Summer Travel

Summer Travel: Arts

By Joel Brown
May 16, 2010

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Stop and Stare Rhode Island: The art installations presented in downtown storefronts by Providence Art Windows make walking around the streets a little more lively, even thought-provoking. Some works occupy closed or vacant stores, while others use space made available for the project by going concerns, including Trinity Rep. The series, which is presented four times a year, is a juried exhibition and attracts viewers from art scenesters to tourists in town for WaterFire. The summer series is on display June 17-September 10. Before the series begins, look for the downloadable map/guide at

One Cool Party Vermont: Rootsy sounds come to the fore this year at the 27th annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in Vermont’s largest city, June 4-13. Ex-Band drummer Levon Helm, New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint, and corrections-officer-turned-soul-queen Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings join jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Arturo Sandoval, and Mose Allison on stages across downtown Burlington and on the waterfront. This is a true citywide event, as thousands enjoy street parties, Lake Champlain cruises, and workshops along with the scheduled performances. 802-863-5966,

Creedence Would Dig It Massachusetts: It’s not Coachella or Bonnaroo, but it’s still a good time. Every July, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce (!) sponsors the rockin’ two-day Green River Festival on the grounds of Greenfield Community College. Cake, Calexico, and the Old Crow Medicine Show top the list of performers for this year’s event, July 17-18. Popular returning activities include a dance tent and hot-air balloon rides. Given the 90-mile drive from Boston, many attendees spend the weekend at a local campground. Near Interstate 91 and Route 2, Greenfield, 413-773-5463,

Jealousy in the Air Connecticut: Shakespeare on the Sound productions aren’t just indoor shows transferred to an outdoor stage. They’re site-specific original productions created to take advantage of their setting. The Connecticut theater group’s Othello features songs and music by Tony Award-winning singer-songwriter Stew, best known as the co-creator and star of the off-Broadway hit Passing Strange. Performances are set for Rowayton’s Pinkney Park June 15-26 and Greenwich’s Baldwin Park July 2-11. Rowayton and Greenwich, 203-299-1300,

Patchwork Love Vermont: That’s what you’ll feel after a visit to the Vermont Quilt Festival, June 25-27 at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, a mindblower for anyone who thinks quilts are utilitarian and dull. Aside from entries in nine judged categories, exhibits include the contemporary quilts of Natick’s Nancy Halpern and a display of World War II quilts. Quilt fans come not just to look but also to choose from among an array of classes and vendor displays. 105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, 802-872-0034,

Epic performances Massachusetts: The Chester Theatre Company goes for the cutting edge while playing underdog to the better-known Berkshire companies. This year, it tackles Arlene Hutton’s Nibroc Trilogy, exploring social changes in the country in the 1940s and ’50s as seen in the lives of two young Kentuckians. Although each play stands on its own, there will be two Saturday performances of the entire trilogy on August 14 and 21 from 1 to 10 p.m., including an ice cream social in the afternoon and an evening dinner. Performances are at the Chester Town Hall, just off Route 20. 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, 413-354-7771,

Relaxing Combination Maine: There’s plenty of chamber music around, but it might be more soothing after taking in the sights of Casco Bay. The Portland Chamber Music Festival, whose concerts are often featured on public radio from Maine to Boston, presents its summer season August 12-21 at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Opening night features Deborah Hoffman, principal harpist of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, joining the event for the first time. There’s a free children’s concert at noon on August 15. 88 Bedford Street, Portland, 800-320-0257,

Rising Voices New Hampshire: Opera North in New Hampshire brings some of the best up-and-coming singers to perform in the 800-seat Lebanon Opera House, a dynamic regional performing arts center. This year’s schedule features Puccini’s La Boheme August 7-20 and Mozart’s Don Giovanni August 13-21. And if you want to check out the next generation of talent, there are also Young Artist Program matinees of the same operas performed by hopefuls who might make the main cast next year. 51 North Park Street, Lebanon, 603-448-4141,

Canvas of Sound Massachusetts: You don’t have to go far to see Boston from a different perspective. Just across Fort Point Channel, summer performances at the Institute of Contemporary Art offer sweet sunset views of the skyline and harbor, along with music, conversation, and adult beverages. In the Berklee College of Music’s HarborWalk Sounds series, performers from hot singer-songwriters Nini & Ben to bluegrass prodigy Sierra Hull will play outside the museum Thursday evenings July 8 to August 26, and admission is free. Dance and food series are also on the ICA menu. 100 Northern Avenue, Boston, 617-478-3100,

I Screen, You Screen It’s summer fun . . . in the dark. These New England film festivals eschew empty glitz to focus on cinematic gems and to showcase local talent. And when you come out of the theater, blinking, you’ll still be in an ideal getaway spot.

Massachusetts: The Woods Hole Film Festival, July 31-August 7, focuses on independent works with a special emphasis on New England filmmakers and environmental themes. (Last year’s opening night film was Oscar winner The Cove.) And Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple will be this year’s filmmaker in residence. The best event may be the under-the-stars screening – powered by wind and solar energy – at a location overlooking Vineyard Sound. Woods Hole, 508-495-3456, Maine: The Maine International Film Festival, July 9-18 in downtown Waterville, spotlights the best of independent cinema with a focus on area filmmakers. See a rare 35mm screening of The Silent Enemy, a 1930 drama about – and cast with members of – Quebec’s dwindling Native American tribes. Also screening: filmmaker and Emerson College professor John Gianvito’s new Vapor Trail (Clark), a documentary about the US military, the Philippines, and an environmental catastrophe. Lighter fare is promised, too. Waterville, 207-861-8138, Massachusetts: The Provincetown International Film Festival, June 16-20, is known for its intelligent indie selections but also brings an annual shot of Hollywood (but artistically credible) glamour to Commercial Street. This year, Tilda Swinton appears with her new film, a tragic romance from Italy called I Am Love, and James Franco and America Ferrera are in with new releases. And ya gotta love the festival’s satellite screenings of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Psycho at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre. Provincetown, 508-487-3456,

New England's best summer travel ideas

New England's best summer travel ideas

The region's top attractions for getting the most out of summer.
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