The Scene: Art lovers flock to Berkshire Art Association's 10X10 RAP


PITTSFIELD — Artists of the Berkshires and beyond, Berkshire Art Association board members, honored guests and art collectors filled the Berkshire Museum’s ballroom for the sixth annual 10x10 RAP, or Real Art Party, the fundraiser benefiting local art students.

Guests were enveloped in a rainbow of color, featuring original pieces of 10-by-10-inch pieces of artwork of all textures and mediums from watercolor to acrylics to oils to various metals and wires and even leather. Admission to the party on Thursday, Feb. 23, was free, while tickets for a chance to take home an original piece of art were $25 a piece.

Upon ascending the marble stairway and entering the Ellen Crane Memorial Room, guests meandered in a whirlwind of excitement after casing their choices of artwork on the wall.

One table was full of hors d'oeuvres, breads, imported cheeses and various confections. At another table, Bright Ideas Brewing Company of North Adams’ co-founder/owner Orion Howard and co-founder/manager Eric Kerns served their rich, home-brewed beers with a smile.

Berkshire Art Association Vice President Jennibeth Gomez was taking tickets.

“I have been a BAA member for four years and an official board member for 2 ½ years,” Gomez said.

Alongside her, Vice President Michael Vincent Bushy was asked how he felt about the event

“10x10 is the best kind of chaos,” he said.

Artist Keith Emerling called the event a “great cause for the BAA.”

“I’d love to know who the owner of my pieces will be,” he said.

Berkshire photographer Ogden Gigli was there along with artist Susan Geller.


Commencing the drawing for the art, BAA President Danielle Steinmann thanked the guests for their support.

"We are thrilled with this turnout and always enjoy seeing our community come together at the 10x10 RAP,” Steinmann said. “We are so grateful to everyone who helped make it a success. Thanks to you, the BAA will be able to continue to support the next generation of artists in the Berkshires."

And with that, Steinmann introduced BAA fellowship recipient Stephanie VanBramer who spoke of her journey with BAA.

”Winning the fellowship gave me the confidence to showcase my work as it does for all artists who become part of it,” VanBramer said. This is her third year participating in the event.

VanBramer said in a later interview that she was proud to show her artwork, titled “Don’t Count Me Out,” a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m super proud this gets children into the museum,” said BAA co-chair Carrie Wright. “and the fellowships give scholarships for more art.”

Also speaking, BAA fellowship recipient Michael King said, “The fellowship program is great because it gave me validation as an artist. By highlighting my work with other college art students throughout the county, I was able to see where I stood in relation to my peers, making me realize that my goals were both realistic and achievable.”

BAA co-chair Jayme Kurland said, “I think it’s really great how it brings the art community together in the Berkshires.”

Elsewhere during the evening, Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields made his rounds, mingling and accommodating the guests.  

Pittsfield City Councilor Peter White said, “I’m here to support BAA and looking forward to taking home a nice new piece of artwork for my wall.”

“It all comes from the inside out and the brush is in charge,” said artist Mary Ellen Devanny, reflecting a tone true to all artists and art forms.


Steinmann and BAA Vice President Mark Tomassi led the raffle. As names were chosen by a drawing, each lucky person got the chance to pick and own any piece on the wall.

As more names were called and more frames were taken, the odds of getting the artwork one wanted became less and less, so it wasn’t a surprise to find some of the guests “protective” of the pieces they wanted even before their names were called.

A cluster of friends posed for a picture with their art chosen and screenplay writer Wendy Darling was there to talk about her up and coming rock opera. “It’s 50 years since the summer of love [Woodstock], which inspired me to write the story,” she said. The opera will debut in the fall of 2018.

There with her family, artist Julie Street of Pittsfield featured two of her works in the drawing.

“Living in the Berkshires inspires me and my art. There are so many beautiful places,” Street said.

Her daughter Delaney Street, 6, was happy to hold the art of her choice: Artist Tia-Marie Damman’s painting of Calvin and Hobbes titled “A Simple LIfe.” Tuckered out after a full and eventful evening, she later fell asleep slumped over Dad’s shoulder, but not before posing for a photograph with her newfound treasure.

As the hours passed it came time for the drawing for the supersize pieces of art. These tickets were an additional $10 and there were five pieces for the fortunate winners to take home.

Bushy gave his best Darth Vader impression into the microphone: “Now for the big ones!” The names were called and the cheering recipients claimed their winnings.

But no one in the room was more elated than Michael Daniello who just happened to be the first name called, at which point he jumped up to grab his painting and held it like a newborn baby.

“I can’t believe I won!” he said. “I flew up to get in the drawing at the last minute after seeing this painting and I won! I need to find the best place in my house to display it.”

The other four winners were Van Shields, Scott Eldrige, Mary Jane Lucido and Matthew Pedrotti.

More than 130 tickets were sold and close to 300 people attended the Berkshire Art Association’s 10x10 RAP, or Real Art Party, making it once again a smashing success where true artists were there to exhibit and promote what they love most: the creation of art, which is always an extension of one’s self, making the evening and the pieces priceless.


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