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Pittsfield Trys To Turn Black Friday Plaid
By: Andy McKeever On: 06:34PM / Wednesday November 24, 2010

Cultural Pittsfield is hoping those long lines outside of major retail stores on Friday will be just a little shorter and instead of rushing around and fighting angry mobs, the group wants people to stroll down Main Street dressed in plaid and buy locally.

The city has joined the Plaid Friday movement that began last year in Oakland, Cali. and has spread thoughout cities across the nation. The movement promotes shopping at independently and locally owned stores, restaurants and cafes to invest in the local economy. Supporters will be wearing some sort of visible plaid and enjoying downtown as an alternative to the hussle and bussle of Black Friday.

Local businesses Carr Hardware, Chapters Bookstore, The Emporium and Dottie's Coffee Lounge are recognizing the day with special deals.

Cultural Pittsfield is promoting to "the diversity and creativity of independent businesses" and is joined by another Massachusetts city: Somerville. As a long-term goal, the nationwide movement hopes to become a resource to link shoppers with local businesses in every city.

Tags: Pittsfield, Local, Business      
Pittsfield Wins Arts Video Challenge
By: Staff Reports On: 01:06PM / Friday November 19, 2010

Congratulations to the city of Pittsfield for winning the Massachusetts Cultural Council Mayor's Art Challenge. The three-minute video of "The Art of Revitalizing a City" will be showcased at the State House this coming February at the Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honors in arts and culture.

The awards are presented every two years and, in 2009, the city was recognized as the state's most Creative Community for its efforts in using arts and culture to advance its goals as a vital community.

Pittsfield was one of 16 videos entered in the contest and features Mayor James M. Ruberto talking about the city's revitalization from a booth in Dottie's Coffee Lounge. The video's racked up more than 2,700 views to date and garnered 219 "likes" on YouTube. That seems a small amount, but voters had to have a YouTube account to vote. It still outpaced the larger cities of Lowell and Melrose (both with 186) and Haverhill (132). See all 16 videos here.

These four top vote-getters were reviewed by a panel at MCC and Pittsfield declared the winner.

Berkshire County's other city, North Adams, also vied in the challenge but couldn't come up with enough votes for the final. Featuring North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, the Steeple City's video picked up 72 likes and more than a 1,000 views. See that one below.

The Pittsfield video will be also be shown next year to the U.S. Conference of Mayors as part of the Americans for the Arts annual presentation. The video was created by Jennibeth Gomez, and AmeriCorps-VISTA intern in the city's Office of Cultural Development.


Tags: YouTube, contest      
Stockbridge Family Has Strong Ties to Heroic Sculptor
By: Tammy Daniels On: 07:10PM / Tuesday June 01, 2010

We had a chance to meet G. Marie Bidwell Leuchs at the rededication of the Pittsfield war memorial on Monday. Leuchs is the niece of H. Augustus Lukeman, the sculptor who created the paen to the city's World War I veterans back in 1926.

Marie Bidwell Leuchs, left, Catherine Bohrman and David LaRocca in front of Lukeman's Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

She and her daughter, Catherine Leuchs Bohrman, were noted in the crowd who attended the ceremony as being a link to the well-known artist.

Leuchs is actually the niece of Lukeman's wife, Helen Bidwell, who died in 1971 at the age of 82. She outlived her husband by 36 years; he died in 1935 at age 64. The couple had no children, said Leuchs.

The Bidwell and Leuchs families appear to have adopted his legacy, and the Leuchs donated his papers to the Smithsonian Institute.

The Bidwell name has deep roots in New England (John Bidwell being a founder of Hartford, Conn.) and are descendants of the Rev. Adonijah Bidwell, Tyringham's first minister and namesake of Bidwell House and Museum.

(Oddly enough, when we popped Bidwell House into Google we got a link to another Bidwell House, named for a John who searched for gold at Sutter's Mill and married a Kennedy — not that one — from Massachusetts.)

Lukeman married into the old Berkshire family and also studied with Daniel Chester French. It's not surprising that he settled into Stockbridge and built a studio in Glendale, where French built Chesterwood, his summer home and studio.

Lukeman also sculpted the McKinley statue in Adams in 1903 and an old Berkshire Eagle article notes he was incorrectly described as a "Stockbridge native" at the time. He actually hailed from Richmond, Va., and would spend a few years working on the Stone Mountain memorial to the heroes of the Confederacy.

Leuchs stands to be recognized.

The Leuchs share the same zeal for artistry — Marie Leuch's late husband Frederick was a noted stained-glass expert who operated out of Lukeman's studio on Lukeman Lane for a time. Their daughter Catherine is a sculptor and works in bronze, although her pieces are far more abstract and intimate than Lukeman's heroic Beaux Arts works. You can see her collection here.

They were rightly proud of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and took a moment to have their photo taken in front of it with artist David LaRocca of Watertown. LaRocca sculpted the missing laurel leaves, rifle strap and bayonet lost through time and vandalism. It took about six months of careful fitting and crafting to integrate the pieces seamlessly into the work, he said.

"I wanted to please Augustus Lukeman," said LaRocca.

It's Never Too Late to Join the Circus
By: Staff Reports On: 10:20AM / Monday May 10, 2010

...That's what the Nutshell Playhouse says. Its studio is now accepting students for ongoing classes in circus skills, including acrobatics, slack rope (see photo), tumbling and juggling. No experience is necessary.

Don Jordan, founding director of the playhouse, will teach. Jordan's resume includes directing the Pickle Family and Pan Twilight circuses, appearing on Broadway in "Mummenschanz," and touring the U.S. and Europe as a clown and mime.

Classes meet every Wednesday night from 7 to 9 at 7 North St. on Park Square, Pittsfield.

For more information, contact Jordan at 413-637-1245 or

Tags: Nutshell Playhouse, circus      
Free Sports Screenings at the Beacon
By: Staff Reports On: 10:46AM / Wednesday March 31, 2010

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Beacon Cinema is screening two big upcoming games – for free.

On Sunday, April 4, fans can view the "greatest rivalry in sports" (or at least in baseball), when the Red Sox and Yankees face off for opening day, live from Fenway Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05; the Beacon's doors open at 7:30.

If college basketball is more your thing (or if you had such a good time Sunday night that you want to come back for more), the venue is screening the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship on Monday, April 5 at 9 p.m; doors open at 8:30.

During both events, the concession area in the lobby will be open, as will the wine and beer stand upstairs adjacent to the theaters showing the games. Limited concessions also will be available at the wine and beer stands.

There will be no advance ticketing for the events.

Tags: Beacon Cinema, sports      
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