Mass MoCA gets ready for Fall with Fresh Grass, Fresh Dance, Fresh Art

David Dorfman Dance performs on October 10, 2013 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA.

David Dorfman Dance performs on October 10, 2013 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA.

Summer may be over, but the Fall is just the beginning of Mass MoCA’s season
by Larry Murray

With the overwhelming torrent of summer performing arts events finally past, those of us in the Berkshires turn our attention to the year-round resident institutions that keep local stages humming through the Fall, WInter and Spring until the Summer folk return in 2014. Foremost among these is the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams which never fails to come up with some exciting – and very different – programs. So what is up?

Just for starters there is Punk rock, conscious rap, klezmer, and a ton of bluegrass stars. THese are just a few of the events that will thrill music loving audiences at MASS MoCA this fall when Kim Gordon, Talib Kweli, Alicia Svigals andthe FreshGrass festival hit MASS MoCA. Dance fans will be satiated with opportunities to see two world-class companies perform in the Hunter Center. A major survey of works from Israeli-born, New York-based artist Izhar Patkin makes its U.S. debut in MASS MoCA’s massive Building 5 gallery space on December 7. All of this will take place against the backdrop of a growing campus that will soon include a monumental new exhibition devoted to Anselm Kiefer.

Fresh Grass

In its third year, FreshGrass (September 20-22) boasts its strongest line-up yet as the museum’s weekend-long bluegrass and roots music festival expands its mainstage offerings to Joe’s Field, the urban concert meadow at the southwest corner of the museum campus. Read the overview [here] and the update [here] The Del McCoury Band, Infamous Stringdusters, The Devil Makes Three, and Leftover Salmon take turns on the mainstage Saturday and Sunday while a similar mix of traditional bluegrass and “newgrass” talent hits three other festival stages, with pop-up performances throughout the weekend. FreshGrass award finalists will compete before a panel of judges and the festival audience for more than $10,000 in prizes. Instrument and industry workshops, late night hoedowns and family programming, including a mainstage show for kids, round out one of the best priced and biggest weekends of bluegrass and roots music in the northeast.

Up in the Club

Highlighting emerging and unsung talent, MASS MoCA’s storied Up in the Club music series kicks off with Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra (October 5), which promises a who’s-who of the talent currently powering New York City’s live music scene. Erudite folk-rockers Plume Giant (October 12), is exactly the type of band the intimate Club B-10 was invented to showcase. Klezmatics co-founder Alicia Svegalis (November 16) comes to the club to perform a live score to the classic silent film The Yellow Ticket. Boom-box wielding duo Javelin (November 9) rounds out the Up in the Club series this fall with disco, funk, and dance rhythms in early November.


Groundbreaking music hits the MASS MoCA indoor mainstage- the museum’s venerable Hunter Center- when hip-hop standout Rebel Diaz opens for explosive conscious rapper Talib Kweli (October 19).

Changing gears, cowboy poet Don Edwards plucks his guitar and spins wild west tales to delight audiences November 8. Capping off this season of progressive music in almost every form, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon performs on December 14 as Body/Head, the boundary-breaking, improvisational duo she formed with free-noise guitarist Bill Mace.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Shen Wei Dance Arts (October 26-7) arrives at MASS MoCA to mark the closing weekend of Xu Bing: Phoenix, the seminal exhibition, on view in its football-field size Building 5 gallery. Presented in partnership with Jacob’s Pillow Dance with a performance on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Shen Wei Dance Arts creates revelatory dances steeped in drama, a fitting tribute to the exhibition its performance honors. David Dorfman Dance (October 10) is well known to area audiences for a recent six-night sold-out stand at Jacob’s Pillow. The company’s week-long residency at MASS MoCA culminates with a Work-in-Progress showing of Come, And Back Again, which invites the audience to contribute objects to a sculpture created during the performance. In December, The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab brings another exciting residency and Work-in-Progress showing December 7 when a week of workshops for playwrights, directors, composers, and librettists results in brand new work that is – at least in part – made at MASS MoCA.

The Kiefer Opening

The September opening of a new building at the south end of the MASS MoCA campus devoted to the work of Anselm Kiefer is a new partnership with The Hall Foundation that brings an extensive private collection to North Adams. Housed in a 10,000 square-foot former-factory space re-purposed for this show, this long-term installation includes a series of early works, an 82-foot long undulating concrete bed, and a 1,000 square-foot pavilion that houses 30 paintings. The artist has also created a large-format, site-specific work for this installation. To celebrate, MASS MoCA galleries will be free to the public on Friday, September 27. The seasonal exhibition runs through November 15, to re-open again for the summer on April 15, 2014.

A 29 foot indoor waterfall

New York-based artist Izhar Patkin brings to the U.S. for the first time ever a labyrinthine survey of works, to include mural-sized paintings on tulle fabric. The exhibition, rich with personal narrative, political metaphor, and myth – and which highlights the many formal innovations Patkin pioneered throughout his career – opens December 7. Exhibiting artist Jason Middlebrook, whose work, including a 29 foot indoor waterfall, is on display in MASS MoCA’s main galleries, will give an artist talk on October 19 at 2pm.

Kids, too

Kids will find lots to love at MASS MoCA this fall, too. A Family Art Quest featuring a museum-wide scavenger hunt is another way we’ll celebrate the closing of Xu Bing: Phoenix on October 26. Grammy-nominated, pop-fun musical troupe Milkshake will perform a family show on November 23. In December MASS MoCA will Break for Art during the last week of December with “One-Minute Art Making” and a “Rockin’ Art Countdown,” an art-making top-ten compiled from fourteen years of Kidspace art projects.


Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 10am until 6pm, seven days a week in July and August. Beginning September 3, the Box Office is open 11am until 5pm, closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at

Explore the Fall Season!

FreshGrass –  September 20-22

Anselm Kiefer – opens on Friday, September 27

Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra – Saturday, October 5, at 8pm

David Dorfman Dance: Come, And Back Again – Thursday, October 10, at 8pm

Plume Giant – Saturday, October 12, at 8pm

Artist Talk: Jason Middlebrook – Saturday, October 19, at 2pm

Talib Kweli –  Saturday, October 19, at 8pm

Fall Benefit in New York City – Wednesday, October 23, at 6pm

Family Art Quest – Saturday, October 26, at 1pm

Shen Wei Dance Arts – Saturday, October 26, at 8pm, and Sunday, October 27, at3pm

Don Edwards – Friday, November 8, at 8pm

Javelin – Saturday, November 9, at 8pm

The Yellow Ticket – Saturday, November 16, at 8pm

Milkshake – Saturday, November 23, at 11:30am

Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil – opens on December 7

Sundance Institute Theatre Lab -Saturday, December 7, at 8pm

Body/Head: Kim Gordon & Bill Nace – Saturday, December 14, at 8pm

December Break for Art –  Thursday and Friday, December 26 & 27, at 10am and Monday and Tuesday, December 30 and 31, at 10am


MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and most expansive) centers for making and enjoying the best new art of our time across all media: music, art, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on the museum’s renovated 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. MASS MoCA is an open platform that thrives on presenting art and learning experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
In July and August, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open from 10am to 6pm every day. Gallery hours are often extended on evenings featuring performing arts events. Gallery admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children 6-16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413-662-2111 or visit

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