Current Events

Watch this page for current events happening at Chesterwood!

Members of the press, please send information and press kit requests to publicist Kimberly Rawson. Phone: (413) 445-4467 Email: karawson@gmail.com


Chesterwood Announces 41st Annual Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition

“One Impulse from a Vernal Wood” features an outdoor installation by artists-in-residence Rick Brown and Laura Brown, on view June 29 through Oct. 27

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (June 17, 2019) – Chesterwood announces its 41st annual outdoor contemporary sculpture exhibition, featuring a site-specific installation by artists-in-residence Rick Brown and Laura Brown. The exhibition, “One Impulse from a Vernal Wood”, on view June 29 through Oct. 27, includes nine large sculptures constructed by the artists using carefully selected distressed or standing dead trees located within Chesterwood’s forest trails. “Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood” is generously supported, in part, by the Artist’s Resource Trust (A.R.T.) Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; the Lillian Heller Sculpture Endowment; and the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area. Exhibition related programming includes forest walks, an interactive dance performance and a writer’s workshop. Check chesterwood.org/calendar for details.

This is the Browns’ first solo exhibition at Chesterwood. The sculptors, who share a passion to create monumental shapes and forms out of wood, were invited to live and work at Chesterwood for a month in June 2018. On their frequent walks with sketchbooks and cameras in hand, the Browns were inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape and captivated by Chesterwood’s aging New England forest.  The sculptors cut and assembled three-dimensional models, and then placed them in front of large photographic prints of specific places in the woods to mark their future locations. During their residency, the Browns began to curate this site-specific exhibition as an expression of their wonderment in not only the size and variety of the trees themselves, but also how the trees are connected below the surface in an unseen world. “Daniel Chester French often placed his own work outside, as well as the work of his artist friends. We are delighted to have Rick and Laura continue the outdoor sculptural tradition at Chesterwood and to find inspiration in the landscape. We consider our annual contemporary sculpture exhibition, now in its 41st year, one of our most important programs that honors the legacy of French,” said Executive Director Donna Hassler.

Rick Brown and Laura Brown’s Artists’ Statement

“One Impulse from a Vernal Wood” is comprised of nine large site-specific sculpture installations constructed using carefully selected distressed or standing dead trees located within the nine acres of Chesterwood’s woodland. Sections of selected trees were removed, reconfigured on-site, and finally re-introduced into the original tree remnants.  Over the years, our large outdoor environment installations have been informed by our determination and interest in working in nature. Inspired by Daniel Chester French’s love of the outdoors—particularly the forest surrounding his country home and studio at Chesterwood—it is our intention for this exhibition to provide direct connections between the sculpture, the environment, and the site to timeless nature, eternal cycles of life, and a recognition that “the end” marks a new beginning. These works are a willful collaboration with nature and through our choices of medium, process, and expression become part of the greater continuum.

We believe that trees are perhaps our most important partners on the planet.  Trees are noble symbols of strength and the spirit of life. These installations provide distressed trees with a new life as a transformative expression between the natural life of the tree and our human intervention. We are inspired by the Gaia Hypothesis proposed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis: “The planet earth is a living creature. Taken as a whole, the planet behaves not as an inanimate sphere of rock and soil, sustained by the automatic and accidental processes of geology. . . But more as a biological super-organism—a planetary body—that adjusts and regulates itself.” We are also inspired by the writings of botanist Suzanne Simard, who has determined that trees communicate underground through a complex network of root systems and fungal matter. Simard suggests that “trees can talk.” We hope that our installation will speak to the viewer within the specific context of French’s beloved woodland as well within the greater context of the planet Earth.

About Rick Brown and Laura Brown

Rick and Laura Brown met in art school at the University of Georgia in 1970. They have been on a collaborative creative journey ever since, working with a wide range of materials, tools, and techniques on large-scale environmental installations. They are both on the faculty at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. In 2002, they co-founded Handshouse Studio, Inc., a non-profit educational organization that initiates hands-on projects to explore history, understand science, and perpetuate the arts. The Browns have received numerous grants and awards, and have traveled and exhibited works locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Exhibition Programming

Handshouse Studio, the educational organization founded by Rick and Laura Brown, has curated a series of events to engage visitors with “One Impulse from a Vernal Wood.” All events are free with regular admission and set in the woodland walks and gardens at Chesterwood. Some events are limited and require advance registration.

July 14, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Balanced Biosphere”:  A guided forest walk led by artist, arborist, and regional planning graduate student, Craig McNeil

August 25, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Toadstool Walks”:  A guided forest walk led by certified forest therapy guide, Tam Willey (limited participants, registration required at toadstoolwalks.com)

Sept. 8, 1 to 3 p.m. “One Impulse/One Wood”:  A living sculpture walk with hands-on collaboration led by Marie Brown, with artists Rick and Laura Brown

Oct. 20, Session one from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Session two from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. “Woven Word in the Woods”: A creative writing workshop led by poet Lynn Bowmaster (limited participants, registration required by email to lrbowmaster@gmail.com)


Chesterwood Launches New Daniel Chester French Biography with Lecture and Book Signing

Author Harold Holzer will discuss his book, “Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French”, on March 5 at Bard College at Simon’s Rock  

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (February 8, 2019)– Chesterwood will present a lecture by acclaimed author Harold Holzer to mark the official launch of his newly released biography “Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French” on Tuesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Mass., with a reception and book signing to follow. The event will be held in the McConnell Theater at the Daniel Arts Center at Simon’s Rock. Tickets are $25 ($20 for members of Chesterwood) and books will be available for sale at the event. To purchase advance tickets, go to www.chesterwood.org or call 413-298-2034.

“Monument Man” explores for the first time the long life and dramatic artistic career of pre-eminent American sculptor Daniel Chester French, whose Lincoln Memorial sculpture is arguably the nation’s most iconic statue. The lavishly illustrated cradle-to-grave biography is published by Princeton Architectural Press, Hudson, NY. Holzer is a Lincoln scholar and prizewinning author of numerous books on Civil War–era art and history, including “Lincoln and the Power of the Press” (winner of the Lincoln Prize), “The Lincoln Image” and “Lincoln at Cooper Union”. He appears frequently on radio and television, including on C-SPAN and CNN, and in Lincoln and Civil War documentaries for the BBC, NHK, and the History Channel. Formerly senior vice president for public affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and Foundation, he currently serves as director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York. In 2008, Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal.

“Chesterwood invited Harold Holzer to write this definitive biography on Daniel Chester French in celebration of our 50th anniversary as a Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, not only because of the author’s excellent command of the written word and keen knowledge of the time period in which French lived and worked, but also to answer the question I’m asked on a regular basis, ‘How did he create the Lincoln Memorial?’,” said Executive Director Donna Hassler.

“Monument Man” has received noticeable advance praise from “Alexander Hamilton” author Ron Chernow. “As one of the foremost living authorities on Abraham Lincoln, Harold Holzer has long straddled the crossroads of history and art with his own inimitable brand of scholarship. Not surprisingly, in this grandly illustrated and beautifully written biography, he proves to be the ideal guide to the life of Daniel Chester French, who transmuted Abraham Lincoln and other historical figures into monumental sculptures of surpassing beauty, poetry, and inspiration,” Chernow said. “This book will surely rank as the authoritative life of a man whose creations in stone and bronze have become inseparable parts of our historical memory.”

“Monument Man” was specially commissioned by Chesterwood/National Trust for Historic Preservation. Holzer’s lecture and book signing is co-sponsored by Chesterwood and Bard College at Simon’s Rock. 

About Chesterwood

Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is best known for his sculptures of the Minute Man (1871-75) and the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln (1911-22) for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Chesterwood is notably one of the earliest venues in the United States to showcase large-scale works in an outdoor setting. Since 1978, close to 600 emerging and established artists’ works have been exhibited at Chesterwood. Situated on 122 acres in the idyllic hamlet of Glendale near Stockbridge, MA, the property and its buildings were donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by French’s only child Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973). Chesterwood is recognized as both a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Historic Landmark. For more information, visit chesterwood.org

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NEWS RELEASE / January 31, 2019

Chesterwood to Present New Exhibition at The Stockbridge Library

“Margaret French Cresson: Her Artistic Life and Legacy in Preserving Chesterwood”
will be on view March 1 – April 30

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (Jan. 31, 2019) – Chesterwood, the home, studio and gardens of sculptor Daniel Chester French, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special exhibition recognizing French’s daughter, Margaret French Cresson (1889–1973) as an artist in her own right as well as honoring her dedication to preserving Chesterwood. “Margaret French Cresson: Her Artistic Life and Legacy in Preserving Chesterwood” will open at The Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives, located at 46 Main St., on March 1 and run through April 30. There will be a free opening reception, Friday, March 1 from 5 to 7 p.m., sponsored by the Chesterwood Advisory Council. The exhibition has been generously sponsored, in part, by Owen Lewis and Susan Ennis, and Sohn Fine Art.

French, most well-known for his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., divided his time between New York City and Stockbridge, where he and his family spent their summers starting in 1897. His only child Margaret enjoyed entertaining friends in the country and often sculpted alongside her father in his studio. After French and his wife, Mary, passed away, Margaret inherited Chesterwood, making it her full-time home in the 1950s. Passionate about keeping her father’s artistic legacy alive, she donated Chesterwood, with the exception of the Residence where she lived until her death in 1973, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which opened the property as a historic site to the public on June 9, 1969. After Cresson's death in 1973, the Residence and its contents became the property of the National Trust as well.

“Margaret French Cresson: Her Artistic Life and Legacy in Preserving Chesterwood” will feature historical photographs that illustrate Cresson’s life at Chesterwood: modeling for her father, socializing with friends and family, and creating sculpture in the studio, as well as photographs of her as the “keeper” of Chesterwood. The exhibition will also highlight her work as a sculptor through portrait reliefs, small bronzes, exhibition photographs and catalogues. Other personal objects, such as diaries, scrapbooks, writings, and ephemera will contribute to an understanding of Cresson’s life and her involvement in civic activities in Stockbridge and the Berkshires at large.

“Margaret French Cresson’s remarkable life as the daughter of a famous American artist was shaped by Chesterwood and the Berkshire community which she eventually called home. It seems only fitting as we celebrate the site’s 50th anniversary that we acknowledge her role in preserving Chesterwood as well as her own creative pursuits,” said Donna Hassler, Chesterwood’s executive director and co-curator of the exhibition.

This exhibition will include objects from the Chesterwood collections and the Chesterwood Archives, courtesy of the Chapin Library at Williams College. The exhibition has been co-curated by Hassler and Dana Pilson, curatorial researcher, both of Chesterwood, and Valerie Balint, program manager of Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios. Additional assistance was provided by Isabella Browne Lorcher, Chesterwood intern.

The following exhibition-related programming will take place at the Stockbridge Library and is free to the public.  Check for additional programing or changes at www.chesterwood.org/calendar

·         Friday, March 1, 5 p.m., exhibition opening reception with remarks by the curators

·         Friday, March 8, 6 p.m., an illustrated lecture by Valerie Balint, “Keepers of the Flame: Women Behind Preserving Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios”

·         Friday, April 5, 6 p.m., an illustrated lecture by Dana Pilson, “Margaret French Cresson: Growing up at Chesterwood, Her Life, Loves and Loss.”

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NEWS RELEASE / December 4, 2018

Chesterwood Kicks Off 50th Season on Dec. 15 with Benefit Party and Book Launch of Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (Dec. 4, 2018) – Chesterwood, the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost public sculptor Daniel Chester French, marks its 50th anniversary as an historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation with a kick-off holiday cocktail party in the residence on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.

This fundraising event will celebrate the launch of the acclaimed new biography of Daniel Chester French by distinguished Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, and will honor the patronage of Chesterwood Council Emeritus Jeannene T. Booher. Holzer will give remarks at the event and sign advance copies of his book, Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French, which will be available for sale. In collaboration with volunteers from the Berkshire Botanical Garden, the residence will be decorated for the holidays. Tickets to the benefit are $125 ($100 for members of Chesterwood) and books are $38 each ($34 for members of Chesterwood). For tickets and book reservations, call 413-298-2034 or email chesterwood@savingplaces.org.

Holzer will also present a lecture and book signing on Tuesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Tickets are $25 ($20 for members of Chesterwood). For tickets and book reservations, call 413-298-2034 or email chesterwood@savingplaces.org.

An exhibition on Abraham Lincoln organized by the Chapin Library at Williams College featuring highlights from Chesterwood’s archive collection will be on view at the Chapin Library from Feb. 11 to May 3; and an exhibition on the life and legacy of French’s daughter, Margaret French Cresson, will be on view at the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives from March 1 to April 30.

A summer garden party to celebrate Chesterwood’s 50th Anniversary will be held on Saturday, June 8 with a moveable feast, cocktails, live performances and art demonstrations from 4 to 7 p.m., followed the next day by a free community open house on Sunday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  June 9 marks the day 50 years ago when Chesterwood opened to the public as a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The studio, residence and gardens at Chesterwood will be open to the public for touring from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Chesterwood is located at 4 Williamsville Rd., off Rte. 183, in Stockbridge. For more information, see chesterwood.org or call 413-298-2034.

Calendar at a glance:

Dec. 15: Kick-off benefit cocktail party in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Chesterwood as a National Trust Historic Site. The event will honor Chesterwood Council Emeritus patron Jeannene T. Booher and will feature remarks by Harold Holzer, Lincoln author and scholar, who will sign advance copies of his acclaimed new biography, Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French.
4 to 6 p.m., Tickets $125 ($100 members), books available for purchase at the event for $38 ($34 members). Reserve your ticket and book by contacting Chesterwood at 413-298-2034 or chesterwood@savingplaces.org

Feb. 11: Opening reception of the exhibition Abraham Lincoln: An American Icon, featuring highlights from the library’s National Trust for Historic Preservation/Chesterwood archives collection. Chapin Library, Williams College, 5 to 7 p.m. Williamstown, Mass.

March 1: Opening reception of the exhibition Margaret French Cresson: Her Artistic Life and Legacy in Preserving Chesterwood. The Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives, 5 to 7 p.m. Stockbridge, Mass.

March 5: Official book launch of Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French by acclaimed Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, lecture, reception and book signing. Daniel Arts Center, Simon's Rock, 5:30 p.m. Tickets $25 ($20 members of Chesterwood). Reserve your ticket and book at 413-298-2034 or chesterwood@savingplaces.org. Great Barrington, Mass.

June 1: Benefit Celebration for the 50th Anniversary of Chesterwood as a National Trust Historic Site. 4 to 7 p.m. The studio garden at Chesterwood with a moveable feast, cocktails, live performances and art demonstrations.  Stockbridge, Mass.

June 9: Free Community Day to celebrate the day Chesterwood opened to the public as a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1969. Tours, art activities and live performances. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stockbridge, Mass.

Aug. 8: Artist Biographies: A Conversation with Harold Holzer, author of Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French, and Dr. Thayer Tolles, Marcia F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Edith Wharton’s The Mount, 11 a.m., fee charged. Lenox, Mass.

About Chesterwood

Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is best known for his sculptures of the Minute Man (1871-75) and the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln (1911-22) for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Chesterwood is notably one of the earliest venues in the United States to showcase large-scale works in an outdoor setting. Since 1978, close to 600 emerging and established artists’ works have been exhibited at Chesterwood. Situated on 122 acres in the idyllic hamlet of Glendale near Stockbridge, MA, the property and its buildings were donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by French’s only child Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973). Chesterwood is recognized as both a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Historic Landmark. For more information, visit chesterwood.org

About the Berkshires

Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires offers culture and adventure year-round. The surrounding mountains provide plenty of opportunity for outdoor excursions in all seasons while world class culture and entertainment, along with a deeply rooted food culture and an array of lodging options amidst picturesque towns, set this region apart. For more information, visit berkshires.org.

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NEWS RELEASE / August 15, 2018

Noted Authors Patricia Harris and David Lyon to Discuss Their New Book, Historic New England: A Tour of the Region's Top 100 National Landmarks, at Chesterwood on Sept. 15

Stockbridge, Mass. (Aug. 15, 2018) – Chesterwood, in collaboration with the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program, will present a free public lecture, discussion and book signing at Chesterwood on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. The lecture and visual presentation, “Genius loci: How New England Shaped its Artists and Writers”, will feature guest speakers Patricia Harris and David Lyon, authors of the recently released Historic New England: A Tour of the Region's Top 100 National Landmarks, published by Globe Pequot Press earlier this year. Books will be available for purchase at the event and light refreshments will be served. Due to limited seating, preregistration is recommended by contacting Valerie Balint at vbalint@savingplaces.org or 413-298-3579, x. 2033.

Harris and Lyon, who have authored more than 30 books on travel, food, and art, will read excerpts from their new guidebook and will use sites included within the book to discuss how the romanticism of New England’s natural landscape pervades American art and letters: from the publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay “Nature” in 1836 through the construction of Philip Johnson's Glass House in 1949. Some of the sites they will discuss include Daniel Chester French’s Chesterwood (Mass.), Herman Melville’s Arrowhead (Mass.), the Winslow Homer Studio (Maine), Robert Frost Farm (N.H.), Walden Pond (Mass.), and the Philip Johnson Glass House (Conn.). The presentation will place these sites within the context of the other National Historic Landmarks throughout New England. The six New England states have nearly 400 such places.

“As writers, we find it gratifying that so many homes and studios of artists, sculptors, architects, and writers are among our treasured landmarks,” said Lyon. “Chesterwood, a National Historic Landmark, is a touchstone of such creativity, and it is our pleasure to speak about the intersection of national values and creative spaces in such a magical place.”

Historic New England grew out of our fascination with the incredible diversity of places that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks—the most elite category of historic designation,” said Harris. “The list was never conceived as a barometer of what we value as a people, but it turns out to deeply reflect our common values.”

For their publication, Harris and Lyon focused on tours of the 100 sites offering the most intriguing and rewarding history. In addition to historic houses and tall ships, Historic New England examines such quirky spots as the country's oldest weather stations, carousels, and sandy beaches. From Fairfield, Connecticut’s Birdcraft Sanctuary to the Windjammers of Rockland, Maine, the book holds appeal for the historical enthusiast, the armchair traveler, and both local visitors and tourists alike.

“We are thrilled to host David and Patricia at Chesterwood to discuss their new book. As the preserved home and studio of one of America’s most important monumental sculptors, Daniel Chester French – who was himself a native New Englander – we are excited to highlight the importance that arts and literature have historically played in this region and its links to national identity,” said Valerie Balint, program manager for Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios. “We are also looking forward to hearing about the numerous adventures the authors had while traveling to research this book.”  

About the Authors

Patricia Harris and David Lyon are authors of more than 30 books on travel, food, and art including the Art of the Statevolumes on New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut for Harry N. Abrams. Harris previously directed funding programs in several disciplines for the Massachusetts Council on the Arts & Humanities, the predecessor to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Lyon was one of the founders of Lynx House Press. They live in Cambridge, not far from the Longfellow House. For more information, see HungryTravelers.com.

About Chesterwood

Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is best known for his sculptures of the Minute Man (1871-75) and the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln (1911-22) for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Situated on 122 acres in the idyllic hamlet of Glendale near Stockbridge, Mass., the property and its buildings were donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by French’s only child Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973). Chesterwood is recognized as both a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Historic Landmark. Chesterwood serves as the administrative home for Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. chesterwood.org. 413-298-3579.

About Historic Artists’ Homes And Studios (HAHS)

HAHS is a professional network comprised of 40 preserved artists’ homes and studios throughout the country, now open as public sites. HAHS sites reflect the breadth and depth of art history in the United States – almost all representing art production before 1980. Members include sites dedicated to iconic American painters and sculptors, such as Frederic Church, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Jackson Pollock, as well as those drawing public attention to lesser-known artists such as Clementine Hunter and T.C. Steele. Holistic artistic environments in natural settings such as those created by Georgia O’Keeffe at Abiquiu are represented in the network, as are several important artists’ colonies such as The Florence Griswold home that served as creative hubs during their respective eras. HAHS sites own/display, and preserve/maintain for exhibition, significant artwork created by the artist(s) that lived there, and by their artist colleagues/predecessors, enabling connections between art and place. Collectively, HAHS sites draw more than 600,000 visitors annually to learn about the legacy of American Art. artistshomes.org

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. SavingPlaces.org

Photos:  Courtesy Patricia Harris and David Lyon

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Calendar Listing

Saturday, Sept. 15: Lecture and book signing with Patricia Harris and David Lyon, authors of Historic New England: A Tour of the Region's Top 100 National Landmarks. Chesterwood, 4 Williamsville Rd., Stockbridge. Light refreshments will be served. Seating is limited. Preregistration is recommended at vbalint@savingplaces.org or 413-298-3579, x. 2033. Free. 2 to 4 p.m.