ArchivesPosts Tagged ‘Vintage’


Around here we embrace the idea of repurposing. Theodore for instance, was once a stray dog, repurposed as a family member and Service Dog who does volunteer Therapy Work on the side.

Theodore also likes the idea of repurposing canine family members into Presidential Candidates, but when I informed him that a knowledge of history, finance, global politics and the like would be helpful to him in that endeavor, he quickly returned to rooting out chipmunks at the base of our stone wall in Vermont.

Perhaps he’ll try to repurpose a wild rodent into his personal playmate.

Another striking example of repurposing with brilliance can be found at MASS MoCA, a sprawling, former textile printing mill (circa 1860) turned art museum.

The museum makes its home on a thirteen acre campus consisting of twenty-seven buildings located in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, surrounded by picturesque Appalachian mountains. The largest contemporary arts center in the United States, MASS MoCA is known for featuring large scale, complex art installations as well as live music, theater and dance performances, all of which have earned the museum a reputation as one of the premiere, innovative cultural complexes in the world.

Something remarkable happens when phenomenal works of contemporary art are juxtaposed against the history and structure of this place.  It seems an odd pairing and yet, it all comes together in a way that dazzles the mind and eye.

On our recent Father’s Day visit, we were accompanied by family, including Theodore’s Other Favorite Human and his dad, Lyman…

Happy Father's Day Lyman!

….as well as Leo, a service dog in training, who also happens to be one of Theodore’s besties.

Leo, in training.

Federico Diaz’ Geometric Death Frequency greets visitors at the front entrance. Comprised of 420 thousand black spheres, the 50 foot long, 20 foot high sculpture was created specifically for this site at MASS MoCA.

Theodore and Leo were instructed not to molest any of the balls on display, and they obediently complied, though not before raising a doggie-eyebrow or two. (‘If not for chewing and fetching, what is a ball FOR?’ )

Theodore felt it necessary to register his displeasure at our instructions and turned his back on the whole enterprise…

But I beckoned him indoors and he quickly fell into step, anxious to make new friends and take in what MASS MoCA has in store.

Up on the second floor, Nari Ward’s installations which address history, memory and perception left us with mouths literally agape. Nu Colossus (part of his five piece work Sub Mirage Lignum–all on view at MASS MoCA) was inspired by a small, conical, woven fish trap but it is re-imagined here in massive proportions. See the photo below of Leo and his human Nicole for a clue to the piece’s scale.

Jamaican-born New Yorker Nari Ward recycles found objects and materials for use in his works of art. In fact, remnants from MASS MoCA’s former industrial tenants as well as wood leftover from another artist’s installation were incorporated into the formidable works on display…

Nari Ward's Nu Colossus, interior.

….And their arresting presence is another example of how one man’s junk is another’s treasure.

Clearly, Ward takes ‘repurposing’ to an entirely new level.

Art in America’s interview with Nari Ward about Sub Mirage Lignum can be read by clicking HERE.

Theodore with Nari Wall's 10 foot tall 'Mango Tourists'.

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective is made up of 105 of the conceptual artist’s large scale drawings spanning his career from 1969 to 2007 and occupies nearly an acre of interior walls built to the artist’s specifications for this special installation.

(My favorite LeWitt quote: Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.)

With his deceptively simple, vibrant and energetic works, Sol LeWitt (who died in 2007) immersed the viewer in his world.  Meandering from room to room, these painted walls felt like some kind of entrancing 3D poetry.

Click HERE to check out MASS MoCA’s website dedicated to LeWitt’s installation which features timelapse films of the drawings in progress as well as an audio tour and more.

Katherina Grosse was the next artist to leave us slack jawed.  With its towering peaks of styrofoam and hulking mounds of soil painted in shockingly bright colors, her psychedelic landscape entitled One Floor Up More Highly made us feel as if we’d just stumbled into a trippy version of Superman’s planet Krypton.

As we wandered about the cavernous space, taking in the work from various angles, the dogs saw another opportunity for a boisterous game of dig-and-chase, and our instructions to conduct themselves with indoor manners were met yet again with obedience mixed with a touch of disbelief.  But who could blame them? The humans were equally compelled to scale those inviting, polychromatic mini-mountains!

Jail time is an excellent deterrent, however, so we refrained from indulging our childish whims.

There’s far more to see at MASS MoCA, plenty more than we can represent here, but we hope this glimpse entices you to visit, as well…

We made one more stop at Hudsons art and antiques store before leaving MASS MoCA’S campus…which conveniently brings our repurposing conversation full circle.

Artfully displayed antiques, art and vintage collectibles fill the shop, and Jane Hudson presides over it all with a bright smile and elegant manner.

Stop by and see Jane and she’ll tell you tales about all the wonderful goods she and her husband have assembled in their store.

One more important note before we say sign off today…

We’d like to send warm wishes and healing thoughts to one of MASS MoCA’s gallery attendants. Theodore and I met Joe, a gentle man with a quiet way about him, while taking in Nari Ward’s work.  After chatting a bit about the museum and the art on display, I shared some stories about Theodore’s work with hospitalized children.  Joe has seen therapy dogs on duty many times, as his fifteen year old daughter, Anna, is now undergoing her fifth round of cancer treatment. She’s a beautiful, bright young girl, and a dog lover to boot. Joe told us she’s been unbelievably strong and brave though it all.

Our hearts go out to Anna and her family and we hope that this latest course of treatment will serve her well.  We feel so fortunate that we were able to meet Joe that day, especially Theodore, who isn’t shy about sharing his affections.  (He leans into the folks with whom he’s truly smitten.) I know he was hoping Joe would share some of his doggie love with his wife and the lovely Anna, too.

We hope to visit again soon, but until then, cheers and thanks to everyone at MASS MoCA.

It was the perfect outing for a very special Father’s Day.


1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

Phone: 413.MoCA.111 (413.662.2111)


A note: Unfortunately, dogs without legitimate Service Dog Credentials are not allowed at MASS MoCA.



Leading up to the weekend, conversations with Theodore take the following route:

I share with him a list of the various activities on our docket. And he responds with a look that says:

Please, no details. Just: Will it be fun for ME? Will it make my ears stand up…like THIS??? And while you’re at it, strike anything from your list to which the answer to that question is I Doubt It or No.

And yes, he can communicate all of that with one, well chosen expression.

Rainy weekends in the country are a bit of a mixed bag as our options are whittled down to a bare nub, leaving movies/Games of Twister/and Reading by the Fire. But the real hidden gems are days in which the weather starts off cloudy but there’s only the threat of rain, in which case, we rush out with slickers in hand and try to cram in as much merriment as possible before the skies open up and we find ourselves back inside, setting up Jenga and placing bets with Bonomo Taffy bars as currency.

We’ve had some of our best adventures on days like that, and last Sunday was precisely such a day. Clouds hovered above and the fields were still glistening from the downpours from the previous 24 hours.

So, when Theo’s Other Favorite Human shouted ‘CAR SHOW AT DORR FARM!!’ we all made a mad dash down the driveway, piled in and sped on down the road…

…The official title of the show is actually the 25th Anniversary Manchester Antique and Classic Car Show, but that’s a mouthful when you’re trying to motivate the family out the door.

One of the great things about events in the country is that you know that you’re bound to make new friends and run into some old ones, too, so you park, disembark and keep your eyes open.

Theo is particularly skilled at catching whiffs of his friends on the breeze and alerts me to his discoveries with the alacrity of a Pointer.

Our first encounter was with Theo’s favorite human Leo (he has a favorite canine Leo, too. Click HERE to read our blog story about how the three are linked.) who not only arrived with his family via his Daddy’s awesome 1975 Ford Ranger XLT dubbed ‘Sancho’…

…but hailed his arrival from afar by brandishing his belly. What a unique approach! I usually just wave one arm and shout ‘HELLLOOOO!’ Here you can see Leo’s friend Jen, testing the fullness of said belly….

Leo’s friend Jen was also accompanied by her Doxie pal whom we found completely charming. Theo arranged his ears in a curious ear-doo that I’ve not seen in some time, specifically for the benefit of his new, canine buddy.

And then, there were the FIRE TRUCKS. I’m convinced that it’s Theo’s dream to become a Firehouse Dog since he walks by our old neighborhood’s firehouse full of spring in his step, just aching for a scratch from the Firemen and hoping for a sniff of their gorgeous Dalmatian.

I’m not sure if it’s the idea of riding up high on a fire engine with his nose to the wind that he imagines would be most thrilling, but until he quits his current job(s) with me and goes trolling for another, he’s sure to get all aflutter over the opportunity to just POSE in front of an antique Fire Truck or two.

Maybe he’s hoping a real fire fighter will scoop him up and conscript him into their ranks.

A dog can dream…..

So while Theo ran about making new friends, his humans Ooohed and Aahhhed over the wide array of vehicles on view. And all I can say is: I’m sure the upkeep on these things is a bear, but if anyone’s itching to unload (for free) a 1966 Corvette, look no further, because I’m your woman.

I can’t say I’m much for car talk, but I can certainly appreciate the ingenuity and design skills exemplified in these cars as well as the passion and devotion that the owners have for maintaining their own little bit of history on four wheels.

So we walked about, stopping here and there to imagine what these cars must have looked like surrounded by others of their era.

From muscle cars to hot rods to the great classics, there was something to pique every interest.

Click on any photo in the gallery below to enlarge….

photocrati gallery


And in the course of all that, Theodore gravitated towards a woman he was determined to transform into a new friend. She seemed to float about on a wave of calm, positive energy.

Theodore and his new friend, Dawn Bramadat

Theo sidled up to Dawn and downshifted from Exploratory Mode into ‘I Love You Let’s Cuddle’ Mode while Dawn and I chatted.

Dawn was born in Trinidad, raised in Canada and is ethnically a mixture of East Indian and European descent. She’s a teacher of oriental and traditional medicine and hosts retreats at her HeartRoot Farm not far from Quebec (click HERE to learn more about HeartRoot Farm) when she’s not traveling the world sharing her knowledge about healing. Dawn had just returned from a fulfilling but taxing three month, European multi-city lecture and workshop tour, and was spending some time in Vermont to rejuvenate. Theo and I both found her to be a lovely day brightener on a very grey afternoon.

Standing in the middle of a sprawling field at Dorr Farm while the sun worked to make a break through the heavy clouds, I was reminded of why I treasure Theodore so much.

Yet again, he found a way to lead me to another special spirit. He has the talented nose and instincts of a Police Dog trained to sniff out contraband, only his quarry is fascinating and warm hearted individuals. I don’t know how he does it.

I just sit back, smile and count myself lucky.