The Mastheads has launched its 5th annual summer season. Projects include a community poetry-writing experiment, day residencies, writers-in-residence, and public events. Photo: The Mastheads

Bits & Bytes: The Mastheads summer season; LGBTQ+ play readings; Hancock Shaker Village marks Juneteenth; RSYP opportunities; ‘Field Day’ sculpture exhibit

The first ever Sheffield Pride Week LGBTQ+ Play Readings will be held Sunday, June 20 from 2–4 p.m. on the lawn of the Bushnell–Sage Library.

The Mastheads launches 2021 summer season                        

PITTSFIELD — The Mastheads has launched its 5th annual summer season. Projects include a county-wide poetry-writing experiment called INSCAPES; the opportunity for locals and visitors to work in the Mastheads studios at Arrowhead through a Day Residency program; a July residency that brings five writers from across the country to Pittsfield; and two Saturday public events — a roundtable discussion at the Westside Riverway Park on July 3, and a reading by the writers-in-residence at Arrowhead on July 10.

INSCAPES, in partnership with the MCLA Institute for the Arts and Humanities (MCLA–IAH), offers a writing prompt that asks: What defines the Berkshires for those who live here?

Those interested are invited to write a couplet (a 2-line poem) about a specific place in Berkshire County. Each line should contain no more than 8 words. The place can be anywhere that resonates with you: a town, street, river, or mountain; a restaurant or corner store; a family member or friend’s house.

Select INSCAPES poems will be featured in a short video, with music by Ben Jaffe, to air at The Common on July 17, before the Tanglewood concert screening. Poems will also appear on 6 billboards throughout the county and weekly on The Mastheads and MCLA–IAH Instagram pages. The deadline to submit is July 2.

Through The Mastheads Day Residency program, locals and visitors to Pittsfield are invited to work in The Mastheads studios for one or multiple days. The program is open to anyone working on a creative project, including writing, art, performance, and music. Each reservation comes with a tour of Arrowhead and access to Arrowhead’s extensive grounds. Open through October, weather permitting.

From July 1–15, five writers from across the nation will live and work in Pittsfield: Amanda Smeltz, Christine Larusso, Helene Achanzar, Keith Wilson, and Sam Mayer. At 6 p.m. on July 10, the writers-in-residents will give a reading of new work at Arrowhead.

On July 3 at the Westside Riverway Park block party, The Mastheads will host two events:

  • A public roundtable, in which scholars and Mastheads team members will discuss art, literature, and urban planning in the Berkshires during the Modernist Period (1914–1945) and how Modernist style continues to impact the region today. Featuring Horace Ballard, Tessa Kelly, Jeffrey Lawrence, and Alex Sayf Cummings, the roundtable will be followed by a Q&A period and community discussion.
  • A community poetry workshop led by Sarah Trudgeon

 —A.K.

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Reading of short works by LGBTQ+ playwrights to kick off Pride Week June 20

SHEFFIELD — Sheffield Pride will kick off Pride Week with a live event Sunday, June 20 from 2–4 p.m. The first ever Sheffield Pride Week LGBTQ+ Play Readings will feature local playwright Ed Valentine, actor Jennifer Laine Williams, and some of their talented friends from New York City and the Berkshires in a reading of several short plays by LGBTQ+ community writers.

The readings will be held on the lawn of the Bushnell–Sage Library, 48 Main St. in Sheffield. (Rain location: Parish Hall at Christ Trinity Church, 180 Main St., Sheffield.) The event is free, with a suggested donation of $10–$20 dollars, or whatever you’re able to offer, to offset travel costs of the performers.

Please bring your own lawn chairs, snacks, and drinks (no glass, please). Ice pops will be provided. Please note that some of the plays contain adult language and themes.

For more information, please contact Ed Valentine at ed@edvalentine.com or 917-414-5332.

 —A.K.

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Hancock Shaker Village recognizes Juneteenth with online exhibit, in-person programming

Shaker Phoebe Lane. Photo courtesy Hancock Shaker Village

PITTSFIELD — Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when news of emancipation reached the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, just became a federal holiday to observe the end of slavery in the United States. Hancock Shaker Village recognizes that the work toward achieving true equality and justice is ongoing, and in recognition of Juneteenth’s significance, invites the public to view its exhibition, African American Shakers: In the Berkshires and Beyond, about the Shakers’ view of equality.

The Shakers’ view of equality has always extended to all races and sexes. Beginning in the 18th century, the Shakers welcomed many African Americans into their communities. The Shakers believed that all were equal in the eyes of God, and allowed anyone to join their communities, provided that they turned over their property and all material wealth once they committed to communal life. Communal living placed all Believers on the same plane, where property was owned by the collective group, and food and necessities were provided to all, as long as they lived a devoted, spiritual life.

Beginning July 3, the Village will offer an in-person talk on Black Shakers as part of its regular programming.

 —A.K.

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RSYP announces youth sought for professional art project, empowerment program returns

GREAT BARRINGTON — Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP) announces that youth are invited to take part in a professional art project with creative activist Gabrielle Senza, an internationally-known transdisciplinary artist. A working group will meet every Monday from June 28–August 16, from 3:30–5:30 p.m., to create embroidered portraits of influential women+.

If interested in participating in this paid opportunity, please email elstew@gmail.com.

RSYP also announces that its Student Empowerment Program will return July 19–23. The program offers young people the chance to explore their goals and potential next steps after high school. Participants will meet with panelists and local partner organizations to create community, network, and learn about balancing tasks, goal setting, and financial behavior, as well as participate in self-reflection and self-care activities.

Youth receive a stipend of $200 upon completion of the program and are eligible to apply for a scholarship of up to $20,000. The scholarship may be used over the next four years to assist with tuition at a state or private college or university, a community college or vocational school, a focused curriculum for a gap year, or any GED Program.

Reach out to Molly (molly@rsyp.org) or Gabby (gabrielle@rsyp.org) for more information or use this link to apply.

 —A.K.

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“Field Day” outdoor sculpture exhibit to benefit Sandisfield Arts Center

Robert Adzema, “Arc of the Sun” sundial. Photo courtesy Sandisfield Arts Center

SANDISFIELD — The Sandisfield Arts Center will be the recipient of all proceeds from an outdoor sculpture exhibit taking place in July in a 5-acre field on Route 57 in Sandisfield. “Field Day” artists hail from Massachusetts and Connecticut, with many from Sandisfield and neighboring towns. The opening reception is Saturday, July 3 from 4–6 p.m. with a rain date of July 4. “Field Day” will remain open on weekends throughout the month of July. Admission is “pay what you can” with a suggested donation of $20 per person for adults.

A wide walking trail around the perimeter of the field contains semi-circular cut-outs for the sculptures. Wildflowers, ferns and grasses provide the backdrop. Visitors are advised to wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

The exhibit is hosted by Liana Toscanini, former president of the Sandisfield Arts Center. “This is a safe, outdoor event that uses the arts to bring people together again, after 15 months of pandemic-related hibernation,” said Toscanini. The Sandisfield Arts Center has suffered major event-related revenue loss, like many arts organizations across Berkshire County. “It’s a social and mission-centric way to help,” Toscanini said.

Exhibiting artists include: Robert Adzema, Nick Brittingham Crofut, Bill Cummings, Erika Crofut, Susan Crofut, Sophie Eisner, Jamie Goldenberg, Nancy Johnson, Jaye Moscariello, Robert G. Osborne, Bevan Ramsey, Jon Riedeman, Richard Rook, Karl Saliter, Robin Tost, Natalie Tyler, Peter Vacchina, Gar Waterman, Robert Wilk, and Setsuko Winchester.

 —A.K.