Pittsfield — The city’s First Fridays Artswalk started its new season on Friday, May 5. The series of events will be held each first Friday of the month until December and is supported by grants from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, the Mass Cultural Council, and The Feigenbaum Foundation.
Multiple businesses, artists, and organizations all took part in the event, which took place in the downtown area. Over in the Dunham Mall part of the downtown area, an art market featured the work of multiple artists, including Penny Bae Bridges, Lee Wendling, Robert Bertolino, and J. Megan Smithers.
Market manager Liam Gorman said that there were 10 artists who took part in the May 5 market, but that there will be more artists taking part as the summer goes along.
“With this art market, and the Artswalk, we’re trying to get the community to come downtown to enjoy Pittsfield,” Gorman said. “There’s a lot to do in the downtown area, including great restaurants and the brewery. When it comes to artists in the city, we have an eclectic bunch and a wide variety. Downtown Pittsfield is starting to thrive again after the pandemic, and this event shows a hunger for outdoor activities in the Berkshires.”
“There are a lot of really talented artists in this city that need to have more exposure and opportunities to get their work out there,” Pittsfield artist and art market participant Penny Bae Bridges said. “I think that Pittsfield artists and creators are all ambitious people. Some of us are transplants from other areas, but I think we are all interested in helping the area flourish, along with making and sharing art.”
As part of the event, activities were held for residents of all ages, including a “Kids’ Paint & Sip” activity at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, where children and their parents got to create art together.
Audiences gathered around North Street Park as local singer and songwriter Katherine Winston, who was on the television show American Idol, performed a concert.
Right across the street from the concert, Jim Horsford was giving a pottery demonstration at Sotille Park. “I think anytime you can get people outside and appreciating the arts, I think it’s a good thing for the community,” Horsford said. “Especially after the pandemic, people want to get out and do things with other people. For me, it’s always been a joy for me to demonstrate how to make pottery to everyone.”
“We have such an abundance of artists in Pittsfield,” Bottomless Bricks store owner Erin Laundry said. Laundry led people in creating art with LEGO blocks for a section in the city’s community quilt. “The Artswalk is a great way to show people that, while some may be visual arts or musical arts, we all have so much in common,” Laundry said. “This is such a fun little event where we all can get to connect with people.”
Over at the Hotel on North, an opening reception was held for artist Mary Davidson’s exhibition “PASSAGES.” Davidson told The Berkshire Edge that she grew up in Pittsfield, but she now lives in South Egremont. “How can I describe New England artists? I don’t think there is a way to describe them, to be honest with you,” Davidson said. “They are into so many different styles and categories. Some of them are into traditional work, but many are also experimental and doing many different things. I think that the Artswalk is a great way to bring together the local arts community.”
For more information about future First Fridays Artswalk events, go to its website.