Friday June 21, 2013

NORTH ADAMS -- It’s time to get down with DownStreet.

DownStreet Art, the public arts festival produced by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, kicks off its sixth summer season tonight from 5 to 10 p.m. in downtown North Adams. It is free and open to the public.

According to Jonathan Secor, director of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), people will literally be dancing in the street tonight for the first acts of the DownStreet Art Thursday performance series. Main Street will close down to traffic at 8 p.m., and the global hip-hop/world music group Nomadic Massive will perform a free concert.

Also performing will be "Wandering Night House," a vehicular light show that will amble along the streets and corridors of the city at a very slow pace, dousing street façades with subtle light projections. The performance will be featured during tonight’s DownStreet Art kickoff event, as well as Friday night for North Adams’ Late Night downtown happening.

DownStreet’s start coincides with Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, also happening this weekend at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

Over the next four months of DownStreet’s programming, the works of 75 different artists will be featured in more than 30 exhibitions throughout the city, with additional celebrations, street parties, demonstrations to be held in tandem.


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"Once again, we have some truly amazing art and artists," said Secor.

"We had great submissions from around the world, giving our curatorial committee -- made up of representatives from MASS MoCA, the Clark Art Museum, Mount Holyoke Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, Ferrin Gallery and MCLA Gallery 51 -- and some hard choices. The great news is that because downtown now has more year-round, permanent businesses than in decades, DownStreet Art is opening fewer pop-up galleries this season."

This year’s DownStreet Art theme is "Beyond Industry," chosen to reflect a North Adams that is attempting to progress beyond its post-factory town and industrial past by using the arts as a catalyst for socioeconomic growth.

The season’s exhibition line-up will include a wide array of renowned visual artists whose works tackle the scope of industry, whether within the narrow focus of the art industry or the broader context of industrial structures formed society.

DownStreet Art will run now through Oct. 31.

Last summer, DownStreet Art strove to revitalize the façade of North Adams when it facilitated the creation of three large-scale public mur als. Its goal is to continue to bring art to public spaces that are easily viewable for both residents and visitors alike in the effort to attract more economic flow to Main Street.

"I smile every time I turn the corner at Main and Holden streets and see that beautiful mural," said North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright. "This sort of thing is what sets our community apart."

DownStreet Art’s initiative for this season additionally reflects the theme of progression, with four new "pop-up" (temporary) galleries and the commissioning of a multi-piece mural project created by artist Peter Dudek.

For "Mural Series: Peter Dudek," Dudek will create an ongoing series of architectural cartoons where different forms of housing represent a world in which buildings not only have a consciousness, but also the desire and ability to perpetuate.

Local artist Andrew Davis will lead "Paint it Big! Paint it Public," a workshop for teens sponsored by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Students will create a public mural based on Albrecht Dürer’s famous 16th century woodcut "The Rhinoceros." This mural will be formed in the Main Street alley, between Shear Madness Salon and Eagle Street, July 15 through 17, with work being done between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Since the creation of DownStreet Art in 2008, its events and exhibitions have attracted more than 100,000 visitors to the downtown North Adams area, organizers estimate.

Local artist Andrew Davis will lead "Paint it Big! Paint it Public," a workshop for teens sponsored by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Students will create a public mural based on Albrecht Dürer’s famous 16th century woodcut "The Rhinoceros." This mural will be formed in the Main Street alley, between Shear Madness Salon and Eagle Street, July 15 through 17, with work being done between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Since the creation of DownStreet Art in 2008, its events and exhibitions have attracted more than 100,000 visitors to the downtown North Adams area, organizers estimate.

"There are many pieces of the puzzle that must be healthy and grow for downtown North Adams to continue on this wonderful path to a more vibrant future," said Glenn Maloney, president of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce.

"DownStreet Art has brought life to one very important aspect of a healthy downtown: culture," said Maloney, "In addition, it’s brought both visual interest and commerce, but most important of all, DownStreet Art has been a catalyst for other growth and ideas." Published June 20, 2013