Mass MOCA is not a big cup of chocolate-flavored coffee but an acronym for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a huge and wonderful playground for the senses located in North Adams. Once a thriving manufacturing center that long ago fell on hard times, the town is set in the stunning green hills of western Massachusetts. Some years back,several of the handsome brick mill buildings (square footage up the wazoo) were turned into a center for far-out art.
I had meant to visit for years and this summer, thanks to a lovely invitation from friends who summer in the Berkshires, I finally got there and saw a huge show of the works of Sol Lewitt. When I say huge, I mean it fills a whole mill building where walls were constructed to accommodate.
This is high-concept art to the max; if you wanted to purchase a Lewitt, you don’t buy the drawing or painting but the directions for making it. Exactly like a musical score. Someone else must “play” it — or post it. Not on paper or canvas but directly onto a wall.
If you erase or tear down the wall, you still own the work of art, in that you maintain the right to have it redrafted/painted on another wall.
Sounds very abstract and indeed, there is a “machine-like” quality to some the scores for many of these pieces, which are variations on themes of colors and lines.
But they are also, many of them, full of color and humor and good cheer. They are also enormous, which makes them feel exuberant and positive.
This was one of my favorites.
The show will be up for the next twenty-five years (at least) so you have time to visit, too. www.massmoca.org