DownStreet Art

activating downtown North Adams, MA since 2008

Author: mclabcrc (Page 1 of 44)

Thank you for #gettingdown with us in 2015

It’s hard to articulate what a wonderful summer we had. Thank you for attending, participating and sharing with us. Thank you to Commonfolk Artist Collective, MASS MoCA Teen Progran, Assets for Artists, Hoosic River Revival & our new partners at exPRESS for bringing their vision, expertise and collaborative spirit to DownStreet Art this summer.  Thank you to all of our friends, partners & collaborators who helped put DownStreet Art together. From our open call jurors, Julia Dixon, Melissa Post & Laura Abman to the almost 100 hundred artists who shared their work with us this summer – it’s been a whirlwind of visual art, performance, music and happenings.


Below are just a few highlights. Check out our flickr page for more images & highlights.

We’ll post information about DownStreet Art 2016 in the next few months. In the meantime follow us on facebook, like us on instagram or check us out on twitter.


#getdown one last time in 2015!

 DownStreet Art (DSA), a program of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), continues on Thursday, Sept. 24, with the final DownStreet Art Thursday of the 2015 season, from 6 to 9 p.m. The evening will include permanent and pop-up gallery receptions, performances and community events.

DownStreet Art welcomes all members of the community to visit local businesses, experience visual and performing arts in downtown North Adams, and to join us in a closing celebration of the 2015 DownStreet Art Season. All events are free and open to the public.

In addition to closing receptions and happenings in the galleries, four performances of Bridgman | Packer Dance’s “Truck” will be performed between 7 and 9 p.m. Seating is limited for each performance and reservations are strongly encouraged. Reservations can be made online at

Bridgman | Packer Dance’s “Truck” encourages creative place making by bringing performance to nontraditional and unexpected locations. In “Truck,” a 17-foot box U-Haul truck is filled with live performance and video technology.

Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, co-artistic directors of Bridgman | Packer Dance and Guggenheim Fellows in choreography, are acclaimed for their innovative integration of choreography and video technology. They are also recipients of nine consecutive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (2007 – 2015), two choreography fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts, four National Performance Network Creation Fund awards, and grants from New England Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, and National Dance Project.

“Truck” culminates a season-long focus on community engagement, according to BCRC Program Coordinator Michelle Daly. “We are excited to bring an innovative piece of dance to the streets of downtown North Adams.”

“Truck” is presented with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Expeditions Grant, and will tour seven venues in five New England states.

Other one-night only performances include: Shira Lynn’s “Squirrel Lady,” music under the Mohawk marquee, and a video and performance curated by Torsten Zenus Burns at MCLA Gallery 51.

Shire Lynn will bring her character “Squirrel Lady” to the streets of downtown North Adams.

“She looks a bit like a displaced office worker or someone without an indoor home, human with squirrel-like rhythms and behaviors,” Lynn said of her character. “Squirrel Lady”examines of awareness of our environments we move through them, and of our own animal bodies. The performance invites the audience to consider the environmental and social justice ramifications of our layers of disconnect.

Performing under the Mohawk Marquee will be singer-songwriter Izzy Heltai, as well as a Housatonic-based, alternative indie band, 8 Foot River.

From 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Sound and Tones recording artist Heltai will bring his modern folk music to Main Street.

From 7:30 – 9:00, 8 Foot River will perform. The band’s first full-length album, titled “Neighbors,” was released in November 2013. Their acoustic and electric instrumentation spans an eclectic range of all-original, hard-hitting rock and sweetly melodic indie pop.

At MCLA Gallery 51 at 51 Main St., Burns will present a special, one-night looped video program in conjunction with the current exhibition “Eat me alive so that I may see you from the inside.”

The program will include a selection of video, film, animation, and internet pieces that relate to the current show by artists, Burns, Maggie Nowinski, and Alicia Renadette. The three artists have also been collaborating on a new artist book that will be unveiled at the event.

This performance, screening and magazine launch will begin at 6 pm.

“Eat me alive so that I may see you from the inside” will remain on view at MCLA Gallery 51 through Oct. 25

Closing receptions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at DownStreet Art pop-up galleries C Gallery and Neck of the Woods.

At C Gallery, exhibitions by Julian Grey, Zac Pritchard and Chung Chak will be featured.

Grey’s exhibition “Persona” combines images from two recent series of self-portraits, “Voyeurisme” and “Curb Appeal.” In Voyeurisme, Grey utilizes black and white photography and film noir lighting to express themes of gender and sensuality from a non-binary subject.

In “Curb Appeal,” Grey’s richly colored self-portraits use the City of North Adams as a backdrop. Bringing her expressions of non-binary gender from the more intimate interior settings of Voyerisme to the streets, so to speak.

When viewed together, images from Voyerisme and Curb Appeal work in dialogue with one another, bringing the self as subject from intimate to public, says Daly.

Pritchard’s sculptural exhibition, “Oddities,” represent life-sized bodies and appendages. His work explores ideas of humor, loss, death, loneliness and attraction. Materials used are those that lend themselves easily to manipulation such as paper mache, plaster, paints and metals.

Chak will present six large-scale photomontages from his series, “Boxes.”

A closing reception for “Imagined Codes / Coded Images” will be held at the “Neck of the Woods Gallery.” Curated by Anthony Merino, the exhibition includes the work of four ceramic artists whose works align with the four tropes indentified by 20th century linguist Kenneth Burke.

Metaphors drive Alex Kraft’s fanciful narratives in which abstractions become characters. Sarah McNutt’s use of a single human as a representation of the human condition is classic synecdoche. Carly Costello’s link of fauna with humanity is a classic example of metonymy. Finally, Merino creates irony by using contronyms to illustrate the complexity of perception and reality.

Also at 87 Main St. will be a closing reception for  “Community Hearts,” a group exhibition at curated by Commonfolk member Jessica Sweeney. “Community Hearts” showcases work that Common Folk created with other creative community groups in North Adams. It will feature work from The NAMAzing Initiative, ArtDoors, and Mass MoCA’s Teen Art Summit Participants as well as some individual projects that focus and highlight collaborative creativity.

PRESS Gallery, Ferrin Contemporary, Cynthia-Reeves and the Berkshire Artist Museum will offer extended hours to highlight their continuing exhibitions.

PRESS Gallery, at 49 Main St., will highlight some of their favorite pieces created over the course of five years on Main Street. “Retrospective,” curated and coordinated by 2014 BHIP intern Nicole LeClair, will be PRESS’ last before it transitions to its new location in the recently renovated Bowman Hall.  “Retrospective” will be on view through Oct. 25

On view at Ferrin Contemporary at Independent Art Projects, 1315 MASS MoCA Way is a solo exhibition by Roberto Lugo “Ghetto Garniture: Wu Tang Worcester,” on view through October 22

In this solo installation, Lugo explores eclecticism and culture by juxtaposing street graffiti, European decorative patterning, and rich symbolism drawn from his Puerto Rican heritage. He creates a hybrid of visual art traditions and stimulates new conversations around cultural tolerance. The show features Lugo’s work created during his artist residency at Project Art in Cummington. Lugo describes himself as a “potter, activist, culture-maker, rapper, poet and educator.”

Also at Independent Art Projects, Cynthia-Reeves presents work by Steven Siegel. Siegel is an American sculptor noted for his environmental artwork, particularly using recycled materials such as newspapers, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles. Siegel’s work will be on view through Nov. 1.

According to Allese Thomson Baker of Artforum 2011, as with most of Siegel’s work, an environmental critique is implicit. Materials like plastic and polyester are mixed with beads and yarn, bound into brilliantly colored bunches and laced into a chaotic harmony.

“Much like Jackson Pollock, who organized a shambolic mess of paint into symphonies of color and texture, Siegel commands the detritus of our culture into a frantic rhythm, nailing contemporary anxieties about the environment to the wall.  Siegel may image our world out of rubbish, but the result is ravishing, glittering, and glistening in all its synthetic, inorganic wonder,” Baker said.

Continuing at the Berkshire Artist Museum, 159 East Main St., are group shows in their “Fresh Paint” and “Berkshire Classics” galleries. Also on view are selections from the permanent collection and the special exhibitions “That ‘70s Show” and “Then and Now.”

Other events include a screen printing mini-workshop at Maker’s Mill, 73 Main St., “ReVision” a participatory chalkboard project at 32-34 Eagle Street, and open studios with Jarvis Rockwell at 107 Main St. and Martha Flood Designs at 38 Eagle St.

ReVision, a participatory Chalkboard Art Project continues to elicit responses from the community. Responses are documented and shared via Facebook, and a blog created for this project .

In Gallery 107 at 107 Main St., Jarvis Rockwell will once again be on hand to show his works-in-progress as he completes a second large wall-drawing of the year (his fourth for DownStreet Art).

Rockwell’s abstracted works incorporate paint, graphite, colored pencil, small figurines and other three-dimensional objects, all of which are elements typically found in his work.

The two works, created last year, remain on view in the concourse at 85 Main St.

Martha Flood, 38 Eagle St., designs and produces “The Woodlands Collection,” custom manufactured fabrics inspired by natural textures and patterns we encounter in the New England landscape. The nontraditional images are examples of cutting edge pattern design and advanced digital fabric printing technologies, and are the 2013 Yankee Magazine Best of New England Editor’s Choice Winner.

Temporary installations “FGBS” by Michael Champan, “Day and Night” by Meg Erlewine and Jade Hoyer, and “Liminal Chimes” by Pete Cormier also are on view.

DownStreet Art’s mission is to build economic and social capital and encourage the dialogue between our community and the arts. DownStreet Art does this by enlivening downtown North Adams using art and cultural activities to increase visitorship and enhance resident participation.



Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) has announced PRESS Gallery’s transition celebration will take place on Thursday, Sept. 24, as part of this year’s DownStreet Art summer season, in the PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project Gallery, 49 Main St.

PRESS Gallery’s final exhibition, “Printmaking @ PRESS,” will remain on view in the gallery space. This show explores the wide variety of work that has been created in the space using the Gallery’s Vandercook or Poco press. Participating artists include PRESS founder Melanie Mowinski, Jonas McCaffery, Karen Arp-Sandel, Diane Sullivan, as well as a number of current and past MCLA students.


The public is invited to a reception on Thursday, 6-9 p.m., in the PRESS Gallery. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The September celebration will focus on PRESS’s upcoming transition to “exPRESS,” a collaborative storefront space, home to Williamstown Film Festival’s Wind-Up Fest, IS183 Art Education Space, MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, and the latest PRESS initiative, “PRESS on the MOVE.”

The event will feature representatives from each of the exPRESS collaborators, who will be illustrating their initiatives through activities, artwork, and discussion throughout the evening.

Attendees will be asked to submit answers to the question, “What should BCRC do for you?” The public is invited to contribute their thoughts about how they would like this new space to enhance the creative community through an anonymous suggestion box.

Wind-Up Fest, Williamstown Film Festival 2.0,  which will take place from Thursday, Oct. 15 to Sunday, Oct. 18, will shift the focus to world-class documentary films and their makers, while re-envisioning the festival as a celebration of nonfiction in all of its forms in a truly northern Berkshires experience.

“As part of the exPRESS partnership, Wind-Up has a presence in both Williamstown and North Adams, broadening our reach into both communities,” according to the Film Festival’s managing director, Sandra Thomas. “Having a presence on Main Street and being one of the exPRESS partners has afforded us deeper connections with MCLA staff and students, along with the greater community.”

IS183 Art School of the Berkshires will offer courses at the exPRESS location, giving residents of the Northern Berkshires and beyond opportunities to engage in a sustained, hands-on experience in the visual arts.

Upcoming in October at exPRESS are after-school classes for youth ages 5 to 10, starting Friday, Oct. 2.  A weekend workshop introduction class, “Paper Collage Primer,” will take place on Oct. 3 and 4, taught by North Adams resident Anne Roecklein. Visit for more information.

PRESS on the Move is a mobile printmaking program that spreads awareness of the traditional letterpress medium in the form of a small platen printing press, mounted on a wheeled cart. It will be unveiled at the Sept. 24 DownStreet Art celebration.

The BCRC will begin a new initiative as it collects information from and becomes a resource for local artists and arts managers. While it continues to run its multiple programs, BCRC aims to build a database of area artists and to facilitate the needs of our local artist community.

PRESS: LetterPRESS as a Public Art Project is located at 49 Main Street, in North Adams, MA.  We are a hybrid public art space as a gallery, studio and teaching lab. PRESS is open most days from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Learn more about the project,or follow us on Facebook at E-mail us at letterpress105@gmail.comto schedule a visit, find out more information or learn when our next workshop will be.

An initiative of MCLA’s BCRC, DownStreet Art (DSA) is a public art project designed to revitalize North Adams. By harnessing existing art organizations and events and transforming vacant and open spaces into art destinations, DownStreet Art defines North Adams as a cultural haven, driving tourists and community members.

eat me alive so that i may see you from the inside

MCLA Gallery 51 | 51 Main Street

Thursday September 24, 2015

A collaborative exhibit exploring re-imagined biology and speculative fictions between artists Maggie Nowinski,  Alicia Renadette, & Torsten Zenas Burns.


Opening August 27, exhibiting artist Torsten Zenas Burns will bring a curated hour long video presentation to MCLA Gallery 51 for one night only on September 24 as part of the last DownStreet Art Thursday of 2015.


The program will include a selection of video, film, animation, and internet pieces that relate to the current show by artists, Burns, Maggie Nowinski, and Alicia Renadette. The three artists have also been collaborating on a new artist magazine that will be unveiled at the event. This performative screening and book launch will begin at 6 pm at MCLA Gallery 51. The gallery will be open until 9:00.


Bridgman | Packer Dance, TRUCK

4 performances between 7-9pm. Thursday, September 24.

Reservations recommended – reserve your spot now.

Truck brings dance to unexpected places – from loading docks to meadows and points in between.

Artistic directors Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer perform TRUCK in the back of a 17 foot u-haul truck. They explore how context changes perception, the work ranges from evocative to humorous, to sensuous, to wacky. Scroll down to learn more about how TRUCK engages with a community.

-Truck- © Bridgman-Packer Dance (1)-Truck- © Bridgman-Packer Dance (2)


photo credit: Bridgman Packer Dance                                                                          photo credit: Bridgman Packer Dance

TRUCK (excerpts) from Bridgman|Packer Dance on Vimeo.

Co-presented with MCLA Presents! and funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts  agencies.

Creative Placemaking: Bridgman | Packer Dance

Interview by DownStreet Art Intern – Angela Medrano

Bridgman | Packer Dance’s Truck encourages creative placemaking by bringing performance to nontraditional and unexpected locations. Designed to be performed inside a 17-foot box U-Haul truck with live performance and video technology, a utilitarian and ubiquitous vehicle will transform into an accessible stage for dance. Truck is presented with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Expeditions Grant, and will tour seven venues in five New England states.

Within creative placemaking, public, private, not-for-profit, and community sectors partner to strategically shape the physical and social character of a city or region around arts and cultural activities. It provides the platform for an entire region to feel the positive influence of the arts, its many partners, and its inevitable economic impact. Creative placemaking is one of the key factors to a community’s wellbeing and resilience.

Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Artistic Directors and Guggenheim Fellows in Choreography, are acclaimed for their innovative integration of choreography and video technology. They are also recipients of nine consecutive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (2007 – 2015), two Choreography Fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts, four National Performance Network Creation Fund Awards, and grants from New England Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, and National Dance Project.

“It could be introduced to people who wouldn’t normally go to a dance theatre,” says Myrna Packer, half of the Bridgman | Packer Dance duo. By crafting a mixture between the utilitarian truck and the artistic dance performance outside of a traditional theatre setting, the pair hopes to reach new audiences while challenging the traditional reasoning behind art and performance. “People have seen [U-Haul trucks] everywhere and suddenly they’re looking into it and there’s a whole other world being created in there,” explains Packer. Almost serendipitously, this practice has proved quite fruitful.

Once both Bridgman and Packer understood that they were working with the transformation of an object and of a place, their creative process flourished.

Their work with technology on stage started about 14 years ago. Myrna recalls that “it was around the time that cameras and projectors were affordable and we had just finished a piece where we were working with our shadow projections on a translucent red curtain.” Shadow imagery encouraged them to explore the creative avenues between their two-dimensional shadows behind a curtain and their three-dimensional selves as they peeked beyond their translucent covering. This process piqued an initial interest in video technology.

Myrna, however, was the self-identified hesitant one: “I resisted it because I thought that it may be distracting. The audience might have to choose whether they are watching the live version of us or the video.” Her opinion soon adjusted when Art Bridgman showed her otherwise.

Bridgman went to their dance studio, projected his life-size image, and started stepping in and out of it. “It was an a-ha moment,” says Myrna.“I saw what technology could help us say on stage, and I saw that it could be all one entity, not that one was simply accompanying the other.” She understood that his stepping in and out of his own image worked as the perfect metaphor for struggles with identity and perception, “of somebody fracturing off of himself,” and once again returning to his own.

By analyzing the process and realizing how well it connected to terms of reality versus perception of existence, Myrna began to actively question what is real about “true” existence in comparison to one’s “perception” of their own reality. Following this, both Art and Myrna began to dissect how people spend their lives in front of screens of various sizes, and how that can become somebody’s reality. This growing dialogue soon engrained itself into their work. As a result, they continued to experiment with various contexts (i.e. audience demographics, location, etc.) and various landscape projections. Since then, they have created about seven major works that present such philosophical questions through a visual medium via video, and visceral medium via live performance. One of which is Truck.

They created Truck through their process of “video partnering”. Myrna explains that “one very important element of our work has been physical partnering” between herself and Art, “and the push and pull that happens there.” When they are on stage with their own video images, however, they are partnering the images, and the images are partnering them. This means that they have to be exactly at the right place at the right time to suit the projected landscape and projected figures within their U-Haul truck setting. Bridgman and Packer partner with their own video images that change in size, scale, and context to encourage various reference points. Packer clarifies that “we are interested in the live and the virtual having equal presence on stage.” Thus, the video is not simply background for their performance, but also plays a vital and equal role in their performance dynamic.

A unique aspect about Bridgman | Packer Dance’s Truck is its locational accessibility. “We’ve performed it in a loading dock in New York City… in a meadow, [and] next to theatres,” explains Myrna. She has noticed a common thread no matter the performance’s location: “If somebody sees Truck, let’s say in a parking lot, then the next time they walk by that parking lot, they might have a memory of having seen Truck there, so it transforms the place for that person.” In relation to creative placemaking, the environment itself somehow gains a print of a memory and thus a feeling that their work has brought there. It is crystal clear: audience engagement is at their performance’s core.

Packer shares internationally acclaimed novelist Siri Hustvedt’s thoughts of the relationship between art and its observers. As such, she believes that the transformative effect of art becomes accomplished only once the observer “finishes the artwork”. That is to say, a work of art is not so unless somebody looks at it and experiences it. One may surely assume that when Bridgman | Packer Dance’s Truck comes to town, each audience will experience the work in the context of their specific community, bringing a distinct perspective to the performance. An artistic imprint is made on the location. That is creative placemaking.



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