The art of New England is far from just portraits of Puritans — “banned” art, performance art and political art make up some of the area’s current offerings. In fact, great art cuts a swath through much of the Berkshires and New England this time of year, since urban museums usually skip blockbusters in the hot months, but resort areas pull out all the stops.
“The Christopher Hyland
Collection of Photography”
The Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane, off Route 6A,
Through Aug. 8
Interior designer Christopher Hyland is well known in New York for his textile-draped Fifth Avenue apartments and, in the art world, for his art collection. The photography segment alone is eclectic and innovative, stretching from Edward Weston to Herb Ritts by way of the once-banned Robert Mapplethorpe. This Cape Cod show includes some of the past century’s most iconic images: Think Henri Cartier-Bresson’s silhouetted man midleap behind St. Lazare station in Paris, as well as more recent and experimental shots.
“Petah Coyne: Everything
That Rises Must Converge”
87 Marshall Street, North Adams, Mass.
Through Feb. 2011
In the minimalist setting of Mass MoCA, a former factory, the eerie work of Ms. Coyne, a rising star of contemporary art, has a very big presence. In this installation, she’s suspended taxidermied geese above a mesh of silk flowers dripping with wax; the birds seem simultaneously dead-and hungry. www.massmoca.org
The Philharmonic on Fire
The Providence and
Memorial Boulevard, Providence, R.I.
WaterFire Providence, Barnaby Evans’ half-mile stretch of floating fire sculptures lit annually on Providence’s three rivers, is an institution. For one night in July, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and dancers from Festival Ballet Providence perform for free, providing a classical backdrop to the popular event. www.waterfire.org
The Saint-Gaudens National
139 Saint-Gaudens Road
To a New Yorker, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ work should look familiar. He sculpted the golden monument in front of the Plaza Hotel that teams Winged Victory with Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, and also cast the monument to Admiral David Farragut in Madison Square Park. Civil War commemorative commissions were the stock-in-trade for the 19th-century star, but he’s also known for his U.S. coins. His New Hampshire home, studio and beautiful gardens, filled with dozens of works of art, are open to the public.
“Picasso Looks at Degas”
The Clark Museum
225 South Street, Williamstown, Mass.
Through Sept. 12
Pablo Picasso was a lifelong admirer of Edgar Degas’ innovative technique and his focus on the female form, and he paid homage to the older master throughout his career. By hanging works by both men side-by-side, the top-notch Clark brings out the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways in which Picasso drew inspiration from Degas. In one of the exhibit’s most striking paintings, Picasso takes on his elder’s much-reproduced bronze sculpture of a ballerina and translates it into his own style with characteristic force.
The Perseid meteor shower
Surfside Beach on Nantucket, Mass.
Aug. 12, 9 p.m., into Aug. 13
Visual art of a simpler time, the Perseid meteor shower streaks over the country in August. The very finest in East Coast astral-viewing real estate is on Nantucket’s Surfside Beach. The Perseid shower, so called because its meteors fall from the Perseus constellation, is one of the brightest astronomy events of the year and will be visible to the naked eye for a day or two from the evening of Aug. 12.
“Anna Hepler: Makeshift”
The Portland Museum of Art
7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine
Through Oct. 17
Later this month, Maine artist Ms. Hepler’s The Great Haul comes to the Portland Museum’s Great Hall, a wide-open, wood-floored space perfect for the artist’s vast experiments. Ms. Hepler is known for weaving mesh fabrics and plastic sheeting together in softened, abstract geometric forms-think delicate, translucent sponges-that leave space for light to penetrate and permeate the sculpture.
“Forgetting Piece by Piece”
The Shelburne Museum
5555 Shelburne Road, Vt.
Through Oct. 24
This affecting exhibit of quilts made by victims of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as by their families and caregivers. a Each quilt is also accompanied by an artist’s statement, explaining the personal stories behind the work.