Artscape Unveils New Mural in Downtown Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — North Street became more colorful late Friday afternoon when a collaborative mural titled "The Sun Will Rise" was unveiled.
Jesse Tobin McCauley, Jay Tobin, and Stephanie Quetti stood on the roof above West Side Clock Shop next to their work as Kathie Penna of Mill Town Capital and Abigail Powers of Artscape unmasked the mural for a cheering crowd.
"The Sun Will Rise" features an abstract, cubist image of a bright orange sun rising over a colorful mountaintop.
This mural can be seen at the corner of Linden and North Streets. The project was put on by Artscape, a volunteer committee that sponsors, plans, and oversees the annual juried exhibition of public art in the city, in partnership with Mill Town and the Pittsfield Cultural Council.
McCauley is a Pittsfield native painter and graphic designer who enjoys making mixed media paintings on paper, canvas, and panel. Her style features bursts of bold, bright, saturated color to evoke a feeling of happiness. Her photography lines the walls at The Lantern Bar and Grill and she has painted two murals on its property. She jokes that she has taken over the corner of Linden and North.
Quetti is a Berkshire Community College and Smith College alumni who has a master's degree in social work. She, too, enjoys bright colors that make viewers joyful when they look at them. She has painted three electrical boxes for Artscape's Paintbox Program and does youth paint projects with ROPE, an empowerment program for young women of color.
Tobin is a retired Pittsfield firefighter who has been part of the local mural scene for 30 years. He worked on both the police station mural on Allen Street and the Boys and Girls' Club mural on Melville Street. He was also an original member of Group W, an art collective that held large-scale exhibitions in a steel fabrication plant in Pittsfield.
Tobin is McCauley's uncle and they and another uncle, Bill Tobin, comprise the art group Tobin Trifecta. They host art shows to showcase each of their individual works and in turn, spend quality time with one another.
This program was supported in part by a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Mill Town.
"This felt like a wonderful opportunity to support our valued local artists while reinforcing our commitment to invest in our downtown," Penna, operations manager for Mill Town, said.
Abigail Powers, chair of Artscape, spoke at the unveiling ceremony thanking the group's sponsors for making the mural possible.
"This project is possible thanks to the support of Pittsfield Cultural Council, thank you so much for your support," she said. "And, of course, this project would not be possible without the help of Mill Town. We're so thankful for the hard word they have done to make this space available and for their generous match of this project."
The early stages of this project started in April, around the beginning of quarantine. McCauley and Tobin took a long time to draft out the the initial concept and get it approved. When it came to painting the final design, it took about three days. This process happened at the Lichtenstein Arts Center.
The material the mural is painted on is called MBO board; which is basically plywood, and was done on 10 different panels that were then mounted to the wall together to make the mural.
McCauley was the first to suggest that the mural feature a sun so it could be symbolic for a sun shining through the depressing times of our present.
"I had an idea when I was doing the initial concept about the sun and just how everything is so kind of depressing and uncertain right now," she said. "But the only thing you can count on is that the sun will rise every day to a brand-new day and hopefully it will be a good one."
Quetti agreed with the sentiment.
"When you put something like that up with such a beautiful color combination and such a clean design anybody who looks at is just going to be so happy," she said.
The trio hopes they they will get to work on a mural together again in the future and provide more color and cheer to downtown.