A comic book artist who celebrates superheroes, a game-player who makes art by the draw of a card, an exhibition that examines the backs of famous artworks.

Strange and intriguing doings are in store at the county's art museums this fall.

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The comic book artist is Alex Ross, who is redefining longtime superheroes like Batman, Spiderman and Superman in a photorealistic style for a new generation of readers. "Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross," opens at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge on Nov. 10.

The card player is Jerry Gretsinger, who started doodling a small-town map in 1963, then came up with a game of chance to revise it by instructions drawn from a deck of cards. He's been doing it every day for 50 years.

He'll be doing his "Half Century Project of Imagination" at Mass MoCA in North Adams daily from Oct. 5-14. It is one of several upcoming installations at MoCA that focus on works done over extended periods of time.

"Backstories," a working title for an exhibition opening Dec. 22 at the Clark Art Institute, will focus on the backs of more than 30 artworks from the Clark's permanent collection -- displayed on pedestals -- to show how they were made, the way they have been cared for by collectors, and the changes they have survived.

Beyond these teasers, Mass MoCA's big project this fall is an installation of two 12-ton, 100-foot birds made of materials gathered by Chinese artist Xu Bing from construction sites in his country's urban centers. Referencing connections between labor, history and commercial development, "Xu Bing Phoenix Project" opens Dec. 8.

The Williams College Museum of Art is paying homage to conceptual artist Sol LeWitt in "Sol LeWitt: The Well Tempered Grid," in an exhibition that just opened. It focuses on the grid as a matrix for the wall drawings and other artwork LeWitt did over 50 years. A related show, "On the Grid," looks at ways the grid appears as a framework or subject in different works by other artists.

Williams will also look at ways artists explore the origins, principals and meaning of the universe in "Cosmolo gies" opening Sept. 29.

The Norman Rockwell Museum is mounting an exhibition of Rockwell's Girl Scout illustrations to coincide with the organization's 100th anniversary and a Girl Scout festival at the museum on Saturday. The Berkshire Museum is focusing on photography in its upcoming exhibitions.

The Norman Rockwell Museum is mounting an exhibition of Rockwell's Girl Scout illustrations to coincide with the organization's 100th anniversary and a Girl Scout festival at the museum on Saturday. The Berkshire Museum is focusing on photography in its upcoming exhibitions.

Images of orchids will be showcased in photographs by Berkshire photographer Edwin Hale Lincoln, botanical illustrations by Mary Emily Eaton, and watercolors by Mary Vaux Walcott, in a show, "Orchids," from Oct. 12 through Dec. 9.

Looking to 2013, the Berkshire Museum on Feb. 9, will open "Ansel Adams: Masterworks" a loan exhibition of 48 works by famous photographer that represents about two-thirds of a selection Adams made himself to serve as a representation of his life's work in portraying natural environments. It will run through June. 2

The Clark on Feb. 16 will open "Electric Paris," an exhibition that explores -- in paintings, prints, magazine illustrations, and photographs -- how artists depicted gas and electric illumination in Paris around the turn of the 20th century.

Mass MoCA has two new shows opening on March 23 and two on May 25.

In March, "Mark Dion: The Octagon Room," will be a bunker-like installation containing objects that represent the artist's history over the past eight years.

"Life's Work: Tom Phillips and Johnny Carrera" will present projects the artists have gone back to continually over a period of decades, representing evolving life's works.

In May, the museum will feature Paris-based Guil laume Leblon's sculptures -- familar objects fashioned into enigmatic pieces that suggest ruin and the passage of time.

At the same time, MoCA will open a show of works by Jonathan Middlebrook that explore the relationship between man and nature.

To reach Charles Bonenti:
cbonenti@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6211.
On Twitter: @BE_Lifestyles