Many artists would agree that emotional experiences need time to percolate before they can be best expressed in art. In the case of Stow painter Brenda Cirioni, the percolating took four decades.
Cirioni was a 16-year-old living in the seaside village of Wickford, R.I., when she returned from school one afternoon to discover that her house had burned to the ground. Since then, her childhood passion for art has turned into a profession; Cirioni graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and has studio space at ArtSpace in Maynard.
In the years since the 1971 fire, Cirioni had thought back to the fire frequently but somewhat dispassionately, taking from it a generally positive lesson. “The fire and consequent loss of everything inside helped me learn to attach myself to things that last: earth, water, air. To nature, in other words, as well as to art and community,” she said.
But that sense of calm acceptance changed when she attended a consciousness-raising retreat this year. During a deep meditation, an overpowering sense of rage begin to unfurl from within her as Cirioni let herself contemplate for the first time the fact that police believed the fire was set.
“This rage I had no idea was inside my body started to express itself. It was a total shock to me. I experienced it physically and emotionally. I wasn’t thinking at the time, ‘I’m going to paint this feeling.’ But the next time I went to my studio, I knew it was time. It’s as if the rage was blocking something, and getting it out through the meditation gave me the freedom to explore it visually.
“Now I feel like this is such a gift, discovering that an episode of my life that was so traumatic could give birth to this work.”
The result is a series of collage paintings on wood panels called “Cycles of Renewal,” being exhibited by the Concord Art Association through June 18. Cirioni uses acrylic paint, draws with ink, and builds on the composition by collaging bits of painted paper, fiberglass screen, and debris.
A reception with the artist will be held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the association’s gallery, 31 Lexington Road in Concord. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information, call 978-369-2578 or go to www.concordart.org.
AT THE OPERA: A fully staged production of Puccini’s opera “La Bohème” will be presented at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden St. in Concord on Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
“La Bohème” is being sponsored by Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
The production is a collaboration involving the Concord Players and members of the Concord Band and the Concord Orchestra, as well as other area musicians. A children’s chorus will also participate in the performances.
The opera, which will be performed in Italian with English surtitles, is set in Paris in 1830, when many spirited and creative young writers, philosophers, and artists struggled to eat, stay warm, and pay their rent. The story focuses on the poet Rodolfo and the seamstress Mimi, who live in separate rooms in a Latin Quarter garret.
Tickets are $25, and may be purchased in advance by phone at 978-369-7911 or online at www.51walden.org.
SPRING SONGS: Enter Stage Left Theater presents “Sounds of Spring,” a concert featuring its adult chorus, the Treblemakers, and teen ensemble Tone Deft Too at 3 p.m. Sunday at United Parish of Upton, 1 Central Square in Upton.
The concert will feature a variety of music, including Broadway songs, traditional music, old standards, and pop and rock favorites.
Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors, and are available in advance at www.enterstagelefttheater.org or at the door.
FRAMING A FAREWELL: Joel Moskowitz, who this month is closing the Sudbury frame shop that he and his wife have run for 29 years, is exhibiting a series of new ink and charcoal drawings in “Competition/Fragmentation,” a two-person show at Fountain Street Fine Art Gallery, 59 Fountain St., Framingham, through Sunday.
Also represented in the show is mixed-media painter Mary Spencer.
For gallery hours and more information, call 508-879-4200 or go to www.fountainstreetfineart.com.
HEARING NEW VOICES: New Repertory Theatre will host its inaugural Festival of New Voices on Saturday and Sunday at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St. in Watertown.
The event is the culmination of a nine-month project in which up-and-coming local playwrights have collaborated with professional directors, actors, and designers to shape and craft their works. Included are plays by Colleen Hughes, James McLindon, Anna Renée Hansen, and Emily Kaye Lazzaro.
For the schedule of performances, go to www.newrep.org. Admission is free; reserve space by calling 617-923-8487.
EARLY TEA TIME: On Saturday, the Hopkinton Center for the Arts kicks off its summer program with a children’s Mad Hatter Tea Party at the HCA Farmhouse, 98 Hayden Rowe St. in Hopkinton.
Children who are preschoolers or older are invited to decorate cupcakes, create their own Mad Hatter hat, and have a picture taken with characters from “Alice in Wonderland.’’
“Tea times” must be reserved ahead of time and will be available in half-hour slots from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The cost is $25, and includes tea and cakes, a hat, and a photo.
For reservations or more information, go to www.hopartscenter.org.