What started out as a steamy summer day suddenly turned into a whirling downpour as MCLA’s Jonathan Secor and I toured Down Street Art in North Adams. There are 27 sites, a mixture of galleries, storefront installations, artist co-ops, performances, artist talks and studios for children and the general public. Walking the sites is a blast, the perfect activity for a cloudy day. Click here to go to Down Street Art’s website, where you’ll find a map of the sites, descriptions and an events calendar – you can pick up a map of the entire program in Porches’ reception building. Here are a few highlights from our walk:
Debi Pendell’s multi-layered paintings are masterfully crafted self-framed canvases with imagery that play on how we read symbols – this thoughtful and beautiful show is at MCLA’s Gallery 51. We then stopped in to see Jarvis Rockwell’s Maya III, a giant ziggurat covered in toys, a mammoth exploration of Jarvis’s commentary on mass consumption, idol/pop icon worship, the “American” narrative in father Norman Rockwell’s work, and… go in and see for yourself – it’s both dizzying and wonderful! Jarvis is usually there for a few hours most mornings; he’ll be glad to discuss his work with you. The Refractive Kinoscope by Kinodance Company at MCLA’s Gallery 51 Annex is a room-sized installation exploring the relationships between light, space and the viewer. Silent movie stills from about 40 films surround viewers at eye level in a series that winds around the edge of the rooms, illuminated by a series of lighted trains that travel behind the images on track; there’s an engaging intellectual dialogue here but it’s also just fun to look at!
Be sure to check out Down Street Art soon – a bunch of new shows are opening in the next day or so. Get your Down Street Art passport (fill it with stamps from the participating sites to get discounts at local merchants) and spend a day in town popping in and out of galleries, stopping into Brewhaha or the Cup and Saucer for a coffee or a sandwich… Keep in mind that you’ll be seeing really good art in an affordable range of prices, so plan to invest in a few new works of art or find that perfect gift. So, grab a coffee, flip open your map and start walking… look for the easily recognizable, green and white Down Street Art flags hung on storefronts. This is one instance in which even if the investment doesn’t increase in value, at least it’s always a source of enjoyment!