Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Third Thursdays + WordXWord Festival = Minds Blown

Pittsfield’s 3rd.Thursdays street festival joins forces with the third annual WordXWord Festival this Thursday night, August 18, presenting over three dozen musicians, artists and performers throughout downtown.  The streets and sidewalks of downtown Pittsfield will fill with live music, street performers, great shopping, outdoor dining, new art, and thousands of people  from 5pm to 8pm and beyond. A half mile of North Street will be closed to traffic from Park Square to Maplewood Avenue between 4:30pm to 8:30pm.



The evening’s most celebrated performer is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who will be reading and telling stories from his recent memoir, A Reason to Believe: Stories from an Improbable Life, at the Colonial Theatre. The reading is free but advance tickets are strongly recommended. Call the Colonial Theatre box office to reserve: 413-997-4444.  The event will begin at 7pm and will be followed by a booksigning with the governor. Copies of the book will be available for purchase in the Colonial Theatre lobby.

Live music and spoken word performances can be found indoors and outdoors throughout downtown. The City Stage will be at the base of North Street and features alt-folk singer-songwriters Jeff Byrd, Susan Cattaneo and John Colvert. Palace Park host the Berkshire Rocks youth stage with local youth musicians performing; and the out-of-the-box Encyclopedia Show featuring Megan Thoma will be performing on the lawn at St. Joseph’s Church, followed by 3rd.Thursday’s first ever outdoor open mic, from 6:30pm to 8pm. 

Shawn’s Barbershop hosts the WordXWord slam poetry preliminaries at 6pm followed by slam poet champion Omar Holmon at 7:30pm, free to all. Across the street at Ferrin Gallery artist and writer Douglass Truth will be signing copies of his new illustrated book, Everything I Know *Subject to Verification from 5pm to 7pm. (His Iphone photographs are on display at the Lantern Bar and Grill down the block.) And the Town Players will present a staged reading of Karel Fisher's "Stepping on My Head in Dr Scholl's Sandals," at 5:30pm and again at 7pm at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.

The Town Players will present staged reading of Karel Fisher's "Stepping on My Head in Dr Scholl's Sandals," beginning at 5:30pm, preceded at 5pm by guitar music. After the show audience members will have the chance to talk with the performers about the reading and ask any questions they have.

Baba Louie’s is hosting two pizza eating contests at 3rd.Thursays. The first is open to the public. Registration begins at 5:45pm and is limited to twelve people, with a $5 registration fee. The second contest, at 6:30pm, will pit the Pittsfield Police Department against the Pittsfield Fire Department. All proceeds from the contests will go to Berkshire Community Action Council’s Community Garden Project.  There will also be a live remote from the Live 95.9 FM crew.

In addition, the Brazilian rhythms of the Berkshire Bateria will be rocking the street in front of Spice Dragon from 6pm to 8pm, and Phil Grover’s Doo Wah Revue will be performing in front of the Intermodal Center, courtesy of Berkshire Community College. Meanwhile, The Marketplace Café hosts the Easy Ridin’ Papas.  Otha Day will be leading an interactive drum circle on Park Square along with hula hooping with Stefanie Weber.

An artist’s reception for Colleen Surprise Jones’s latest exhibit “Inter Alia: Abstractions," will be held at the Berkshire Community College’s Intermodal Gallery.  "Inter Alia: Abstractions" ("inter alia" is Latin for "among other things") is an exhibit of abstract paintings and sculpture. Gallery hours are from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

New works by Marguerite Bride will be on display at Gallery 25 from August 18 through September 11, 2011. The exhibit will kick off with an artist reception on from 5:30–8PM.  Bride has gained regional recognition for her scenes of the Berkshires in a series called “Local Color”. She has expanded her repertoire in this exhibit to include paintings of eastern Massachusetts, especially Cape Cod and the Islands, and has entitled this show “East Meets West”.  Painter, art critic, blogger and former slam poet Carol Diehl will show a small selection of work from her "Journal Paintings" series in conjunction with a reading at 7pm at the Berkshire Museum.

Stop by the Berkshire Museum for free and fun WordXWord activities - Tell-a-Story Step-by-Step - chalking your stories on the sidewalk.  Hopscotch Poetry, kids can hop through a traditional hopscotch diagram with words written in each square, creating a poem as they go. Wally Rap will be a spoken-word open mic right next to Wally, the Museum’s stegosaurus, where kids can create original rap lyrics. Stories on the Wind will have participants writing narratives on long streamers of paper, which will be pinned up to wave in the breeze.  Then come play fun games and win prizes at the free kid's zone booth located at 78 North St, sponsored by South Congregational Church.  Come get Smurfed at the Beacon Cinema, get your face painted Smurfy-blue and the first ones there will get a free mini-movie poster of The Smurfs.  To celebrate 5 years of 3rd Thursdays the Beacon Cinema presents $5.00 admission all day on 3rd Thursday all movies ($6.50 for 3D).

Photo by Eric Korenman

Berkshire Bank has teamed up with Store Front Artist Project.  Stop by the Berkshire Bank at 99 North Street to meet famous cartoonists Joe Staton (Scooby-Doo, Batman, Green Lantern, etc.), Mark Martin (SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Garry Black.   Enjoy art making for kids at Bisque, Beads and Beyond and pick up something for yourself with 25% off everything.

The Berkshire Running Center, located on 42 Summer Street is a run specialty store and training center located out of Berkshire Nautilus.  Owners Kent Lemme and Shiobbean Archey will be hosting a grand opening celebration this 3rd Thursday from 6-8pm.  Come join them for fun runs downtown, every 15 minutes!  There will be great giveaways and raffle prizes.  Their intention is to become the Grand Central Station for running and racing in Berkshire County. 

A special Library of Congress traveling exhibition—mounted in a customized 18-wheel truck will be open at Park Square during 3rd. Thursdays.  The “Gateway to Knowledge” exhibition will bring high-quality facsimiles of many of the Library’s top treasures and information about the millions of resources in the Library’s unparalleled collections to small towns and rural communities across America.  Ultimately, the “Gateway to Knowledge” is expected to visit up to 60 sites in states across the Midwest and South over the next year.

North Street’s unique locally-owned businesses will be open late for your browsing pleasure, including Treehouse, a newly opened children's boutique and family clubhouse, hosting a quiet space for nursing and new moms during 3rd.Thursdays.  Pateez Boutique, a store for women of all ages offering 20% - 50% off great styles from clothing to handbags to shoes and sandals; the Newberry Place with their one-of-a-kind gifts; and Mad Macs Inc., Berkshire County's Only Apple Authorized Service Center.  Also on North Street you’ll find a number of great deals and specials if you shop during 3rd .Thursdays, RJ Stohr’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, which will be offering 50% off almost everything in the store for one day only; and Pittsfield Bra and Girl features a 50-75% summer clearance tent sale offering select sleepwear, loungewear, bras and accessories.

Participating downtown restaurants that will be open late for your dining pleasure include Ad Lib, Hot Harry’s, the Highland Restaurant, Baba Louie’s, Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant, Bagels Too, Spice Dragon, Mary’s Carrot Cake Café, Flavours, Shiro, Mission Bar and Tapas, The Marketplace Café, Doc’s Deli, The Crowne Plaza, Mad Jacks, and the Lantern Bar and Grill. In addition, there are a wide range of street vendors will be selling a variety of food to enjoy as you walk around the streets and enjoy all that 3rd.Thursdays has to offer.

Downtown Pittsfield will continue to be alive with entertainment and fun throughout the evening. The Celtic folk band Rakish Paddy continues its tradition of playing every 3rd.Thursdays at Patrick’s Pub on Park Square, as does the jam band Billy Keane and the Misdemeanor Outlaws at Mission Bar and Tapas. Both are no cover, but get there earlier to ensure your seat.  Also enjoy Melissa Brinton’s solo acoustic guitar performance at Flavours Restaurant also no cover.  If you want to enjoy some theatre be sure to check out Barrington Stage Company’s The Game tickets range from $15-$60.  Later in the evening stay downtown for Misty Blues in the Lounge at Spice Dragon at with no cover or head over to dance with DJ Bruno’s club and dance music at the Underground Pub $3 cover at the door.  Both events begin at 9pm.

For more information about 3rd.Thursdays, please call 413.499.9348 or visit 3rd.Thursdays is a monthly free community street arts festival held rain or shine in downtown Pittsfield on the 3rd Thursday from May through October. Plenty of free parking is available.

Click here to download the flyer and map for August's 2011 3rd. Thursday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jim Horsford Pottery Classes Return to the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts

After a break for the summer, we are very excited to welcome back Jim Horsford to offer inexpensive classes for adults this fall.  No experience is necessary. 

Classes begin on Wednesday September 7th and Thursday September 8th from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Classes last 6 weeks, and will end Wednesday June 8th and Thursday June 9th, 2011.

$195 for adults, includes all materials

28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Course Description:

The course is 12 hours of instruction on the potter’s wheel. No experience is needed. Beginners are welcome.

1. First class:

Students wedge two pieces of clay and step by step we throw two small pots: a mug and a bowl.

2. Second class:

We continue throwing and make three more pots.

3. Third class:

Now that we have five pots that have been kept moist in plastic and we trim the bottoms of the pieces.

4. Fourth Week:

Its back to throwing, and we make three larger pots.

5. Week five:

Work from week four is trimmed, handles are made for mugs and pitchers, clay can be added to the exterior of work or textures can be carved into the surface of work.

6. Week six:

Each student will have six to eight pots that they will glaze.

About a week after glazing, students from all classes will return for a pick-up celebration.

For more information check out his website.

Check out some of his students' work below:

To sign-up for classes call Jim at 413-243-3261 or email him at:

New Jewish Arts Show Opening Reception

This new exhibit, entitled "Hands, Hearts and the Sacred: The Judaic Art of Barbara Barron and Wendy A. Rabinowitz" features two nationally acclaimed Judaic artists.  Their works will be displayed along with both Jewish and Yiddish music and song presented by Arlene Symons at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 27th. 

Barbara Barron and Wendy A. Rabinowitz met in the summer of 2010 and felt an instant rapport and commonality in their lives and their artwork. The creation of sacred beauty (Hebrew: 'hiddur mitvah') impels these two artists to come together to remember, express and reconnect to their ancient Jewish heritage and beyond.  The exhibit will include ceremonial objects, collages, and assemblages that reflect the work of their hands, hearts and the sacred.

Barbara Barron

Barbara Barron describes her art form as being "a demanding, labor intensive and exciting form of artistic expression."  She specializes in Judaica and works with quilted machine applique using photo transfer techniques, hand dyed batiks, Dupioni silks and metallic threads.  She resides in East Otis, Massachusetts and Delray Beach, Florida and received her BA from Hunter College, her MA from Teacher's College at Columbia University, and studied fibre and ecclesiastical embroidery at Oxford University and the Royal School of Needlework in London, England. She operated Barron Designs, a fiber art gallery in Deer Park, NY for twenty-four years, creating commissioned wall hangings for commercial and residential interiors. Working in the tradition of her faith, she has created over fifty Judaic curtains, torah covers and wall hangings. Her torah cover won the prestigious Avis Lee & Abraham Neiman Judaica Prize Competition by the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach and was purchased for its permanent collection. In addition, Barbara has had numerous one-person and group exhibits though out the United States and Japan, including Pindar Gallery in Soho, NYC.  

Barbara Barron
Completed commission from May 2011 at the Congregation Ahavas Achim, Highland Park, NJ  93" x 35".

The Ten Commandments - Barbara Barron

 Come see why Hampshire Life describes Barbara Barron as the "Fiber Genius".

Wendy A. Rabinowitz

Wendy A. Rabinowitz believes: "All art is a healing, a 'tikun olam' to creation..." She uses this as a base for her work as a weaver/mixed-media artist who works out of her studio, Living Threads Judaica, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  She will be exhibiting work from her new series "Shattering of the Vessels, Gathering of the Sparks" which reflect concepts from the mystical threads of Judaism. Her one-of-a-kind Judaic artwork of silk, wool, metallic fibers and surface embellishment is included in home, synagogue, museum, organization and gallery collections though out the United States and Israel. Rabinowitz's creations combine her love of bold color, texture, and forms with her deep commitment to the environment, peace, healing and women's issues found in the Torah, Psalms and blessings. Her artwork was included in the "Miracles of Peace" exhibit at The United Nations; the Mayyim Hayyim Gallery in Newton, MA; and she recently had a solo exhibition at The Chabad Gallery in NYC.   She is included in the National Women's Museum in Washington, DC and was the recipient of the Anshe Chesed Purchase Prize Award. Her commissioned work includes a newly-finished Presentation Plaque for the outgoing president of  the international organization Hadassah; the Jewish Women's International Research Center at Brandeis University; Westchester Reform Temple, White Plains, NY; and The Jewish Center in Haifa, Israel. Born in Chicago, Ms. Rabinowitz studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and with Rabbis Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, Alan Berg, Gershon Winkler and Everett Gendler. Ms. Rabinowitz is dedicating her exhibit to the late Rabbi Jack Stern, who greatly admired and encouraged her work.  

  Wendy A. Rabinowtiz The Burning Bush; 24"H x 18"W x 3"D

"The intention is that my artworks will be a visual pathway of connection and spiritual renewal."
- Wendy A. Rabinowitz

Wendy A. Rabinowtiz What is Above, is Below; 42"H x 56"W x 8"D

"Every fiber of her [Wendy A. Rabinowitz's] weaving expresses the deepest understanding of the warp and woof of our religion and its ancient origins that have held our people together... her 'Living Threads' provide an instantaneous appreciation and deep respect for the many facets of Judaism and a neighborly appreciation for its deep-seated beliefs."
- Barbara Hirschl, owner, The Touchstone Gallery, NYC
Musician Arlene Symons has spent a lifetime both performing and teaching music. An accomplished classical pianist, she has performed extensively on radio and with orchestra halls in New York. She then turned to singing as well. Ms. Symons comes from a family of Yiddish theater entertainers and has a deep love and extensive repertoire of the music of her heritage, as well as folk music of other cultures. Arlene is the founder and director of Berkshire Chorus at Hevreh.

Hearts, Hands, and the Sacred kicks off with an opening reception at the Lichenstein Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 27th, 2011 from 3 to 5pm.  This event is free and open to the public. Come meet both the artists and enjoy their innovative work. The exhibition will run through Saturday, October 8th and the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is open Wednesday-Saturday from noon to 5pm. For more information about Hands, Hearts, and the Sacred call the Lichtenstein Center at 413-499-9348.


Hands, Hearts and the Sacred
August 27th- October 8th
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 27th 3pm-5pm
Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12 noon-5pm
The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts
28 Renne Ave, Pittsfield, MA 01201

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WordXWord Festival Welcomes Gov. Deval Patrick

 Cultural Pittsfield and  The Word X Word Festival welcome Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, who will share “lessons from an improbable life,” joining over 60 other writers and performers participating in the annual Word X Word Festival in downtown Pittsfield, starting August 13-20, 2011. He will be reading from his memoir,Reasons To Believe: Lessons From an Improbable Life, at the Colonial Theatre, located at 111 South Street, at 7pm on Thursday, August 18.

“We’re honored to have the Governor of the Commonwealth as one of our featured performers at Word X Word,” said festival founder Jim Benson. “Not only is he an accomplished writer, his father Laurdine Patrick was a jazz musician who performed with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and the Sun Ra Arkestra.” Gov. Deval Patrick is part of the Word X Word Festival's spoken word performance legacy, joining dozens of other writers, poets, singers/song writers, play writes in this fantastic festival.

Word X Word Festival celebrates the word in all its glorious forms, be it written, spoken, sung, or even acted out. This is the third year for the Word X Word Festival and with each year it gets bigger and better, drawing in all different types of artist from all over the country that use the power of the word in their artwork, ranging from songs and poetry to one man shows and graphic art.

Released in April 2011, A Reason to Believe has been warmly received. Kirkus Reviews notes, “Patrick gives powerful voice to the reflective inner man who has a keen eye for things that really matter…A welcome celebration of idealism in a cynical time.” Library Journal enthused, “Patrick shows himself here to be a gifted writer. Especially engrossing are the early pages on his childhood—he summons forth all the senses as he describes 1950s–60s South Side Chicago.”  Listen to an interview with Deval Patrick on NPR's Morning Edition here.

In January 2007, Deval Patrick became the first black governor of the state of Massachusetts, one of only two black governors elected in American history. That was just one triumphant step in a long, improbable journey that began in a poor tenement on the South Side of Chicago. From a chaotic childhood to an elite boarding school in New England, from a sojourn doing relief work in Africa to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies and then to a career in politics, Patrick has led an extraordinary life. In A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life, he pays tribute to the family, friends, and strangers who, through words and deeds, have instilled in him transcendent lessons of faith, perseverance, and friendship. Find out more about Gov. Deval Patrick at

We are very excited that Gov. Deval Patrick has decided to participate with and enjoy the Word X Word Festival this year, he will be a great fit with all the other talented artist that will be performing in the more than 30 events going on during this week long festival celebrating the word. A full schedule of Word X Word events is available online at The festival will also co-exist with Cultural Pittsfield's 3rd Thursday on the 18th, a monthly event that happens every 3rd Thursday from May through October.

Tickets to the reading are free but must be reserved in advance at the Colonial Theatre box office, Copies of his memoir will be on sale in the Colonial Theatre lobby courtesy of The Bookstore of Lenox, Massachusetts and he will be signing books afterwards. Please come and enjoy the power of the word in this wonderful festival's third year of celebrating the word in all its forms.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Pittsfield Ethnic Fair Celebrates Culture & Communities Around the World!

The 2011 Pittsfield Ethnic Fair Returns This Sunday
Featuring Food & Entertainment From Around the World

On Sunday, August 7, the first block of South Street between Park Square and Housatonic Street will be closed to traffic and filled with thousands of pedestrians enjoying tantalizing aromas, captivating rhythms and colorful costumes as once again the annual Pittsfield Ethnic Fair celebrates the many cultures that make up the Berkshires and beyond.

Free and open to all, the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair will be held, rain or shine, from 12 noon to 6pm, with dozens of international food and craft vendors and two stages of music and dance including klezmer, polka and African music, salsa rhythms, Irish fiddles, and much more from around the world.

Two stages will feature dancing music from the renowned recording artists the Eddie Forman Polka Orchestra; salsa and more from Bronte Roman (pictures above) and El Grupo Caliente; African singer-songwriter Appollo Nzima; traditional Irish tunes from Rakish Paddy; klemer music by yiddishkeit; and Middle Eastern-inflected world music by HuDost (pictured below).

Mayor James Ruberto is a big fan of the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair. "As the grandson of Italian immigrants I believe it is important for our community to celebrate its cultural heritage and to welcome and celebrate new immigrants and cultures as well. That's why we have made Pittsfield a 'Welcoming Community' for new immigrants and why each year we help sponsor the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair, to highlight and enjoy the many contributions that both old and new immigrants have made to our community."

The Pittsfield Ethnic Fair committee is chaired by Mario DeMartino, a longtime community leader. DeMartino noted, "The Pittsfield Ethnic Fair highlights and celebrates the best of our community. I'm glad my children and grandchildren are able to attend and enjoy the rich diversity found here and the wonderful music, dance, food and craft that is featured every year. Please bring your kids and grand kids to the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair so they can learn about and experience different cultures - and have fun too!"

The Fair, which is free of charge and open to all, will be held for the first time stretches on the first block of South Street, which will be closed to traffic. Plentiful and free parking is available at the McKay Street parking garage and the First Street parking lot.

Local vendors will be offering mouthwatering treats from South America, Italy, India, Ireland, Africa, Malaysia, Germany, and more, as well as wine and beer tents for those over 21 years old.  Food vendors include Lucia’s Latin Kitchen, Papa Joe's Ristorante, House of India, Flavours Malaysian Restaurant, the German-American Club, The Italian-American Club, Tony Sombrero’s, UNICO of Pittsfield, the Irish-American Club, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Mad Jack’s BBQ, Sons of Italy Itam Lodge, Irish Sister City Committee, cupcakes and Italian cookies from Delicious Traditions, CIAO, Civitan, Kiwanis, Krispy Kones, That’s A Wrap, and more.  Craft booths will feature handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, and more from around the world.

The Pittsfield Ethnic Fair is generously sponsored by Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Healthcare Systems, Downtown Inc and the City of Pittsfield. For more information call 413.443.6501.