Clark's Summer Season to Bring the Beach to the Berkshires

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2003

An array of public programs will celebrate the exhibition Turner: The Late Seascapes

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - An outdoor lobster bake will kick off a summer of seafaring public programs at the Clark Art Institute. Celebrating the special exhibition Turner: The Late Seascapes, which opens June 14, the Clark will offer an array of programs including summer band concerts featuring music from the British isles, a family day inspired by the carnival atmosphere of a Victorian English seaside, the "Britannia Rules the Waves" film series, and Saturday lectures on topics ranging from Turner and Melville to art conservation.

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) was one of Britain's greatest artists. This exhibition explores the defining years of his career when, at the height of his artistic powers, he painted the sea as a stage for human drama and action. The exhibition features 35 oil paintings and watercolors, including several never before seen in the United States, that represent the culmination of Turner's lifelong fascination with the sea. James Hamilton, an eminent Turner specialist from the University of Birmingham, England, organized the exhibition for the Clark. The Clark is the only North American venue for the show.

"The exciting, stormy seascapes in the Turner exhibition inspired us to look to the shore for our summer programs, so we're bringing the beach to the Berkshires," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark Art Institute. "We plan a variety of programs this summer for all ages and interests. With several different public programs each week, including several that are free, we hope people will come and enjoy themselves as well as take the opportunity to see paintings by one of the greatest sea painters of all time."

The summer season will begin with "A Seaside (New) England Lobster Bake" on Saturday, June 7, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The outdoor celebration will feature live music and a traditional lobster bake with all the fixings. Guests will also have the opportunity to preview the Turner show. Tickets are $60 for members. Special packages that include a one-year membership and discounted lobster bake tickets are available for non-members ($90 per person or $170 per couple).

Prior to the official opening of Turner: The Late Seascapes, the Clark will offer free community preview days for residents of Berkshire County, Bennington County, and Columbia and Rensselear Counties. Free community preview days are Wednesday, June 11, Thursday, June 12, and Friday, June 13. Activities will include gallery talks and behind-the-scenes tours of the library and print room.

Free outdoor band concerts at the Clark are a Williamstown tradition that attracts thousands to the Institute's lawns on Tuesdays in July. This year, the theme for the series is music from the British Isles. The area's favorite bagpipe band, The Berkshire Highlanders, will begin the series on July 8. Wood's Tea Company will perform sea chanties on July 15. Traditional and contemporary British music will be featured in the performance by Wintergreen on July 22. The Bala Brass Quintet will close out the series with a program of works by English composers on July 29. All four concerts begin at 6:00 p.m. Picnics, blankets, and lawn chairs are encouraged.

On Sunday, July 27, the carnival atmosphere of the British seaside will come to life at a daylong free family festival. Live entertainment will include acrobats, magicians, and a Punch and Judy show. Activities throughout the Clark's grounds and facilities will also include sing-along sea chanties, dress-up photographs in Victorian bathing costumes, art making, and a sandy "beach" by Eric Rudd of the Contemporary Arts Center in North Adams. Vendors will sell fish-and-chips, cotton candy, snow cones, and other fare. Admission to the exhibition will also be free on July 27.

The Clark will also offer public lectures related to the Turner exhibition every Saturday at 2:00 p.m., beginning July 5. On July 5, 12, 19, and 26, curator of education Michael Cassin will present four different lectures putting "Turner in Context." On August 2, conservator David Bull and senior curator Richard Rand will discuss the conservation of the Clark's Turner painting, Rockets and Blue Lights. On August 9, Herman Melville expert Robert K. Wallace will speak about Turner and Melville. Richard Rand will discuss Turner and Impressionism on August 16. "The Double Life of J.M.W. Turner" will be the topic of a talk by Gillian Forrester of the Yale Center for British Art on August 23. Finally, Brian Allen, curator of American paintings, will speak about Turner and America on August 30. All lectures are free with gallery admission.

The Clark's renowned permanent collection is the focus of the popular series "Desert Island Pictures," in which Clark curators discuss what works of art they would take with them "if stranded on a desert island." The summer series, offered at 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays, June 12 and July 11, and every Thursday in August, will look at pictures of the sea in the permanent collection. The lunchtime talks are free with gallery admission.

The imperial and romantic bond between Britain and the sea is the subject of the summer film series, "Britannia Rules the Waves." Every Friday at 4:00 p.m., the Clark will show classic naval adventures including Treasure Island, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Horatio Hornblower. Admission to the films is free.

Public tours of Turner: The Late Seascapes will be offered daily at 11:00 a.m. the 3:00 p.m. throughout the exhibition, on view at the Clark June 14 through September 7. The exhibition has been organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and the Manchester City Galleries, Manchester, United Kingdom, and will also travel to the Glasgow Art Museum.

The Clark Café will serve British ales and other fare inspired by the Turner exhibition. A full-service restaurant will offer lunch daily beginning June 14, and a variety of "grab-and-go" lunch items, snacks, and beverages are available year-round during gallery hours.

For a complete schedule of programs and special events, visit the Clark's website at or call 413-458-2303.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (daily June 14-Labor Day). Beginning June 14, gallery admission is $10 (members, students, and children free).

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