Over Fifty Regional and International Artists Featured at the August 2nd First Fridays Artswalk

Over fifty artists from as far away as Bahrain, Chile, Australia, France and Morocco and as close as Pittsfield, Williamstown, and Richmond will show their works in two dozen locations in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District this Friday, August 2nd during the First Fridays Artswalk and throughout the month of August. Highlights of this month’s free evening cultural promenade include the opening of the Islam Contemporary show in two galleries and one storefront, a meet and greet with three international artists-in-residence at the Whitney Center for the Arts, and a show of poetry broadsides at Y Bar in concert with the upcoming WordXWord Festival August 11-17, 2013.

“The new Islam Contemporary show is the first one to span more than one gallery in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. We’re excited to provide a fresh perspective on contemporary Islam through the arts, and delighted to have a new Artswalk partner in the new Whitney Center for the Arts, located in the beautiful and historic Colt House on Wendell Avenue,” noted Megan Whilden, Director of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield.

Islam Contemporary aims to bring a fresh perspective to contemporary Islamic heritage, life and culture. The art exhibit features twenty-four individual artists from around the world, and one artist collective from Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Bahrain, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, as well as local artists from the Berkshires, New England and New York, both Muslim and non-Muslim, emerging and established.

The Whitney Center for the Arts will also be hosting an informal meet-and-greet during First Fridays Artswalk with the three international artists-in-residence here in Pittsfield this month through the Berkshire Residency Exchange sponsored by IS183 Arts School. The artists are  Malik Sajad from Kashmir (whose work is included in Islam Contemporary), Sheena Rose from Barbados and Dolla Sapeta from South Africa.

Local artists whose work is highlighted include Marguerite Bride, Susan Geller, Colleen Quinn, Lisa Griffith, Anne Roland, J. Danforth, Marion Grant, Joan Ciolfi and others. Live music will be featured at Crawford Square, Treehouse Children’s Boutique, BINGO! Gallery and Mission Bar & Tapas, where the Pittsfield Sister City Jazz Ambassadors will perform with very special guest Charles Neville. His son Carlos Neville will be guest chef at Mission as well, cooking up New Orleans specialties.

One of Artswalk’s more unique venues, the Aerus Electrolux vacuum cleaner store,  features paintings by William R. Hall Sr. An artist and Vietnam War veteran,, he may well be best known as the boy model in Norman Rockwell’s Before the Prom.

For the month of August, the Art Gallery at Bagels Too will be dedicated to a solo show of the pastel work of the late Tom Littlefield, who passed away at the age of 92 in July. His luminous pastels were a favorite in the changing art shows at Bagels Too over the past decade.

Music and art are intertwined at several Artswalk venues this month. A solo show of photographer Susan Geller on the subject of  children will be held at TREEHOUSE Children’s Boutique, featuring a special live performance by one of her photographic subjects, 4-year-old country singer Mason Zink and his Mason Zink Band. Mason’s back-up musicians are his father, Corey; his grandfather, Ron; great aunt, Gloria; great uncle, Punky; and great uncle, Louis.

Around the corner, Crispina ffrench’s BINGO! Gallery in the former Notre Dame Church, features a vibrant show of paintings by Bernard Greenwald, a former professor of Art at Bard College until he retired to full-time painting 3 years ago. The art opening will also feature live klezmer dance tunes  performed by Bernard, his wife Elena and friends, beginning at 6:30 pm. Meanwhile local favorite and 13 year old guitar prodigy Nico Wohl.

Other artists include Hill Humphreys at Wild Sage, Chilean native Ana Marie Martin at the Berkshire Medical Center, Rick Costello’s vision of the galaxy on canvas at Bisque Beads and Beyond, and Kathryn Jensen’s watercolors at The Marketplace Café.

In the Brothership Building Window, located at 141 North Street, Phillip Webster’s work in concert with Islam Contemporary, entitled Hi Tech Art: Visions of Mathematical Beauty will include several 3D printed sculptures, laser cut acrylic, and digital artwork printed directly on aluminum.

The Shops at Crawford Square at 137 North Street are a hotbed of local art and live music, featuring 13 year old guitar prodigy Nico Wohl.  Kinderhook Real Estate features beautiful work created with colored pencil by Anne Roland. Decades of Health Holistic Wellness is showing the work of Nancy Meissner, while Pateez Boutique hosts Richard Thomas Weber working in plein art with new paintings, and Pat Carchedi with expanded media works Brenda & Company Caterers is showing the vibrant landscapes of Dr. Leon Nesis, whose work is also on display in Baba Louie’s Woodfire Pizza. Unusual Wedding Rings and More hosts work by new Pittsfield resident Analesa Rose Berg entitled The Alphabet of Vibration and inspired  by the Hebrew alphabet and multi-cultural symbols from Hindu, Egyptian, Native American, and other world cultures.

For more information visit discoverpittsfield/firstfridaysartswalk where you can download a free map and guide to the August 2nd First Fridays Artswalk, or pick one up in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District.  First Fridays Artswalk is the largest year round monthly visual arts event in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. The lead sponsors of First Fridays Artwalk are Berkshire Money Management, Gallery 25, the Berkshire Art Association, The Berkshire Eagle and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Other sponsors include Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Medical Center, Downtown Pittsfield Inc., WJ Blueprint, and the City of Pittsfield. For more details about First Fridays Artswalk call 413-443-6501 or email cultural@pittsfieldch.com.