- David Ginisi
See Artists’ Views of America & Russia
Forget the hassles of long-distance travel! Ignore the challenges of international regulations! We’ve got the answer to your dreams of experiencing a world of art this season: Hop in your car and take a tour of North Central Massachusetts’ museums and galleries!
In a single day, you can immerse yourself in cultures as familiar as New England and as diverse as the former Soviet Union, contemporary Japan, and the tombs of ancient Egypt.
See the USA
Before you head out for a visual adventure in far-off lands, stop by the Fitchburg Art Museum. A local treasure for nearly a century, this four-building complex, with over 20,000 square feet of exhibition space, features exhibitions from its art historical collections as well as special loan exhibitions focused on regional contemporary art.
And through June 5, the spotlight is on the U.S. — with American Roadsides: Frank Armstrong’s Photographic Legacy, a survey of the artist’s recent digital color photographs that reveal aspects of the American character by focusing on interactions between material culture (mainly, architecture, consumer products, and advertising) and the grandeur—and banality—of landscapes across our country.
To celebrate Armstrong’s work as an educator, American Roadsides also includes recent bodies of work by seven of his former students, all successful fine arts photographers who have been profoundly affected by Frank’s teaching and practice.
While you’re there, explore the museum’s collections that also include 19th Century American Art, photography, African Art, Greek and Roman Art and Egyptian Art. The Egyptian collection is presented in an interactive gallery designed for families and school groups.
Back in the USSR
You might not expect a world-known museum focused on Russian icons to be tucked away in a small North Central Massachusetts town…but here it is, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to Russian icons, and the largest collection of icons outside of Russia!
Step back in time, and visit Images of Atheism: The Soviet Assault on Religion, exploring the role of visual propaganda in the Communist Party’s seven-decade war against religion (ca. 1920-1990) at the Museum of Russian Icons. With their eye-catching design, strident slogans and stereotyped characters, the posters and publications of Soviet atheism demonized the world’s religions and jeered at those who practiced them.
For more from Russia’s history, tour the museum’s Tea is for Tradition exhibition. Cultivated in the southern parts of the Russian Empire, tea is emblematic of Russian culture, the samovar being the ubiquitous and stately anchor in any Russian home. The ceremony surrounding tea in Russia equals that of Japan in its cultural significance.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and explore Icons for Our Time: Orthodox Art from Around the World, on display through April 3. See fifteen icons by important contemporary icon painters. New works from Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, the UK and the US have been specially commissioned for the Museum of Russian Icon’s 15th anniversary exhibition.
Done with your world tour? See what’s happening in the world of art, right here in Johnny Appleseed’s back yard!
This summer, learn about the region’s agricultural past, when the Gardner Museum spotlights Gardner’s Dairy Farms. The exhibition features a large variety of vintage milk bottles and extensive information about the farms from a local collector.
The Fitchburg Art Museum’s 86th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft, one of the oldest juried exhibitions of its kind in New England, opens June 25 and runs right through Labor Day weekend. This annual summer exhibition strives to encourage, discover, and display the talents of artists and crafters living or working within 30 miles of Fitchburg. It provides a professional setting in which the region’s artists can show their work, network with their peers, and connect with artists and arts enthusiasts in nearby communities.
And for a celebration of local art, stop by the Gardner Area League of Artists’ Spring Art Show on May 20-22, a weekend of art on display, live artist demonstrations, art activities for children and adults, and live music performances. The show provides a forum for North Central Mass artists to share their talent with the public. Miss the show? Stop by GALA’s gallery in Winchendon any Saturday!
There you have it! A world tour, right here in North Central Massachusetts! §
Fitchburg Art Museum
185 Elm Street, Fitchburg
Open Weds.-Fri., noon-4pm;
203 Union Street, Clinton
Open Thurs.-Sun., 10am-4pm
The Gardner Museum
26 Pearl Street, Gardner
Open Wed.-Sun., 1-4pm
135 Front StreetWinchendon
Open Sat.-Sun., noon-5pm