Letter: Mass MoCA Needs to Address Children's Art

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To the Editor:

Recently, this writer received an email from Mr. Joseph Thompson, director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He was responding to my email concerning Mass MoCA's illegal paint over of the children's artwork on the Marshall Street pillars in the city of North Adams. He indicated that he was opened to suggestions but, at this point in time, he has not responded to the letter or to the strong desire of the community for testing and possible restoration of the school children's art work.


Thanks for responding to my latest email concerning the issue of the art projects on the Marshall Street pillars. With that said, I have carefully reviewed the history and the intentions stated by both parties of the issue. Unfortunately, outside of what seems to be accurate reporting of dates and times it appears that the content of conversations related to what was an acceptable plan and how it was to proceed is conflicting. It is also apparent that too much time has transpired since your initial meetings with the artists. No substantial follow up has apparently occurred as previously indicated.

Without getting into conflicting details concerning opinions and interpretations, it is rather obvious and factual that the general public did and continues to support the children's art and desires a mutual agreement between the two parties which will reflect that desire. It is believed that both parties will have to make mutual concessions and your leadership and support of such is crucial as a concerned citizen and Director of Mass MoCA.

Despite what has been indicated, the fact remains that no one and, I repeat. no one party had a legal right to the publicly owned bridge or pillars. In the court of law based on facts, considering the contents of questionable verbal agreement either between Mayor Barrett or Mayor Alcombright, use, longevity, construction or destruction of any art on the pillars never followed the legal perimeters of law.

You indicated that you are all ears considering resolution of what has grown to be a much larger and longer issue than expected. Approaching nearly 500 signatures and emails of support, the collaboration of the North Adams Teachers Association and the media coverage on a local and regional basis, it is imperative that a resolution is in the best interest of MoCA and the city of North Adams.

Considering the need for a positive response let me make some suggestions to you in addressing the Pillars.

1. Immediately contact Bill, Christina, Sam and Bruce with the direct intent of ironing out solutions. (I believe that recently that you and Bill informally met to discuss the issue.) Would also suggest that because the public has so strongly been involved, a representative of the public ( hopefully this writer) be an observer at negotiations.

2. Support the testing of the children's artwork to verify if it can be restored. If it isn't, the whole issue is mute.

3. Proceed rapidly on an action plan.

What is recommended are starting points and need to be accomplished not only for acceptable resolution but also in the interest of all parties.

On a personal note, I believe that MASS MoCA and not the children of North Adams was and continues to be the principal cause of the problem, You clearly stated that mistakes were made and are behind us now.

Resolution and responsibility of making the issue right begins directly with the museum. No permanent installation status, verbal permission or control belonged to either party and for anyone to assume any said control or status is just plain unlawful and unacceptable.

Although interest by one national new media has emerged, I will hold off pursuing further contact until assured that the issue is addressed quickly and in a mutually acceptable way to all parties.

Appreciate hearing from you soon as to what course and time frame you intend to pursue regarding this matter.

Vincent Melito
North Adams, Mass.

This letter was received on Jan. 3 but did not get posted in a timely manner.






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Trustees Tour Conditions at North Adams Library

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Meranti leads the library trustees through the historic building to explain some of its issues.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Building Inspector William Meranti led a tour of the library — from basement to belvedere — last week and pointed out ongoing, new, and addressed maintenance items.
"This is a nice building but there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of different systems," he told the library trustees on Wednesday. "We have a long list of things to do and it is not getting any shorter."
With new trustees, a new library director, and a change in administration, the trustees had asked for a tour of the 1865 mansion get up to date on various issues in the historic building.
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