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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Gallery 51: An Artistic Force

By Jen Thomas
12:00AM / Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Veronica Bosley and Jonathan Secor[Photo by Jen Thomas]
"Gallery 51: An Artistic Force" is Part Three of a continuing series examining the arts climate of the Northern Berkshires.

North Adams - Since opening in July 2005, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’(MCLA) Gallery 51 has established itself as a remarkable fixture on Main Street in downtown North Adams.

An Artistic Resource Center

Generating strong interest and participation among community artists and college students, Gallery 51 hopes to unite a diverse Berkshire arts culture.

“Gallery 51 is a resource center to talk about arts in the community,” said Veronica Bosley, the program coordinator for the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, the overarching organization that oversees the gallery.


The familiar, Main Street-facing gallery logo [Photo by Jen Thomas]
Gallery 51 is a collaborative effort of MCLA, the City of North Adams and a contingent of area business leaders. The venture generated from community leaders desire “to see MCLA open something on Main Street,” said Jonathan Secor, MCLA’s director of special programs and gallery supervisor.

“Within two weeks, [MCLA] President Mary Grant opened a gallery,” Secor said. “We just sort of threw it together.”

Carving A Niche

With the help of Heather "Hezzie" Philips, director of the Contemporary Artists Center (CAC) and Sean Riley, the gallery’s manager, Gallery 51 began carving a niche as part of a burgeoning local arts community. After developing an advisory committee composed of MCLA’s faculty, local business leaders and others, Gallery 51 set out on a mission – to connect the college to the cultural community.

“It’s a pretty healthy mix here,” Bosley said. “We do offer a venue for social events, but we also offer jobs and training.”

A merging of college students and faculty with the region's working class and creative community is what makes the gallery unique.

“We didn’t wake up last year and suddenly there was art,” Secor said. “This is about finding the intersections that really work. We want to connect the growing arts community and the community that’s been here for years.”

Exhibits Draw Artists And Visitors

Gallery programming reflects a strong commitment to pulling together a collage of artists and art lovers. In addition to the interaction with the college through the MCLA Fine and Performing Arts Department and the Berkshire Hills Internship Program, which provides training for arts management students, Gallery 51 delivers a professional-quality space for local artists to showcase their work.

November’s “Made in NA, MA” highlighted art created by CAC artists. The gallery not only featured the work of local artists in residence, it also raised awareness about the kinds of art produced in the local arena.

“100 Hours in the Woodshed,” the brainchild of area artist Danny O, who developed the local exhibit with Secor, brought artists from all over New England and New York into the Berkshires for a five-day marathon of collage art. The artists worked in close quarters at Gallery 51 for the duration and pieces were selected for an exhibit on display throughout the early days of February. Gallery visitors were welcome to watch as artistic processes unfolded.

The gallery is staffed primarily by MCLA students, who serve as interns at the space.

This piece is included in a current MCLA Gallery 51 "Everyday Lines" exhibit. [Phot by Jen Thomas]


“My favorite exhibit so far has been ‘100 Hours in the Woodshed,’” said Emily Silver, one of the interns at the gallery. “And it was popular with visitors coming in to watch the artists work.”

"We Want To be A Presence In The Downtown"

This month, the gallery received a $1,250 grant from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire for an upcoming exhibit, “Hometown Hits: The Best of North Adams.” The gallery will feature diverse works from local artists, intended primarily for a summer audience.

“We’re looking forward to trying to create stability for the gallery,” Secor said. “We want to know how to create a permanent process that will serve the arts community in a meaningful way.”

“We want to be a presence in downtown,” Bosley added.

The gallery's upcoming exhibit schedule has been described as“ambitious," and the concept is supported by a bevy of ideas that could define the space as a force to be reckoned within the Northern Berkshire arts community.

“From what I have experienced, the shows are unique every time,” said Kerry Peck, a student intern at the gallery. “It's interesting to see what Gallery 51 is up to each month.”

Gallery 51 is currently showing “Everyday Lines,” an exhibit that uses lines in artwork to define everyday thoughts. It is located at 51 Main Street and hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jen Thomas is a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts senior student and a correspondent for iberkshires.com.
Your Comments
Post Comment
Thanks for the article! Please join us for the next gallery opening-Thursday March 29th at 6p-

from: Jonathan Secoron: 03-05 00:00:00-2007

The MCLA Gallery 51 openings are wonderful, well attended, events that give such life to the downtown scene. Congratulations on your grants!
from: Amyon: 03-01 00:00:00-2007

We enjoyed the Gallery 51 tremendously. We plan to return.
from: Dave and Maryon: 03-01 00:00:00-2007


 
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