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Blog :: 03-2011

A Big-City Art Museum with a Small Town Home

Mass MoCA, a.k.a. the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, may be Southern Vermont's best-kept secret when it comes to art and culture.

Jamaican fishing boats suspended in the air, an all-metal Bee Gees tribute band, floor-to-ceiling wall paintings...  As it turns out, you don't have to travel very far to experience all of these things.  Most of us imagine catching great live music and cutting edge modern art in the big cities, but Mass MoCA located just 40 minutes from Wilmington, Vermont in North Adams, Massachusetts, can easily compete with some of the best art museums around.

Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is one of the largest centers for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country.  More than 80 major new works of art and more than 50 performances have been created through fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making Mass MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art.

massachusetts museum of contemporary artThe collections are diverse and stimulating.  Long gone are the days of strolling through room after room of oil paintings and bronze sculptures.  Instead, MASS MoCA hosts many artists that work beyond the traditional; working with media such as video, sound, and environment.  Many comment on society or politics. Some examine process as opposed to product.  And don't be surprised if you, as the viewer, become a part of the art you are viewing.

Besides their ever-changing gallery spaces, MASS MoCA also maintains a robust performing arts schedule.  More than 75 performances are staged year-round, including popular music, contemporary dance, alternative cabaret, world music dance parties, outdoor silent films with live music, documentaries, and avant-garde theater.  Check out their performing arts events calender to see what's coming up.

This March marks the end of the impressive Sol LeWitt Retrospective at MASS MoCA. This project, which was executed by art students from around the country, displays the massive, mathematical wall-drawing compositions of the late Sol LeWitt.  So go check it out before they white-wash those walls on March 31st.

Now that winter is winding down and the muddier, quieter days of early spring are upon us, a trip to Mass MoCA may be just the thing you need to get your mind and body moving.  And of course if you need a place to stay after all that art and culture, you can search our short term rentals in Southern Vermont.

Image compliments of MassMOCA.org

Top 5 Mud Season Activities in Vermont

Ella and Louis made the phrase 'moonlight in Vermont' famous, but we've yet to coin "April in Vermont."  Probably because many of us head for sunnier locations this time of year, hoping to avoid the rutted-out dirt roads and gray snowbanks synonymous with mud season.  But this can be a great time to enjoy Vermont at a less frenzied pace.  And don't resign yourself to knitting and reading by the wood stove the whole time, there is plenty to do.

Need some help?  Here they are: The Top 5 Mud Season Activities in Vermont

1. Sugaring. The cool nights and warm days of spring are perfect in helping the glorious 'liquid gold' ooze from the maple trees.  Hit up a local sugaring spot and taste some of the sweet nectar fresh from the evaporation tank.  Many spots offer 'sugar on snow' parties, sugaring demonstrations, cheese tasting and even horse-drawn carriage rides.

You can take a grand tour during this year's tenth annual Maple Open House March 19th and 20th.

Want to host your own "sugar on snow" party?  Here's how:

Mud Season Activities in VermontIngredients: Vermont Fancy, Grade A Light Amber Maple Syrup Pure white snow Sour pickles Donuts

Directions: Boil syrup to 255 degrees fahrenheit Scoop snow into large bowl or pan Drizzle hot maple syrup lightly over snow Use forks to eat sticky top layer Follow with a bite of pickle or donut

2. Gardening. Those mile-high piles of snow are receding and uncovering fresh earth and crocus sprouts.  This is a great time to call up your local "manure guy" and get a fresh truckload onto your beds.  The rich composted manure will ensure that your garlic bulbs will be beefy and your snow peas will trellis like champs. Trade your snow shovel in for a garden hoe and get to work.

3. Catch a flick or some live music. While the days are really starting to warm up, the evenings can still get pretty cool.  Stay warm indoors and catch a movie or some live music. Vermont has lots of great live venues and theaters.  Catch a movie at the West Dover Theater or the historic Latchis Theater in Brattleboro.  The Tavern on Route 100 books live music most nights of the week and is a great place to enjoy a pint and some tunes.  The Whittemore Theater at Marlboro College also hosts performances directed, choreographed and performed by students and faculty as well as visiting artists.

4. Kayaking. Massive puddles, muddy roads and leaking basements-- no one revels at these sights more than kayakers.  Many outdoor enthusiasts experience a little slump in activity during mud season, but kayakers are strapping on their roof racks and heading for the rivers this time of year.  The waters are high and fast, a perfect storm for those adrenaline junkies.  If you are less apt to fly down a white-capped river in a little boat, you can also enjoy a more leisurely paddle around the Retreat Meadows in Brattleboro or the Harriman Reservoir.

5. Brewery Tour. Vermonters are rarely serious about many things, but with beer it is different.  This small state is home to the most microbreweries in the country.  Many of these brewers have added pubs and tours to their facilities.  What better way to spend a warm, spring day than winding down scenic green mountain highways with the sunroof open; stopping along the way for a fresh mug of beer?  Places like Long Trail Brewery even have a riverside deck where you can catch some sun while sipping on a frosty IPA...you might manage to even out that nasty goggle tan too.

Pack your muckin' boots and knock some of these activities off your list. And, as always, we'd be happy to set you up in one of our rental homes if you need a place to rest your head after all that syrup, beer and manure.  Ahhhh..."April in Vermont."

  • P.O. BOX 415, 9 Haystack Road, Wilmington VT 05363