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Berkshires Beat: Clark Acquires Guillaume Guillon Lethière Masterpiece
11:06AM / Monday, June 04, 2018
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Guillaume Lethière (French, 1760–1832), Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death, 1788. Oil on canvas, stretcher: 23 3/8 x 39 in. (59.4 x 99.1 cm). Clark Art Institute, 2018.1.1 Image: Chew-Douglas Ho, Christie's New York

Adding art

The Clark Art Institute has acquired "Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death," an important early work by neoclassical French artist Guillaume Guillon Lethière (1760–1832), marking a significant addition to its permanent collection.

Completed in 1788 when Lethière was at the French Academy in Rome, and subsequently displayed at the Salons of 1795 and 1801, the painting depicts a dramatic scene featuring the decapitation of one of the sons of Lucius Junius Brutus. Brutus led the 509 BC revolt to overthrow the last king of Rome and establish the Roman Republic, swearing a sacred oath before its citizens that Rome would never again be subject to the rule of a king. When his two sons were later discovered to be among the conspirators attempting to restore the monarchy, Brutus demonstrated his commitment to the Republic by ordering and then witnessing the execution of his own children.

Painted before the onslaught of the French Revolution, Lethière’s composition is eerily prescient in its moralizing message and its brutal iconography. Brutus’s willingness to prioritize the interests of his country above his own made him an exemplar of Republican duty and stoicism. The tale inspired Voltaire and other leaders of the French Enlightenment to establish Brutus as a foundational hero of the French Republic. "Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death" is the first of two paintings on the subject executed by Lethière. The second version is in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

The painting has been in private hands for more than two centuries. A preparatory drawing by Lethière (c. 1788) and a stipple engraving dated 1794 by Pierre Charles Coqueret (Paris 1761-1832) after Lethière’s painting were also acquired. The purchase, made at auction, was approved by the Clark’s Board of Trustees according to the museum's acquisitions policies, and funded through a special art acquisition fund.


Call for artists

The Berkshire Art Association has extended its call for original, contemporary art exploring themes of community and civic engagement for its 2018 biennial exhibition "Showing Up: for Our Neighborhoods, Our Communities and Each Other."

Artists living and working in New England and New York, will have until June 30 to submit their work. The exhibit will be shown at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave., Pittsfield, from Oct. 5 through Nov. 16. The Opening Awards Reception will be held during Pittsfield's First Friday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 8 pm.

Artists can submit their work online. The mission of the BAA is to connect artists and the community in order to inspire creativity and increase access to the visual arts.


Golf for the birds

The Hoffmann Bird Club will hold its sixth annual "Hoffmann Hackers Golf Classic," which could otherwise be known as "The Longest Bird," at the Donnybrook Country Club, 775 Williamstown Road, Lanesborough, on Friday, June 22, starting with a "shotgun start" at 4 p.m. The public is welcome to participate. The 9-hole golf tournament is a fundraiser for Berkshire County’s premier Ornithological Society. There will be a rain date of June 29.

The entry fee for the event will be $40 per head, which includes placement on a team, 9 holes of golf, with carts included, and an all-you-can-eat barbeque/cook-out following the event.  The format will be a "Captain and Crew" or "Best Ball," but comes with a twist: Each team of four golfers is also responsible to note as many different bird species as possible during the tournament.  The number of birds identified may be deducted from that team's final golf score!  Each team will be encouraged to have at least one good "Birder" and one good "Golfer."  There will also be prizes for "Closest to the Pin" and "Longest Drive." Special prizes will also be awarded for "birdies" and "eagles."

Non-golfers are encouraged and welcome to come as spectators, and may pay a fee of $11 to participate in the barbecue, which will consist of hamburgers or cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, pickles, chips and non-carbonated soft drinks. A raffle and other fundraising activities will follow the event. Sign up by sending an email. There will be a limit of 18 teams of four. 


BSC grant

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to Barrington Stage Company for "The Royal Family of Broadway." The Art Works category is the NEA's largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

Barrington Stage Company will premiere the musical, by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, from June 7 through July 7. "The Royal Family of Broadway," set in the 1920s and loosely based on the legendary Barrymores, centers around the Cavendish family of actors: an aging imperious grande dame, a Broadway star looking for love, a self-centered boozy leading man who has fled from Hollywood, and a promising ingénue – each having to make pivotal choices in their lives.


Church aid

Clinton Church Restoration has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the town of Great Barrington's Community Preservation Act (CPA) Funds. The recommendation to fund the project was made by the town's Community Preservation Committee and approved at Town Meeting on May 7. The grant will be used for the first phase of restoration work on the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church, which the nonprofit group plans to repurpose as a performance venue and cultural center.

The historic church, significant for its association with civil rights leader and native son W.E.B. Du Bois, and as a distinctive example of 19th century vernacular church architecture, has been vacant for several years and suffers from severe water damage. An historic structure report completed earlier this year by Clark & Green Architects revealed structural damage caused by a leaking roof and extreme mold and mildew associated with drainage issues in the basement. Treatment recommendations for the first phase of work include constructing of a new wood shingle roof over the entire structure, improving site and basement drainage and raising the building approximately two feet to make the church’s basement social hall usable, code-compliant space.

The CPA funds will be combined with a recent $75,000 emergency grant from the Massachusetts Historic Commission and $389,000 from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grants Program awarded to Housatonic Heritage for the first phase of work on the project. CPA funds are derived from a surcharge on property tax bills and are used for initiatives related to affordable housing, open space and historic preservation. Competition for funding was high with close to $900 million in requests for this year. 


10,000 Strong

The Berkshire Immigrant Center will honor the more than 10,000 immigrants in the Berkshires and celebrate national Immigrant Heritage Month this June, as well as launch a $10,000 fundraising campaign to ensure the center can continue meeting immigrants' most critical needs.

The "10,000 Strong Campaign" aims to raise $10,000 in donations for the nonprofit organization through the Fourth of July. Contributions will support BIC’s work to meet the needs of individuals and families who have moved to the Berkshires from other countries. Tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome and can be made online via the secure “Donate” link on the BIC website. Contributions can also be made by check made out to Berkshire Immigrant Center, and mailed to BIC, 67 East Street, Pittsfield MA 01201.

The Center remains the only program in Berkshire County that focuses exclusively on meeting the unique challenges of a continuously growing immigrant and refugee population, and was one of four agencies recently named a Finalist for "Best Small Nonprofit" in the state by Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. Currently, approximately 10 percent of the total population of Berkshire County is foreign-born.


Emergency food funds

The National Board has awarded Berkshire County $49,311 in Phase 35 Emergency Food and Shelter Program assistance. Berkshire United Way, local administrator of the program, is urging qualifying organizations located throughout Berkshire County to submit an application for supplemental emergency food and shelter funding for Phase 35 online.

Local organizations chosen to receive funds must be private voluntary nonprofits (with a voluntary board) or units of government; have an accounting system; practice non-discrimination; and have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs.  Applicants must submit eight hard copies of the completed application by noon on Wednesday, June 13,  to: Berkshire United Way, c/o Julie Singley, 200 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. 01201. Late submissions will not be accepted.

The funding award is made by a National Board that is chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency  and consists of representatives from the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, The Jewish Federations of North America, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and United Way Worldwide.


Fast track to HiSET

A free summer "Fast Track" program will be held at Northern Berkshire Berkshire Adult Basic Education Program at MCLA for those ready to prepare for and complete the HiSET, High School Equivalency Credential. Vouchers may be available to cover the test costs for eligible students. A few spaces are still available. Call 662-5310 or 662-5330 for more information.


Garden grant

The Bidwell House Museum, the Berkshires' own early American history museum, has received a $12,000 grant from the Lenox Garden Club.  This grant will allow the museum to create a new series of educational garden beds around the recently refurbished entrance to the museum.

The museum recently finished work on a new accessible entry; this new walkway will be further enhanced by educational garden beds planted with native species familiar to the 18th century residents of the home, signage to provide visitors with information about the plants and a brochure. The museum hopes to have the new garden beds planted and the signage complete by late summer. The Bidwell House Museum is located at 100 Art School Road in Monterey.


Two Fur One

The Berkshire Humane Society has a special opportunity to raise money for homeless animals and services that benefit the community: Two donors will each give a dollar-for-dollar match for all donations given between June 1 and July 15. The shelter's goal is to raise $25,000, which would mean $75,000 for animals and programs. Of that, $25,000 will be used for sheltering and animal care, $25,000 will be used for Humane Education and $25,000 will be used for Purradise. This campaign will roll out over the course of June on social media and on the website.

This fundraiser will support numerous services provided by the shelter, including rehabilitation, animal care, medical treatment, socialization and behavioral training. As the only open admission shelter in the Berkshires, BHS receives animals in all conditions that often have nowhere else to go. The vast majority of our expenses are tied to animal care; each pet receives a physical exam, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, and a microchip. Any additional medical treatment, such a dental surgery or severe allergy care, necessary to help that animal get adopted is also taken care of at no cost to the adopter. Berkshire Humane Society loses money on every single adoption.

In addition, a portion of the match will benefit BHS’s Humane Education programs: Camp Humane, Humane Heroes, and The Defenders. Camp Humane offers school break and summer break activities for kids in third grade through sixth grade, and focuses on animal care, pet ownership, local ecology, and community service, as well as daily arts and crafts and team-building games. Humane Heroes gives kids a chance to explore new animal welfare topics and learn about advocacy. Kids in this program take the lead on projects that include fundraising, supply drives, making pet toys, and participating in BHS events. The Defenders is BHS’s teen volunteer program. Each week, they meet at the shelter to help clean up after and care for the animals while also learning valuable lessons in animal care.

The last part of the match will benefit Purradise, BHS's satellite feline adoption facility in Great Barrington. The small yellow house on Stockbridge Road shelters a dozen cats that are in need of specialized care or a quieter environment. Cats that need extra time recuperating or getting ready for adoption receive additional time and attention at Purradise. This facility allows the main shelter to care for and rehome more cats, and it also has the distinction of ending the unfortunate practice of euthanizing for space.

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