There is currently a truly fabulous and beautiful exhibit at the Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). The piece is called “Being Here is Better Then Wishing We’d Stayed”. The exhibit is about the Miss Rockaway Armada, a group of travelers, adventurers, artists and  musicians whom spent the summers of 2006 and 2007 floating down the Mississippi on “junk boats”. The Armada consisted of people from all walks of life from all over the nation. The Armada describes itself as being united by the desire “to create; to demonstrate different ways of living and moving that are friendlier to the environment and to each other; to indulge the urge to make something out of nothing.” I have always enjoyed art made from found objects, and this art exhibit will certainly be whimsical and enthralling. Being Here is Better Than Wishing We’d Stayed is a site-specific, interactive installation in the Hunter Center Mezzanine through March 1, 2009. I guess during the opening, the Miss Rockaway Armada gave a performance in the vein of the impromptu circus/theater performances they staged in towns along the Mississippi.

I wish I could have seen that! What a wonderful Berkshires Activity!

The group sights their inspirations as Johnny Appleseed, traveling medicine shows, nomadic jewel box theater, the long tradition of river raft-builders and of course Mark Twain. The crew set out to meet new people and exchange ideas, art and inspiration. The collective was motivated in part by a desire to reclaim

The Miss Rockaway Armada Afloat on the Mississippi

The Miss Rockaway Armada Afloat on the Mississippi

and reinvent the age-old longing to roam this vast, mysterious country. In their words, “We still live in a country that fights wars so it can consume more. We are taking the urge to flee and heading for the center.” With that in mind, the Mississippi River seemed like the perfect avenue for the artists to explore. “We suspect that there is something wildish about seeing the stars night after night from the grand old Mississippi. Yeah sure, the Colorado is prettier, and the Rio Grande is its own divide, but the Mississippi has always been the main artery of this country. We wanted to start where the blood flows straight from the heart.”

At MASS MoCA the Miss Rockaway Armada will transform the Hunter Center Mezzanine — a place where students and other visitors gather to eat lunch and discuss their museum experiences — into a dynamic, interactive space. Using wood and other materials salvaged from MASS MoCA’s campus, the group will craft an environment that exudes the aesthetic, vision, and essence of The Miss Rockaway Armada’s experiences on the Mississippi River. Their idea was to build a “new, fantastical environment that inspires a sense of possibility and wonder”. As one Miss Rockaway crew member explains: “Let’s treat our MASS MoCA experience like a small-town stop on the way down the Hoosic River. Let’s make it current and as much about mutual inspiration, doing the impossible, building something new and crazy, cultural exchange, and direct interaction as the original Miss Rockaway voyage.” The environment includes tables and chairs for groups to gather and eat lunch, as well as ‘individual idea’ stations, where visitors will have opportunities to record their thoughts and stories and contribute to the installation.

Like I have said so many times before, living in the Berkshires is a gift for me. The Berkshire cultural events and other Berkshire activities make this area so wonderful to visit year-round, and for those of us that live here, we are truly lucky!