In the past few years, downtown Pittsfield has become an incubator of sorts for the local art scene. New galleries have begun popping up next to stores and restaurants and there are several art related events that take place throughout the year, making downtown seem much more alive and vibrant than it had in the past.
One of my favorite events is the monthly Artswalk, which just recently celebrated its first anniversary. Taking a note from its popular, downtown counterpart, 3rd Thursdays, 1st Fridays Artswalk takes place on the first Friday of every month and invites people to walk along the North street area, while stopping into businesses taking part. They make it easy to tell who’s participating with Artswalk flags hanging in front of the places that are involved. The types of businesses that participate varies every month, but typically include restaurants, bars, clothing stores, galleries and several other unique shops. The works are temporarily hung on the walls, allowing visitors to not only view the art work, but also to browse in the stores or have a bite to eat in the restaurants. Often, the artists are on hand to greet the visitors and discuss their art. I think this is a great way to check out a business that you might not have otherwise thought of going to.
As the autumn weather had begun to settle in, this month’s Artswalk was chilly, but an unexpectedly beautiful night for November. After meeting up with a colleague, we headed over to Baba Louie’s, for some pizza and their amazing Greek salad, before we started out. After pizza, we spent the next couple of hours wandering in and out of stores, admiring the interesting art. We stopped in at the NU Arts Gallery and Studios to check out local artist, Scott Taylor’s colorful art, along with several other artists who have studio spaces there. We went to the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts where we explored the exhibit, ‘They Dance for Rain’, which is an ongoing exhibit through the month of November. It features images captured by photographer, Monika Pizzichemi, and follows the journey of dancer/artist Stefanie Weber, as she brings tap shoes and dance instruction to the underprivileged people of Nairobi, Kenya.
Our last stop was the Berkshire Museum, because the person that I was with had never been, and I wanted to show him the great geology department that they have. The different rocks and gems have always interested me, with their many colors and textures. Later on in the month, The Festival of Trees makes its way to the museum, filling the upper floor with dozens of festive trees, uniquely decorated by area businesses and schools. It is something that definitely puts you in the holiday mood, so I will be sure to stop back in a few weeks, perhaps taking the kids along after a matinee at the Beacon Cinema.
There are many interesting and fun things to do in downtown Pittsfield, and my colleague and I discussed this as we made our way back to our cars. We agreed that downtown was a great asset to the community, and was a fun place to spend some time. Pittsfield has invested in the hope that the people would embrace the change to downtown, and it seems that they have certainly succeeded.