Scarecrows as art? 'Hayman!' is next community arts initiative


Tuesday, September 11
PITTSFIELD — Fiberglass sheep, plastic baseball gloves ... scarecrows?

Following in the success of both the Sheeptacular! and Art of the Game projects, city officials and community leaders yesterday announced the formation of a third community arts initiative that will include scarecrow figures placed in downtown Pittsfield.

Titled "Hayman! Scarecrows in downtown Pittsfield," the project will focus on the creation and placement of 75 of the homemade hay-filled statues along North and South streets, between Carr Hardware and the Berkshire Museum, during the month of October.

"They will be up in trees, along the median strip and on the sidewalks," said project coordinator Michael Rousseau of the Storefront Artists Project, during a news conference at Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Renne Avenue.

Lafayette said the city hopes to have the scarecrows in place by the weekend of Oct. 5 when a jazz festival is scheduled to take place. They are expected to remain in place through Halloween, which means they will be up during the city's annual Halloween Parade down North Street, which takes place this year on Friday, Oct. 26.

"They will be up for that," Lafayette said.

Lafayette said the city will check with the Fire Department to make sure the scarecrows are made of flame-retardant material.

A community scarecrow-building workshop, which is open to the public, is scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Common on First Street. A training session took place Sunday.

The Sheeptacular! project took place three summers ago and featured 70 individually decorated sheep statues placed in locations throughout the downtown area. Next came the baseball-themed Art of the Game Project, which included 100 individually decorated plastic baseball gloves in downtown Pittsfield during the summer of 2006.

"The seed of creativity is absolutely incredible," Mayor James M. Ruberto said.

"I remember when Sheeptacular! came out, and I was one of the skeptics," said Michael P. Daly, the president and CEO of Berkshire Bank, one of the event's several sponsors. "But it took off.

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"I'm looking forward to seeing the haymen, haywomen, hay things that will be created," he said.

The scarecrows will be constructed along the lines of objects created by well-known straw sculpture artist Michael Melle, a Pittsfield native who resides in Plainfield and who began building scarecrows in 1991.

Movies: The Scarecrow is one of Batman's signature enemies, and appears in the film "Batman Begins."
Music: Pink Floyd recorded a song entitled "The Scarecrow" on its debut album, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" in 1967; John Mellencamp used "Scarecrow" as the title for an entire album in 1985.
Mythology: In Japanese mythology, a scarecrow appears as the deity, Kuebiko, who cannot walk, but knows everything about the world.
To participate in Pittsfield's "Hayman!" project: Contact Mary Ellen Puntin at the Berkshire Bank Foundation at (413) 447-1724. Registration forms can be obtained at either or at the Berkshire Bank offices at Old Town Hall or 33 East St. in Pittsfield.
— Tony Dobrowolski

Those interested in participating in the project will be given a bundle of sticks to use for the scarecrow's arms, legs and shoulders that will be attached to a small block of wood, "the hip block in the middle," Melle said.

'Very naturalistic'

They will be given hay to attach to the skeleton with cotton string. Clothes to dress each scarecrow also will be provided.

"When you put the clothes on, they look very naturalistic," Melle said.

Lafayette said Sunday's training session revealed that the best way to create scarecrows is with three-person teams. "You really need three people," he said.

Rousseau said anyone can participate.

"This is the type of project where you don't need to be an artist to do it," he said. "We don't want people to be intimidated by the word 'artist.' Community interest is what we're trying to foster."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:, (413) 496-6224.


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