The Cultural To-Do List

Your guide to this month's events.

boston cultural events august 2015

Norwood Viviano’s surreal glass sculptures of Boston will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts beginning August 25. / Photograph from the collection of the artist, Courtesy of Heller Gallery, New York, Tim Thayer/Robert Hensleigh, Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Crafted: Objects in Flux”

When the Museum of Fine Arts opens its landmark contemporary craft exhibit, it will bring the work of more than 30 cutting-edge artists from around the world to Boston. From ceramics to furniture to digitally warped Azerbaijani rug designs, it promises to be an exuberantly varied showcase.

But for locals, the focus will be on the latest work by Michigan’s Norwood Viviano, who creates intricate cityscapes out of stacks of kiln-cast glass. Viviano’s work is high-tech, combining 3-D printing, aerial photography, and light detection and ranging data (lidar) from the U.S. Geological Survey, which bounces lasers off buildings for the most accurate street-side detailing. Viviano previously rendered Detroit and Chicago this way, but for this exhibit he has created new works depicting the Back Bay (pictured above), Boston Harbor, and the massive facilities of the Lawrence Manufacturing Company, in Lowell. The result is surreal yet serene, rendering the familiar and historical oddly otherworldly. 

August 25–January 10, 2016, Museum of Fine Arts, 617-267-9300,


Adrienne Shelly’s acclaimed film, about a small-town waitress who aims to escape her dead-end life by entering a pie-baking contest, returns in the form of a world-premiere musical directed by Diane Paulus. Adapted for the stage by screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), it features music and lyrics by “Brave” singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.

August 2–September 27, American Repertory Theater, 617-547-8300, americanrepertory

James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt

Yawn. You’ll go.

August 6, Fenway Park,

We Are Market Basket

Last year’s protests against the ouster of Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas drew national attention, especially once the workers triumphed over the shareholders to get their beloved leader reinstated. Now comes the inevitable book, written by Drexel marketing assistant professor Daniel Korschun and Lowell Sun reporter Grant Welker. Not only do they provide a day-by-day account, they also tell the full story of the feuding Demoulas clan.

Out August 12, $25, Amacom.

The Winter’s Tale

If Shakespeare on the Common isn’t enough al fresco Bard for you, the Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company is staging a free, all-female production of this late romance in Somerville’s Nathan Tufts Park. The rocky, wooded locale is a fitting location for a tale that begins with an infant princess who is abandoned in a forest. She grows up as a shepherd girl, only to learn that a grander fate awaits her. 

August 14–30, Nathan Tufts Park,

Kamasi Washington

Over the past couple of years, tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington has built up major cred, collaborating with rap star Kendrick Lamar and electronic visionary Flying Lotus. His three-hour debut album, aptly titled The Epic, is an astonishing journey through Coltranesque improvisation, cosmic free jazz, and soulful funk. Catch him at the Sinclair this month.

August 20, The Sinclair, 617-547-5200,

Under the Savage Sky

With a voice that ranges from a soulful falsetto to a rocking yowl, Boston’s Barrence Whitfield has been a cult artist for more than three decades. He had a brief moment of fame in the U.K. in the mid-’80s, but other than that his stomping garage rock meets R & B has largely flourished on the indie-rock circuit. With raging tunes like “Incarceration Casserole” and “Bad News Perfume,” his new album is a ripsnorter, perfect for rocking in the car or crooning at the summer barbecue.

Out August 21, $11, Bloodshot Records.