Small New England City Goes Art-Crazy

Despite ominous lingering symptoms from last week’s allergy attack, I made it through an Open Studios weekend filled with wall-to-wall chatting without once falling to the floor in a coughing fit. This was a great relief. In fact, I had such a fine time all weekend that I barely remembered having spent the previous week worrying.
Above: I and my drawings await our many admirers, as 107 Main Street opens its doors.

I also managed to somehow meet the daunting cluster of deadlines that had devilishly conspired to coincide with Open Studios: I completed my grant application for the funding needed to produce more issues of the North County Perp; I completed a Minneapolis-based illustration assigment that was due yesterday; I compiled this month’s issue of the Cruse Art Newsletter; and I somehow stayed on top of the cartooning course I’m teaching this semester at MCLA.

But back to our big citywide art extravaganza. More than 86 artists showed off their work in locations all over North Adams for two whole days, an organizational feat not to be sneezed at. (Here’s to you, Sharon Carson, for steering that unwieldy ship into port.) Not that I personally experienced much of the event’s scope, given that I spent all of Saturday and Sunday anchored to my own exhibit at 107 Main Street and could only spend time admiring the work of the six who shared that space with me (see below). Those six were plenty good company, though, and the room stayed awash in good vibes and mutual admiration the whole time.

Gratifyingly, the mounted blowup of "A Zoo of Our Own," my comic strip about gay animals (which I brought along on a last-minute impulse), turned out to be an unexpected hit when it was placed in the storefront window, attracting a steady stream of gawkers on the sidewalk, many of whom may well have never before contemplated the point of view of a homosexual hippopotamus. (You’ll find the whole strip, adapted for web viewing, by clicking here.) In the window to the left of my comic strip was one of "Skeets" Richards‘ gorgeous landscapes, a vision also difficult to pass by without stopping for a close look. Between our two showcased eye-catchers, we succeeded in slowing down the sidewalk strollers and tempting them to drop in and see the exhibits awaiting them indoors. John Sherman, whose creative skills are equalled only by his marketing instincts, concocted this ploy.

I’d be remiss if I quit without introducing you to my talented gallery spacemates from 107 Main Street, starting with…(clockwise from below left)

John Sherman—fancypainter. John has conquered more creative fields than his bio knows what to do with. Check out his web site to get a feel for his range.

William LaBerge—cabinetmaker. His catalog wows everyone who thumbs through it, and you haven’t lived till you’ve sat in one of Bill’s exquisite chairs.

J. ("Skeets") Richards, Jr. —painter. This guy spent decades teaching high school physics, then morphed into a landscape master after retirement.

Wes Pecor II —wood hand-carvings. A master craftsman, Wes says he "draws with wood."

Dorothy ("Dot") Ransford —auctioneer, appraiser, and art framer. No web site for this gal, but you can email her if you want to talk business.

Gus Jamallo—Folk artist (and full-time barber). Drop by 475 Union Street in North Adams for a haircut and a look at his saw blade paintings. Gus will swap art tales with you from first clip to final talc.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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