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Artistic Celebration

06/22/2011

For the fourth consecutive summer, MCLA will ensure that the streets of downtown North Adams are alive with art and cultural programs that not only attract thousands of visitors to bolster the city's economy, but enrich the community with education and entertainment.

Organized by MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), DownStreet Art will feature more than 100 exhibitions that showcase the work of artists from around the world. The fun begins on Thursday, June 23, when the public is invited to attend its opening celebration, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Once again, this massive block party will include gallery exhibition openings and street musicians. This season's opening event coincides with the kick-off of the Solid Sound Festival, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

And this year, DownStreet Art will include more exhibition openings than ever before.

"In the past, one artist or one gallery has taken over a space for four months," said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA." This year, we have multiple exhibitions happening in the same galleries. While we have about three dozen spaces, we're looking at more than 100 exhibitions. The last Thursday of every month we'll have new exhibition openings in almost every single space, with new artists in most of them."

June 23 exhibition openings include a juried show of anti-war art organized by Andrew Davis and Richard Rand, senior curator at The Clark. And, composer, writer, turntablist and conceptual artist Paul D. Miller - otherwise known as DJ Spooky, will offer a multimedia performance on global warming in Antarctic.

This year's curatorial committee included representatives from MASS MoCA, Willams College Museum of Art (WCMA) and The Clark, in an effort that increased in size and scale, Secor said.

This attracted applications from artists all over the world.

"It was a testament that these committee members would be seeing the work," Secor said. "Artists knew that, even if their work wasn't chosen, it would be put in front of the major museums in the northern Berkshires. We're looking forward to a great summer. We have some great artists and some great art coming."

Among this summer's offerings will be an exhibition of art by award-winning photographer and artist Carrie Mae Weems, which will open on July 28. Her photographs, films and videos have been displayed in more than 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Her work focuses on issues that face African Americans today, such as racism, gender relations, politics and personal identity.

Also on July 28, Izabel Galliera will present "A Social Geography of Hair: Performing Gender and Identity in Contemporary Art" in the former Sheer Madness space. The show aims to map and provoke dialogue on the socially potent use of hair as an artistic and communicative medium for both conveying and transgressing accepted notions of beauty, individuality, gender and cultural identity.

On Aug. 25, a Chinese artist sponsored by The Clark, Xin Xin Zhi, will present "Dog Bones" and "Love Letter," two sculptures composed by pieces of molded, Chinese clay. Also featured on Aug. 25 will be the work of video artist Molly Davies, who started making experimental films in the late 1960s in New York City.

BCRC's partners in DownStreet Art include the City of North Adams, Develop North Adams, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Orbit Visual Graphic Design. The program is made possible through lead sponsorship support provided by Excelsior and Greylock Federal Credit Union. Additional support is provided by: Adams Co-Operative Bank, Brewhaha Café, the City of North Adams, Edward Jones Investments, The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA , Moulton's Spectable Shop Inc., Persnickety Toys, Jarvis W. Rockwell, Scarafoni Realty and The Sushi House.

For more information, go to www.downstreetart.org and www.mcla.edu/bcrc .