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The July 5th First Fridays Artswalk will encompass sixteen art shows featuring over a dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield’s bustling Upstreet Cultural District. Venues will reach as far south as the Unitarian Universalist Church, 175 Wendell Avenue, and as far North as Berkshire Medical Center, 725 North Street. The July First Fridays Artswalk will kick –off with opening receptions and artists present throughout the “walk” from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, July 5. There will be a free guided walking tour beginning at 5 pm on July 5 at the Intermodal Center at BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

Steven Valenti’s Clothing, 157 North Street, will display “Problems” by Michael Paul King, July 1-July 29. There will be an opening reception on July 5, 5 to 8 pm. “Problems” is an exhibition that explores the over prescription of medications we face in contemporary America.  Each piece is made from discarded prescription pill bottles and/or the tamper proof bottle caps. The artist retired from the US Army at the rank of Sergeant Major in 2015 after more than 21 years of service. He uses art as an outlet and enjoys tackling complex issues often rooted in his military experiences, attempting to spark conversations about issues that are either avoided or ignored.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue, will feature Community Access to the Arts (CATA)’s annual art show, “I Am a Part of Art”, which features a vibrant collection of work by 125 artists with disabilities. “I Am A Part of Art” showcases more than 200 original works of art, representing artists with disabilities from across Berkshire and Columbia counties, and ranging from students to adults to elders. Works are professionally matted and framed, and all pieces are available for sale, with proceeds providing commissions to the individual artists. The curated exhibits feature a wide range of styles, including abstract and representational paintings, drawings, sculpture, collage, and printmaking in a variety of media including acrylic, tempera, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, clay and mixed media. In addition, the exhibit at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will feature a collaborative sculptural installation created by 30 CATA artists using recycled materials.

The exhibit will be open during First Fridays Artswalk from 5 to 8 pm on July 5. The exhibit runs from July 5-July 27, and the gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 to 4 pm.

Also during the First Fridays Artswalk on July 5, the Unitarian Universalist Church, 175 Wendell Avenue, will present Pittsfield’s First Transgender Youth Art Show: “Self Made Human” by artist Hunter Schrade. “Self Made Human” is a selection of acrylic and oil paintings which chronicle Schrade’s transgender journey before and after top surgery. At the reception on July 5, from 5 to 8 pm, Schrade will debut his self-published coloring book, “Trans Coloring Book for Trans Youth”. Schrade is a painter, dancer, knitter, and senior at MCLA in interdisciplinary studies, on a track toward earning his master’s degree in Art Therapy. He serves as a peer mentor in the arts and lives in North Adams.

Illustrations by Bailey Brissett will be on view at the MCLA Pittsfield branch at 66 Allen Street for the month of July. Brissett, a 2019 graduate of MCLA, is a local, contemporary visual artist who uses herself and mental illness as her artistic muses. There will be a reception with the artist and an open information session about MCLA from 5 to 7 pm on July 5 during First Fridays Artswalk.

Of her work, Brissett says, “As a chronic ‘quiet person’ my body of work speaks for me when I would rather not. I provide an eccentric, compassionate, humorous, and visceral look at people, mental illness, and myself through a multitude of mediums, most often created in ink, marker, acrylic, and mixed media. Through my exploration I strive to display power of vulnerability.”

New shows from local artists will also be displayed at the following locations as part of First Fridays Artswalk: NUarts Gallery & Studios, Berkshire Museum, Uncorked Wine & Beer Lounge, Lee Bank, Hotel on North, Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, TKG Real Estate, Brothership Building Window, the Marketplace Café, Berkshire Paint and Sip, and Berkshire Medical Center.

Most art exhibits are on display in participating venues throughout the month. Please check with venues for hours of operation. For more information on First Fridays Artswalk and to view a listing and map of all participating artists and locations, visit www.FirstFridaysArtswalk.com.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. This project is also supported by a grant awarded by Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Arts Build Community initiative with funding from the Barr Foundation.

 

Header images (left to right): Erin C Potter, Ilene Richard