WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Artist Bob Lafond does not mind people bothering him when he works.
"Earlier this year, I was painting for a while on the streets of North Adams," Lafond said this week. "People became familiar with me, and they would wave or say, 'I love your stuff' and things like that. Eventually they would have the courage to come up and ask a question.
"I just keep painting away."
And on Sunday, Lafond will be painting on Spring Street as part of the Williamstown Cultural District's first Summer Sundays event of 2021.
He is one of three artists who will be creating work on the street -- and welcoming questions from passers-by -- from 3 to 6 p.m. as part of a program chock full of art, music, dance and sidewalk vendors.
"I don't know when the last summer Summer Sundays was," said Williamstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Briggs. "It went through a couple of iterations.
"This is definitely more art and culture driven, trying to bring in not only artist vendors but also art demos as well as music and dance performance artists."
The event is the first of two Summer Sundays planned this year. The second will be Aug. 22. Briggs said the local cultural district received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to fund the events, which have been in the works since the end of March.
"We had a vision of it in the winter," Briggs said. "We really wanted to do something to bring the community together, but at that time the state was still very much in lockdown. We didn't know what the event would look like, but we knew it needed to be outdoors.
"With the turnout we had for the Fourth of July [parade and fireworks], I think the community will be ready and interested even if it's a short-term, pop-up kind of event."
The street fair is being held in conjunction with the Williamstown Cultural District's ongoing public art show, "Coming Into the Light."
This Sunday's event will feature live music from a jazz trio led by Michael Junkins, solo pianist Felix Sun and ethnomusicologist Tendai Muparutsa, who co-directs the Kusika and the Zambezi Marimba Band at Williams College.
Also planned are dance performances by Berkshire Dance Theatre and dysFUNKcrew, a local dance troupe made up of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Dance Company alumni. There will be activities provided by the Print Shop, the Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art and local vendors like artists Anna Moriarty Lev and Nate Hempill, publisher New Europe Books and Spring Street retailer Where'd You Get That?!
Summer Sunday will be capped by Images Cinema's screening of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" as part of its Family Flicks Under the Stars series at sundown.
Fine art will be on display at Spring Street's Greylock Gallery and the Poker Flats Gallery on nearby Water Street. And practicing artists scheduled to demonstrate their skills live include Sally Sussman, Trevor Murphy, Ghetta Hirsch and Lafond.
Spring Street will not be closed to traffic, but part of Walden Street will be closed, and the event will use Morgan Lawn at the top of Spring Street and the lawn at the Williams Inn, Briggs said.
"I think I'm going to show up at 3 and find a spot," Lafond said. "I don't think the sun is going to be shining too much, so we won't have to worry about that. Hopefully, it won't be raining.
"I've done Spring Street before, but I'm always looking for an excuse to set up on the sidewalk. Probably no one will pay attention to me, or they may come up and ask questions. I don't mind people coming up and talking to me."
And, having taught classes in painting, Lafond is used to discussing art as he creates it.
"Generally, plein air painters like to paint by themselves or with other plein air painters in remote locations where nobody bothers them," he said. "But in this situation, I have no problem with that.
"Usually people just ask for permission, 'Can I look?' Someone will always say, 'I paint, too,' and I come back and ask them why they aren't out here painting. It's not too often that you get a technical question like, 'What kind of red do you use?' or something like that. They're just curious. It's not common to see a painter on the street."
Sometimes, the questions delve a little deeper.
"I've painted in France on the streets, and a couple of years ago in Nice a whole class of students came by," Lafond said. "One said to me that he was having a hard time starting a painting. I pulled out my sketch book to show him how I start with the composition. He was pretty interested in that."
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Williamstown Community Chest Accepting Applications
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Community Chest is accepting applications for its 2021 Mary and Henry Flynt Grants.
The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2021.
The bequest that established the grant program specifies that grants will be made annually, based on a competitive process to "…persons or entities (including the Town of Williamstown) that provide services to the town or its residents (although not necessarily exclusively)."
The criteria for reviewing applications will "…relate to the maintenance or improvement of the quality of life of the residents of Williamstown, defined broadly."
The regional school committee last Thursday heard preliminary enrollment data for its three schools. Although the official date to report a head count to the state comes on Oct. 1, the early numbers show significant increases at Lanesborough Elementary and Williamstown Elementary.
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The board met with a single-item agenda to consider its course in light of last week's directive issued by the Lee-Lenox-Stockbridge Tri-Town Health Department, which instituted a mask mandate for all indoor spaces and "crowded outdoor public events."
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