MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center is gearing up to launch the eighth season of DownStreet Art on Thursday, June 25, with the largest galleries the summer-long celebration has ever seen, and a focus on community connections as artwork, exhibits and activities aim to engage all those who visit the downtown.
BCRC Director Jennifer Crowell said the downtown festival – which will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. and feature a free concert, permanent and pop-up gallery exhibition openings, and more – will be a wonderful event in the great tradition of DownStreet Art.
“We’re closing off half of Main Street,” Crowell said. “Fantastic Negrito, this really fantastic funk-blues singer, who’s the winner of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest, will perform and kick off the DownStreet Art season with us.”
Fantastic Negrito (right), otherwise known as Xavier Dphrepaulezz, beat out more than 7,000 other NPR contest applicants to win this year’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
In “ReVision,” a participatory chalk board project developed by BCRC Program Coordinator Michelle Daly, residents and visitors alike will share their visions for North Adams.
“I think it’s going to be really incredible to see what people come up with, and how they see the future of North Adams,” Crowell said. “It’s a phenomenal project. Michelle has been working with the North Adams Historical Society to put some pictures together so people can see the past, alongside what they envision for the future.”
“Michelle and I are really committed to the community and making those connections between the community and what we’re doing,” she added, “so I think this project speaks brilliantly to that.”
Responses will be documented throughout the summer and shared via social media before being presented to the City of North Adams at the closing celebration on Sept. 25.
This season features two of the most spacious galleries in DownStreet Art history.
“Luckily for North Adams, the empty storefronts are getting fewer and fewer. But, we do have two large spaces this year that may be the biggest spaces we’ve had for DownStreet Art,” Crowell said. “We’ve taken over the old North Adams Transcript space on Main Street and the former NAACO location at the corner of Main and Marshall.”
Pop-up galleries this summer will include two at 87 Main St. The Neck of the Woods Gallery is curated by Commonfolk, a North Adams artist collective, and Common Place Gallery is curated by DownStreet Art.
A third pop-up, C Gallery, is at 33 Main St. “This will be the first time DownStreet Art will curate that space,” Crowell said. “It’s huge, so it’s really exciting.”
Exhibitions opening on June 25 will include a retrospective by local artist Joshua Fields; a group exhibition, “Convergence,” comprised of 13 artists working as part of the Assets for Artists Program; “Sky Walk” by Pioneer Valley artist Chris Page; and “Stained and Blown,” a group exhibition of local glass artists.
Other offerings include “Origin of Birds” in MCLA Gallery 51, “Manifestos” in PRESS, and “Liminal Chimes” by artist Pete Cormier, to be displayed in a downtown pocket park throughout the DownStreet Art season.
DownStreet Art will run from June 25 through Sept. 27 and will feature four “DownStreet Art Thursdays” – on June 25, July 30, Aug. 27, and Sept. 24. For more information, go to www.downstreetart.org and www.mcla.edu/bcrc.