festival. Image courtesy Paradise City Arts Festival

  • A new exhibit at the Smith College Museum of Art looks at painted wood figures from Europe circa 1300-1700. Image from SCMA website

  • Easthampton painter Laura Radwell has a new exhibit, “Color Fields: New Expressions in Abstract Landscapes,” at the Westfield Athenaeum through Oct. 29. Image courtesy Laura Radwell

  • The Ashfield Fall Festival returns Oct. 8-9 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Image from Ashfield Fall Festival website

  • Members of the Passion Fruit Dance Company will perform Oct. 1 as part of the HUT interdisciplinary series at 33 Hawley in Northampton. Image courtesy School of Contemporary Dance & Thought

Published: 9/30/2022 12:54:29 PM
Paradise City Arts Festival returns

NORTHAMPTON — Now in its 28th season, the fall edition of the Paradise City Arts Festival, featuring the work of some 220 artists, will be held at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton Oct. 8 through 10.

Though the festival is centered on work from artists from New England and the Northeast, artists from 17 states all told will be showing their creations: paintings, photographs, sculpture, fine furniture, ceramics, jewelry and more.

A special themed exhibit, “The Wild Blue Yonder,” focuses on work in this distinctive color, one that “has always signified a world beyond our own, of depth and endless space,” as festival organizers put it. Photos of Antarctica by Ted Tartarzyn are one example of that.

Chesterfield metal sculptor James Kitchen, a festival favorite, will have a new massive work, “Steampunk Spaceship,” on view. There will also be a silent auction to benefit the Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Northampton Association.

Plenty of food and music will be on hand as well over the Columbus Day Weekend (Indigenous Peoples’ Day Weekend). More information can be found at


A steamyProhibition tale

NORTHAMPTON — “The Wild Party,” an acclaimed Off-Broadway musical that debuted in 2000, will get a fresh treatment when the K and E Theatre Group brings the production to the Northampton Center for the Arts for eight performances Oct. 7 through 15.

The musical, based on a 1928 narrative poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March, is set in a Manhattan apartment during the Roaring Twenties, where lovers Queenie and Burrs have had an exciting sex life that’s now turning sour because of Burrs’ violent nature.

Seeking to generate a different kind of excitement, Queenie suggests throwing a wild party, and Burrs agrees. A slew of guests “living life on the edge,” as program notes put it, arrive, and Queenie’s “wandering eyes” land on a striking man named Black, sparking Burrs’ jealousy. He pulls out a gun and fires — but who’s been shot?

The musical, written by Andrew Lippa, features a score that won him a 2000 Drama Desk Award for best music. “The Wild Party” was nominated for 13 other Drama Desk Awards that year, including best new musical.

Performances take place Oct. 7-9 and 13-15 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. depending on the day. Tickets can be ordered at Facemasks and proof of COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all audience members.

Painted wood sculptures from medieval Europe

NORTHAMPTON — The Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) has opened a new exhibit, “Brought to Life,” that features wooden carvings, both sacred and secular depictions, embellished with paint, a practice common in Europe circa 1300-1700. 

Drawn from collections at Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Amherst colleges and Yale University, these figures were designed in their time to be part of a “multi-sensory experience,” according to Danielle Carrabino, the curator of painting and sculpture at SCMA, and were often dimly lit by candlelight, while the air around them may have been filled with music and the fragrance of incense.

The exhibition, which runs to early August 2023, aims to recreate elements of this original viewing experience using specialized lighting; recordings from the Smith College Chamber Singers also serve as a soundtrack to the exhibit.


Movement, words and sound

NORTHAMPTON — On Oct. 1 at 8 p.m., the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought (SCDT) opens its 11th season of HUT, an interdisciplinary performance series co-curated by dancer Jennifer Polins, sound artist Jake Meginsky and writer Jay Keery Wiengarten. HUT showcases three artists in three short sets in an evening of music, words and movement.

The presentation, at 33 Hawley, will feature performances by members of the Passion Fruit Dance Company, which focuses on street dance, Hip Hop and house cultures and their black heritage; Tommi Parrish, a cartoonist and painter who examines issues of gender and sexuality; and Miners, a Western Massachusetts group that uses American folk music as a platform for improvisation and sonic experimentation.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door and can be purchased online at

Le retour d’Angela Davis

SOUTH HADLEY — MIFA Victory Theatre of Holyoke will present the French theater company Compagnie L’Héliotrope in “Angela Davis, A History of the United States” Sept. 30/Oct. 1-2 at Rooke Theater at Mount Holyoke College.

Mixing narration, speeches, video, and rap music, the production profiles Angela Davis, the Black American activist, professor and author who came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Astrid Bayiha portrays Davis as she’s wrongly accused in 1970 of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with a courtroom shooting and then jailed, before being acquitted of all charges in 1972.

Bayiha’s performance is supported by the work of musician-composer Balde AliMbaye, a Franco-Senegalese artist. The play takes Sept. 30/Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit Face masks required.

An Easthampton artist in Westfield

WESTFIELD — Painter Laura Radwell, who has exhibited her work throughout the Valley, is showing some of her more recent work at the Westfield Athenaeum in the exhibit “Color Fields: New Expressions in Abstract Landscapes.”

According to program notes, Radwell, of Easthampton, has drawn on work from the Color Field School, an abstract expressionist style that emerged in New York in the 1950s and was popularized by painters such as Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis and Mark Rothko.

Radwell says she’s merged the bold, broad colors of that style with abstract landscapes, including internal ones. “I think of my paintings as an invitation … to slow down time, to connect one’s innermost landscape with the outside world,” she says.

The exhibit, on display through Oct. 29, includes about 30 works, with traditional paintings as well as digital ones.

A fall tradition

ASHFIELD — After being shut down for the last two years due to COVID-19, the Ashfield Fall Festival returns to town center Oct. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring nearly 50 artisans and crafters, local food, games and live music. Admission is free and parking is available east of the town center.

Artists and craft workers will have a wide range of work for sale: pottery, paintings and prints, hand-dyed scarves and printed fabrics, wooden utensils, handblown glass and more. Live music and varied food will be on tap both days, as well as games and activities for children.

The festival, started in 1970, is a volunteer-run event that raises funds for the Ashfield Citizens’ Scholarship Fund and local community organizations. For everyone’s safety, please leave your dogs at home. More information is available at

— compiled by Steve Pfarrer

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