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Some of the art on display at the Berkshire Humane Society.
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Guild of Berkshire Artists Exhibit for Berkshire Humane Society

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Humane Society is showcasing and selling work by local artists to help raise funds.
 
The Guild of Berkshire Artists has collaborated with the animal shelter to showcase and sell work created by local artists ranging in mediums including photography, abstract, oils, acrylics, watercolors, and more. 
 
"We hope to make art part of everybody's life, to create joy, to encourage people to experiment to explore different mediums, different ways of looking at the world," artist and former guild president Karen Carmean said.
 
"The variety of human existence — we're inspired by nature, animals and wildlife. Some of the work is not realistic, but it's all inspired by nature or animals or wildlife." 
 
The approximately 60 paintings on display are for sale and can be taken home the day of purchase. 
 
"I hope that we sell a lot of paintings because each painting sale benefits the Humane Society. So, that would be fabulous if people could come look at the paintings and maybe take one home for themselves or as a gift," artist Lisa Townson said. 
 
"And I also think it's a great way to familiarize yourself with other artists in the area and their work."
 
The Humane Society will get 20 percent of the sales and 5 percent will go to the Guild of Berkshire Artists. 
 
The artworks will be on display until April and the shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to  4 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4.
 
To continue to help raise funds, artist Terre Lefferts has donated one of her cat paintings, "Dita," for a raffle. 
 
Words can not express the impact Berkshire Humane Society has on the community between all the programs it offers for children, the work it does to save animals, sometimes from certain death in many cases, to its collaboration with other local organizations, artist Jane Salata said. 
 
"It's great because it brought me to the Humane Society so I could see how the animals are cared for and how fabulous the staff is," Townson said. 
 
"Having adopted a lot of rescue dogs I've been in a lot of shelters and a lot of less than wonderful animal situations. So, I was very pleased to see the quality of care, and the quality of the facilities here."
 
This is not the first time the guild has collaborated with the shelter — it's displayed its work there over the last five to six years and more frequently over the years, Carmean said. 
 
"We enjoy having the Guild of Berkshire Artists here and their show. They feature a lot of animals and a lot of the artists have also adopted animals … it's nice to have that sense of community and artists are very generous," the shelter's Communication Manager Catherine Hibbard said.
 
"... People will be able to take a chance on that raffle. We enjoy it and it just brightens up our hallways with the beautiful artwork."
 
Showcasing their work at the animal shelter not only shines a light on local artists but also helps support the work the Humane Society does, artists said. 
 
"We're so impressed with all of the staff here. They're wonderful. They really listen to people, they know their animals, and match people. It's just a delight to always be here," Carmean said.
 
Although this is the first time artist Terre Lefferts is participating in the exhibit, six years ago she adopted her "beautiful, wonderful dog" from the animal shelter and thought this was a great way to pay it back. 
 
Multiple artists in the show have adopted an animal from the shelter and agreed that work that the Humane Society does is important for the community noting the special connection between inspiration, animals, and art.
 
"I personally feel that every animal is a masterpiece. And they are just such great subjects. You know, animals are like art in many, many ways," Salata said.
 
"I feel you know that they enrich our lives, as does art. They're absolutely beautiful. They're often unexpected, and I think they're essential."
 
The guild opened in 2014 to educate its members and the general public about art and how it contributes to the quality of life in the Berkshires. 
 
In 2022, the guild leased its first brick-and-mortar building in West Stockbridge to contribute to the vibrancy of that downtown while providing artists the opportunity to curate a show and present their work. 
 
More information on the guild and its programs here.  

Tags: art exhibit,   Berkshire Humane Society,   

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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