North Adams Down Street Art

Again: August 30 / September 27

By: - Aug 14, 2018

It started in 2008: During the summer months the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) sponsors in North Adams DownStreet Art celebrations every last Thursday of the month. The next big event will happen August 30th and the final one on September 27, 2018. The responsibility and organization for this multi-faceted celebration of the arts and culture falls to Michelle Daley, the director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC). It is a collaborative project of MCLA, Mass MoCA and the City of North Adams.

We walked the art-beat for two hours on July 26 and photographed all with enthusiasm. Of course, there was much more to experience, see and hear, since the festivities last from afternoon into the evening. We parked near the Post Office and walked for the first time into Outside Gallery at 10 Ashland Street. Mandy Johnson, with assistance by James Jarzyniecki, is the gallery manager. Works titled Flat Earth, by Cody Hoyt, a Brooklyn artist, can be seen there and purchased until September 15. Step on in, the abstract sculptures or 3d wall pieces are alluring.

Eric and Barbara Rudd’s Berkshire Art Museum (BAM) and Foundation at a former church stands just outside of the downtown walk path. This year’s temporary exhibitions are Faculty Artists from New England Colleges, 30 artists representing 20 colleges; The Next Generation: Jeanne Jalandoni; and Edwardian Era Fashion by collector Greg Lafave. I photographed Eric’s permanent installation, Iceberg, with his immense polyurethane sculptures on the first floor. They have been installed in the nave of the former church. Rudd’s large-scale wooden structures, earlier architectural and geometric work, can be seen in basement galleries. BAM features spaces on three floors. During this walk I photographed work on the first floor only. However, there is much more to view and experience.

Next on to Eagle Street, where Martha Flood was playing accordion inside her shop and studio and entertained all on the street via loudspeakers. Martha is a serious music student and member of a Springfield orchestra. Flood’s exquisite small batch of plants- and bark-like printed fabrics are available by the yard, as well as her own line of products, bags and a pillow collection. We still treasure a chair that she upholstered for us some years ago with her distinct fabric.

Galen Cheney moved with her husband John Haynes from Vermont into town approximately two years ago and her extended family has increased since then. John's medium is wood. One of his pieces is installed in the studio window. We meet new creatively working people who have recently moved into the Berkshires just about every week now. Galen’s studio on Eagle Street was open and lively. So we photographed a few of her powerful and colorful abstract paintings. She has been exhibiting in all New England States for many years and this year, she’s already shown successfully work in New York City, Vermont and New Hampshire.

At the Installation Space at 49 Eagle Street is currently a solo exhibition by Francois-Xavier de Costerd, until September 2nd. He is showing three videos under the umbrella title: Escape Factory which refer to Andy Warhol’s term of the ‘Art Factory.’ I captured a few of the fleeting kaleidoscopic images with my camera. De Costerd creates narratives, assembles found images, and fragments of videos for endless interpretation. When Escape Factory opened officially on July 26, the buzz was out already as a must see installation. Yes, you must see it!

De Costerd is a French artist, who has been living and teaching video art on the North Shore in Massachusetts. During our short conversation I photographed him with his teenage daughter.

The fourth gallery on Eagle Street is Gravity Gallery, where Nina Rizzo was showing Landscape for Lovers  until the end of July. The August/September exhibition is by the Canadian artist, Lynn Richardson, who is based in Winnipec. Gravity Gallery opened in 2016 and was designed as a Think Tank space, hosting national and international artists. We are looking forward to see what Richardson will exhibit here. She has shown glass and glass-like intricate and expansive sculptural forms in huge spaces around North America.

Turning the corner to Main Street, I came upon a mostly young female band playing pop music. They were taking a break, so I photographed them, while a crowd was waiting for the next set to start.

The Lemon Aid for Recovery stand with Kids Care for Recovery made an impression. The Josh Bressette - Commit to Save a Life, is a non-profit organization working in Berkshire County and Southern Vermont. It is a heroin/opioid recovery assistance program:

Then, the closed-off Holden Street was available for kids of all ages to color the pavement with crayons in many imaginative ways.

Another street painting was happening at the end of Main Street. Actually, it was the winning design of a street painting competition. By the time I arrived, the ‘painting’ on the sidewalk was mostly done. It would be finished by a coat of varnish, so that it would not wash away in the current summer’s rainy season. Go see it.

On my way to Gallery 51 a lone troubadour, strumming his guitar, was entertaining a small crowd. He had quite a lovely voice. Then, at the Design Lab, next to Gallery 51, I photographed an orchestra playing classical music for an attentive audience.

Sara Farrell Okamura is  exhibiting at the Design Lab: What Happens in Washington, Happens in North Adams, monoprints with oil bar. Her motto: Vote! It’s a Radical Act! 11/06. - Last day to register, MA: 10/07, VT 11/06, NY 10/12

Then, I finally arrived at G51, where Charles Giuliano had a busy opening of: Heads and Tales, a selection of 40 photographs spanning 40 years of shooting and writing from the hip. The exhibition closes August 25. (Please note for transparency sake: Charles is my husband.)

He has given his love of music to Jazz since his teenage years and had been a jazz critic for the Boston Herald. Later he also covered rock-n-roll, because newspapers and magazines always changed hands or stopped publishing. For nearly as long he has been a fine arts critic, while writing for local and national newspapers and magazines. Now as publisher of Berkshire Fine Arts during the last decade he has covered all areas of the Berkshire’s cultural venues. Arthur DeBow, the curator of the exhibition, asked him to write a note for each image, which truly enliven the frozen-in-time moments. Visitors to the exhibition have expressed enjoying the fun anecdotes that are accompanying color or black and white images.

For example, a moody black and white photo of Joe Williams taken forty years ago in a dim jazz club required a lot of Photoshop corrections, so that it could make a fabulous come–back. And, of course, the digital Lin-Manuel Miranda photograph, snatched a month after Hamilton opened on Broadway, relied on good luck, connections and his motto: always have a camera ready.

There are 38 more stories told in the show, among them from a Sting and a Rolling Stones concert in Philadelphia, where Mick Jagger covered himself in an American flag. These two large 3 x 5 ft. canvas images can be seen in a front gallery window.

For the next Down Street Art celebration on August 30th, I will return and visit what I could not see during my walk through town in July. In addition, there is the Eclipse Mill Gallery, just a walk away at 243 Union Street. Wayne Hopkins and Kathy Wysocki are showing Cookoo’s Call until September 3rd. Their paintings and sculptures are born from far-fetched and colorful imaginations. They are worth seeing.

Along the path on Union Street one will come upon the Museum of Dog, stop for a visit, and Mass MoCA is only a stone throw away from there. The largest contemporary art museum in the USA needs no introduction.

Finally, two international galleries have found a home on the Mass MoCA campus. Cynthia-Reeves will open an exhibition on August 18, titled Luminal. Artists David Burdeny and Georg Kuttinger will show large scale land and water photographs, taken in remote land- and seascapes. Ferrin Contemporary and Independent Art Projects shows currently Cristina Cordova: Del Balcon. There are several large ceramic female nudes, surrounded by Alo Vera plants on small balconies. Other pieces show single heads with adornments. Their faces are finely chiseled. Cordova's work is simply exquisite.

Come on down!