From chalk to chocolate: DownStreet Art delivers diverse experience


Photo Gallery | 2016 July DownStreet Art

NORTH ADAMS — There's a lot of art in this small city and DownStreet Art is no longer just a downtown-centered event.

The monthly summertime art show spread its creative wings from East Main Street to Ashland Street, and from Main and Holden streets to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus during a street festival Thursday.

Baker Reba Kandrotas set up a mini-bakery, featuring cupcakes, chocolate brownies and baked chocolate bars along Holden Street.

"I love this," the city resident said. "I love that it's local people. I am always looking for a place to show my art and my art is baking."

Mass MoCA kept the Marshall Street campus open until 7 p.m., and campus-based independent art galleries Ferrin Contemporary and Cynthia-Reeves kept their doors open longer for the festival. Both galleries hosted a "Meet the Curators" event as part of the evening's agenda.

Artist Jim O'Neill showcased his work on Holden Street. His colorful paintings and pen drawings are part of a creative flow.

"I sit, I think about what I want to draw. For this piece I wanted people, I wanted activity," he said, describing how he created a bright and busy street corner scene.

Drawing music comes naturally to Robin Louise Wilder Senseng. "Sometimes I draw the tempo, sometimes the melody," she said of her framed drawings. "Sometimes I get the feeling of what color and instrument should be, and sometimes I close my eyes and the colors just come to me."

Chalk art is the medium of artist Kevin Hill-Williams.

"There are two things present 90 percent of the time," he said. "One is looking at the space, what is the shape, what is the ground like; and the second is what I am feeling."

"Hyper" feelings lead to "scratchy lines," while calmer emotions generate swoops, swirls and curved lines, he said.

At the Common Folk 33 Main St. gallery, an ArtDoor youth exhibit celebrated its opening. Local students and youth 14 to 22 years old participated during several weeks of activities before creating their works, said gallery co-founder Jessica Sweeney.

"We take the kids out, we go to workshops; we hike, and we make art," she said.

Jacob Bartlett, 17, of Clarksburg, is a Charles H. McCann Technical School student whose work is displayed. The initiative provided a diversion, he said.

"It's basically a good way to get out of the house and not get in trouble," he said.

Sapphire Holland is ready to begin freshman year at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Her silhouette painting with colorful rain streaks drew gallery visitor attention.

"My inspiration comes out of nowhere," she said. "I look for ways to get my ideas down on paper, and usually it is with watercolor."

McCann senior Keylon Sheppard is enrolled with the Computer-Assisted Design program.

"I like my art to be done," he said, and explained that a finished art piece makes him happy.

Sheppard also enjoys slow-motion videography and had a video at the exhibit.

The Bad Drama Theater Club performed from beneath the Mohawk Theater marquee. The evening's offering was the second installment of 15-minute plays about the city and its history.

Actors Joshua Torres, Derek Lonergan, Ashley Kelton and Nikko Koetsch presented a tongue-in-cheek performance involving the allegedly haunted city-based Houghton Mansion and the fictitious antics of well-known city artist and developer Eric Rudd.

The Berkshire Artist Museum, at 159 East Main St., offered a "Meet the Artist" reception, featuring the work of nine local artists; and the local group Assets for Artists opened an exhibition at the 49 Main Street exPRESS Gallery.

The third DownStreet Art event is scheduled for Aug. 25. This year's theme, "Meet Your Neighbors," focuses on artists who live and work within 20 miles of the city. The project is a Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and MCLA collaboration.


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