MCLA Gallery 51 to Host Art Discussions


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Gallery 51 will host two evening discussions to explore issues raised by its exhibition, "Inside the Outside: Reconsidering Our Views about Art," next week, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Both evening discussions are free and open to the public.

On Tuesday, March 18, 5 -7 p.m., Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum, will be the feature presenter for a discussion about "Art and Biography." He will explore the question of whether the artist's life is a significant or an insignificant factor in the understanding and appreciation of a work of art. 

Franklin's interest in outsider art started as a teenager, and evolved as he grew into adulthood and became a collector. With his marriage to Renee Bouchard, an artist and teacher whose work is influenced by self-taught art, his interest in outsider art deepened.

According to Franklin, "With particular interest in the histories of self-taught art and Modernism, and in their frequent cross-overs, I try in my work to break down barriers and stereotypes and examine creativity in all its forms."

Art and Biography panel participants will include: Anna Saldo Burke, who published her own account of her relationship with artist Jessica Park;  Nancy M. Mathews, former Prendergast Curator at the Williams College Museum of Art and author of several art biographies including ones on Mary Cassatt, Maurice and Charles Prendergast; Michael McManmon, artist, author and founder/ director of the College Internship Program in Lee, Mass.

On Thursday, March 20, 5-7 p.m., Ilene Spiewak, artist, teacher and art therapist, will introduce a discussion on "Art Education and the Education of the Artist." This discussion will include a number of topics, including the therapeutic value of artistic expression and the inspirational qualities to be discovered in both taught and self-taught art.

An artist and educator, Spiewak uses art as a tool for healing. She is a teacher for the College Internship Program, which provides a college-level curriculum for students with Asperger's Syndrome.

According to Spiewak, "My goal in teaching young adults includes providing ways to nurture individual creativity and experimentation with various art mediums, which can offer a sense of accomplishment and improve one's psychological health."

Spiewak is displays her students' work alongside her own art in Gallery 51.

Panelists for Art Education and the Education of the Artist include: MCLA art professor Gregory Scheckler; MCLA arts management professor Lisa Donovan; and MCLA education professor Dale Borman Fink. They will be joined by artist-educator Renee Bouchard and Eileen Mahoney, an education outreach coordinator for the Good Purpose Gallery, part of the visual and performing arts program at CIP. 

MCLA Professor Emeritus Tony Gengarelly will be the moderator for both sessions. Gengarelly is the director of the Jessica Park Project and Center for the Study of Outsider Art at MCLA.  His latest book, "A World Transformed:  The Art of Jessica Park," recently was published and is on sale at the Gallery.

MCLA Gallery 51, at 51 Main St., North Adams, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Inside the Outside: Reconsidering Our Views about Art," and both evening discussions are sponsored by MCLA Gallery 51, the Good Purpose Gallery, the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the MCLA Fine and Performing Arts Department, the Jessica Park Project and Center for the Study of Outsider Art at MCLA. 

For more information about the exhibition or evening discussions, (413) 664-8718, or go to