Great Barrington Artist Bringing Ice Cream to the Desert

Nichole DupontiBerkshires Staff
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Gabe Adams is off on a monthlong trek that's part cultural connection and part performance art.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Art is a subjective term. From primitive cave paintings to Picasso’s cubist women, art has come to represent many things to many people. In the case of Stockbridge native and Great Barrington artist Gabe Adams, art could be as simple as a bowl of ice cream. Homemade, of course.

Last Friday, Adams began his journey to the Mongolian desert. His goal, to bring ice cream to the children of nomadic tribes and villages.

“It is the ‘Ice Cream Mirage,’” he said, when we interviewed on Thursday, before he flew off. “I’m basing it on the illusion of the desert. Who would think that you could make ice cream in the desert? I think it will be fun to create ice cream with the kids. This is performance art; it is making a connection through art and food.”

What could be simpler than ice cream? In Adams’ case, this is by far his greatest challenge as an artist. As a painter and installation artist, he has travelled the world over; New Zealand, Ireland, South Korea and most recently to Sarajevo. Making art while in foreign lands is not new to him. However, this time around Adams, along with 26 other artists from 14 different countries are tackling the Silk Road, a 7,000-kilometer trek across the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts.

“This is by far the longest trip I’ve taken,” Adams said. “It’s a full month, mostly on camel and with a caravan through the desert. We’ll be stopping at small villages where they speak different dialects. We’ll have some time to do our own work, which for me means going on the hunt for local fruit so that the ice cream we make contains flavors from the region. I’m sure it will be surprising for everyone.”

Before Adams wears the hat of the desert ice cream man, he will test his art in Seoul, outside the walls of the ARKO Art Center. There he will document the ice cream making process and that documentation will then become an installation at the museum.

Adams will be bringing ice cream to desert and using native fruits (rasberries here in the Berkshires) along the way.
“I’m going to take pictures, maybe some video and do some sketches to document how people react to the ice cream,” he said. “I may even barter and trade for the ice cream. Then those transactions, whatever they are, become part of the work.”

In addition to the support of the ARKO Art Center, the "Nomadic Party 2010" (as it has officially been named) is the brainchild of Nine Dragon Heads, a collaborative artists’ group that organizes international composite and performance art installations in Korea (including the demilitarized zone), Switzerland, Sarajevo and New Zealand with the hope of bringing cultures closer together via the common thread of art, or ice cream, as the case may be.

“It has to have some kind of association with the human condition,” Adams said. “Having food has a direct impact on that condition. Our view of art is shaped by the Renaissance. That’s a really limited way to look at art. With ‘Ice Cream Mirage’ I’m working on how to do something that’s not selfish. It is the art of life.”

Indeed, Adams has poured much of his physical and creative resources into the Silk Road journey. Much of the cost of the trip (approximately $3,000) he paid for out of pocket. But he said the payoff will be continuous, even after his return to the Berkshires in September.

“It’s definitely a stretch, but I just know that this is something I have to do.”  


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Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership Discusses Priorities for Forest Center

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The executive committee of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership on Thursday encouraged collaborators working on ideas for a forest center not to reinvent the wheel.
A pair of students in Williams College's Environmental Planning and Design program gave a presentation to the board about a survey they plan to assess priorities for the center, "an ambitious, somewhat nebulous concept right now but ... part of the enabling legislation establishing the partnership," according to the partnership's Chair Hank Art.
That legislation empowered a collaboration of 19 towns and cities in Berkshire and Franklin Counties to increase natural resource-based economic development and promote sustainable forestry practices in the region.
Sabrine Brismeur and Abby Matheny of Williams are working with the partnership to develop early concepts of what a permanent home for the MTWP might include and where it might be located.
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