Instead of scalpels, Laylah Ali uses brightly colored pencils to dissect the nameless malaise creeping through our lives in her signature creepy-funny drawings.
Instead of scalpels, Laylah Ali uses brightly colored pencils to dissect the nameless malaise creeping through our lives in her signature creepy-funny drawings. Ali gained international recognition in 1999 when the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park exhibited her "Greenheads" series, featuring nasty big-headed stick figures who enacted human dramas of violence, prejudice and greed in cartoon-style vignettes. An art professor at Williams College, she is showing 30 new works in "Laylah Ali: Notes/Drawings/Untitled Afflictions," an exhibit that adds layers of complexity to her work. Departing from earlier minimalist work, Ali's new drawings incorporate snatches of conversation, newspaper text and radio banter that seem to overload the unsettled identities of her enigmatic figures. Organized by assistant curator Dina Deitsch, this show provides a challenging counterpoint to "Drawn to Detail," works by 26 artists exploring nontraditional forms of drawing.
WHERE: DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. 781-259-8355 or www.decordova.org.
HOURS: Museum Galleries: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and selected Mondays. The Sculpture Park is open year-round during daylight hours.
COST: $12 adults; $8 seniors, students and youths 6 to 12 years; free for children 5 and under, Lincoln residents and active duty military personnel.
MEET THE ARTIST: On Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m., Laylah Ali will discuss her work and the current state of drawing as a re-emerging art form. Call Emily Silet at 781-259-3632; members, $5; nonmembers, $7.
ON-SITE BONUS: Check out 80 sculptural installations throughout the museum's 35-acre grounds. After expanding your imaginations on visual art, why not stretch your legs on a serene hike through the woods around scenic Flint's Pond adjacent to the museum. The trail starts by rear parking lot.
For a more varied and ambitious two-hour hike, climb the heavily wooded pine slopes of Mount Misery just off Rte. 117. Starting point is the mall at Lincoln Station. Take the dirt road, follow the narrow path and look for the pole marked "trail." It's a great place to walk your dog.
WHERE TO EAT: If you like train lore, hearty sandwiches and tasty pastries served in a family-style atmosphere, try the Whistle Stop Gourmet at 145 Lincoln Road in Lincoln Station. You can lounge around and read the newspaper at your leisure, swap gossip with townies or order sandwiches named for famous trains. Try the "Chattanooga" with lots of chicken mixed with dill.
GET CLOSE TO NATURE: If you want your kids to see what life was like before cars and computers, take them to Drumlin Farm to meet a menagerie of sheep, goats, cows, pigs, chickens and a pony. Now that autumn has arrived, check out the ripe pumpkins, chipmunks gathering seeds for winter and birds and monarch butterflies getting ready to fly south. Located at 208 South Great Road, Drumlin Farm offers a learning garden, hayrides and wildlife exhibits. 781-259-2200 or email@example.com.
Dedicated to keeping New England farming traditions alive, Codman Farm, also in Lincoln, offers livestock, lessons in environmentally-clean farming and a community garden. Located at 58 Codman Road, a short walk from the Commuter Rail station, the farm offers group tours, lessons for raising chickens and keeping bees and a Saturday morning Farmers Market. 781-259-0456 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOOK IT: If you love the look, feel and smell of rare books, take a 10-minute drive to Concord center and spend an hour browsing two fine antiquarian and rare book shops. Run by retired French teacher Jacqueline Wool, Books With a Past at 17 Walden St. stocks 15,000 books from "Beowulf" to first editions. At 79 Main St., the Barrow Bookstore has a wide selection of Concord and transcendental writers, military history, travel, poetry and cooking.
HUNT FOR HISTORY: Nothing feels more like fall in New England than an afternoon ramble through the woods around Walden Pond. Avoid the weekend crowds and come alone on a sunny weekday afternoon to wander through 462 acres of woodlands where dear, odd Henry David Thoreau watched squirrels and blue jays and lived these immortal lines: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately."