Mass MoCA season rollout includes comedy festival, concert by The National

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NORTH ADAMS — A diverse range of exhibitions, installations and performing artists will be anchored by a new, annual comedy festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art this winter, followed by a special June concert headlined by The National.

Though still in its formative stages, the "High Mud Comedy Festival" looks to become a cold-weather complement to the growing list of regular staples at Mass MoCA, including the FreshGrass Festival, Solid Sound Festival and Bang on a Can.

The comedy festival is scheduled to take place on March 11-12, according to Sue Killam, managing director of performing arts at Mass MoCA. She said further details on the festival were not yet available.

Killam also announced a June 11 concert headlined by The National, a popular indie rock band whose Mass MoCA performance will be its only headline appearance in the Northeast in all of 2016. The group's 2013 album "Trouble Will Find Me" was nominated for a Grammy award.

The concert, a benefit for Mass MoCA and the Hawthorne Valley Association in Ghent, N.Y., will be on Joe's Field.

Museum leaders on Monday announced its full slate of art and events for the winter and early spring seasons. The museum also will waive admission fees for all on Jan. 30 for a Free Day, which will include tours, pop-up music performances, and art projects for the whole family.

The museum will host artists with a wide range of viewpoints and inspirations this winter, ranging from Richard Nonas' minimalist works to Alex Da Carte's "plastic extravaganza," according to Susan Cross, Mass MoCA's curator.

Nonas, whose work will be on view beginning Feb. 13, is a former anthropologist whose sparse work will utilize Mass MoCA's vast space.

"At 79 [Nonas] has for over 50 years been transforming architectural landscape with a very powerful vocabulary of pared down forms ... often placed directly on the group in large expansive grids or constellation," Cross said.

Da Carte's work was described by Cross described as "consumer product mashups" on the background of a "part strip club, part suburban living room," including carpeted floors and neon lighting.

"He mixes pop culture with fine art and creates what is essentially a beautiful portrait out of his own life, and his family and his friends," Cross said. "It's sincere, his work, and it speaks on a very emotional level."

Artist Sarah Crowner's paintings of stitched-together canvas and linen, set in an environment of tile floors and walls, will be on display beginning in April.

"She's really creating a room within a room," Cross said.

Among an impressive group of artists from different genres playing the museum's Club B-10 this winter and spring, group Birds of Chicago will be familiar to FreshGrass lovers. The band, returning to Mass MoCA on Jan. 23, performed at this year's festival and was loved by the crowds, according to Killam.

Angelique Kidjo, a popular and Grammy Award-winning singer, will perform on the B-10 stage on Feb. 13.

Comedian Chris Gethard, who some may know from his minor roles on the television shows Parks and Recreation and The Office, will perform on the stage on Jan. 30.

Club B-10 also will host a documentary series with the theme of "Love is Complicated," including a Feb. 12 showing of "Above and Beyond," and question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers after every film.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6276.


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