Arts Briefs: Two-artist exhibits in Easthampton and Amherst, the South Hadley Chorale performs, and more

Stephanie Carlson, left, plays Emily Dickinson and Moe McElligott is Margaret “Maggie” Maher in “Margaret Maher and the Celtification of Emily Dickinson” at the Academy of Music March 23.

Stephanie Carlson, left, plays Emily Dickinson and Moe McElligott is Margaret “Maggie” Maher in “Margaret Maher and the Celtification of Emily Dickinson” at the Academy of Music March 23. Photo by Paul Franz/Gazette file photo

 “Kindred Spirits,” a shared exhibit at the Elusie and ECA galleries in Easthampton, features drawings by Easthampton artists Ken Gagne and Adell Donaghue.

 “Kindred Spirits,” a shared exhibit at the Elusie and ECA galleries in Easthampton, features drawings by Easthampton artists Ken Gagne and Adell Donaghue. Image from Elusie Gallery website

The South Hadley Choral performs a concert of varied works March 24 at Mount Holyoke College.

The South Hadley Choral performs a concert of varied works March 24 at Mount Holyoke College. Image courtesy of South Hadley Chorale

“Song of the Late September Sun,” diptych and paper collage by Martha Braun, is part of a two-artist show this month at Gallery A3 in Amherst.

“Song of the Late September Sun,” diptych and paper collage by Martha Braun, is part of a two-artist show this month at Gallery A3 in Amherst. Image from Gallery A3 website

“Deep into Time,” mixed media by Rochelle Shicoff, is part of a two-artist show this month at Gallery A3 in Amherst.

“Deep into Time,” mixed media by Rochelle Shicoff, is part of a two-artist show this month at Gallery A3 in Amherst. Image from Gallery A3 website

Published: 03-14-2024 2:40 PM

Artistic minds that think alike

EASTHAMPTON — City artists Ken Gagne and Adell Donaghue share a number of traits, from an inquisitive eye to a penchant for sketching surreal or humorous scenes in their drawings, yet that also engage viewers’ emotions.

Now the two are sharing work in “Kindred Spirits in Black and White,” a new exhibit that uses the combined space of the adjacent Elusie and ECA galleries at CitySpace in the old Town Hall.

As exhibit notes put it, “Their artistic approach is so different, yet they are so much alike … They are both spectators and witnesses: of the absurd or the mundane, the anecdotal or the passing of time. They both transform what they have experienced into powerful black and white images, filled with emotions, visual stories and nostalgic wonder.”

One of Donaghue’s drawings, for instance, offers an eerie montage of images from a strange carnival, with a small elephant and a giant strongman towering above the beast, along with bits of Americana such as restaurant signs.

“My drawings, paintings, prints and videos are documents,” says Donaghue. “They evidence my perplexing feelings about the time we live in.”

Gagne says his new work is titled “Nostalgia Noir” and in part reflects growing up “in a black (and) white world; our first television, old movies and crime mystery novels.” One of his drawings features the heads of various actors, from Humphrey Bogart to Charlie Chaplin to the Malcolm McDowell character from “Clockwork Orange,” mounted on pedestals.

“I see images in black (and) white art forms as having many shades of gray that help tell their stories, like life itself, casting shadows,” he says.

“Kindred Spirits” runs through April 6.

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Another artistic duo

AMHERST — “Pairings,” an exhibit at Galley A3, features the work of Martha Braun, a painter who’s finding new expression in printmaking, and Rochelle Shicoff, a mixed-media artist who’s created new work using encaustic, paint, pastel and photomontage.

Braun’s current work examines a transition from paint to print, particularly through the use of a Japanese technique called “sosaku hanga,” a style as well as a technique “of working that utilizes artist-carved woodblocks as a matrix for image transfer,” according to exhibit notes.

Those blocks are printed with a hand-held rubbing tool and water-based inks that when combined on absorbent paper allows the paper and the image “to become an amalgam.”

Shicoff’s new work, “Everything Is So Still,” involves “the visual expression of aspects of the human condition,” according to exhibit notes, inviting viewers to see “an intimate world associated with actual or imaginary travels.”

Incorporating photos from visits to New York City, Bali, Thailand, and Germany, Shicoff also layers oil paint and pastel on top of encaustic to add texture and dimension to the images.

“Pairings” runs through March 30. Braun and Shicoff will speak about their work in an online forum March 21 at 7:30 p.m. You can register for the free session by visiting gallerya3.com and following the links for the exhibit.

 

Emily and Maggie

NORTHAMPTON — “Margaret Maher and The Celtification of Emily Dickinson,” a musical play that sold out a number of performances at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in Nov. 2022, will have a return engagement March 23 at the Academy of Music.

Written by Rosemary Caine of Greenfield, the play examines the relationship of The Belle of Amherst and an Irish maid in her home, Margaret Maher, who developed a close association with the famed poet over many years of service.

Caine, a harpist, composer, and singer (she’s a member of the Young@Heart Chorus), is a fan of Dickinson’s work and a native of Ireland herself. A central theme of the production, she notes, is that Maher, known as Maggie, helped curb the anti-Irish sentiment that the Dickinson family and many other Protestant Americans harbored in the mid 19th century.

The play, which takes place at 7:30 p.m., features Moe McElligott as Margaret and Stephanie Carlson as Emily and includes a small chorus of six women who also serve as storytellers; they’re supported by a five-member Celtic folk band, including Caine.

The cast and crew also performed the play several times in Ireland last summer and were filmed by Irish television. And, Caine noted in an email, a unit on Emily Dickinson is now included on the final exam, known as the Leaving Certificate, for Irish high school students, a test that determines college placement.

Tickets are available at aomtheatre.com.

 

The chorale comes together

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley Chorale will present its annual concert Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. in Abbey Memorial Chapel at Mount Holyoke College, with a program that includes “Requiem” by Gabriel Fauré and “Missa Kenya” by contemporary composer Paul Basler.

The concert, led by the Chorale’s interim conductor, Anita Anderson Cooper, includes work as well by the late Alice Parker, the acclaimed Hawley composer who died last December, and by Cooper herself, a teacher and composer who also leads vocal ensembles at Smith College and Ludlow schools.

General admission tickets are $25 and will be available at the door; it’s $20 for seniors and $5 for students and children. Tickets can purchased in advance of the show for $20, $15, and $5 from Chorale members, at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, or online at www.eventbrite.com.

 

Dance the night away

SOUTH HADLEY — The Mount Holyoke College Department of Dance will present its annual Senior Capstone Concert, “Composite Objects,” March 29-30, culminating a year-long process of research and choreographic inquiry by the school’s 2024 dance majors.

The concert, to be held at 7:30 p.m. both nights at the Studio Theater in Kendall Sports and Dance Complex, is designed to explore what program notes call “the absurdity of location, girlhood and dreams, traversing the theater, social dance, elevators and unearthing identities.”

In “More than a mechanical hoist,” for instance, dancer and choreographer Grace Thompson offers work that “seek[s] to reconcile the world’s logic and rationality with its wonder and mystery ... she examines elevators as modes of transportation and containers for unspoken etiquette rules.”

For more information or to reserve tickets, please visit mhc.ludus.com/index.php or contact hglick@mtholyoke.edu.

— compiled by Stever Pfarrer