The campus and trails are open to walkers at all times. Trails are color coded and easy to follow. A specific walking tour along the Nan and Pasture Trails, beginning at the southwest corner of the Manton Research Center, passes 75-foot-tall ancient oak trees, groves of eastern hemlock, meadows and pastures ( hello, cows!), rocky remnants of glacial activity and offers sweeping vistas of the rolling landscape. Additionally, site-specific artwork can be found along the way, including a detour to Thomas Schutte’s sculpture of a crystal scaled to architectural proportions, and a cedar fence by Analia Saban entitled “Teaching a Cow How to Draw”.
As someone equally interested in art and nature, I hiked the slightly steep, winding, wooded Howard Way to the Lunder Center in Stone Hill. Also designed by Ando, the center houses two small galleries that host annual summer exhibitions. From there, I could have easily accessed, but didn’t, additional miles of urban trails that extend beyond the Clark campus.
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown. Adults $20; 21 and under free. 413-458-2303, www.clarkart.edu
“Edith who? asked a hiking friend as I mentioned that my itinerary would include visiting Edith Wharton’s house in Lenox.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist designed and built her country home, The Mount, in 1902. She is reported to have written some of her best works here, including ‘The House of Mirth’ and ‘Ethan Frome’, before moving on. sell the house and move out. in France in 1911.
Today visitors can tour the impressive mansion, now a National Historic Landmark and cultural centre, from the ground floor kitchen and scullery (think of Mrs Patmore and Daisy in “Downton Abbey “) to the elegant ground floor with living room, dining room, European-inspired gallery, den, and library filled with actual Wharton books, to bedroom-level suites. Although Wharton took her furniture when she moved to France, the rooms have been restored and decorated from period photographs.
Wharton also designed the opulent gardens – including a sunken Italian garden with fountain, a formal flower garden and a rock garden – which she envisioned as a series of outdoor rooms. You probably won’t sweat on the wooded paths and trails that wind through sections of the 49-acre property, though as you wander beneath an idyllic canopy of trees, you might feel like you’ve stepped back. when Wharton lived here. The park and the gardens are free to visit, from dawn to dusk.
A bonus for art lovers along the trails: SculptureNow au Mont, on view until October 19, is a juried exhibition of large-scale contemporary works by 30 artists. Guided tours are available on certain dates or an audio tour can be downloaded to your phone. It’s also worth checking the website for an active series of concerts, lecture series, and more.
The Mount, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox. Adults $20; 18 and under free. 413-551-5111, www.edithwharton.org
It wasn’t my first visit to Chesterwood, the former summer home and studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French, but it was the first time I learned of the 20th-century sculptor’s devotion to the terrain of his estate. of 122 acres in Stockbridge, now a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.
French purchased the property in the late 1890s and designed a formal garden of perennials, complete with a marble fountain designed by his friend, architect Henry Bacon. French saw the garden as an extension of his studio, which one enters after passing through the gate of the walled garden and its lilac hedge.
French also hosted a series of “Woodland Walks” throughout the property, which led to a series of outdoor “rooms” in the forest connected by trails. The newly restored Ledges Trail is a slightly challenging climb, 1,200 feet above sea level, leading to panoramic views of the surrounding Berkshire hills. Hills so vibrant and green, might I add, that I had to take off my polarized sunglasses to check if they were really such a Technicolor hue. (They were.) Since my visit, an exhibit of Jonathan Prince’s 12 large-scale sculptures — spread across the landscape — has debuted and can be seen through October 24.
Culture vultures will of course want to visit French’s home and studio. The former is currently closed for major renovations, but the latter is well worth a visit to see the artist’s models and marble and plaster creations, in particular the final model of the French Seated Lincoln which is now the centerpiece of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, designed by French’s pal Bacon. (Coincidentally, 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial’s grand opening.) The studio, also designed by Bacon, is a work of art in itself, with 26-foot-tall walls and floor with rails for drag artist work. outdoors to be seen in natural light.
Chesterwood, 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge. General admission $20; under 13 free. 413-298-2023, www.chesterwood.org
When I’m in the Berkshires, I make it a point to stop for a ‘Happy Pancake’, a pancake filled with pork, prawns and other delicacies at the Truc Orient Express family restaurant in West Stockbridge. This is where I heard about the nearby TurnPark Art Space, an outdoor contemporary art sculpture park, located on the grounds of a former marble quarry, founded by Russian and Ukrainian immigrants Igor Gomberg and Katya Brezgunova. How had I missed this place for the past six years?
A sleek contemporary structure, mimicking the slope of the land, marks the entrance to the park, with a small indoor exhibition space on one side, and an admissions office and gift shop on the other. Beyond this threshold, a wonderland awaits you. There is no marked route through the park and so the sculptures and installations, huge and tiny, seemed to be waiting for me to discover them along the property’s hills, wooded paths, open meadows and even tucked away along the cliffs above Quarry Lake where a mysterious golden figure floated, a creation by New York-based Georgian artist Uta Bekaia.
TurnPark aims to be a cultural center in the region, so in addition to its permanent collection, it offers temporary exhibitions, live music, contemporary theater and performances. It also advertises itself as family friendly, and during my visit two groups of parents with young children walked across the meadow to view a towering painted steel sculpture with mirrors of the surrounding landscape and sky before heading to another area of the park. I lingered longer than usual in the outdoor exhibits, scanning the area to see what I might have missed: a small bronze figure on a rock here, an “eyeball” the size of a piece made of sticks over there. Political works dealing with the war in Ukraine were subtle and not-so-subtle reminders of life outside this idyllic oasis, including photos of families fleeing their homes and a series of fish appearing to swim through the air, titled “Make Fish Not War”. ”
TurnPark Art Space, 2 Moscow Road, West Stockbridge. General admission $10; under 12 free. 413-232-0275. www.turnpark.com
Necee Regis can be contacted at [email protected]