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The newly-formed Clock Tower Artists show some of the works that will be on exhibit and for sale at Holiday Open Studio event this coming weekend. The artists will be on hand to talk about their art and their creative process.

Clock Tower Artists to Host Holiday Open Studio Event

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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The artists collaborative's new studio space is on the third floor of the Clocktower Building. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The newly-formed Clock Tower Artists will be hosting a Holiday Open Studio event in its new space located on the third floor of the historic mill building at 75 South Church St.  
 
Visitors are encouraged to explore the studios of the 10 members of the artists group on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
 
The gallery will also be open during Downtown Pittsfield Inc.'s First Fridays Artswalk on Friday from 5 until 8 p.m. 
 
The opening offers a glimpse into the artistic process and a opportunity to purchase the work of local artists. 
 
The collaborative comes from a diverse range of backgrounds and practice a variety of different mediums, painter Joanie Ciolfi said. 
 
The festivities will also include light refreshments, live music, and festive decorations to brighten the season.
 
There will be a performance by Andy Kelly and Friends on Friday, Benny Kohn and Dave Brown & Dave Christopolus on Saturday, and Colin Deres on Sunday.
 
The gallery will be open during the week from 9 to 5.
 
"[It's kind of] really a sort of open door policy where people can come not just during the Clock Tower event, but people can come in from outside the cold and wander through the studios and take a look at some work, whether it be finished or unfinished," commission artist Sally Tiska Rice rice said. 
 
The space is open with plenty of light for artists to work in. The group members said they were very thankful for CT Management Group and the owner David Carver for taking a chance and helping them execute their vision.
 
"We'd like to encourage people to feel comfortable here, it is not about walking in and having to buy a piece of art. It's about connecting with people who are excited about what they do," artist Marion Grant
 
"Seeing art and having good conversations. It's always great to see families come through, people who are visiting the area, or people who come to every first round, and be able to talk to them each time and share the excitement about new work. So I'd say we want to create an open environment."
 
Art is important to a community and can lower the strain that is built up from daily life, they said. 
 
"I think art is important to everyone and in my personal opinion, everything is an art. What when you pick out your outfit you're gonna wear for the day, preparing and plating your meals, decorating your house, and all kinds of things," Rice said.
 
"…For myself, I'm recovering from my fourth spine surgery and it's been highly recommended by the doctors to keep painting."
 
Art is also a great resource to local businesses, including designers, architects, boutique hotels, and more 
 
"We always enjoy having professionals in the designer district come in, and give us their ideas and feedback on the art and what's going on around town," painter Shany Porras said. 
 
"So from that respect, we really appreciate having the opportunity to have a clean, professional looking space for others in the industry to come in and enjoy the space and enjoy your work as well."
 
Many of the artists said joining the collaborative was an easy decision and they jumped at the opportunity before the spaces fill up
 
One of the unique aspects of the synergist organization is the fact that they are able to work independently, unlike some studios, they said. 
 
"Each one of us is a professional and we maintain our own independent businesses, but still, together,  we just really appreciate being able to pull together our resources and share with the community what we've got to offer as artists and professionals," Porras said. 
 
Richard added that it is nice to be part of a collaborative of dedicated artists as opposed to being on a coattail of something else. 
 
Although each artist works independently, as art enthusiasts, they look at each other's works, share ideas, and are inspired from one another. 
 
"I've worked for years in a studio by myself. I think we are always working off of each other bouncing ideas around, sharing ideas, looking at each other's work, commenting, thinking, and I think that's an exciting energy," Grant said. 
 
"And it does help us to create this identity, and thereby get more people in, because it's one thing to make art all by yourself, but getting people to come and look at it. That is the exciting part. So we have this potential, I think we're all thinking of ways to use our group energy to create new opportunities for us and for the community as well."
 
Porras shared that sentiment saying, "We all work really well together. It's been nothing but excitement and joy, and good fun work to get us all into a collective of artists that really meld well together and look forward to opening up our studios to the community even more."
 
The collaborative hopes too expand opportunities to the community and home to bring outside artists into the space. 
 
"It's good to share the space and make sure that we get back to the community that way but it's also just another way of  learning about all types of different types of visual arts and performing arts at the same time," Porras said. 
 
"And there's nothing better than having a little bit of available space to bring people in, and, and enjoy being here as much as we have."
 
One of the best parts about the opportunities the Clock Tower Artists are attempting to provide to the community is that everything is free and accessible, Grant said. 
 
"You can park and it's handicap accessible, come up an elevator, and walk through here, when we have an open studio night or this event coming up and it doesn't cost anything, you don't have to do anything you just walk around and enjoy," she said. 
 
For more information on the event and artists, link to the group's website, or see them on Instagram.

About Each Clock Tower Artist: 

Deborah Carter is a multimedia artist who creates up-cycled, one-of-a-kind apparel from post consumer waste like packaging, corks, cardboard, Kodachrome slides, and discarded items of all kinds reflecting her distress about the global pollution crisis. Models will show Carter's high fashion work, and the artist will also have small items for sale at the Holiday Open Studios.
 
Joanie Ciolfi is a painter widely known for her modern, fresh, and colorful oil paintings. In addition to her original, painted works of all sizes, Joanie will also have art card sets suitable for gift-giving. 
 
Marion Grant is also a Pittsfield artist, art historian, and teacher. She has exhibited widely and her work is in many private collections. In addition to her recent mixed media paintings and collages, Grant will have right-priced, artist made, two- and three- dimensional works suitable for gift-giving.
 
Caroline Kelley creates colorful abstract and semi-abstract art inspired by nature and her imagination. She will also offer a selection of small, affordable pieces of art suitable for holiday giving.
 
Bruce Laird is moving into the direction of a more abstract vocabulary, while he continues to be intrigued with deconstructing photographs and creating new visual compositions from these sources. Artist-designed cards and original photographs will be available during the Holiday Open Studios.
 
Mark Mellinger is a painter and sculptor who constructs unique three-dimensional works out of wood and rusted metal and paints abstracts that range in size from 3 inches to 6 feet. His tiny paintings start at $3.
 
Linda Petrocine paints contemporary landscapes using an ancient process called encaustic. She applies layers of molten, pigmented wax and fuses it to the layers below with heat. During the Holiday Open Studio, Petrocine will demonstrate her technique and have paintings, cards, ornaments and vintage Santa mugs for sale.
 
Shany Porras is a formally trained painter and printmaker who creates abstract works of art that translate the language of music into visual expressions, and she is also manager of the Berkshire Arts Guild's Art on Main Gallery in West Stockbridge. Porras will offer original abstract paintings in a variety of sizes and price ranges as well as gift items featuring her designs and images. 
 
Sally Tiska Rice is a multimedia, international, commission artist who also teaches private and semi-private watercolor classes. Sally will have printed coffee mugs, ornaments, magnets, and greeting cards featuring her images and will be offering 8x10-inch matted originals suitable for framing and gift-giving. 
 
Ilene Richard is a fine art painter whose work has been exhibited in galleries around the country. She is also a published children's book illustrator, and her illustrations also have been featured in magazines. In addition to new works on canvas, there will be notecards, pillows, towels and Christmas ornaments available.

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State Fire Marshal: Keep Warm, Keep Safe During Cold Snap

STOW, Mass. — With bitter cold temperatures heading our way this weekend, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is reminding residents to "Keep Warm, Keep Safe" and avoid fire and carbon monoxide (CO) hazards while heating their homes.
 
"Home heating equipment is the second-leading cause of residential fires and the main source of carbon monoxide at home," Ostroskey said. "Working smoke and CO alarms are your first line of defense against these hazards. With furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters working overtime this weekend, be sure they're installed on every floor of your home and test them to be sure you and your family are protected.
 
Space Heaters
"It's important to keep space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding, and anything else that can burn," Ostroskey said. "Plug them directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or a power strip, and remember that they're intended for temporary use. Always turn a space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep."
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