Friday August 3, 2012

This article was updated on Friday.

PITTSFIELD -- Organizers of the First Fridays Artswalk are getting a head start on fundraising for 2013 -- the first full year of the increasingly popular downtown event.

Today through Aug. 11, the city-owned Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will feature 31 local and regional artists selling their works to the public; half the proceeds will go to benefit the city's year-round walkable gallery tour.

The Artswalk Invitation art show also includes a silent auction of goods and services donated by local businesses.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Renne Avenue is open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.

Artswalk chairwoman Mary McGinnis said the art show and auction is one of several fundraising efforts under way to ensure the monthly event will continue into next year.

She noted more than $20,000 in donations and in-kind services has already been received to fully fund Artswalk for this year.

On first Fridays, Artswalk features an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. by most of the venues. The artwork displays will stay up for about a month, allowing downtown visitors ample time to view each one, according to organizers. Brochures describing each month's Artswalk tour will be available at the venues, the Pittsfield Visitors Center inside the Colonial Theatre, and other locations.

Since First Fridays Artswalk debuted three months ago, the number of participating businesses and venues display local and regional artwork has grown from 25 in May to 32 in August, organizers said.

"There is a real need for artists to show their work and store owners want to increase foot traffic," McGinnis said. "It's a perfect marriage.

Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development and the Berkshire Art Association are major sponsors of Artswalk, with the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association acting as the nonprofit fiscal agent for the program. The Eagle is also a sponsor.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.