NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — DownStreet Art will kick off its 10th season on Thursday, June 29, with a celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring performances by Nimble Arts Circus and BOOM Music Stage, as well as new art exhibit openings.
"On this milestone anniversary of DownStreet Art, we are excited to bring some really remarkable projects to the North Adams community. The success of DownStreet Art over the past nine seasons has confirmed that arts and culture are an important vehicle for economic development and community pride, and we are excited to be joined by new ventures like the North Adams Exchange (NAX) in the evolving cultural offerings that take place every summer in downtown North Adams," said Michelle Daly, director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Over the past decade, DSA brought 150,000 visitors to downtown North Adams. During the past two seasons alone, DSA supported the work of 237 artists. In 2015, 93 percent of visitors who were surveyed said they planned to return to the city for another DSA Thursday. According to Daly, DSA has literally changed the face of the downtown through its colorful murals and arrows pointing the way to local galleries.
The 2017 DownStreet Art season – which runs through Thursday, Sept. 28 – will center on public events and participatory art experiences.
"We looked at what people most liked and best responded to, which are DownStreet Art Thursdays, opportunities to participate in arts experiences, to be outside in the summer and experience social, community-wide events," Daly said. "This summer's DownStreet Art is focused around those ideas. Multiple projects will provide opportunities to meet with artists and create artwork."
Ten new projects will celebrate this 10th anniversary year. They will include parklets, a new community mural, performances and artist residencies.
The Thursday, June 29, launch will include a performance by Nimble Arts Circus, a Vaudeville-inspired, family friendly, contemporary circus show that includes juggling, interactive characters, aerial dancers and acrobats. Nimble Circus is funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.
Several BOOM (Berkshire Organization for Original Music) concerts will take place throughout the summer. On June 29, performers will include Sandy McKnight of Lee, a veteran singer/songwriter, producer and bassist, whose music is heard on television, film and stage. Also performing will be a local favorite, veteran singer/songwriter Sammy Brown; and Chad Tarves of Dalton, a new/upcoming solo singer/songwriter.
Two local artists will present parklets – temporary parks that exist in parking spaces – on opposite ends of Main Street. The LoCal parklet, created by MJ Shannon, will be a multifunctional space that encourages participants to take a seat and enjoy North Adams' beautiful downtown North Adams. It will feature a solar-powered "Tree of Battery Life" installation for phone charging, built into the form of a tree.
The second parklet, by Makers Mill, will combine North Adams' rich textile history and creative revival by combining new and old materials and concepts. This interactive parklet will be a place to rest, to engage in downtown culture, and to make and create its enclosure with an Earth Loom, as people work together to create a common weave from plant material, fabric and other recycled materials.
A new exhibit of mixed-media works in MCLA Gallery 51, "Cloud Headed Artists," visions of the view beyond our planet, will open with a reception. This show features the work of artists Michelle Aldredge, Mark Mjulherrin, Heidi Pollard, Stephanie Williams, Anna Von Mertens, Jarvis Rockwell and Sam Trioli, as well as artwork from the collection of Jaime Franklin.
Also featured this month will be another 100 Hours in the Woodshed event, June 22-26, in the MCLA Design Lab at 49 Main St. A selection of collage works that result from the efforts of 20 participating artists will be on display in the Design Lab beginning on Thursday, June 29. Now in its sixth iteration, 100 Hours in the Woodshed brings together collage artists from around the country to work together in an intensely creative 100-hour period.
Each DSA Thursday event this season will include selections from the Williams College Museum of Art Reading Room: People's Library; "kidstops" with family friendly activities; interactive freestyle rap performances by Seth Brown; community tabling; and interactive art projects. BOOM Music events will also continue throughout the summer.
DSA Thursday events will continue on July 27, Aug. 31 and Sept. 28. These and other DSA-related events will feature the following:
* Katie Hargrave and Brett Hunter will present their "Like Riding a Bicycle" residency project and performance July 24-27. They will collect, archive, and share local knowledge using an interactive installation, on-site interviews, a low-power mobile radio station and a community bike ride.
* The July 27 DSA Thursday will feature Thread Ensemble, with original music created in the moment through the use of listeners' experiences and improvised music. In MCLA Gallery 51, an opening will be held for "3 Second Stories," the work of flipbook artist Tom Olson. BOOM Music Stage performers will be The Matchstick Architects and Christine Bile.
* Aug. 8-14 will feature a community, kid-focused residency with photographer Jamie Diamond. An exhibition of works created during this residency will be on view Aug. 31 through Sept. 30 at 49 Main St. In addition, Diamond will work with student photographers to document and monumentalize the everyday people and places that make North Adams unique.
* The DSA Thursday on Aug. 31 will feature the mural unveiling of "Imaginarium" by artist Yu-Baba, which will replace the Maya Hayuk mural on the juvenile courthouse building. On the BOOM Music Stage: Craig Hop and Crew, as well as Izzy Heltai.
* During the weekend of Sept. 9-10, DSA will present two days of exploration of site-specific performance, dialogue, empathy and community when three artists from throughout the country come to North Adams to perform in various locations throughout the downtown.
* The DSA Thursday on Sept. 28 will feature a performance by Magic Lantern Theater. Performing on the BOOM Music Stage will be Eight Foot River, Francesca Shanks, and Chad Tarves. In addition, there will be a "Marafanyi Meets the Mural" performance on Center Street, as Alaa Awad's "Justice" mural becomes the catalyst for community collaboration with Marafanyi Drum, Dance and Song.
* Opening on Sept. 28 in MCLA Gallery 51 will be "Yellow Bowl Project" by artist Setsuko Winchester, an exhibition of photography which documents the artists' journey to 10 World War II Japanese internment camps and the installations of traditional yellow tea bowls she created at each site. Winchester said, "My project may throw light on a discomfiting part of American history. I hope not to condemn or blame, but to help gauge where we are in this ever-evolving experiment we call 'America.'"
MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world. Go online for a complete guide to DownStreet Art.
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