Blog :: 10-2014

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Matisse at Mt. Holyoke

One of the reasons I love living in Northampton is that although it is a relatively small city - there is so much culture to take advantage of here, and in neighboring cities and towns as well.  Take, for instance, the exhibit of rare Matisse drawings currently on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.  I think we will spend our Saturday afternoon digesting Halloween candy, and taking a beautiful fall drive down to South Hadley to view this compelling exhibit.  How about you?

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Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley


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By STEVE PFARRER Staff Writer

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Henri Matisse was one of the giants of early 20th-century art -- an influential painter, printmaker, sculptor and collage artist who became particularly noted for the expressive colors and strong brushstrokes of his paintings.

But Matisse (1869-1954) also loved to draw, whether making studies for later paintings, stand-alone portraits or sketches he used for experimenting with new ideas or examining compositional problems. As John Stromberg, the director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, puts it, "He was restless. He was often looking for new ways to express an image, and drawing was a key to that."

The college's museum is taking a fresh look at some of those drawings -- many apparently rarely seen even by Matisse scholars -- with an exhibit drawn from a collection built by Matisse's youngest child, the late art dealer Pierre Matisse. The show has been curated by noted American artist Ellsworth Perry, a printmaker and painter whose own lithographs have been inspired by Henri Matisse's work.

The exhibit, which runs through Dec. 14, includes 45 Matisse drawings, predominantly from the latter part of his career, when he became partly disabled and found drawing easier to do than painting or printmaking. There's a wide range of work, from quick sketches of the human figure, to more studied portraits and still lifes, to small series that look at the same subject from different perspectives.

But all of it, Stromberg says, shows "the sureness and economy of his line and his interest in shape and open forms. ... Matisse was always experimenting, looking for ways to innovate." Stromberg notes, for example, that the artist would vary the look of the eyes of many of the subjects of his portraits, even within a study of the same person or similar people.

In a sequence of images of a veiled woman ("Femme voilé") in the exhibit, for example, the first depicts a woman with slanted, slightly hooded eyes, while in a second and third drawing her eyes have become more rounded. In another sequence, this time focused on female heads, the contours all form heart-shaped faces, but the overall impression is of noticeably different faces.

Matisse lent a bit more detail to one of the exhibit's larger drawings: a 1937 self-portrait, done in charcoal, that shows the artist wearing a suit and tie, glasses, and a serious expression, his head tilted to the left.

But even here, Matisse was playing with a conventional image: Behind his self-portrait is a shadowy, partially visible second image of his head, like a double exposure photograph.

An appealing proposal

Stromberg said the genesis of the exhibit can be traced to last winter, when he had a conversation with the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation in New York City, which has a huge collection of art -- not just that of Henri Matisse -- and lends items for exhibits. The foundation had given a three-year grant to Mount Holyoke for arts education, and Stromberg says staff there told him they'd also be happy to lend the college some of Matisse's drawings for a show.

"That was a very appealing proposal, of course," he said. "But I also thought it would be interesting to have an artist curate it." His thinking was that an artist could bring a different perspective to the show than he would as an art historian.

With that in mind, he contacted Kelly, whom he's known for some time; Stromberg helped coordinate a show of Kelly's at Boston University when he worked there in the 1990s as the school's art gallery director. Kelly's drawings had also been paired with Matisse's a few times in exhibits elsewhere.

Kelly, who lives in New York state just over the Massachusetts border, said he'd be happy to curate a show, for which he initially reviewed some 500 high-resolution Matisse images from the foundation's collection, Stromberg says. Then, to get a sense for what he might select for the Mount Holyoke exhibit, and for how he'd display the work, Kelly had a scale model of the actual gallery space installed in his studio.

In keeping with the flavor of Matisse's generally spare drawings, there are no wall labels, only numbers, for the 45 works on exhibit. An informational pamphlet, available for use in the gallery, contains titles and dates of the works, although a fair number of the drawings are undated. However, Kelly also requested the drawings be given custom-made frames to highlight the shape and size of each piece.

There's no particular order or organizing theme to the exhibit, either, but Stromberg sees that as part of Kelly's different approach to the show. "I think he basically picked what he liked," he said with a laugh, "though he's made some great choices."

An inveterate drawer

In fact, the eclectic mix of drawings, and the fact they've been chosen by another artist, gives the show a certain sense of intimacy.

Aside from their detail, or lack of it, the drawings are made from a variety of materials -- pencil, ink, charcoal -- and Matisse's lines can vary in intensity. One undated work, "Tête de femme" ("Head of Woman"), consists of just a handful of very thick lines of ink. But they clearly convey the face and neckline of a young woman, with neck-long hair parted to the side, and a slightly pensive look on her face.

Another, the more finely drawn "Nu à la fenêtre" ("Nude at a Window"), from 1944, could have been the first draft of one of Matisse's colorful, semi-tropical paintings inspired by his long residence in southern France. A nude woman, seen mostly from the back and side, stands alongside a window frame that's largely filled with the spreading foliage of a tree. Other greenery can be seen in the room; in the drawing's lower left corner, the artist's hand is shown sketching the scene.

There are a few detailed still life drawings, such as a bowl of lemons on a table, and portraits of women in hats and in various hairdos; somehow, even with just a few lines, they all look quite sophisticated, with something of the legendary "je ne sais quoi" often associated with French women.

Stromberg notes that Matisse, though an inveterate drawer, may have done less of it earlier in his career, and that many of those drawings have since made their way into private collections and museums. But those in the college's show, predominantly from the late 1930s to early 1950s, are likely to be of considerable interest both to casual viewers and art historians, he added.

"I think it's safe to say that many of these have seldom been seen," Stromberg said.

As a bonus to the show, a collection of Kelly's lithographs from the mid-1960s is displayed in an adjoining gallery -- images of leaves, flowers and fruit that mix both detail and abstraction.

But the focus is on Matisse and what many consider his mastery of the "less is more" approach to drawing. As Stromberg said at the college when the exhibit opened, "A seemingly simple curve could simultaneously define a shoulder, establish its place in relation to the picture plane, suggest its volume, outline the shape of the upper torso, and lend an emotional tenor to the sitter."

via Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley | GazetteNet.com.

Beyond Ikea - Thanks to Apartment Therapy!

Admittedly, I am an Ikea addict.  Whenever we travel to visit my in-laws, I make sure to leave enough room in our mini-SUV to accommodate a trip to the nearby Ikea, to stock up on all sorts of items that I may or may not need - but which give me great pleasure to shop for.  We recently sold our home in town, and moved to nearby Emerson Way in Northampton MA.  This move was about downsizing, to that end I spent months selling much of our furniture, and donating unwanted items to various charities and recycling events.  This allowed us to purchase some new furniture to go with the new house.  Since the house we bought is new construction, we also had the fun, if overwhelming, task of purchasing lighting fixtures, tile, paint, cabinet pulls, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc.  As you can imagine, I clocked countless hours on various websites shopping for our new home - and posting ideas to Pinterest and Houzz (fantastic resources for seeking and organizing ideas).  Much of my time was spent in person or online at Ikea.  They have some great and inexpensive options (as long as you don't go "full Ikea").   But Ikea is only one resource for inexpensive and attractive furniture.  I was excited to find this blog post on the ever-informative and juicy Apartment Therapy website.  It includes some great resources for Ikea alternatives.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores

SHOPPING GUIDE

We know -- you're tired of seeing IKEA on every single affordable furniture list we pull together. It's one of the biggest and best sources for modern furniture on a budget... but, yes, it can get old. So, to make up for the IKEA overkill, here's a list of sources for cool furniture on the cheap. We tried to stick to non-obvious sources. Don't worry -- there's no West Elm or CB2 here either.

East Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites with online ordering.

5093f32edbd0cb0349000512. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop MUJI This Japanese store has multiple locations in New York City, as well as a US website for national orders. Their selection of sofas, beds, shelving, and tables is simple, stripped-down, and inexpensive.

5094410adbd0cb033a000762. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop White Furniture They have locations in New York and San Francisco, and they manufacture knockoffs of classic mid-century designs. The quality is much less solid than the real thing, but the prices are low.

5094410bd9127e2f06000725. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop The Grove Furniture Based out of New Jersey, the Grove sells solid wood unfinished furniture. Styles tend to be basic and traditional, but it's a good source for cabinets and case goods that could be painted any color you like.

 

Midwest

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5094410bdbd0cb034200072a. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Roy's Home Furnishings Roy's is a 30-year-old Chicago institution. They're known for excellent prices on upholstered furniture and big pieces like dining tables and beds, and they recently launched an online catalog.

5094410cd9127e2f0a000689. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Dania They have stores scattered throughout suburban metro areas in Illinois, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest. Styles are a mix of contemporary and Scandinavian-modern, and prices are affordable.

5094410ddbd0cb0349000777. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Chiasso This Chicago store focuses on modern metal-frame furniture. Not all of it is cheap, but there are some very affordably priced sofas, tables, and shelving. They tend to carry small-scale pieces designed for apartment living.

5093f32ed9127e2f160004b2. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop McMaster-Carr Supply Company Headquartered out of suburban Chicagoland, this catalog retailer specializes in industrial equipment. They'll happily sell to retail customers, and you can find sturdy shelves and stools at great prices.

West Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5093f32fd9127e2f21000480. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop TINI Store Perfectly suited to this list, TINI stands for This-Is-Not-IKEA. This LA-based vintage furniture store has great prices on mid-century modern stuff, and their website is updated frequently.

5094410ddbd0cb033a000763. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Hoot Judkins Serving the Northern California area, Hoot Judkins is an unfinished furniture store. They have a mix of modern and traditional solid wood pieces, from dining sets to beds.

5093f330d9127e2f21000481. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Stanford Surplus Property Sales Colleges and universities are rich furniture resources that are often overlooked. Many schools put used office and dorm furniture on sale at the end of the year, and Stanford even has a web catalog where you can search their inventory online.Top Photo:

Larsen Chair, $350 at White Furniture

 

via Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores -- Shopping Guide | Apartment Therapy.

Real Estate Forecast Presented at Western NE University

In addition to the good news we received about mortgage rates once again dipping below 4%, we just caught wind of this interesting presentation to be sponsored by the Realtor Association of the Pioneer Valley.  If you'd like to find out more about current trends in the real estate market, this sounds like a great event to attend!

Economists to Present Real-estate and Economic Forecast on Oct. 23

SPRINGFIELD -- Nationally recognized economists Dr. Lawrence Yun and Dr. Elliot Eisenberg will present a real-estate and economic forecast on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Western New England University, ?Rivers Memorial Hall, 2105 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. Doors open at 8 a.m. for breakfast and registration. The event is sponsored by the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley and the Home Builders Assoc. of Western Mass.Topics will include recent developments in the housing market national, state, and local, the direction of home prices in the next 12 to 24 months, comparisons with past housing cycles, shadow inventory and foreclosure impact, new-home construction, economic backdrop, and a forecast of the economy and housing market. Yun is chief economist and senior vice president of the National Assoc. of Realtors, while Eisenberg is a former senior economist with the National Assoc. of Homebuilders. Tickets cost $20 per person, which includes breakfast.To register, contact Laura Herring, education coordinator for the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, at 413 785-1328 or laura@rapv.com. Corporate support comes from Abide Inc., PeoplesBank, MLS Property Information Network, the Republican/MassLive, and United Bank.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

via Economists to Present Real-estate and Economic Forecast on Oct. 23 | BusinessWest.

Leaf Peeping

The weather we have been blessed with in the past week reminds me why I love living in the Northeast, and, specifically, in Northampton.  Mild temperatures, clear skies, and insanely beautiful views of multicolored trees wherever you train your eyes.  I can't imagine living somewhere without real seasonal changes - and I feel lucky to live here in the Pioneer Valley.

As a realtor and resident of New England, I suscribe to Yankee Magazine, which is a great resource for things to do in this part of the world.  They recently published a "Western Mass Foliage Drive" article which outlines a beautiful drive through the areas surrounding Northampton.  If you are looking for something fall-inspired to do this weekend (in addition to the Ashfield Fall Festival, that is) read on!

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive

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Photo/Art by Krisin Teig

 

Housed in an 1842 grist mill, the Montague Bookmill offers a wide assortment of used books as well as a lively café.

From the source of Route 47 in South Hadley and on along quiet roads to Route 63 in Northfield, our journey is a sinuous, hypnotic drive, with the Connecticut River flashing in and out of the trees like a bright ribbon. It's a day for farmstand hunting and lots of stops.

Starting out, you'll want to grab provisions at South Hadley's Village Commons, from Tailgate Picnic or the Thirsty Mind coffeehouse, both across from the storied beauty of the Mount Hol­yoke College campus. Then launch yourself north on this sumptuously winding road.

 

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In Hadley, pull over at Barstow's Dairy Store & Bakery, which fronts Longview Farm, to watch cows grazing in the lower fields. Longview, designated a Massachusetts Century Farm, is actually a two-century farm, run by the same family since 1806, when Route 47 was a cart track. Drive through Skinner State Park to the summit of Mount Holyoke itself, where you'll gaze upon the Oxbow of the Connecticut River as it winds through fertile fields and dense forests. The 19th-century Summit House hotel reminds you of those grand old society days at mountaintop resorts.

 

You'll pass many good farmstands through Hadley: Try Becky Sadlow­ski's, at the corner of her family's ancestral farm, Rooted Acres, right next to a tobacco shed and corn crib. On Sundays, the Olde Hadley Flea Market offers the most breathtaking backdrop of fields and mountains of any open-air shopping venue on the planet.

A side tour on East Street will bring you to Hadley Common, where once villagers baited a witch, and where every fall they still hold a firemen's muster. Pull over to allow yourself a close-up of the curve of the Connecticut from the Hadley Dike.

In season till mid-October, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum's warm, aromatic corn barn and the fish pond in its sunken garden are sights to behold, and the North Hadley Sugar Shack is a must for maple gifts for family and friends. Thre's one breathtaking view after another as you drive on through Sunderland; then detour left onto Route 116 to curve on up to the top of Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, which ancient indigenous peoples said was the body of a giant beaver slain by a sky god. From the lookout tower, you can see the entire Holyoke Range in the distance, the silver flow of the Connecticut River, and the way the Pioneer Valley is held by the bowl of the surrounding mountains.

Now backtrack to Route 47 to an old burying ground, Riverside Cemetery, just past a cornfield in Sunderland, whose old slate gravestones display soul effigies and epitaphs in archaic letterforms--a peaceful resting place since 1714. About six miles farther along, stop at the Montague Bookmill to inhale the scent of nearly 30,000 used tomes, and refresh yourself with lunch at the mill's café alongside a tributary of the Connecticut.Continue north to Turners Falls--home of the historic Shea Theater, funky stores, street gardens, and fish-shaped bike racks--a fine town to stretch your legs in; be sure to stop in for a drink at The Rendezvous or a snack at 2nd Street Baking Co. (which is actually on 4th Street). At the Great Falls Discovery Center, you can witness the churning energy of the old mill canal and learn more about this historic river you're following.

Cross the river and Route 2, and head up Main Road into Gill; about a mile above the center you'll see North Cemetery on a little ridge on your left, flanked by open, grassy fields, calling you in past an ancient red-maple sentry to visit graves so old that some of them are coated in lichen, their inscriptions all but worn away.

The light should be getting long by now, and you might need a jacket. Head right, over the river; then left on Route 63, ending your ride seven or eight miles north at the historic Northfield Drive-In (just over the line into Winchester, New Hampshire), its old car-radio pillars authentic testimony to its longevity. It closes after Labor Day, so there's one more great reason to visit the Valley again come summer.

via Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive | Directions - Yankee Magazine.

Rising Energy Costs, and Renewable Energy Resources

Although the warmer temps seem to keep coming and going - the weather yesterday and today have me easing the temperature higher and higher on our thermostat.  We are eager to test out our new Tier 3 energy efficient home in Northampton, MA - to see whether our utility bills will be as low as promised, in the coming months.  To that end, I was both encouraged and upset to read the following editorial today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  Apparently, we can look forward to higher electricity bills this winter.  Although this news is not encouraging, the fact that a company called Hampshire Power will be supplying Lowell, MA with power largely from renewable energy sources, is encouraging.  This solution that will cost less money to the citizens of Lowell, and have a more positive environmental impact.  Apparently, Hampshire Power has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County with a similarly beneficial program.  Here's hoping that the local communities of Hampshire County /Pioneer Valley follow suit!

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A recent drop in gasoline prices helps only a little to buffer news that electricity costs will rise sharply this winter, making it more expensive to keep lights on in the darkest season and delivering a blow to households that heat with electricity.

Given enough time, New England will be able to bring down electricity costs as new plants come online, experts in the field point out. But the picture in the months ahead is grim. Massachusetts and neighboring states must adjust to significant shifts in the energy markets.

Utilities that provide electricity in western Massachusetts warned last week that competition for a limited supply of natural gas is largely to blame for prices that will jump a third this winter compared to last year.

Natural gas is used to produce half of the electricity generated in New England. The growing need for that fuel source is what led six New England governors to embrace the idea of bringing in more natural gas -- an appetite two major projects are eager to satisfy.

Even with a clear need for alternatives to coal-fired and nuclear plants, Gov. Deval Patrick hit the brakes in July by calling for a more detailed study of the state's energy needs.

Kinder Morgan wants to build a 177-mile natural gas pipeline across the northern part of the state -- and running through a small part of Hampshire County and nine Franklin County towns. The project, which must pass muster with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, faces determined local opposition.

More recently, Northeast Utilities, which owns the Western Massachusetts Electric Co., announced that it and a partner, Spectra Energy, propose to bring more natural gas into New England by expanding the capacity of existing pipelines.

While they would increase needed supplies of natural, these projects have yet to prove their worth and safety. Critics rightly question whether the gas will ease New England's energy pinch or be routed to the export markets, doing little to benefit a state that endured a pipeline construction or expansion.

As for this winter's sticker shock, National Grid says it will pass along a 37 percent cost increase compared to last winter. WMECO has not yet said how much rates will rise, but a spokeswoman noted, "We are all facing the same challenges." For the average National Grid customer, electric bills will rise about $33 a month. Those who heat with electricity will pay a lot more.

While electricity customers may feel they are at the mercy of price jumps, they do not need to be utility captives. Just this week, Hampshire Power, a project run by the Hampshire Council of Governments, announced it won a competitive bid to supply power to the city of Lowell in a deal that significantly expands its operations and will lower prices for ratepayers in the state's fourth-largest city. Instead of seeing prices rise a third, customers in Lowell will pay that much less.

And the rates will be locked in for three years. As an added benefit, the electricity Hampshire Power will supply 31,000 residential and 4,200 business customers in Lowell will come from renewable sources in New England. That is both a lean and clean deal for Lowell.

Hampshire Power has been pushing its option for years and has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County. It hopes soon to secure state Department of Public Utilities permission to roll out a program that would enable it to buy power at lower rates on behalf of 160,000 residents and businesses in 35 cities and towns. Those customers want the power. Their municipal leaders have signed the papers. The state should stop fiddling around and allow them access to it.

In the short term, electricity customers can find themselves at the mercy of the market. In the long term, they have options worth pursuing.

via Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon | GazetteNet.com.

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