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Art Omi’s International Art Weekend

‘Creative work is a vehicle for knowledge and understanding that transcends political and cultural boundaries.” This is Art Omi’s credo, and it guides the organization’s artist-residency programs: the Ledig House International Writers’ Colony, which sponsors up to 50 writers and translators for a couple months each year; Music Omi International Residency, which brings together 15 composers to collaborate and perform (that show takes place Aug. 16); and the Art Omi International Artists’ Colony, which offers 32 artists from all over the globe a three-week opportunity to create art—and the community access to that art, in the form of a one-day show, called Open Day, on Sunday.

Art Omi sits on 300 acres of rural farmland, 90 of which are dotted with sculptures, created by world-famous artists, that make up the Fields Sculpture Park. Sunday’s open show features the work of 32 professional artists from Belarus to Venezuela (pictured is Yoon-Young-Park from Seoul, Korea). Also on Sunday, an exhibition of 12 major installations by Charles Ginnever will open in the Sculpture Park.

Art Omi’s International Art Weekend takes place Sunday (July 20), from 1 to 5 PM, at the Art Omi International Arts Center (Letter S Road, off County Route 22), Omi (very close to Ghent). Go to for detailed directions, or call 392-7656 for information.

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates’ work ethic has made almost inevitable the unintentional backhanded compliment: It is virtually impossible to discuss her without mentioning her jaw-dropping level of productivity. In A Reader’s Guide to the Recent Novels of Joyce Carol Oates, it is mentioned that the author—who will speak at Skidmore College tonight (Thursday)—began writing “novel after novel” at the age of 14, after receiving a typewriter as a gift. (The fact that an all-encompassing single-volume overview of the works of Oates apparently was impractical is testament in itself to this phenomenon.)

It’s important to note, though, that Oates could not have maintained her eminent place in the world of American letters by sheer volume alone. Since winning the Mademoiselle fiction prize as a scholarship student at Syracuse University, the Lockport (that’s near Buffalo) native has continued to rack up prestigious prizes for her writing—the poems, plays, essays, critical writings, short stories and novels (more than 40 since 1964). She’s won the National Book Award, she’s been a finalist for the Pulitzer, the PEN/Faulkner and National Book Critics Circle awards, and her short stories are regularly included in year-end best-of anthologies. And this is all while holding down a full-time teaching job at Princeton.

Her most recent novel, The Tattooed Girl, validates John Barth’s praise of her as writing “all over the aesthetical map.” Though Oates gained her early fame due to the convincing force of her psychological realism, The Tattoed Girl ventures into the macabre, the horrible. One reviewer noted, “She’s far scarier than Stephen King, who really only wants to tell us a story that gives us a good case of the willies. Oates wants to tell us that there is no hope.”

Joyce Carol Oates will read as part of the New York State Writers’ Institute’s summer series at Skidmore College (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) tonight (Thursday, July 17). The reading is free. For more information, 580-5593.

American UnPop with Bang on a Can All-Stars

Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore joins the Bang on a Can All-Stars to kick off this year’s two-week Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Contemporary Music at MASS MoCA with American UnPop. The institute is a program in which renowned musicians and composers take over MASS MoCA for two weeks, holding open classes throughout the facility with some of the world’s most promising students.

The Bang on a Can All-Stars (pictured, with Moore) are an internationally known six-member ensemble from New York City who perform innovative mixes of world, experimental, jazz, rock and classical music. The musicians include New England Conservatory graduates, Juilliard award-winners and Ivy League music-school professors. They are: cellist Wendy Sutter (who began playing at age 5 and made her solo debut with the Seattle Symphony at 16); multi-instrumentalist Mark Stewart (though “multi-instrumentalist” may be a bit of an understatement); clarinetist Evan Ziporyn (who shared a Grammy in ’99 for the recording Music for 18 Musicians); bassist Robert Black (who often works with choreographer Yoshiko Chuma and her postmodern dance company, the School of Hard Knocks); classical percussionist David Cossin (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s score won an Academy Award for Best Musical Score—guess who was the solo percussionist); and pianist Lisa Moore (who has performed with a massive array of groups including the New York City Ballet and our own Albany Symphony).

The performance will include a preview of Songs for Lou Reed by Bang on a Can cofounder David Lang, and interpretations of ’60s minimalist band Velvet Underground songs. Also, Thurston Moore will perform his newly commissioned piece.

American UnPop will be held at MASS MoCA (1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.) on Saturday (July 19) at 8 PM. Tickets are $20; MASS MoCA members will receive a 10-percent discount. Special discounted tickets for both this concert and the Marathon concert (the concert that marks the end of the two-week program, which will be held on July 26) can be purchased for $30. For more information, call (413) 664-4481.

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