Lichtenstein hosts homegrown exhibit

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PITTSFIELD >> For the third time in its 30-year history, the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will showcase its resident artists at the downtown studios and gallery. "Out of Studio," an exhibit at the center, opens Friday and runs through Jan. 31, with an opening reception and live music from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, when the artists will come out to welcome the community.

"For me it's really crucial to get out in public, meet the other artists, meet people in the gallery and talk art," said Sean McCusker.

McCusker, Mario Caluori, Peg Dotchin, Michael Rousseau, Jim Horsford and Julio Granda, all took part in the last Out of Studio show two years ago.

"We hope to do this on a more regular basis and get back to Kitty Lichtenstein's intention for the use of the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts — a community arts center with art classes and possible incubator spaces for young artists and more," said Jen Glockner, Pittsfield's cultural development director.

Lichtenstein, a huge supporter of the local arts during her brief stay in the Berkshires, founded the center that bears her name before moving to California in the mid-1980s. She died in June, 2012. She became the city's first cultural commissioner — forerunner to the director of cultural development position — and her Lichtenstein Foundation for Music and Art bought and renovated the space on Renne Avenue and eventually turned the center over to the city.

Lichtenstein became involved in other arts-related projects and venues in the area and was an early promoter of restoration of the Colonial Theatre. A native of Austria, she felt it important to give local painters, sculptors and other visual artists a productive haven by offering affordable studio space.

Rousseau, a Pittsfield resident, finds being an artist-in-residence the past six years has helped to hone his style.

"I've had studios at my house, but here the studio has been vital to my growth — my little cave to explore ideas," he said.

Rousseau paints in oil, relying on models for his realistic work which, to him, is all about the process.

"Learning technique, from Michelangelo, Leonardo [da Vinci], and Caravaggio of The Renaissance to contemporary artists like John Singer Sargent, that's what fascinates me," he said.

For Dochtin, a Lenox resident, her studio is a home away from home to fine-tune her painting skills using both oil and pastels for her signature landscape artwork.

"I will start some landscapes in pastels, using them as a study before turning them into oil [paintings,]" she said. "I have actually scraped down, sanded down what I did and turned a painting on its head."

"Nothing is so precious you can't go back and try again," Rousseau added. "If you got it right the first time, you got lucky."

Convenience led Caluori, from Lee, to secure a Lichtenstein studio some 20 years ago, as it was on his way home from Berkshire Community College, where he primarily taught English. Now, retired for more than a decade, he said he wouldn't trade the space for a home studio, believing the center helps his creative process.

Caluori's passion is painting unusual landscapes.

"You think tree stumps are dead matter, but there's beauty in them," he said, giving an example "I don't see them as falling apart. I give them life."

Horsford's contribution will stand out, as his artwork is three dimensional: pottery such as vases and dinnerware A long-time potter and art teacher, he knew early on his hands harnessed artist talent.

"As a kid, growing up on Quincy Bay [outside Boston], my Aunt and I would fill holiday plaster molds, then carve, sand, and paint them,' he said. "Later, in the eighth grade, I was inspired by a wonderful art teacher; I knew then that I wanted to be an art teacher, too."

While Out of Studio has no specific theme, the artists hope their various styles mess well as they hang on the gallery walls or sit atop pedestals.

"In a group show, it helps to have the works closely tied together," McCusker said.

Artists' profiles

Jim Horsford, Pittsfield

Lichtenstein studio resident since 2000

Education/experience: Bachelors in Fine Arts in art education w/minor in ceramics, UMass-Amherst; masters degree in creative arts in learning from Lesley College.

Taught art at Herberg Middle School (1978-2008) and wheel throwing at Miss Hall's School (1978-1984), both in Pittsfield.

Medium of choice: Potter/wheel throwing teacher. Functional pottery, such as mugs bowls, plates, vases made of stoneware clay. Wheel throwing is the process of shaping the clay on a potter's wheel.

Julio Granda

Studio resident since 2005

Education: Masters Fine Art from U-Mass-Amherst, U.S. Navy veteran/Korea 1950-54

Taught fine arts at Berkshire Community College (1972-1981). professor emeritus, BCC (1984)

Medium of choice: collage format in oil,acrylic.

Sean McCusker, Becket

Studio resident since 2007

Education/experience: Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UMass-Amerst (2005); Assistant to director, Frelinghuysen Moriss Hosue & Studio, Lenox; Pittsfield's First Friday Artswalk participant since 2012.

Medium of choice: Surreal landscape, oil

Mario Caluori, Lee`

Studio resident about 20 years

Education/experience: Part-time, non degree student studying drawing, printing and Painting at UMass-Amherst (1980-1985); retired English teacher at BCC.

Medium of choice: Figurative and abstract paintings using watercolors, oils, acrylics and charcoal.

Michael Rousseau, Pittsfield

Studio resident since 2008

Education/experience: Bachelor Fine Art and Master of Arts Teaching from Rhode Island School of Design

Medium of choice: Realistic figures in oil

Peg Dochtin, Lenox

Studio resident 20 years

Education/experience: Bachelor of Fine Arts, UMass-Amherst (1994)

Medium of choice: landscapes in oil and/or pastels

If you go ...

What: Group show of Lichtenstein Arts Center studio artists

When: Opening Friday, Jan. 9, with reception 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Winter hours 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday

Where: 28 Renne Ave., Pittsfield

Admission: Free

Information: discoverpittsfield.com


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