Berkshire House makes art a priority. Cool.
By Izzy Hochman
Photography by Antoine Bootz
I turn down a secluded driveway nestled deep in the mountains of Southfield, MA and gradually come upon a picture-book country estate. This is Berkshire House, a beautifully renovated former 1900s dairy farm that stands on five bucolic acres and is home, studio and collaborative art center of sculptor Jonathan Prince. Launched in 2020 by Prince and art curator Stephanie Manasseh, Berkshire House is a hub of creative industry, bringing together makers and innovators with a singular focus—to make art, talk art, support art.
Prince greets me outside. Bright and energetic, the artist is known for his massive steel sculptures often at the intersection of science, technology and spirituality. As he ushers me in for a tour of the stunning space, Prince’s passion for innovation and creativity is palpable: installations, sculptures and bold works of art abound and meld into the fiber of each room. “This house is almost like the three pillars of my life: open heartedness, creativity and love,” he tells me wistfully. “That’s what we wanted it to feel like—like the artwork that goes in it. What we wanted to convey is the spiritual practice of non-duality, which fits along with the rest of what I think about when I create my work. That means having a unified life that you live and feel. You don’t pretend to be what you’re not. You have an open heart, and you allow everything in your life to reflect that.”
The living and dining space is dominated by Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing WD 684C, a massive, contemporary piece saturated in color, with bands of squares bordered and divided horizontally and vertically. The breathtaking piece, on permanent loan from the LeWitt family and their foundation, arrived by way of Manasseh. During the pandemic, she became close to LeWitt’s wife while curating an exhibition of the artist’s works for the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
In the studio on property, Prince experiments with and creates his dynamic works (with the help of sometimes up to five assistants) and invites plenty of collaborations. Berkshire House has worked with lighting designer Gabriel Scott, artists Zdeněk Lhotský and John Procario and others, and has opened its doors and gallery, by appointment, to guests across varying industries.
One of Berkshire House’s latest programs, TWELVE, brings together a dozen artists and designers to share a meal and exchange ideas. During a TWELVE evening, as a group sat around a table built in Prince’s studio, fashion designer Jérôme LaMaar urged the sculptor to create a set of flatware, which became part of his Turbulence Series, with the idea that guests should touch and interact with the art, be open and engaged with the world around them.
As we work our way back outside into the chill of what Prince fondly calls “an old Berkshire day” and descend the lovely old stone path that leads from the house, the artist tells me that one of Berkshire House’s next projects will be to establish an artist-in-residence program. Prince and Manasseh plan to transform the sheep’s barn into a sanctuary for working artists, to give them space and support to work. What else, I ask him, does the future hold for Berkshire House? “I’ve been working in the arts now for 20 years,” he says. “We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of contacts. I’d like to organize a couple of conferences around the arts and bring people together to really discover the Berkshires as well. An idea comes, we start to talk….”