Third Annual Downstreet Art to Launch on Thursday, June 24
NORTH ADAMS, MA - With seven additional visual art destinations over last year's offerings and 11 new galleries, this year's DownStreet Art initiative - organized by the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) - not only will increase in scope and size; its installations will highlight communities from around the world.
Featuring internationally renowned installation artists such as Liz Nofziger and Pepón Osorio, as well as showcasing homegrown talent, DownStreet Art continues to act as a catalyst for drawing thousands of visitors to downtown North Adams.
"DownStreet Art continues to grow in size and scale, with more visual arts destinations and events this summer and fall than ever before. While global in scale, there is a wonderful sense of the small world in which we live, with many of this year's exhibitions exploring, showcasing and dissecting the meaning of community," said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA.
The third annual DownStreet Art will kick off in downtown North Adams on Thursday, June 24, 6-9 p.m., with a massive block party celebrating the arts. There will be gallery exhibition openings, street musicians and specials at local businesses. The event is free and open to the public. All of the participating artists will be in attendance.
"We expect we will once again see the streets of North Adams filled in celebration of the arts. It is a great chance to meet the artists, see the art, and help kick off this celebration of the North Adams art world," Secor said.
MCLA President Mary K. Grant said, "It's so exciting to see how DownStreet Art has grown thanks to the many partners who continue to support this innovative initiative which fills our downtown storefronts with art exhibits and performances throughout the summer and fall. Over the past two years combined, this public art project drew approximately 35,000 people to downtown North Adams. DownStreet Art not only highlights the incredibly talented community of artists that call the Berkshires home, it serves as a draw for artists from across the globe. With more venues and artists than ever before, we expect another terrific season as local residents and visitors alike enjoy the wide variety of art to be found across the community. It's also a great opportunity to sample local restaurants and support local businesses."
"DownStreet Art is an extremely important initiative that perfectly blends the arts and business community," said Brian Micsik, president of Develop North Adams. "It benefits our businesses by bringing thousands of people downtown, and benefits our entire community by providing an expanded presence for these artists and their work."
DownStreet Art's 34 visual arts destinations also will include Gallery Haiti, showing the work of contemporary Haitian American artists. Proceeds from the sale of this artwork will go to support the arts community in Haiti. The exhibition is curated by MCLA Professor Melanie Mowinski, as well as Art for Change in New York City and Haitian artists and performers.
"Haiti has a deep, deep cultural history - both past and present. Currently what we see on most of our TVs are the images of people struggling just to survive, and it is important to remember them and to continue the support of those people. But we must not forget that this is a nation rich in talented artists and performers," Secor said. "This gallery will attempt to show what is happening in their art scene. It will continue to remind people of the need in Haiti, while reminding them that there's a vibrant arts community there."
Local Color will focus on supporting, growing and showcasing the community that has existed in the region for decades. Area artist Wendy James will work with untrained artists in North Adams to present this exhibition of their art.
At the location once known as the "The Artery Lounge" the art exhibition named "The Artery" will transform what was once one of North Adams' most popular watering halls into a new art work by Boston-based artist Liz Nofziger.
"The Artery was one of the last of its kind - a working class, blue-collar bar - that opened before the first shift of the area's factories," said Secor. "Liz Nofziger is taking the bar as it was left one year ago - with Budweiser stickers stuck on the walls and smoke stains on the ceiling. She will bring new life to the space, using its history and environment."
In the former Gateway Motors Ford dealership on Route 2, Philadelphia-based, Puerto Rican artist Osorio will create an expansive, multi-media work that looks at the differences between the City and Williamstown. The work was commissioned by the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), and will move from its North Adams location to the Williams College Museum of Art in the fall.
According to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) Director Joseph Thompson, "DownStreet Art is great for many reasons: it provides a wide range of accessible venues for the growing number of talented artists who live in our region; it creates more good reasons for visitors to check out downtown North Adams; it's an excellent training ground for many interns; and it's a lovely excuse for an all-city party! This year, we're especially lucky to have the Williams College Museum of Art adding what promises to be an especially powerful installation by Pepón Osorio."
Visitors to the MCLA Gallery 51 Annex will find an interactive installation work produced by Sadie and Ephraim Hatfield. Avalon Seafood has three exhibitions currently planned, including a look at what it means to be patriotic and a redesigning of North Adams.
"The artist has collected the city plans from the past few decades. Using these, as well as current plans, suggestions, hopes and ideas, he'll be creating the utopian North Adams, with the visitor having an opportunity to weigh in," said Secor.
With the opening of an exhibition featuring the work of artist Daisy Rockwell in the Galerie Inqilab at 5 Holden St., the Berkshires will have three generations of Rockwell artists on view. From June 24 to July 25, Daisy Rockwell's work will join the work of Norman Rockwell, her grandfather, exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, as well as the work of her father, Jarvis Rockwell, whose work will be exhibited on Main Street in North Adams.
Later on this summer, Galeria Inqilab will feature the work of wood cut prints from the Asaro collective in Oaxaca Mexico, in a show titled "The Art of Dissent," curated by MCLA Professor Ann Scott.
"DownStreet Art has become quite a phenomenon here in North Adams," said the city's mayor, Richard Alcombright. "It has contributed significantly to bringing the art community into the downtown, and, in doing so, fostering activity for local businesses. Through the efforts of Jonathan Secor and many others and with the support of MCLA, DownStreet Art will grow again this year to more than 30 locations in the core of our beautiful city. I am truly looking forward to the opening of this wonderful collaboration and I am confident it will once again be highly successful."
According to Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), "DownStreet Art continues the North Adams tradition of innovative approaches to building community through the arts. The MCC is pleased to support DownStreet Art's efforts to revitalize North Adams and enhance its attractiveness as a place to live, work, and visit."
DownStreet Art Thursdays will continue on the last Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. These events will feature music, performances, gallery openings and other downtown activities.
DownStreet Art is a project of MCLA's Berkshire Culture Resource Center, partnering with the City of North Adams, Develop North Adams, Orbit Visual Graphic Design and Scarafoni Realty. The program is made possible through lead sponsorship support provided by Greylock Federal Credit Union and Greylock Investment Group. Additional support is provided by: Adams Co-Operative Bank, Berkshire Bank, the City of North Adams, Gramercy Bistro, Hoosac Bank, The Hub Food and Spirit, Doug Morin MD, Papyri Books, The Party Place, Petrino's Café, The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA , Supreme Pizza and Wings, Taylor's and TGL Photoworks.
The initiative was designed to revitalize downtown North Adams by identifying the City as a cultural haven. The program serves not only to increase MCLA's visibility, but to showcase what other local arts organizations have to offer. For more information about DownStreet Art and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, go to www.downstreetart.org and www.mcla.edu/bcrc .