DownStreet Art kicks off the summer in North Adams

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Photo Gallery | 2015 DownStreet Art kickoff celebration

NORTH ADAMS — From the top of Main Street to the corner at Marshall Street, a wealth of art galleries flung open their doors to the several hundred attendees of the year's first DownStreet Art, the monthly celebration of the locally rambunctious creative spirit.

At the top of Main Street, in the newly renamed Berkshire Artist Museum — housed in the former First United Methodist Church — artist Eric Rudd's team has put together an impressive exhibition of local artists' work from the 1970s.

"That 70s Show," the name of the exhibition, features pieces that were created a long time ago and for the most part have not been seen since.

According to Terri Boccia, a member of the museum's board of directors, the artists, when contacted about the show, were excited about the concept.

"This is work that's been packed away for 40 years," she said. "This is the first time they've seen the light of day in some time."

Later in the summer, the show will be enhanced by bringing in some current work from the same artists, for a before and after display, she added.

Other parts of the museum feature a new work by Rudd, which he calls the "Iceberg Installation" in the former church sanctuary, which was two years in the making. On the bottom floor is an ongoing show of his earlier works.

He said they decided to change the name from the Rudd Art Museum to the Berkshire Artist Museum "to better reflect our efforts to show the best of regional art."

Indeed, regional art was well represented at Thursday's Downstreet Art event.

Just down the street, at 87 Main, is the "Convergence" exhibition showcasing work from 14 artists participating in MASS MoCA's Assets for Artists program, which financially aids artists who move to North Adams to practice their craft.

Artists came largely from the Northeast, and as far away as California, to take part.

The Convergence show was organized by Natalie Tyler, a recent arrival from the West Coast and an artist of glass and bronze castings.

"We decided when we heard about Downstreet Art to apply for some space to show works from artists from other places but who live here now," she said.

Commonfolk Artist Collective, is operating "Common Place Gallery" this summer, also at 87 Main St. "Stained and Blown," a group exhibition of local glass artists, is the focus.

Further down Main Street, past the drumming circle, past the dude paying guitar and harmonica on a doorstep, past the live band and the swinging hula hoopers, at Gallery 51 was another show — Valerie Hird's "Origin of Birds." On the other side of the gallery is Hird's wall installation, "The Fifth Day."

Still further down the sidewalk is the "C Gallery," at 33 Main St. Here can be found "Into the Valley of Hands," by local artist Joshua Fields, and "Sky Walk," by Pioneer Valley artist Chris Page.

DownStreet Art will run through Thursday, Sept. 24. This focus is the theme of community connections, and will bring the work of more than 50 visual artists to pop-up galleries in solo and group exhibitions. Four "DownStreet Art Thursdays" will take place on June 25, July 30, Aug. 27 and Sept. 24.

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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