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Powerful Attractor: The Berkshires

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While the atmosphere of the inn is historically authentic, there are undeniable undercurrents of modernity in their philosophy. Environmentally conscious renovations to the inn's infrastructure, for instance, garnered the inn an award from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. "People say [the inn] is like a postcard," Baumann says, "and yes, we are, but we also take a lot of pride in doing things differently, in going energy efficient, in supporting the local economy."

The Red Lion doesn't shy away from giving credit to, or bragging about, their award-winning executive chef, Brian J. Alberg. The chef has grabbed attention for his locally sourced menus; Alberg even raises his own pigs for the restaurant. On February 4, Alberg will return to the James Beard Foundation in New York City to lead a team of regional chefs in a Berkshire-Raised Whole-Hog event, demonstrating how to use the entirety of a pig, with a menu ranging from Smoked Tomato and Bacon Bloody Marys to 48-Hour Sous Vide Carolina Barbecue–Style Spareribs with Mustard Kimchi and Pig Tail Torchon.

Once again, Stockbridge surprises. What appears calm and familiar on the surface is actually a well-crafted front supported by a much deeper consciousness.

Lenox

Tanglewood is the largest draw in Lenox and one of the best-known institutions in the Berkshires. Tanglewood has been a part of the Berkshire experience since 1934, when summering patrons got together to bring the New York Philharmonic to perform three outdoor concerts. The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) was added the following year. Classical performances have echoed from the stage, and the tent before it, every year since, minus three during World War II. The schedule for the 2011 season includes four performances by Yo-Yo Ma, and performances by the Mark Morris Dance Troupe and James Taylor, in addition to the BSO's annual concert series.

While Lenox businesses can flourish in the fat times of summer, winter in town is unavoidably quiet, with slight improvements on the weekends. Most galleries are closed now, or are open by appointment only. Two sculptors, at opposite ends of the artistic spectrum, use the winter to create work in Lenox. Andrew DeVries and Tom Fierini, in spite of the rivalry that they both say can exist in the town among its numerous local artists, have become good friends. Both believe that having a town filled with art makes getting their pieces seen much easier and creates an artistic dialog that's unique to the region.

Fierini welds together found metal objects to create what he calls "junk sculptures." He believes people either like his work or they don't. A lot do. "People say it's an insult to call it junk," Fierini avers, sitting in a chair he made out of iron and road signs that's almost too heavy to pull out from behind his dining room table. "I don't think it is. I think it's less snobby and pretentious."

Fierini has lived in the Lenox area his whole life and figures he's the only artist in town that's actually from it. "It's kind of funny we grew up here hating New Yorkers; now they're a lot of my customers," he says. Fierini doesn't go many places besides his studio and his apartment but says Lenox has been good to him. In an outdoor gallery off Church Street a number of his pieces are on display: dogs, horses, an iron cowboy.

Across the street from Fierini's sculpture garden is Devries' gallery, closed for the winter. "The Berkshires lend themselves to individuality and the ability and necessity to be creative," says DeVries, who is best known for his large, realistic figural bronze sculptures, which manage to capture both the movement and delicate balance of dance in a decidedly firm medium. "I thought about [opening my gallery in] Great Barrington, it's a beautiful city. But it's a city. There's a lot to be said about Lenox. It's small, but there's a community here. There's room for people like Tom [Fierini] to bloom—like me, too."

DeVries lets out one of his signature explosive laughs that manages to be both infectious and terrifyingly loud at the same time and then becomes introspective again. "Sometimes I feel like there must be a magnet buried in the ground in Berkshire County that's pulled all these things together," Devries says wistfully. "It's powerful, it really is."

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