Downtown North Adams came alive with sound and creativity at the last Downstreet Art event of the season last Thursday.
Musicians, galleries, and performances all offered something unique to the experience.
Mural Ribbon Cutting
One of the many events that took place was the official ribbon cutting for the city’s newest mural, “Imaginarium”, created by Yu-Baba, a native of Belarus and Brooklyn-based muralist.
Mayor Richard Alcombright and President James Birge spoke of the importance of these murals to the community, engaging citizens and making art come alive.
Director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) Michelle Daly spoke of the artist’s vision of the piece. The fox pictured encircling the woman’s face was a bodyguard, full of ideas and inspiration for the creative artist. This is symbolic of North Adams, Daly said, representing its community of dreamers and hard workers.
Daly explained the origin of Downstreet Art and the impact that it has for the people of the city.
“This is the 10th year of Downstreet Art. It was established in 2008 by the BCRC and was created in order to increase foot traffic to the downtown North Adams area,” she said.
The mural idea was introduced in 2012 as fewer storefronts became available. This year there was an open call for artists and Yu-Baba was chosen. Yu-Baba completed the mural on Center Street in only three days in late August, with the help of a partner.
“Public art makes the community livable and vibrant,” Daly said. “Our mission is to make
this a point of connection within the community.”
The unveiling celebration concluded with performances by local improvisational rap artist and humorist Seth Brown, as well as Marafanyi, a drum, dance, and song group founded by international musicians. The group performed an interpretation of Alla Awad’s “Justice” mural using song, dance, and spoken word.
The Yellow Bowl Project
Gallery 51 hosted an opening reception for artist Setsuko Winchester’s exhibit, “Freedom from Fear/The Yellow Bowl Project.”
Winchester explained the concept of this project on her website. She handmade 120 ceramic yellow tea bowls and traveled with them to 10 World War II Japanese internment camps.
“My project may throw light on a discomfiting part of American history – but I hope not to condemn or blame, but help gauge where we are in this ever-evolving experiment we call ‘America,’” Winchester said.
Music under the Mohawk Marquee featured many artists, including solo artist Chad Tarves, two-person band House Sparrow, and alternative indie rock group 8 Foot River.
Francesca Shanks of House Sparrow talked about what Downstreet Art means to her and what it does for the community.
“We are really happy to live in a city where everyone is making art all the time. I think it is such an affirmation of our values as a place,” Shanks said.
“North Adams is such a welcoming community for creative people, especially young creative people. The way Downstreet Art brings all that to Main Street is really beautiful and amazing to me!”
Plenty of other events and attractions were available, including a weaving demo hosted by Makers’ Mill, a bike decorating station, a Halloween Magic-Lantern Show, and many gallery exhibits and installations, all linking the community together through their art.