ArtBerkshires plunges into local shows

Thursday August 16, 2012

PITTSFIELD - The poet Lord George Gordon Byron once said, "All are inclined to believe what they covet, from a lottery-ticket up to a passport to Paradise."

"COVET" is name of the umbrella covering ArtBerkshires' 2012 compendium of summer programs and exhibitions; through these shows, beholders can eye everything from art collections to lectures to culinary delights to their hearts' content.

Produced and programmed by curators, moms and gallery owners Leslie Ferrin and Sienna Patti, ArtBerkshires is an initiative aimed at developing and marketing contemporary art works, programs and more related to the Berkshires.

"The Berkshires are our theater for visual arts," Ferrin said. She owns and operates Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield and is the director of Project Art, an artists' residence in nearby Cummington. Though she and Patti often travel with works, both women want to create a more local buzz. "We love what we do, and we want to make it work here," Patti said.

She and Ferrin believe that the region is a ripe platform for offering a contemporary visual arts repertoire of programs and events during the summer season, much like local performance venues do. On Friday, the summer programs come to an end with a Berkshire Museum exhibit tour and a dinner, while art works will be displayed at Ferrin Gallery through Sept. 2.

This year, with COVET, Art Berkshires has gone beyond the art to show behind the scenes of how contemporary artists are referencing modern art through a variety of media and contexts.

One person who has quickly learned about how such programs come together is Jacqui Proctor. While finishing a painting degree and arts management minor in the fine arts program at Bowling Green State University, she is spending the summer with Ferrin Gallery through the Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP), an intensive arts management internship program based at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

"Leslie and Sienna have two very different styles, but they work well together. I'm a painter, but I've learned a lot about design and how to build programs," Proctor said.

She has also been able to travel to different art and cultural venues, meet with exhibitors, curators and artists. Ferrin and Patti have offered her the opportunity to return next summer to further work with ArtBerkshires and the website she's developed.

The website lists a menu of COVET events offered by Art Berkshires. In addition to the two exhibitions at Sienna and Ferrin galleries, there were nine "Meet Me At ," five "iCovet" and two "Dish + Dine" events, all signature titles of ArtBerkshires.

Meet Me At events included visits to arts venues and behind the scenes tours with curators and artists.

iCovet events allowed artists and collectors of all ages and backgrounds to share more details about the bodies of work they create and/or collect.

The Aug. 3 iCovet, for example, collaborated with IS183 Art School of the Berkshires to show work created by local high school students with the help of international artists in IS183's Berkshire Residency Exchange program.

Pittsfield-based photographer Bill Wright spoke in July, sharing his work displayed at Sienna Gallery. He staged photographs by re-imagining master paintings, including John Singer Sargent's " The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit," recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

"This gave me a great understanding of art works and their artists," Wright said, mulling over how it felt to create his own work inspired by a masterpiece. "I didn't know anything about that piece before I saw it, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world."

Wright said being involved in ArtBerkshires has helped him not only expand his photography and talents but also to expand his network through events like Dish + Dine and other shows, talks and events.

Dish + Dine events allow guests to enjoy a catered dinner inside Ferrin Gallery served on tableware produced by an artist and discussion with other artists, authors and curators involved with the project.

ArtBerkshires has also attached COVET to other events like Third Thursdays, First Fridays Artswalk, and Mezze Restaurant Group's "Cultural Cocktails" series.

Ferrin and Patti said these events help artists works to gain exposure to collectors and galleries and museums outside of the Berkshires.

What: ArtBerkshires and iCovet present a 'Meet Me' event: Co-curator and director of interpretation Maria Mingalone will lead a behindthe- scenes tour of the exhibit 'Rethink! American Indian Art' When: 5 to 6 p.m.

Where: Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield

What: Dish + Dine with artist Molly Hatch and Red Lion Inn Chef Brian Alberg. Hatch's work inspired the COVET theme.

When: Friday 6:30 p.m.

Where: Ferrin Gallery, 437 North St., Pittsfield

Exhibit: 'Covet: Art + Objects' Where: Ferrin Gallery When: Through Sept. 2 Ongoing exhibits highlighted in ArtBerkshires include:

'Rethink' contemporary American Indian art at the Berkshire Museum

Contemporary Sculpture Show at Chesterwood

'Then and Now: Photographs of Northern China' at the Clark Art Institute

'Five' at Greylock Arts

'Shalom: Weaving Threads of Peace' at Hancock Shaker Village

Photographs at Jacob's Pillow

'Oh Canada' at Mass MoCA

'A Sea Feeling in the Mountains' at Sohn Gallery

Nigerian art and Layla Ali, Williams College Museum of Art

Information: (413) 442-1622, or


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