DownStreet Art to Feature More Than 100 Exhibitions, Galleries to Feature Carrie Mae Weems, Xin Xin Zhi and DJ Spooky
NORTH ADAMS, MA - The Fourth Annual DownStreet Art initiative - organized by MCLA's the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) - will feature more than 100 exhibitions, showcasing the work of artists from around the world.
The Thursday June 23 celebration - a massive block party to include gallery exhibition openings, street musicians and specials at local businesses - will run from 6 to 9 p.m. It is free and open to the public. This season's opening event coincides with the kick-off of the Solid Sound Festival, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).
This year's DownStreet Art will hold more exhibition openings than ever before, according to Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA.
"In the past, one artist or one gallery has taken over a space for four months. This year, we have multiple exhibitions happening in the same galleries. While we have 34 spaces - which in itself is amazing - we're looking at more than 100 exhibitions. The last Thursday of every month we'll have new exhibition openings in almost every single space, with new artists and new work," Secor said.
For DownStreet Art IV, MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center put together a curatorial committee of representatives from the top visual arts destinations in the area - MASS MoCA, Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) and The Clark.
The committee includes Susan Cross, curator at MASS MoCA; Berkshire Creative Board Member Stuart Chase, former director of the Berkshire Museum and newly appointed director of Berkshire One; Leslie Ferrin, director of the Ferrin Gallery; Tom Loughman, assistant deputy director at The Clark Art; John Stomberg, deputy director and chief curator at WCMA; Ven Voisey, gallery manager of MCLA Gallery 51; as well as Secor, Valeria Federici and Martina Caruso from MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.
"We reviewed applications from artists all over the world," Secor said. "It was a testament that these committee members would be seeing the work. Artists knew that even if their work weren't chosen, it would be put in front of the major museums in the Berkshires. We're looking forward to a great summer. We have some great artists and some great art coming."
The June 23 openings will include Paul Miller, aka Dj Spooky, calligraphic artworks and digital media paintings. Paul Miller re-contextualizes elements of cultural detritus as archival video samplings, digital prints, installations and drawings, thus calling into question the validity of maintaining disparate categories such as copy vs. original, appropriation vs. creation, and auteur vs. audience. He will show a combination of materials from "NORTH/SOUTH" an exhibition based on his Antarctica residency, poster prints, and street signs. He will also perform during North Adams Late Nite on Saturday, June 25, at midnight, with North Adams-based Todd Reynolds, internationally known experimental violinist and composer.
"TEENSPACE," a project of Kidspace and MASS MoCA with Northampton-based artist Samuel Rowlett, consists of wall ink drawings by Rowlett and 15 local high school students at the former Artery Lounge in downtown North Adams.
"We are excited to bring Samuel Rowlett to local teens, who are collaborating to create drawings and other artwork that I think will prove to be a great demonstration of the impressive creativity of the teens in the North Berkshires," said Laura Thompson, director of Kidspace.
C. Ryder Cooley will open "XMALIA," a multi-media installation about extinction. Her work is composed of video, sound, found wood lost materials, performance props, costumes and animal phenomena.
"The installation will evolve over the course of four months, forming the set for a series of lyrical performances with some guests musicians," Cooley said. She is based in Hudson N.Y., and is an inter-disciplinary artist, performer and musician.
Other June 23 opening include "End of Empire," a juried show of anti-war art organized by Andrew Davis and Richard Rand, senior curator at The Clark. "The exhibition features 18 American artists. The works address conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. foreign policy and a culture that enables the military-industrial complex. All combine to make a compelling show," Davis said.
Also on June 23, "Selection from the Cultural Corridor," an exhibition with artists who have an active working relationship with the region between Beacon, N.Y. and Bennington, Vt., will open.
"This area, known as the Cultural Corridor, with Berkshire County as its gravitational center, has always had a robust artist population. In recent decades however institutions focusing on the visual arts have grown and multiplied and this roster, along with galleries and a sundry of other non-profits, has played an instinctive role in lengthening, widening and establishing this north/south passageway of the culture trade," said Peter Dudek, co-curator of the exhibition.
July 28 openings include "Fade to Black," an exhibition of art by award-winning photographer and artist Carrie Mae Weems. Her photographs, films and videos have been displayed in more than 50 exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Her work focuses on issues that face African Americans today, such as racism, gender relations, politics and personal identity. This exhibition will be part of the countywide "Lift Ev'ry Voice Festival."
Also on July 28, Izabel Galliera will present "A Social Geography of Hair: Performing Gender and Identity in Contemporary Art" in the former Sheer Madness space. "The show aims to map and provoke dialogue on the socially potent use of hair as an artistic and communicative medium for both conveying and transgressing accepted notions of beauty, individuality, gender and cultural identity," she said. It will feature a diverse body of work, including drawings, paintings, photographs, performance and video by a younger generation of artists, including Aisha Cousins, Las Hermanas Iglesias, So Yoon Lym and Jonathan Vaughan.
On Aug. 25, a Chinese artist sponsored by The Clark, Xin Xin Zhi, will present "Dog Bones" and "Love Letter," two sculptures composed by pieces of molded Chinese porcelain.
"There is a distance between the subjective imagination of art innovation and visual density of works, especially when a work is finally considered a cultural product and is detached from its author. The work is then subjected to the interpretation and appreciation of viewers. And the interpretation of the work may exceed the author's conception. Therefore, I and viewers complete one of my works together," she said. DownStreet Art marks her first show in the U.S.
Also featured on Aug. 25 will be the work of video artist Molly Davies, who will open her three-screen installation at the "Everything Must Go!/Molly Davies" art destination. Davies started making experimental films in the late 1960s in New York City. Her work in film, multimedia performance and video installation has been presented at such sites as the Venice Film Festival, The Centre Pompidou, Musée de l'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, The Getty Research Institute and The Whitney Museum, among others.
Throughout the summer, DownStreet Art will also include "PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project," a workshop and gallery space run by Melanie Mowniski, assistant professor of visual art at MCLA and Greylock Arts's "Everything Must Go!" by Ephraim and Sadie Hatfield. This exhibition is a follow-up to last year's DownStreet Art project, "Not for Sale." Both projects are public performance and "pop-up" stores, which will invite visitors to see a letterpress printing in action and explore electronic art.
DownStreet Art continues to act as a catalyst for drawing thousands of visitors to downtown North Adams.
According to Meri Jenkins, Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) program manager, "DownStreet Art has nurtured a strong connection between art, artists and the community of North Adams, and in doing so, has made the city a centerpiece of cultural economic development in Northern Berkshires. The MCC is pleased to be able to support the growth of the program."
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said DownStreet Art has become a staple for the city.
"This creative venue has grown significantly and continues to attract thousands of visitors to our downtown core," Alcombright said. "Utilizing empty storefronts as active galleries continues to make our downtown more attractive, provide great economic opportunity for our restaurants and makes our downtown a destination - particularly on Thursday evenings. I am very excited to be a small part of DownStreet Art IV and look forward to a very successful summer and fall."
DownStreet Art Thursdays will continue on the last Thursdays of July, August and September from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will run till the Open Studio Weekend on Oct. 15-16. These events will feature music, performances, gallery openings and other downtown activities.
DownStreet Art is a project of MCLA's Berkshire Culture Resource Center, partnering with the City of North Adams, Develop North Adams, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The program is made possible through leading sponsorship support provided by Orbit Visual Graphic Design, Excelsior Printing, Scarafoni Reality and Berkshire Bank. Additional support is provided by: Adams Co-Operative Bank, Brewhaha Café, Edward Jones Investments, The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA, Moulton's Spectacle Shop Inc., Persnickety Toys, Jarvis W. Rockwell and The Sushi House.
The initiative was designed to revitalize downtown North Adams by identifying the city as a cultural haven. The program serves not only to increase MCLA's visibility, but also to showcase what other local arts organizations have to offer. For more information about DownStreet Art and MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, go to www.downstreetart.org and www.mcla.edu/bcrc.