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Members Patricia Fietta, left, Lynn Rhoads, Francie Anne Riley and George LeMaitre explained some of the projects undertaken. Several members were absent.
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Some of the activities undertaken by the board.
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Adams Arts Advisory Board Setting Sights on Fairy Festival

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Francie Anne Riley came across a * YouTube video about the popular fairy doors in Ann Arbor, Mich., and sent it on to her artist friends.

That prompted the idea of placing the "doors" around Adams, which led to a workshop on creating fanciful clay doors at River Hill Pottery in North Adams. Those doors are now opening onto ideas for a Berkshire Mountains Fairy Festival — some mystery, some medievalism, some performances and lots of arts installations.

It's this constant confluence of innovative ideas that the Adams Arts Advisory Board is hoping will catalyze the creative economy in the Mother Town and beyond.

"A group of artists working at reaching out to the art world in the region and creating sort of a switchboard or a conduit through which artists can connect with other artists, people with the arts, the arts with the public in a way that communication can happen between them," Riley explained to the audience at the board's first televised meeting on Tuesday night. "It's kind of exciting connecting people together."

The board isn't limiting itself to Adams — it's looking for artists and people interested in getting involved in the arts from around North County for projects or who are in need of support and networking. For example, it was involved in Art About Town's mural project for the front of the Mohawk Theater in North Adams. And several of the board members do not live in Adams.

"Artists have trouble coloring in the lines, so town boundaries don't mean anything to us," said Riley.

The board itself grew out of a breakfast group that connected with town officials. Since being voted into existence in August, it's already brought several projects to fruition and has more in the "air phase."

A presentation to real estate agents in the area last year about the needs of artists went off well, and three properties have so far been sold to artists. The board also had a space at the farmers' market giving local artists a chance to show their wares and to connect with other vendors and visitors. It also became involved with Pro Adams in the Adams Youth Center's Great Chair Auction benefit, bringing in more artists and using the storefronts on Park Street to exhibit the items — creating a "Great Chair Walk."

The storefronts also were used for the Adams Artisan Windows when the idea of pop-up stores for Christmas was unfeasible.

A mockup of a neighborhood banner and frame. The cost is about $400 each and would require donations or grants to install.

Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco's request for help to spruce up a dilapadated house on Victory Street turned into an art project representing the neighborhood's participation in World War II by placing vinyl blue star banners on the front.

"He thought if we decorated it up it would look a little nicer," said board member George LeMaitre on the home taken for back taxes. "We thought it was important the art would reflect the history of the street ... our concept was originally to paint and then we came up with doing a printed [vinyl] material. ... We had lots of good comments."

Those early successes are informing future projects now in the planning stages: creating murals in vinyl that could be moved from building to building, using the Adams Train Station for performances or arts installations, developing a creative exchange to pique interest from out-of-town artists, connecting with Bascom Lodge on its artist in residence program and creating an art map. LeMaitre has also become a member of the Pro Adams board, creating a connection with that group.

The board is working with the Historical Society and several other groups to place large vinyl stand-alone banners to note historic ethnic neighborhoods or events. The banners and stretcher frames are estimated to cost $400 in total, and will require grants or sponsors to make them happen.

Perhaps the biggest idea is the Berkshire Mountains Fairy Festival, which grew out of the conversations about fairy doors. The festival is being imagined at the moment as something along the lines of a Renaissance fair at Bowe Field, with dancing, music and other performances in the Adams Agricultural Fair Pavilion, artists displays and whimsical installations inspired by fairies and set around the summer solstice.

"There's tremendous economic impact this movement brings," said Richard Tavelli, who is also involved in the Adams Anthony Center. "Even the fairy doors, something as whimsical, to use that term, as that is really driven by very hard-headed, no-nonsense business, which is you want to bring people to the area. ...

"If you can do it in a light and whimsical way, it's one that both adults and children can do. As you know, a lot of business is driven by kids dragging their parents along."

The board meets every third Tuesday at 6 p.m at Town Hall and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. at Izzy's on Park Street. Check the board's Facebook group for updates.

*Not necessarily this one.

Tags: advisory committee,   arts commission,   arts festival,   creative economy,   

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