Meet the Artist


Beginning Thursday, August 27, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Gallery 51 will present the reflective photography of former minister and educator Thomas Mikelson of North Adams. An opening reception for Reflections will be held that evening, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Main Street gallery.

Like most of the other photographs to be exhibited in the gallery, "William James" (above) features a reflective quality "in one way or another," Mikelson explains. Some contain reflections in water. Other images were created through the use of glass, shiny metal or glossy paint to accomplish a similar reflective quality.

Mikelson decided to give "Williams James" a distorted look by shooting the building-located on the Harvard campus just two blocks from where he used to live-as it was reflected in a large window nearby.

He moved to North Adams several years ago from Cambridge, MA, where he ministered at the Unitarian Church in Harvard Square for 20 years and taught at Harvard Divinity School for a decade.

He and his wife moved after conducting an extensive search throughout New England for just the right place to retire.

After looking at a home in the Pioneer Valley, the couple decided to drive over the mountain to the Berkshires.

"And we knew we were home the minute we were here," he says. "The very first day we came to North Adams we found a home that we bought and renovated.

"We were looking for a certain kind of community. It felt right to us. We really had no idea about the way artists had been moving into the town over the past few years," Mikelson explains. "That was a bonus. The art world out here just keeps unfolding."

Although his fascination with photography began when he was a teen, it wasn't until college that Mikelson "fell in love with it."  As retirement approached, he knew he wanted to pursue the hobby further.

He spent 10 years working with photographers Elizabeth Opalenik, Karin Rosenthal, and Connie Inboden. All three women are well-known in the photographic community for their work with reflections.

For the past five or six years, Mikelson has focused on reflections when taking his photographs. However, he also takes "ordinary" photographs: Some of his nudes are included in the show.

"They are not customary," Mikelson says. "One of the main photographs is called 'Beautiful Back.'  It's just the back of a woman. The way she holds her shoulder blades is interesting." 

On Tuesday, September 8, at 6 p.m. Mikelson will give a talk about his work and his process.  Reflections will be on display at MCLA's Gallery 51 through September 20.  

The August 27 reception, which is free and open to the public, is part of DownStreet Art Thursday, an evening of exhibition openings and performances at two dozen downtown galleries.

DownStreet Art is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.

MCLA Gallery 51, at 51 Main Street in North Adams, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call (413) 664-8718, or go to Gallery 51 or