NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that Deb Hill and I spent a late October week in the Berkshire mountains, mostly hiking, much art, and, o, yes, food. I’m torn today between giving you our astonishing Bennington VT stroll, our electrifying views from the Apple Barn on the way to Bennington, and the art of Mass Moca.
The last wins, for sheer outrageousness. I’d get right back in that car and drive to Willilamstown tomorrow morning, if it weren’t for saving New Jersey Land at D&R Greenway – so we could return to Mass Moca’s thrilling and thought-provoking art installations.
Walk with us through the parking lot:
O, ‘Moca’ means Museum of Contemporary Art.
Those of you who’ve been up there know that this was a factory, enormous and (to me) stultifying to its human occupants. That brilliant and courageous people conceived of transforming this enormous set of structures, determined to bring North Adams, Mass., back to life after its inescapable desertion by industry. The courageous ones found backers, successfully creating one of the most stunning art settings of my entire life here and in Europe.
Now, North Adams is a happening town, what my mother would say, is “full of ginger.” Probably quite literally, as the restaurant scene is lively and ever-expanding. A delightful set of once run-down houses has been turned into a place to stay, called “The Porches.” You can see these engaging dwellings from the museum. Manhattanites delight in coming up to partake of their unique hospitality.
But Mass Moca’s not just about art. Every installation teaches. Scenes from past visits still fill my head, more irresistible than sugarplums, — teaching about the circularity of the environment, about poisons in our food, making us face the beauty of polluted landscapes, confront the inescapability of wars — all through astounding beauty.
Are You Amazed Yet?
Throughout the museum, architects left walls, ceilings, floors, pillars, and even the restrooms, as they were when they were the habitat of workers.
I have the eeriest sense of understanding places like concentration camps, when I am faced with the realities of these long ago workers.
This is the work of Lee Boroson, who is quintessentially suited to Mass Moca’s artistic and intellectual paradigm.
Each room is a journey, some easier than others. All unforgettable.
Come back outside with us now.
We could not eat at Gramercy, despite its enchanting, old-world name.
Deb’s Garmin led us to a restored rail yard, with a famous pub.
We were welcomed with a real hardwood fire, and tables of formidable women and men in Harley garb. I was told they are quite particular about their lunch stops.
I fell for their vaunted (purportedly nearby) Boston Clam Chowder and Crab Cake — a big mistake. The craft beers were splendid and seasonal and welcome. This is, i later learned, Burger Central.
There’s a famous tunnel, dug through the mountains, near North Adams — a tunnel in which many died during construction. It’s a key tourist attraction, which we neglected to visit.
Mass Moca is light years, but only minutes, from quaint Williamstown, of my previous post. In fact, Mass Moca is light years from most museums I have ever visited in any country.
It is a country unto itself, with tremendous consciousness, determined to wake up its countless visitors to realities in their 21st Century world.
Truly, as Michelin says of restaurants, Mass Moca is “Vaut le Voyage” — Worthy of the Journey!