Artswalk: Pop-up galleries offer variety in Pittsfield storefronts


PITTSFIELD — Susan Robinson discussed a collection of her work at Steven Valenti's Clothing For Men store on North Street as a part of Pittsfield's First Fridays Artswalk on Friday. It was her first show since the birth of her twin boys in 2011.

"When they called me, I thought I might not have enough pieces," she said. "But then I realized I had more than enough."

Robinson continued working from her in-home studio for the past five years, she said. Her work is whimsical and imaginative, drawing from other illustrators' work and from her childrens' toys and play. Her work hung in a makeshift studio in the front right of Valenti's store.

The public wandered in and out of the shop, admiring Robinson's work. It was the same up and down North Street in participating storefronts.

Pittsfield's First Fridays Artswalk was developed in 2006 as a project to turn local businesses into art galleries for a day. A group of merchants and artists drew on the examples from elsewhere in the country and began a partnership that has been mutually beneficial ever since.

A few doors down from Valenti, in the Kinderhook Group's real estate offices, Derrick Holt explained the history behind his photographs. The most striking picture showed a sky lit up in orange at the bottom of the shot and starry skies above.

"I shot that on Mount Greylock," Holt explained. "I happened to catch two lightning bolts striking at the same time in the dead of night."

He showed The Eagle other pictures from the same night. He spent the evening on the top of the mountain and caught a number of Berkshire moments lit up by the storm.

Across Park Square at the Berkshire Museum, Melissa Matsuki Lillie showed her paintings and collages to a crowd that leaned heavily young — and their parents. Lillie, her son Wesley on her hip, said that she has been an artist for as long as she can remember.

"I know it's a cliché," she laughed. "But it's true!"

Lillie's works are abstract whirlpools of color that draw the eye into the center of the piece. They are both modern and organic.

Lillie hails from Maryland but has made the Berkshires home for years. She works with other local artisans on her pieces — Pittsfield's Keith Wilson built the metal frames for a few of the pieces on the wall in the Berkshire Museum's Feigenbaum Innovation Center atrium.

The Artswalk marked her first opening at a museum, she said.

"I have some work hanging in Mezze restaurant in Williamstown," Lillie told The Eagle. "And I've had some up at The Porches Inn in North Adams."

Across the street, the two-man band Chain Letter played in front of the Adam Hinds State Senate office. Pittsfield's Dane Luhmann played the guitar and sang while Stockbridge's Glenn Geiger provided rhythm from the drums.

"I just moved to Pittsfield," Luhmann said. "I'm happy to be here."


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