by Darcie Sosa
We’ve all traveled to see beautiful art locked behind glass or guarded by individuals that will let you know when you get just a little too close and this is done rightfully so. Some of these are works created by artists long gone from this world whose legacy doesn’t need your fingerprint on it.
While we can all admire these classics, there is a distance between us, the viewer, and the artwork. Us viewers will never get the opportunity to speak with the artist, if they have passed, learn more about their art, life, inspiration, and more. Luckily here in the Berkshires, we are able to bridge this distance. For the past 11 years, residents of the artist studio lofts at the Eclipse Mill in North Adams, MA open their studios to the public for one weekend, October 17th & 18th, to showcase how local artists make their art and live. Artists will continue on with their art making while listening and encouraging those that come to view to ask questions about their art and their process.
This unique mill, originally a cotton mill built in 1896, has an old, industrial feel about it and yet it is an artists’ community consisting of forty artist studio lofts. The diversity of the artists includes dozens of professional artists as well as a number of creative businesses including G. J. Askins Bookseller, Brill Gallery, River Hill Pottery, Tupelo Press, and SOMA Movement Studio. All the artists at Eclipse create a diverse range of work including painting and sculpture, puppeteering, and lighting design.
But maybe you cannot get to the Eclipse Mill for Open Studios this year? Fear not, residents’ works are displayed year round throughout the Mill’s hallway walls, and the Eclipse Mill Gallery on the first floor presents a rotating schedule of exhibitions curated by or featuring resident artists.
Maybe after the Open Studios you want even more art? Well, you’re in luck. Within walking distance are numerous local galleries located on North Adams’ Main Street, along with The Rudd Art Museum. Skip along a little further downtown and you’ll happen upon one of the largest centers for contemporary art MASS MoCA and newer Ferrin Gallery.
If it is one thing North Adams does right, it makes both art and artists accessible to viewers. By asking people to come and engage an artist space while they are in their element, producing their work seems to make that glass case and security officer an abstract concept. The space between artist and spectator is bridged and a new-found appreciation for both the work produced and the talent, time and energy it takes to make emerges.