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Tree face pots by ceramicist Ricky Boscarino at the 'Shimmer' exhibit.

Berkshire Botanical Garden Hosts 'Shimmer' Art Exhibit

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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'Frozen in Time' by Art Evans, one of two works on display. 
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — There's still a week left to experience "Shimmer" at Berkshire Botanical Garden.
Curated by Sue Muskat and Phil Knoll, it brings together drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures from 38 artists in an attempt to encourage "being in the present" while also recording the condition of life. 
Each artwork and artist provides a different conversation to encourage viewers to be open to new perspectives and challenges the viewer to contemplate the complexities of light in the darkness.
COVID-19 and the War in Ukraine has painted a dark cloud over the world and this art couple wanted to provide comfort and understanding. 
"We've really gone through a lot. I mean, the division, social division, the inability to come to a conclusion as a people. And then everything else that's been going on — the war, the pandemic, the environmental disaster that is looming heavily above us," Muskat said. 
"We look to art for solace, we look to art for a deeper understanding of what it means to live in our time, to connect to the past, and artists have this ability to perceive the future and to communicate that and that that can ground you and really help you have a deeper understanding."
They believe that anyone can appreciate art, including those who are not trained in it. In their opinion, what is important is the impact a piece has on an individual, and that they don't have to be taught to experience this impact. 
"What makes a great artwork is an artwork that communicates to you if. If you stand here and look at a painting and you feel something from it then great," Muskat said. "It's what lights the flame in you to give you a new understanding and something that you had no idea about, to appreciate the fact that these artists deeply consider what they're doing in a historical context as well."
Each piece in the exhibit provides a different perspective due to the varying artistic backgrounds. These diverse experiences provide the viewers with an eclectic group topic and opinions on our shared world. 
"The other thing that's nice in a big group show is that all of these works stand individually. Yet they need to be in conversation with their neighboring paintings," Muskat said. 

'Place' by Michael St. John is a condemnation of violence.
The art made by sculptors, glass-blowing experts, painters and more provide a view of a diverse world and that the artists hope can create an exciting and informative experience for the viewer.  
"What you are interested in is not necessarily going to be what I'm interested in. So the more diverse the show, the more possibility that a viewer is going to come in and connect with at least one artwork," Muskat said. 
The pieces "Water Impressionism" and "Frozen in Time" by Art Evans are prime examples, she said. Evans creates photodioramas using digital prints lit in handmade frames built out of local wood. Both of these pieces made it feel like you were looking into a frozen scene in nature. 
Muskat said, referring to "Frozen in Time," said, "I love that you can see the texture of the rock. And then the blurring out of the history. The more that the more time you spend with these photographs, the more in awe you will be of all of the information that's in them."
During the guided tour, Muskat and Knoll presented this reporter with a variety of art pieces that gave a reflection of our world and, at times, criticized it. Muskat noted the piece "Place" by Michael St. John, which condemned violence in America through the use of bullet holes and spray paint. 
St. John's artistic statement reads that "With a dedication to recognize and commemorate the time we live in, St. John's work reflects on notions of violence, tragedy, narcissism, racism, and indifference, drawing stimulating connections that kindle new and compassionate perspectives on contemporary culture." 
The exhibit will close at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, and will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 until 3 p.m. The exhibit is free with admission.
More information on the exhibit and artists involved can be found here

Tags: art exhibit,   botanical garden,   

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CHP CEO Stepping Down After Nearly 7 Years

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Community Health Programs (CHP) CEO Lia Spiliotes, who has led CHP since 2015, has announced she is stepping down from CHP. 
In a statement to staff and colleagues, Spiliotes said she intends to refocus on family health priorities in Boston and New York. She stated she is also turning her professional attention to broader advocacy efforts around public and economic policy related to community health. Her last day is June 30. 
"We have accomplished so much by advancing and accelerating CHP's mission and vision," said Spiliotes in a statement. "CHP reaches so many in our community in need, regardless of their ability to pay, but CHP is also a choice for many people who have plenty of health care resources and options. They choose CHP's excellent team for their care, and I am proud to have been among the CHP stewards of our community's health and wellness." 
 "The Board is grateful for Lia's leadership during her tenure," CHP Board President Brian Drake said. "CHP has grown exponentially, achieved strong financial stability, and maintained uninterrupted services during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lia has been a voice of advocacy for healthcare access, and CHP is on a solid path toward the future." 
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