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BCC Gallery Opens with Exhibition by Grier Horner

By Peter DudekSpecial to iBerkshires
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'And She Was All of Solid Fire'

Grier Horner:
Dresden Firebombing

Berkshire Community College Gallery
Director, Lisa Yetz
Intermodal Transportation Center
1 Columbus Ave., Pittsfield

Through April 17, 2009

Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.
Berkshire Community College has opened a new exhibition space in the building that houses the Intermodal Transportation Center in downtown Pittsfield.

This now brings the number of year-round gallery/exhibition spaces in the city to six, along with the Berkshire Museum, Ferrin Gallery, Zeitgeist, Lichtenstein Center and the Storefront Artist Project, the most of any town in Berkshire County.

For Pittsfield, this is an unprecedented achievement and emphasizes the ongoing role that the creative economy is playing in the revitalization of its downtown. 

BCC opened the storefront space with an exhibition of large paintings by Berkshire artist Grier Horner. The shape of the gallery echoes the wedgelike form of the transportation building and has large floor-to-ceiling windows making the exhibit visible 24/7 from the outside.

Working with an initial one-year lease Director Lisa Yetz, an artist and faculty member, plans to use this prominent location to present the artwork of professional artists, alumni and students. It is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 4; more days and longer hours will be added in the coming months.

Photos by Peter Dudek 
Grier Horner in front of one of his works at the BCC Gallery.
The title of Horner's exhibition is "Dresden Firebombing." The six paintings on view were all made in 2006 and are part of an ongoing narrative cycle based on the horrific fire bombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. These large stretched canvases tower over the viewer. The dominant colors are red and black, and the paint is often thickly applied by palette knife or loosely dripped onto the surface, creating a waxy and disfigured skein. 

Although the imagery in these paintings can be simultaneously intense and ambiguous, with multiple evocations of fire, angels, birds and planes, the titles like "Angel of Incineration" and "She Was All of Solid Fire" pull the works back into its narrative focus, a dark and gruesome one at that. Frayed skin, disfigurement and a general sense of terror and confusion are evoked. That said, at times these paintings can be rather attractive to look at. It is this attraction/repulsion paradox that keeps the viewer's vision in play.

Horner, retired associate editor of The Berkshire Eagle, has been painting for many years and has created a substantial body of work based on a wide range of subject matter, from "The Scarlet Letter" to portraits to surreal landscapes, but perhaps none of his previous work can match the driven fervor of his "Dresden Firebombing" series.

More information about Horner’s work is available at or his blog.

The BCC Gallery will likely be joining the co-operative efforts of Pittsfield Contemporary, a Web site and promotional effort formed three years ago by the above-mentioned exhibition spaces in order to draw attention to the ever-increasing presence of contemporary visual art in downtown Pittsfield.

Pittsfield has traditionally (with BCC playing a major role) drawn local artists to study and make art, but never before has it had this year-round mix of street-level commercial and noncommercial gallery activity that is now present. And with BCC having added its gallery to this burgeoning cluster of exhibition spaces, there are more opportunities than ever for artists to exhibit and sell their work in the city's downtown.

Left, Lisa Yetz, artist and director of the gallery, talks with fellow BCC instructor Kieth Shaw, an art historian. Above, BCC President Paul Raverta, left,  mingles at the exhibit.
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Pittsfield Looks Forward to New, Improved Streetscape Maintenance

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state of disarray in downtown medians stemmed from a problem with a contractor who won the bid and then was terminated twice.

Earlier this month, members of the City Council were outraged at overgrown medians and flowerbeds in the downtown area and referred several petitions on city maintenance to Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales.

The lack of care was attributed to issues with contracted work, being short-staffed, and weather struggles. The overgrowth has since been cleared and a new partnership between the city and local organizations will take the reins.

On Tuesday, Morales reported that EMS, a property maintenance and landscaping company, won the bid twice and both times did not complete the monthly pruning, weeding and prepping outlined in the contract.

"They were not doing it last year. We terminated the contract. We obviously did not pay them for the work they didn't do and we put out the contract to bid again. They were the only ones that bid again," he explained, adding that they were awarded the contract after an extensive meeting that outlined expectations and when they were not met, the contract was terminated again.

EMS was given until the end of June to get the work done.

"I acknowledge it and it's something that we should have done better," Morales said.

To address the issue in the short term, overtime work from the Highway Department has been arranged. This will allow crews to focus on downtown maintenance, working alongside a different local contractor to address overgrowth and weeds, Morales said.

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