DownStreet Art on Ice a mixed bag of fun

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Items at the "99 Cents and Up" Sale part of DownStreet Art - Photo: William CaseyNorth Adams ushered in the holiday spirit Dec. 1 with “DownStreet Art on Ice,” which included a lit up Main Street and crowds of people beginning their holiday shopping. For another year in a row, with the assistance of DownStreet Art, Main Street became an active place long after the sun went down.

Stores were open late into the night, while restaurants like Jack’s Hot Dogs served food well-past normal closing time. Gallery 51 opened its annual “99 Cents and Up” sale with inexpensive art and other gifts.

Everywhere was climbing with holiday activity; even the front windows of all the stores were in competition with each other for best holiday scene. MCLA’s Allegrettos made their way up and down Main St. singing carols while decked out in holiday hats, and the College’s jazz band performed under the stars.

“This is our first performance at DownStreet Art on Ice,” senior Dan McDermott, a trombone player for the jazz band said. “The synergy of getting to participate in DownStreet Art has been a really good experience.”

The jazz band from MCLA was not the only new thing to hit the streets of North Adams for this holiday celebration. PRESS Gallery had its doors open for the first night of the exhibit “Patterns and Pressure.”

The exhibit featured MCLA students’ prints from Intro. to Design and Concrete Poetry with their exploration into lines, shapes, and rhythm within compositions and artworks.

MCLA students were not just involved within exhibits and performances, but many were walking from store to store, enjoying the late business hours and discount prices on holiday gifts. Gallery 51’s “99 Cents and Up” show presented customers with great options to bring home for the holidays like bags, jewelry, and photography.

The least expensive item at the “99 Cents” show was free. A group of Occupy Wall Street followers retold the story of how they would screen print Occupy shirts for free, despite how tired they would get. After a while, other protestors joined up and helped create these free t-shirts for those who were running out of clothes during the movement in New York City.

“It was interesting to see the artwork,” sophomore Kayleigh Brand said. “I’m definitely going to come back to buy gifts.”

According to Jonathan Secor, director of Special Programs at MCLA, the “99 Cents” show had already sold hundreds of items.

“It’s very successful again,” Secor said. “These art pieces are nice for students to bring home.”

The “99 Cents and Up” show will be featuring more items to sell through Dec. 30.

DownStreet Art on Ice presented community members and students with the advantage of shopping opportunities they may not have realized before.

“This whole event is to try and encourage people to shop locally for the holidays,” senior Lo Sottile said.

From antique stores to pet supplies and homemade chocolates, DownStreet Art on Ice gave us a lot more than the basic holiday cheer. By getting people to explore the shops on and around Main Street and purchase holiday gifts at a discount price, DownStreet Art was able to highlight the fact that North Adams brings a lot more to the table than people think.

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