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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

By Grier Horner


July 27, 2017




You might have suffered whiplash if you had been driving past the Williams College Museum of Art the day Ralph Brill took this shot of Kalaisha, her arms spread wide to reveal nothing but skin under that red shawl among Louise Bourgeois’ iconic sculpture.


The photo, one of almost 70 of nudes with tattoos, was a highlight of the opening of Brill’s new exhibit in the Excelsior Mill in North Adams.

Paintings were also featured. Here is one by Jim Peters of North Adams, who studied nuclear physics before turning to art as his weapon of choice.










June 9, 2017




Photo by Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe


The current show at the Lichtenstein Center in Pittsfield features two world- class photo/journalists whose work about troubling situations conveys an urgency and compassion that is a hallmark of their fame.


They are two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Craig F. Walker, a former Berkshire Eagle photographer who is now at the Boston Globe, and John Stanmeyer. His work for the National Geographic and formerly Time magazine has won accolades such as Photographer of the Year and taken him to over 100 countries, many of them enveloped in war or other troubles. Since 2013 Stanmeyer has also operated the Stanmeyer Gallery and Shaker Dam Coffee House born of his love of social commentary and "brilliant coffee" that is ethically produced and traded.


I am going to let them tell the story of the photos through their captions.


In the one above, Walker says, "A young boy gathers as much bread as he can carry at an aid station before crossing the Austrian border outside of Hegyeshalom, Hungary. The migrants were warmly greeted by the Red Cross and volunteers from Hungary, Austria and Germany."


Photo by Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe


This is Walker again: "A woman reaches for a child while boarding a train for refugees and migrants who recently crossed the boarded from Serbia to Tovarnik, Croatia. Migrants said they were eager to move on, although their destination was not always clear. In September, the United Nations said more than 442,000 migrants, half of them Syrians, had poured into Europe in 2015. Increasingly they are seeing women and children on a route that had historically been dominated by men."


And "yes," he told me, the child and woman were reunited despite the confusion and crowding to board the train.




Craig Walker and his son Quinn. The photo is by his wife Jamie.


Photo by John Stanmeyer/Time Magazine.


The photo above is by John Stanmeyer and appeared in Time magazine in 2001. He worked for Time for 10 years before turning his talents to National Geographic in 2004. 


His caption: "Children 4 to 6 years old tilt bricks to their side at the GT Brick factory in Karkhla, Pakistan. These Afghan child refugees work in brick factories because they are lightweight and do not deform the still-soft bricks when needing to turn them over for drying."


He adds Personal Notes to his captions, showing that his decades of taking pictures around the world have had a deep impact on him. About this one he says:


"Have observed more than the heart can absorb. Decades of bearing witness, these three children, lives that were lost, toiling in heat rather than embracing literature and hope, scored a gorge deep within that day. Forever remembered, now for you to also bear witness so that such despair will become a legacy of our past."



Photo by Grier Horner


Stanmeyer's photo at the right illustrates the plight of countless refugees over the years. His caption for the photo published by Time in 1994 says:


"Donning lifejackets thrown to them by the U.S. Coast Guard, 468 Haitians are crammed in the 55-foot Merci Jesus, desperately trying to flee their home. They were intercepted off Haiti's coast."



John Stanmeyer//Photo by Rob Becker


In his Personal Notes Stanmeyer adds:


"Within the bilge of the ship was a boy being crushed, drowning in knee deep water. Hoisted by arms of the many, had it not for the astonishing fate of our patrol spotting this sinking boat...the boy would have died, the leaking vessel sinking, causing everyone to perish."


The Haitians rescued in these operations were taken to refugee camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Florida. Judged economic refugees rather than political refugees, they were sent back to Haiti by the Clinton administration "into a repeating cycle of despair," Stanmeyer writes.




Photo by Grier Horner


This show, Face Them, was conceived and put together by Barbara Arpante, a Pittsfield photographer, to confront the "crises in our midst." In addition to the compelling work from Walker and Stanmeyer, Arpante has posted her own stunning work. The five-panel composition above is hers.




Gun Control is one of the panels. In their entirety Arpante's five panels, all collages, tackle  problems ranging from gun control to global warming.


Roselle Chartock of Great Barrington has written a poem that sounds the theme for Arpante's show. This is the last stanza.




So we may build a world

Where joy overcomes hardship,

Where the only arms are loving ones

Linked together

Under a sky filled with birsong,

Where we can be safe

Because we finally




Arpante's show made the cover of The Eagle's Berkshires Week this week. That's her working on the placement of her panels.





Photos of Peggy Braun's work by Grier Horner


Last but not least - far from least - is this forceful, beautiful piece by Peggy Braun of Pittsfield, a photographer and printmaker. I kept coming back to its wall to admire it. About seven feet long it utilizes what I'm calling photo boxes, like the one below, to give it dimension and emphasis.


And in between and beyond the three boxes are her fantastic photos of the anti-Trump rally in Boston following his election. Here are two of them.



Braun calls this work Houses of Sorrow and Voices of Hope. In a caption for the work, she writes:


"This work represents the hundreds and thousands of us who want to speak for what is right and what is needed to protect and unite us all. To participate in this very special exhibit expresses the deep concerns we all feel."





Peggy Braun, self portrait


In the show, Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith draws attention to the plight of the Monarch butterfly.





Here Eric Nuciforo of Capeless Elementary School voices his dream "to stop global warming."


Comic relief is provided by photos of Cleopatra, the hog who ran away to the farm across the street and refused to come home because she became best friends with two horses there. The photos are by Cheryl Jones and are accompanied by a humerous essay by Ralph Gardner. Also on display are works by the Berkshire Natural Resources and the state Audubon Society.



The exhibit is up through June 24. The Lichtenstein, owned by the city of Pittsfield, is open from 11 to 4 on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.









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Seth Harwood, writer

Leslie, poet

Joe Goodwin, painter

Juliane: bimbopolitics

Lisa Reinke, painter

John Mitchell, commentary

Charles Guiliano, MAVERIC, art critic

Saatchi Gallery


Steve Satullo, movies

Christine Heller, artist





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