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The Public Arts Commission met Tuesday at the Eclipse Mill.

North Adams Arts Commission Urges Bridge Artists Work Together

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Public Arts Commission is urging the community arts group that created the mill children murals to work with the museum. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Public Arts Commission is asking both sets of artists whose work is under the Veterans Memorial Bridge to find some kind of compromise. 
 
Two months ago, community-sponsored murals on the bridge's pillars were painted over by Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to restore a previous work, "Harmonic Bridge."
 
Both pieces predate the establishment of the commission and neither had more than a verbal agreement with city. Nor did the museum approach the commission for permission to paint over the murals, despite applying for two other works on city property. 
 
On Tuesday, the community group's application to test the pillars to see if its works could be restored was rejected. 
 
"Three wrongs don't make a right," Commissioner Eric Kerns said in trying to encourage the artists to partner.
 
William Oberst, the lead artist on the community effort several years ago, submitted an application — based on the commission's advice — to test a patch of one of the pillars to see if the artwork underneath could restored. He also supplied a budget and scope of work for restoration that he estimated at $1,200, with the inspection by a conservationist at $200 to $400.
 
The murals of textile patterns and mill children had been treated with a top coat to protect them and the community artists believe it may be possible to remove the gray top coat applied by Mass MoCA. 
 
"The restorer will, I assume, take some solvent and apply it to the column ... that's the first phase," Oberst said. "If it doesn't work, it's a moot point, this entire project."
 
Oberst also said museum director Joseph Thompson was trying to put together a meeting with the community artists and "Harmonic Bridge" artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger, a point he'd raised at the last meeting. 
 
He said Thompson has seemed sympathetic to the community work and thought the sound artists would be amenable to changes. 
 
Larry Smallwood, Mass MoCA's deputy director, however, asked that the commission "work with us to find a new place for this work to exist."
 
"What I'm hearing is you saying other people's views," Kerns said to Oberst, and that he was hearing something completely different from Smallwood.
 
He also pushed Oberst to provide data to back up at statement on his application that said the artwork helped draw visitors toward the downtown. Oberst said the feedback had been anecdotal but felt the work was an attraction. 
 
Commissioner Nancy Ziter cautioned that the commission had no money to aid the group, and that the total application could not be approved. In her mind, the group was asking permission to do a test sample to see if the restoration was feasible. 
 
"How big does it have to be?" she asked, because the sample size was not in the application. Oberst said a 2-inch square, based on his own expertise. 
 
Ziter asked that the person doing the testing provide the size; Commissioner Gail Sellers motioned that the commission approve the testing with a condition it not be more than 6 inches square. That motion failed with only Ziter voting with her. 
 
Chairwoman Julia Dixon sided with Kerns in believing that any application related to either work be submitted by both groups of artists. 
 
"There are two different artworks on these pillars," she said. "It should come from both of you."
 
Sellers felt Oberst and his group had been misled because the commission had told him to make an application since it had authority over any art on the bridge. Kerns thought the situation was too complex to right with a single applicant. 
 
Resident Vincent Melito, from the audience, thought the onus was on Mass MoCA to fix the situation, including paying for any test or restoration.
 
Dixon said the group needed to come back with something from Mass MoCA, "which is your partner, for better or worse."
 
The controversy had been dumped in the lap of a commission still feeling out its role in the city's heirarchy. The commissioners spent about a half-hour discussing their relationship with other commissions and city boards — both the Parks & Recreation and Airport commissions had recently approved "ornamentations" that could be construed as falling under the art commission's purview. Or at least worth notifying the commission of their decisions. And other projects are being publicly discussed that have yet to make their way to the commission.
 
Some members thought it may be a case of the commission not being known or its mission understood. 
 
One option, they decided, was to have the mayor's office send a letter from the commissioners introducing them to other boards. Nixon also thought it important to develop a cultural plan with a list of priorities to better communicate its mission, and possibly promote its own public art project. 
 
They talked about sounding out local businesses and organizations to develop partnerships for creating or supporting public art projects. That way, said Kerns, the commission would not have to deal with funds. 
 
"We're here to help facilitate and I think having an idea is great but a lot of people don't know we exist," Sellers said. "We need to get out and say we're a resource and can be a facilitator. There are artists out there who can write grants and we can support them."
 
The commission had lobbied for an amendment last year to give it more authority on supporting art, rather than just overseeing inventory and contracts. Members thought the commission should be more proactive in line with those changes.
 
"We need to do something so the community knows we exist," said Vice Chairwoman Erica Manville.

Tags: arts commission,   mass moca,   public art,   

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North Adams Happenings: Oct. 23-29

SAVE THE DATE
NOVEMBER 2nd - Masquerade at Greylock WORKS
On November 2nd, three weeks before FESTIVE, come to gWorks to dance in disguise at our MASQUERADE Halloween costume party! Doors open at 8pm !
Celebrate your costume ingenuity with DJ BFG spinning seamless upbeat dance music within immersive theatrical lighting choreographed by LJ McZawa.
Whether you're coming out in a dramatic mask + your favorite party clothes or a full-body transformation, our local friends are joining in on the fun to motivate your creativity with Costume Themes and PRIZES.
https://www.facebook.com/events/406993753316580/
Wednesday 10/23
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Terrific Tots Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  


10:30 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Parenting Workshop: Surviving your Adolescents nbCC Conference Room, 61 Main Street, Room 213, (413) 663-7588 More information.  


11:30 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Little Wonders Baby Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information. 

4:00 P.M. (FREE), FAMILY, Family Literacy Night Series The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  


6:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, Educator Open House North Adams Public Library, 64 Church Street, More information.

8:00 P.M. (FREE), GAMES, Trivia Night! Ramunto's, 67 Main Street, (413) 398-5152 More information.

Thursday 10/24
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Kids Safety of America: Child Abuse and Neglect nbCC’s Conference Room, 61 Main Street, Room 213 More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), TUTORING, After School Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

4:30 P.M. (FREE), CONVERSATION, Spaghetti Supper with Tom Bernard North Adams American Legion, 91 American Legion Drive More information.

4:30 P.M. (FREE), FAMILY, Dad and Family Time- Bowling and Pizza Night Valley Park Bowling, Curran Highway More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Octoberfest in The Airport Rooms TOURISTS Welcome, 915 State Road More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), BIKING, Halloween West End Bike Around Greylock School, 100 Phelps Ave More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), OPEN MIC, OPEN MIC The Parlor Cafe, 303 Ashland Street More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), INFORMATIONAL, Milton Hershey School Family Event: North Adams, MA Freight Yard Pub & Restaurant, 1 Furnace Street More information.

7:30 P.M. (FREE), WRITING, Fiction Writing Workshop [open house] Common Folk, 85 Main Street More information.

7:30 P.M. (FREE), BINGO, Musical Bingo at Mingo's Sports Bar and Grill 41 Roberts Drive More information.

8:00 P.M. ($15), COMEDY, Comedy Night w/ Andy Sandford HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.
Friday 10/25
10:30 A.M. (FREE), CONVERSATION, Coffee with a Cop MCLA Campus Center, 375 Church Street More information.

10:30 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Ages and Stages The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Drop-In Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

12:00 P.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

7:00 P.M. (FREE), MOVIES, Halloween cartoon movie night MCLA Freel Library, Blackinton Street More information.

7:00 P.M. (By Donation), CRAFTING, Knitting Nights with Common Folk Common Folk, 73 Main Street More information.

7:00 P.M. ($1 and up), GAMES, BINGO! North Adams Elks 487 Lodge, 100 Eagle Street, (413) 664-9039 More information.

7:00 P.M. ($12 adv, $15 at the door), CONCERT, Gregory Douglass LIVE at HiLo North Adams HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

9:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Karaoke Friday! State Street Tavern, 167 State Street, (413) 664-9152 More information.
Saturday 10/26
9:00 A.M. (FREE), CLOTHING DRIVE, Winter Clothing Drive First Baptist Church of North Adams, 131 Main Street More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), GARDENING, Gardening Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

12:30 P.M. (Child $5, Adults $8, Family $25), FUNDRAISER, AYJ Fund Children's Princess Concert MCLA Church St Center, 375 Church Street More information.

3:00 P.M. (Cost of Admission), ART, Opening Reception: Sarah Oppenheimer, Jenny Holzer, and ERRE MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), CONCERT, Fall Foliage Sunset Serenade - Jessica Gregory Wilson Wigwam Western Summit, 2350 Mohawk Trail More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

8:00 P.M. ($12 adv, $15 at the door), CONCERT, Misty Blues HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices Vary, see link for details), CONCERT, Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller’s Parlour Game MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.
Sunday 10/27
2:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

7:00 P.M. ($20 adv, $25 day of), CONCERT, Jeffrey Foucault HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.
Monday 10/28
5:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, ROOTS Volunteer Training ROOTS Teen Center, 43 Eagle Street More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), BIKING, nbCC Bike Collective The Armory, 206 Ashland Street More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, Communications Career Panel Bowman Hall - MCLA, 375 Church Street More information.
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