Arts Briefs: A themed exhibit in Northampton, new opportunities for artists in Easthampton, and more

Artists at Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton will open their studios to the public May 4-5.

Artists at Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton will open their studios to the public May 4-5. Image from Cottage Street Studios website

Work by Teresa Moriarty is part of an exhibit by 17 members of Zea Mays Printmaking that’s now on view at the Florence center.

Work by Teresa Moriarty is part of an exhibit by 17 members of Zea Mays Printmaking that’s now on view at the Florence center. Image courtesy Zea Mays Printmaking

A photograph from the exhibit “Crying in the Wilderness” at the New England Visionary Artists Museum in Northampton.

A photograph from the exhibit “Crying in the Wilderness” at the New England Visionary Artists Museum in Northampton. Photo by Becky Field/FieldWorkPhotos.com

The second annual Regional Youth Poetry Slam, a competition between selected high school students from the region, takes place April 27 at Northampton’s Academy of Music.

The second annual Regional Youth Poetry Slam, a competition between selected high school students from the region, takes place April 27 at Northampton’s Academy of Music. Image courtesy Academy of Music

New work by western Massachusetts painter Nava Grunfeld, a Smith College graduate, goes on exhibit April 27 at the college’s Alumnae House.

New work by western Massachusetts painter Nava Grunfeld, a Smith College graduate, goes on exhibit April 27 at the college’s Alumnae House. Image courtesy Nava Grunfeld

Zoe Fieldman has been appointed the new Arts Programming and Venue Manager at CitySpace in Easthampton and will plan and oversee activities in the Blue Room.

Zoe Fieldman has been appointed the new Arts Programming and Venue Manager at CitySpace in Easthampton and will plan and oversee activities in the Blue Room. Photo by Myles Braxton

Published: 04-25-2024 11:54 AM

Witnesses to difficult journeys

NORTHAMPTON — As Passover takes place, local Jewish activists are working with a New Hampshire photographer and the New England Visionary Artists Museum (Anchor House of Artists) to stage an exhibit drawing links between the struggles of modern-day migrants and the ancient exodus of Jews across Middle Eastern deserts.

In “Crying in the Wilderness: An Immigrant’s Journey in Detention,” Becky Field combines photos and poetry to tell the story of an African man, “Antony” (a pseudonym), who fled war and death threats in his home country and sought asylum along the U.S. southern border in 2018.

Instead, according to exhibit notes, Antony was chained and jailed for two years before being released by immigration authorities in 2020 to a private home in New Hampshire, though he was denied free movement there and was required to wear an ankle monitor.

He has written poetry to accompany Field’s black and white photographs.

Field’s exhibit, which opens April 28 and runs through May 25, seems especially timely to Jews during Passover, according to members of Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice of Western Massachusetts (JAIJ), principle organizers of the exhibit.

“When ‘Antony’ shares his story, it helps us realize that people around the world are still living the Passover experience of flight and immigration,” Joan Epstein of JAIC said in a statement.

There’s an opening reception for the exhibit April 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. with Passover-friendly foods, at which Field will give a talk, with “Antony” joining via Zoom.

Other exhibit events include a book launch May 5 at 4 p.m. by Hadley poet and fiction writer (and JAIC member) D. Dina Friedman, who will read from her new poetry collection, “Here in Sanctuary — Whirling,” which explores immigration justice.

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And on May 19 at 4 p.m., Shelley Rotner and Gwen Agna, co-authors of a children’s book about immigrant children, and educator/children’s book specialist Alice Levine, will discuss books that can help children understand the topic of immigration justice.

 

Slam it!

NORTHAMPTON — The Academy of Music will host its second annual Regional Youth Poetry Slam for area high school students April 27, an event designed to spark interest not just in poetry but in presenting it in dramatic fashion.

The competition, which takes place at 7:30 p.m., features students from high schools in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties and will be hosted by Lyrical Faith, a national award-winning slam poet, educator, and activist; she hosted the first Academy youth poetry slam last year as well.

Twelve young poets will square off in the 2024 slam, competing in three elimination slam rounds, with cash prizes for the top three finalists.

Tickets are available at aomtheatre.com.

 

A world of color

NORTHAMPTON — Smith College will celebrate one of its own as it opens a new exhibit by western Massachusetts painter Nava Grunfeld at the school’s Alumnae House from April 27 to July 19.

“The Radiant Energy of Color” features new work by Grunfeld, who earned a master’s in art from Smith in the 1980s and is perhaps best known for her large, color-saturated watercolors of still life objects such as fruit and flowers.

But according to exhibit notes, Grunfeld, who was born in Sweden and grew up partly in Israel, has more recently focused on landscape painting, though she takes a “looser and more abstract approach” to that subject while retaining her rich use of color; for this work she also swaps watercolors and paper for acrylic paint and canvas.

Grunfeld once worked as a graphic designer and also started an art program for blind and visually handicapped adults through the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Her work has been featured in national art publications including “Splash: The Best of Watercolor” and “Watercolor Magazine.”

An opening reception for her exhibit takes place May 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Smith Alumnae House, 33 Elm Street.

 

CitySpace pays it forward for third year

EASTHAMPTON — Up-and-coming artists have an opportunity once again to earn free rehearsal and performance space and time, as well as stipends, in a CitySpace program designed to support creatives in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

Pay it Forward, begun as a pilot program in 2022, offers artists short-term residencies and performance space in the Blue Room at CitySpace July through December this year.

The program is open to artists in all disciplines. A special focus is on supporting under-resourced artists; BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, as well as artists living with disabilities, or organizations that serve such artists, are encouraged to apply.

In 2023, Pay It Forward offered over 1,250 complementary hours to artists for theater performances, concerts, rehearsals and more, according to CitySpace.

Artists can submit their proposals for the 2024 program to cityspaceeasthampton.org/pif through May 6.

To advance Pay it Forward and other events, CitySpace has also appointed Zoe Fieldman, a Mount Holyoke College graduate, as the organization’s Arts Programming and Venue Manager, a position in which Fieldman will oversee programming and operations at the Blue Room.

“Zoe’s energy and vision will amplify the creative spirit already thriving in Old Town Hall,” Burns Maxey, president of the CitySpace board, said in a statement. “Their production management capabilities and enthusiasm for the arts promises to foster creative synergy and inject fresh ideas into our venue.”

 

Artists open their doors again

EASTHAMPTON — Artists at Cottage Street Studios, who have been inviting visitors into their studios for almost 40 years, are poised to do so again on May 4-5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The event, which began in 1986 as an annual holiday sale in December and expanded to a twice-yearly affair (plus a third day in December), typically features work from 30-plus artists in the 1 Cottage Street complex: painting, photography, printmaking, pottery, fiber and mixed media art, and more.

More information is available at cottagestreetstudios.com.

 

Lunchtime chat turns into art

FLORENCE — Stuck at home during the pandemic, artists from Zea Mays Printmaking began meeting in a “Virtual Lunch Group” to share general conversation and ideas and suggestions about art.

From those talks, which still continue, 17 Zea Mays members have fashioned a bricks and mortar exhibit of their art at the Florence center, with each contributing a few pieces of their choice to the show.

“This exhibit is an opportunity for group members, as well as other viewers, to take part, and continue, our conversation,” the printmakers said in a statement.

An artists’ reception takes place at Zea Mays, 320 Riverside Drive, April 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit runs through May 12.

— compiled by Steve Pfarrer