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Stockbridge Family Has Strong Ties to Heroic Sculptor

Tammy Daniels

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

Staff Reports

...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 info@nutshellplayhouse.org.

Tags: Nutshell Playhouse, circus      

Richmond Cultural Council Seeks Community Input

Staff Reports

RICHMOND, Mass. — The Richmond Cultural Council is seeking the community’s input on how to best steer the funding it receives from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Local Council Program. To that end, the town has created a brief survey for residents to fill out, available at www.richmondma.org, the Town Hall and the library.

Richmond's Cultural Council distributes annual funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council via an annual grant process where organizations and individuals submit proposals for projects that will provide cultural opportunities for residents. It reviews these proposals and awards funding to those that best advance the goal of advancing community cultural programming.

Established in 1982, the Massachusetts Local Cultural Council Program distributes more than $1.95 million each year to fund cultural activities in all 351 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. According to its Web site, it awarded $4,000 to Richmond in fiscal year 2010.

Tags: Cultural Council, grants      

DownStreet Art Calls for Guest Curators

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. —  There's still time to apply for a guest curator position with the DownStreet Art project, which will run for four months beginning this summer.

The public art project, which brings art exhibits into available and open spaces in the downtown area, began in 2008. According to organizers, nearly 15,000 visitors came downtown and through the doors of galleries and exhibits in 2008, and nearly 20,000 visitors came last year.

Guest curators will be responsible for installing the exhibit(s); marketing the gallery, artists and exhibits; and may need to provide staffing. DownStreet Art will negotiate the terms of each space with the landlord, market the program as a whole, provide online marketing for the individual gallery, process all sales of art, and provide staffing for some spaces.

DownStreet Art runs for four months from the end of June through mid-October. It begins with a kick-off celebration on June 24; holds three “DownStreet Art Thursdays” (with all galleries hosting opening receptions and downtown performances); and culminates with the North Adams Open Studios weekend on October 17.

At this time, the number of available/empty spaces is still to be determined, so the number of open spots for guest curators isn't yet known.

If you are interested in becoming a guest curator, go to www.DownStreetArt.org.

It's recommended that applicants visit downtown North Adams and familiarize themselves with the project's mission, past exhibition program, and consider how their exhibition will help propel DownStreet Art forward. The application deadline is Monday, April 5.

Applications should include: a cover letter, resume detailing curatorial experience, a proposal (two to four pages) describing the concept for the exhibition, a description of the artists' work and content, examples of artwork, an inventory list, and a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of materials.

Send applications to c/o DownStreet Art, MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, 51 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247.

Tags: DownStreetArt, curator      

Main Street Stage Seeks Actors

Staff reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Main Street Stage has issued an open casting call for their spring/summer production of "The Baltimore Waltz," by Paula Vogel.

The Obie Award-winning play tells the story of the adventures of a brother and sister, one of whom has a fatal disease.

The play calls for three actors: one female age 25 to 35, and two males age 25 to 35. The production will begin rehearsals in April and the show will be performed in mid-June. 

Auditions will be held at 57 Main St. on Tuesday, March 30, and Wednesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. For more information, email info@mainstreetstage.org or call 413-663-3240.


Tags: audtions, Main Street Stage      
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