Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jacob's Pillow schedules an Out Weekend with Ballets Trockadero

“Out” and About events gaining in popularity – Trocks at the Pillow

The trend towards welcoming the Berkshire’s LGBT community with special events continues with another “Out” night at Barrington Stage’s ART tonight July 29, followed by a special event at Jacob’s Pillow early in August.

Jacob’s Pillow has just announced “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow,” August 13-15. The weekend will provide LGBTQ families, individuals, and couples the opportunity to take advantage of all the Pillow has to offer, including a multitude of free and ticketed events, while spending time with old and new acquaintances.

In the theatres, audiences have the opportunity to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. In addition to these ticketed performances, the Pillow will host several free events during “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow.”

The Pillow will also host a free Artist Mixer at the Pillow Pub on Friday, August 13, where members of the community are welcome to stay after the performances and chat with the performers. “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow” will also feature a special historic tour of Jacob’s Pillow on Sunday, August 15 at noon, given by Jacob’s Pillow Director of Preservation, Norton Owen, and focusing on Pillow founder Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers.

Box Office: 413.243.0745. For complete schedule, visit

Thursday, July 15, 2010

BSCC's End of Summer Dance August 28 in Pittsfield

The Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition is planning an end of summer dance for Saturday August 28, 2010 from 8:00-12:30. Providing the dance beats is favorite spinner, DJ BFG, Admission is $5 for members, $10 for non-members. But if you join or renew your membership in BSCC at the door, your admission will be free!

And here's a creative idea...Bill Nelson's All Male Revue is playing on Barrington Stage 2 over on Linden Street, so you could drop by the dance, have some fun, stroll over to BSC for the 10pm performance and get back for last call.

From the 2009 Version - Howie Michael Smith, Frank Galgano, Matt Castle, Claybourne Elder, Orville Mendoza, Bill Nelson
I saw this show last year, and it was about as out as you can get and yet be family friendly. (Nothing's naked but the lyrics.) It's the final night, so get your tickets early.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bennington, VT - Summer 2010 Pride Picnic Saturday August 7

Here's some information on the Bennington Pride picnic.

The annual BennPride picnic this year will be August 7th (with a
possible rain date of August 8th?) 2010 at Shaftsbury Lake. We will gather
between 11 AM & noon with the meal to follow....

Bennington Pride Coalition will furnish the hotdogs, hamburgers and
buns. Please bring a potluck dish to share.

As I wrote last year, the fun starts at about 11 AM, with games and socializing, then a potluck lunch at noon (everyone bring a dish!) the location is the beautiful Lake Shaftsbury State Park, just ten miles or so north of Bennington. Berkshire folks would take Route 7 north into Vermont, and after riding through Bennnington take 7A north through Shaftsbury. After you pass the Clear Brook Farm on the right, and the Chocolate House on the left it is a little further to the park entrance on your right. If you come to Route 313 you have gone too far.

Cost to get into the park is $3.00 for adults ages 14 and older. For children ages 4-13, cost is $2.00. Under age 4 is free

There is a designated group picnic area and once you find that, just look for the rainbow flag, walk up and introduce yourself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jason and deMarco to blend sexuality and spirituality at First Congregational Church, Williamstown

If you haven't been to church in a while, you might consider dropping in on the First Congregational Church in Williamstown this Sunday, July 11 for a very special worship service at 9:30 am. Times have changed, and many churches have kept up with the times. The appearance of the openly gay, openly Christian singing duo Jason and deMarco will be a first. They not only make great music, but are a rare model of how two lovers have been able to integrate their sexuality and spirituality into a lasting relationship and successful career.

Jason and deMarco. Jerry Avenaim Photo.

Of course, their openness about their sexuality often pits them against evangelical Christianity, while their faith at times meets with resistance from the gay community. Jason & deMarco may not have chosen an easy path, but it is a heartfelt one. You cn get a good sense of the guys and their unique approach to life in these excerpts from their DVD, We're All Angels. It was first aired on the Logo network this past May.

You can meet and enjoy the MTV-award-winning music duo on Sunday, July 11th when they perform and speak at the 9:30 am worship service at First Congregational Church, Williamstown. The service is free and open to the public.

Robin Lehleitner, head of the church's Education Team gives us a little background: "We voted to become an Open & Affirming church in 1992, and have a number of gay members, but for the most part this aspect of our ministry tends to be a well-kept secret in Berkshire County. Hosting J & D is our way of attempting to publicize it." She also credits Bennington's Dr. Ken Sullivan-Bol for playing a big part in bringing the duo to the Berkshires.

Rev. Carrie Bail, pastor of FCC, Williamstown says "We care about ensuring that everyone receives an equal welcome, no matter what their race, class, or gender identity. Ken has been a big part of that hospitality, not only for the LGBT community, but for anyone who happens to walk through our doors."
Jason & deMarco, rising stars who are gay, spiritual, and in love, have performed at numerous high profile events including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Awards in Los Angeles, the Matthew Shepard Foundation's annual gala in Denver, and the 2006 Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Waldorf Astoria New York.

Jason and deMarco. Van Der Kolk Photography

They have also been a part of the human rights campaign celebrating marriage equality, Love Rocks, alongside artists such as Christina Aguilera, Pink, and The Dixie Chicks. While Jason & deMarco tour internationally in various venues, they also continue sharing their music and message with the community of faith around the world.
Their controversial autobiographical documentary film We're All Angels, from director Robert Nunez, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the public and private lives of these rising pop stars, with a particular focus on their openness about their sexuality. Most recently Jason & deMarco announced the launch of a new non-profit organization called S.A.F.E. (Safe, Affirming, Family Environment) dedicated to establishing "S.A.F.E. Houses" for GLBTQ youth and young adults. Their concert profits go to benefit this cause.
The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Williamstown, located at 906 Main Street (Rt. 2), in the center of the Williams College campus, voted to become an “Open and Affirming” church in 1992. This means, in part, that the congregation seeks to extend affirmation and support to the LGBTQ community. Services are Sundays at 9:30 am from July 4 throughout the summer, and 10:30 am beginning September 12. The church is fully handicap accessible and parking is available behind the building off of Chapin Hall Drive.  For more information call the church office 413-458-4273 or e-mail

About Jason Warner

Jason Warner is the oldest son in an entertainment family. He grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland and began singing at an early age, traveling with his mother in music ministry. His grandmother often called him 'lungs' because she could hear him coming down the street as a baby. In 1996, Jason toured with the professional contemporary Christian recording group, Truth, and then in 1997 and 1998, with the group The Sound. On the road and in the studio with these groups, he learned about music management, direction, production and booking. Jason graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, TN in 1997 with a BA degree in Music and Sociology. The following year, he founded his own independent recording label, RJN MUSIC, originally based in Nashville, TN. Says Jason, "although the foundation of my morals, spirituality, and ideals were a result of my strict Pentecostal upbringing, my spiritual beliefs have broadened along with my musical style. I've always pushed myself to break down barriers and cross boundaries in order to reach people from all walks of life, because I believe that music is the universal language of the soul and has the ability to bring people together."

About deMarco DeCiccio

deMarco DeCiccio's earliest memories of music take him back to nursery school where he was taught to sing nursery rhymes by Catholic nuns. He later furthered his love for music and theater by studying at the Etobicoke School for the Performing Arts, and in 1999 he graduated with a B.A. degree in Music and Languages from York University in Canada. deMarco's debut album was a series of love songs, sung in Italian, called "Melodie." Since relocating to Los Angeles in 1999, deMarco has performed in a number of theatrical productions, and has appeared in several national commercials.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Gay Artists Show Sculptures at Berkshire Museum

"Sea Grass" one of the larger pieces by Susan Rodgers

The new sculpture show at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is called Spatial Relationships but it might better be called Special Relationships. That's because it has a gay and lesbian connection...the two artists whose works are being featured just happen to be members of our LGBT community.

(While I understand there was a Facebook alert to the BSCC members, either I missed the LGBT connection or it was not specifically mentioned. My gaydar wasn't working in any case. Thanks to a dear colleague who alerted me to the LGBT element yesterday. So sorry for the late heads-up.)

Joe Wheaton's impressive "Shadows ope".

Joe Wheaton was on the Berkshire Stonewall board a ways back, and is married to the gay detective novelist Dick Lipez — in fact, they were the first male couple married in Becket, on the day gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. And here’s a choice snippet from the the catalog, about his use of materials.

Metal is his medium of choice because, Joe says, “it’s everything I’m not — if I weren’t gay I could work in feathers and Styrofoam.”

As if that were not interesting enough, turns out that Susan Rodgers is also more than just a famous artist, she is in a long term marriage with her gay partner as well. Some of her work is large scale as shown in the first picture, but it can also be surprisingly intimate enough to hang on your wall.

In any case, here is the safe, straight version of the event as presented to the mainstream press: Press releases continue to be the last place to learn about gay and lesbian people. When I ask pr writers why they never include the fact that an artist, show or exhibit has gay content, they answer it's not necessary because we live in a "post-gay" world. Maybe. But the artists themselves might not make the point, and they should.

Susan Rodgers: Silence.

Berkshire Museum will present the work of two local sculptors beginning Thursday.

"Joe Wheaton & Susan Rodgers: Spatial Relationships," an installation of new sculpture created specifically for this exhibition, runs through October 11. The installation brings together two Berkshire-based artists who worked extensively in other materials before gravitating toward metal. Coincidentally, both gained their affinity for working in metal after taking adult education welding classes at local high schools. Both artists will be present for the opening reception on Thursday, July 1 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The reception is open to the public.

Joe Wheaton's Kabuki Series #9

Wheaton, who lives in Becket, began working in ceramics at age 12; in the 1980s he attended Alfred University, where he studied ceramics, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. In 1990 he took a welding class at Pittsfield’s Taconic High School. "The minute I started welding," he told art critic Carol Diehl, author of the exhibition catalog, "I knew I had to do something that truly nurtured me," a revelation that prompted him to commit to the life of a full-time artist. Wheaton describes his work as "old-fashioned modern," although the new work he created for "Spatial Relationships" is distinctly contemporary.

Susan Rodgers: Night Sounds

New York native Rodgers had studied sculpture while working in theatrical set and prop design before moving to the Berkshires in the 1970s. She experienced an epiphany similar to Wheaton’s in a welding class at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington. The two sculptors share a love of working with found objects, as well as a mutual focus on line, form, balance, and shadow. But they diverge in matters of composition. As Rodgers told Carol Diehl, "… we both respond to the same art – David Smith and the usual – however I love the Mondrian grid, and I don’t think Joe’s as drawn to the grid as I am. In fact, I think he’s ‘anti-grid.’"

On view in Berkshire Museum’s Ellen Crane Memorial Room, the sculpture that comprises Spatial Relationships proves complementary and, at the same time, provides thought-provoking counterpoint. "This show is part of Berkshire Museum’s mission to support Berkshire artists and to demonstrate the innovation that has arisen in this special region," said Stuart A. Chase, the Museum’s executive director.

Joe Wheaton's Two Rocks

Chase describes Wheaton and Rodgers as mid-career sculptors who have both achieved recognition and whose work sells well. "Typically, a curator putting together an exhibition of contemporary art would go to the artists’ studio or gallery to select work,"” said Chase. "By giving Joe and Susan the freedom to create new work for Spatial Relationships, we gave them leeway to move beyond what they know is salable in a gallery situation."

Visitors can expect to see work from both artists that represents a departure from what has been successful in the marketplace.

"Spatial Relationships" will be on view in the Ellen Crane Memorial Room. Carol Diehl will lead a panel discussion with the artists on Thursday, September 23 at 7 p.m.