Tricks of the Trade: Putting the Contemporary Back in the Cocktail Party


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - In collaboration with the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and the IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) will present "Putting the Contemporary Back in the Cocktail Party," the final installment of this season's Tricks of the Trade series, on Tuesday, May 6, at 6 p.m. in MCLA Gallery 51, 51 Main St., North Adams.

This conversation, on the future of contemporary art and art institutions, will be followed by a cocktail party. The workshop is free and open to the public; however, reservations are encouraged.

For this discussion, attendees will be joined by Andrew Foster, director of Structural Art Services, and Joseph Thompson, founding director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), to discuss the rapid onslaught of changes in the contemporary art world.

Over the past few decades, the climate of contemporary art has changed. Topics at this discussion will include today's perception of art, the effect the commercial market has on artists, and the organizational variances of art institutions across the world.

According to Foster, "I'll be learning right along with the audience - and hope to contribute a few thoughts on the economic and market aspects of today's amazing, occasionally crazy art world."

Thompson said he looks forward to the discussion. "Andy will bring a decidedly internationalist, global perspective, and I like to think of MASS MoCA in terms that are almost radically local, rooted in these buildings," he added.

As its founding director, Thompson in 1987 spearheaded the creation of MASS MoCA - the largest center for contemporary and performing arts in the United States. In the 18 years he has served as the museum's director, Thompson has directed the development of the architectural program for the 13-acre campus's 19th-century factory buildings; articulated the institution's far-ranging artistic program; and built the museum's staff, board and governing structure.

Simultaneously, he led the efforts to raise some $65 million in public and private funds that have built and operated MASS MoCA since its inception.

Over the past several years, Foster - a resident of Berkshire County - has worked as a consultant to address global cultural issues for governments and institutions, as well as market-related opportunities for corporations and individuals.

Recent key engagements include acting as a senior advisor to the Chairperson's Office at Qatar Museums Authority, and to the New York-based, online, art startup Paddle8. Previously, Foster spent 12 years at Christie's, the global art business.

Following the May 6 discussion, Tricks of the Trade will go on hiatus, before resuming at a later date to be announced.

Funded by the Appelbaum-Kahn Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Tricks of the Trade is a program produced by the BCRC, in collaboration with the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.

In its eighth year of serving the creative community of the Berkshires, Tricks of the Trade is a professional development seminar series for artists and other creative workers that gives them the tools and skills they need to grow and sustain their businesses, whether they are an independent artist or musician, or part of a non-profit arts institution or a fast-growing business that depends on creative minds.

Those who wish to RSVP for this event should contact Janette Santos, (413) 663-5253, or  For more information about this year's Tricks of the Trade series, go to tricksofthetrade, or call the BCRC, (413) 664 8718.