Letter: Community Penalized by Pillar Art Decision

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To the Editor:

As some of you are aware, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was solely responsible for the paint over of the historic artwork done by the children of our city which is located on Marshall Street pillars. It is, and should be, disturbing that our the children and a supportive general public are being penalized for something that they did not create but rather was created by the illegal action of Mass MoCA.

It is interesting to read how PAC member Mr. Eric Kerns who is so outspoken in defense of MoCA closes his eyes to the accomplishment of our young artist who depicted the history of our parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends that worked in the textile mills that once thrived in our area.

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Kerns has his business in and directly connected to MoCA. He is a tenant who thrives on income derived from the museum. Clearly, he has an economic tie with the institution and apparently has chosen to represent the interest of his economic, personal and political connection over the interest and desire of the people of our city.

The question now is how do we resolve the issue in a meaningful way which best represents the interest of the community?

In all fairness to the public and all others, I believe that the first step should be: "Test the site and see if restoration of the children's art is possible." A rather simple first step. If the anti-graffiti coating covering the art fails, then the issue is moot and we move on.

Another suggestion concerns the rearrangement of the rather two small sound boxes located on Marshall Street. As one city councilor suggested, move the sound box now located on the easterly side of Marshall Street over to the western portion of the newly created walkers pathway to downtown. This pathway was created by Mass MoCA and also leads to the public art display on the corner of Main and Marshall.

The next step would be to turn around the existing sound box on the westerly side of Marshall Street so that it faces westerly towards the newly located box. That way, the sound boxes would face each other on both side of the new pathway and have it's background of grey paint as desired.

Doing the above would allow the artwork of our children to independently exist in its previous location on Marshall Street while the sound art would independently exist in its new location backed up with grey pillars as desired. This could and should be viewed as a simple and rather acceptable solution.

Over the past months, we have worked diligently in efforts to represent the interest of the children and your interest as the residents of North Adams. We are thankful for the support of over five hundred area residents who signed petitions, called, and sent email of support for restoration of our students historic artwork.

With that being said, now it is time for those who represent the community via government and the art world to make the decision. Support MoCA or support the people of North Adams! Who has the courage and strength to speak on behalf of the people?

PS: No private negotiation meetings as proposed.

Vincent Melito
North Adams, Mass.





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North Adams Council Puts Brakes on Sale of Sullivan School

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Councilor Rebbecca Cohen takes the gavel when both the president and vice president had to recuse themselves from the Sullivan sale discussion. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council hit the brakes on the sale of Sullivan School on Tuesday night, saying the proposal to transform the vacant elementary school into an advanced manufacturing training center needed further discussion. Two other bids were accepted with little debate.
A locally organized group of businesses and entrepreneurs operating as Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, bid $1 for the 50-year-old building but their proposal says they will be investing $11 million into the building and another $3 million in equipment. The Kemp Avenue property is assessed at $2.1 million.
"There's an expression of raising a lot of money but I don't see anyone writing a lot of checks," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, recommending the proposal go to committee for review, adding, "there's a lot more information needs to be known before we move forward with this."
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