CLINTON -- Russia and the U.S. are making headlines today as their relationship heats up, then cools down. It's been that way for decades since the Cold War began in the mid-1940s.
The Museum of Russian Icons explores the Cold War period through art, offering visitors the chance to reexamine and analyze it in an exhibit Darker Shades of Red: Soviet Propaganda Art from the Cold War Era From the Hollingsworth Collection.
On view June 14-Aug. 30, the striking posters are explicit in their graphics and socialist messages that reveal the economic, social and political ideology of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
From the Bolshevik Revolution onward, posters have played a key role in spreading Soviet dogma. The leadership wanted to communicate revolution, socialism and social responsibility and often used posters to manipulate the citizens to Communist Party objectives.
Heroic themes ranged from allegorical images of Soviet leaders and soldiers to workers and peasants, and images of machinery symbolized farming and industrial productivity.
Views of locomotives, Russian sputniks and rockets conveyed a sense of progress and achievement. The information was communicated to the public through vibrant compositions that combined figures, texts (often poetry) and brightly colored geometric blocks.
The fear of nuclear proliferation and anti-West attitudes were often reflected in Soviet posters in the decades following World War II when tensions between the Soviet Union and the West led to the start of the Cold War. There were even civil defense posters explaining how to prepare for a nuclear attack and caricatures of American and British leaders depicted the West and its political structure as the enemy.
Schools, shops, factories, apartment buildings and public space were spattered with Soviet imagery. And, as a closed society, no opposing images to the Party line were permitted and people only saw images that fulfilled the Party's goals.
The posters, ephemera, medals, statuettes and factory banners are all from the private collection of Gary Hollingsworth, a Florida art restorer who traveled extensively in the former Soviet Union.
By observing these official images, viewers get an insider's perspective into life in an authoritarian, autocratic society.
The museum is located at 203 Union St., Clinton, and is open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 978-598-5000 or museumofrussianicons.org.
- LOWELL SCENE: Zeitgeist Gallery hosts a cookout on Father's Day Evening, Sunday, June 15, 6-9 p.m., at North Common Field for those interested in participating in the Downtown Lowell Softball League. Meet at the gallery, 167 Market St., at 5:30 p.m. to walk to field, or meet at the field. Call 617-285-1610 for details... A slew of volunteers are needed on Saturday, June 21, when the Great Race, a national road rally of 100 vintage cars, makes its first overnight stop in Lowell. In conjunction with the race, the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Lowell are hosting a vintage and classic car show, children's area and vintage vendors in downtown Lowell. Volunteers are needed during various shifts, 10 email@example.com.
- NEW MFA GALLERIES: The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, recently opened two newly renovated galleries dedicated to European art. The Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in France is devoted to avant-garde artists working in France between about 1870 and 1900. Included are works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh. On view are some of the MFA's most iconic works on view, including Renoir's "Dance at Bougival" (1883), Van Gogh's "The Postman Joseph Roulin" (1888), Monet's "Water Lilies" (1907) and Degas' "Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer" (original model 1878-81, cast after 1921). The new Kunstkammer Gallery at the MFA is an intimate space presenting 123 finely wrought treasures, including small-scale sculptures, miniature Renaissance portraits and intricately designed furniture. The word "kunstkammer" (translated as "art room") refers to the cabinets or smalls rooms that were in fashion in Europe in the 16th-17th centuries and typically contained a combination of man-made and natural wonders. Interactive programs and iPads with videos are featured in the gallery, encouraging closer examination of two newly conserved masterworks on view. Visit mfa.org for more info.
- FOR KIDS: Chelmsford Center for the Arts will offer two art camps for kids this summer, beginning with Cartooning and Anime Drawing with Michael S. Vieira July 7-11, and Pencils, Pastels and Paint with Jennifer Heater, July 14-18. Classes are for ages 8-14 and will be held 9 a.m.-noon. $165 for one week, $300 for both. Call 978-250-3789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is email@example.com.