Arts Previews

  • “Men With Hill,” print by Eli Liebman that is part of a new exhibit, “Security as a State of Violence,” at Northampton’s A.P.E. Gallery. Submitted image

  • The a cappella group the Western Wind Ensemble will lead a series of workshops and stage several free concerts at Smith College Aug. 2-10.  Submitted image

Friday, August 02, 2019
New owners for Modern Memoirs

An Amherst publishing company that for 25 years has specialized in helping people preserve their family stories is now under new management, as Amherst residents Megan and Sean St. Marie have purchased Modern Memoirs, Inc. from company founder and president Kitty Axelson-Berry.

Along with longtime employee Alison (Ali) de Groot, Axelson-Berry has published about 160 personal and family-history projects, including assisted memoirs, or manuscripts clients write themselves that then receive editorial and design services.

The St. Maries will continue offering commissioned and assisted memoir and family-history book publishing, while also providing services for smaller-scale projects, including obituaries, according to press notes.

“We are thrilled to embark on this new chapter in our careers and in our marriage,” new company President Megan St. Marie said in a statement. She is a writer who also lectures at Simmons University under her maiden name, Megan Dowd Lambert.

Alison de Groot will stay on as director of publishing, the couple say. Sean St. Marie, who has a business background and a degree in archives management, will be director of operations and archival projects. He said Axelson-Berry will also help out as a short-term consultant to help the new owners learn the ropes of the business.

Finding safety in dangerous times

Taking inspiration from artwork that documented past periods of horror and turmoil — World War I, the Mexican Revolution, the Chinese Cultural Revolution — the multi-disciplinary exhibit “Security in a State of Violence” looks at “the notion of self-care and how it is immersed in social, political, and economic relations,” according to press notes.

The mixed-media exhibit, at Northampton’s A.P.E. Gallery, runs through Sunday, Aug. 11 and features the work of Valley artist Eli Liebman as well as four other artists from Mexico, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington. An artists’ reception takes place Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.

The show includes woodblock prints, animation, sewn blankets, postcards, sound and sculpture and, as press notes put it, “focuses on the phenomena and relationship of security and violence and the ways each is articulated in various forms, ranging from human touch to dragnet surveillance.”

Free concerts at Smith College

The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, a sextet that since 1969 has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music, will host a series of free shows at Smith College in Northampton beginning Friday, Aug. 2 and running through Saturday, Aug. 10.

According to press notes, the Grammy-nominated group offers a diverse repertoire that draws on a variety of music — from “Renaissance motets to Fifties rock ‘n’ roll, from medieval carols to Duke Ellington, from complex works by avant-garde composers to simple folk melodies.”

The ensemble, which has been presenting workshops and shows at Smith since 1992, will offer its 50th anniversary shows at Sweeney Auditorium, Sage Hall, on Aug. 2 at 8 p.m.; Aug. 4 at 3:15 p.m.; Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.; Aug. 8 at 1:30 p.m.; and Aug. 10 at 2:30 p.m. The group also performs at Recital Hall, Sage Hall on Aug. 8 at 5:15 p.m.

More information is available at westernwind.org.