Watch the 5 minute video below!
Watch the 5 minute video below!
City of New Bedford Official Website
Beginning this week, anyone with an idea to make a public place in New Bedford ‘wicked cool’ can apply to the city’s Wicked Cool Places (WCP) grant to help turn their vision into reality.
WCP is the City of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking. It is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.
WCP seeks to enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city. New Bedford artists, cultural organizations and talented citizens are encouraged to apply for a WCP grant through August 16.
Applications can be found at NewBedfordCreative.org, the just-launched website for all things #NBcreative. For more information, email Margo Saulnier, New Bedford’s Creative Strategist, at email@example.com.
“The goal of Wicked Cool Places is to unite property and business owners with artistic and cultural groups, using arts as a tool to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places,” said Saulnier.
Wicked Cool Places began as a pilot program in April 2018 when it distributed $5,000 in grants as a test run to 3rd EyE Unlimited, SUPERFLAT NB, the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!, and Seaport Art Walk. This leveraged over $12,000.
In December 2018, the pilot program scaled up to distribute $50,000 in placemaking grants to 12 different artists or groups, investing in projects throughout the City of New Bedford, which leveraged an additional $180,000. A few of those projects include Tracy Barbosa’s Guatemalan Kite Festival Workshops, Brook Baptiste’s Reggae on West Beach, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center’s Big Boat, Little Boat celebration of fishing culture, Southcoast Lessons’ Open Season Series, and Community Economic Development Center’s Vacant Storefront Gallery.
The official first round of Wicked Cool Places will invest up to $80,000 in funds for city-wide placemaking projects beginning this Fall.
The deadline to submit an application is August 16, 2019. Grants will be announced in mid-October 2019. Once a project is approved, the applicant will receive a commitment letter from the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Grants will be distributed as a reimbursement in full once final approval from that office is granted.
Any project or program within the City of New Bedford is eligible. Individuals and organizations are both eligible. However, Wicked Cool Places cannot accept applications for work that has already been completed, and work for grant-funded tasks cannot begin until successful applicants are provided with written approval.
All applications will be evaluated by the selection committee of the New Bedford Creative Consortium and scored on the impact of the project based on these criteria: quality, originality and creativity, community benefit and partnership, planning and budget.
So, for those who have a wicked cool idea ready to unleash on the world in New Bedford, visit Wicked Cool Places at NewBedfordCreative.org and begin the journey.
About: Wicked Cool Places (WCP) is the city of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking, uniting willing property/business owners, artistic/cultural groups, design/preservation specialists, and business/development experts to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places. Wicked Cool Places enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city, and is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.
New Bedford Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund was proposed by Mayor Jon Mitchell in the spring of 2016 and approved by the City Council in June 2016, and consists of revenue generated from the city’s lodging tax, capped at a total of $100,000. Creation of the fund also required the passage of a home rule petition by the state legislature and the petition’s passage, led by state Senator Mark Montigny and signed into law by Governor Baker in January 2017. The purpose of the fund is to create a dedicated revenue stream to provide for additional planning, programmatic, and administrative capacity to allow the City of New Bedford to take full advantage of its cultural and tourism assets, and to catalyze and manage the growth of the cultural and tourism sectors in the years ahead. The New Bedford Economic Development
Council (NBEDC) has a three-year agreement to manage the fund for the City. This work is lead by the NBEDC’s Creative Strategist. Additional funding is provided by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.
New Bedford Creative Consortium New Bedford Creative Consortium is the leadership group whose purpose is overseeing the execution of the citywide strategic Arts and Culture Plan entitled New Bedford Creative: our art, our culture, our future. The Arts and Culture Plan is a huge step forward in building a thriving creative ecosystem in our city, and these are the people dedicated to implementing it. This volunteer group is facilitated by the Creative Strategist, meets quarterly, holds 1-3 year terms, and is divided into three task forces: Public Art and Facilities; Placemaking and Community; and Fundraising and Distribution.
Original post here.
By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
Buried in a huge list of funding awards released two weeks ago as part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund program is a relatively small entry of $30,000 to the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks.
Compared to the $120,000 awarded the Whaling Museum, and the $180,000 for the creation of Abolitionist Row Park, also in New Bedford, the amount may seem small. But it represents a grand vision for the museum and the beginning of something big for New Bedford.
The vision quest for NBAM/Artworks is nothing less than turning the little museum that could into a bona-fide destination in the state and region.
Not that the art museum isn’t already in one sense. Indeed, for a facility its size, NBAM punches far above its weight. Signature special shows like the Audubon exhibit a few years back and the hugely popular Peter Souza exhibit of Obama-era photographs, still on display, have brought distinction — and thousands of patrons — to NBAM and the city.
Those marquee shows are the icing on the cake. Year after year, NBAM curates exhibits of local artists that are thematically interesting, visually arresting and sometimes socially provocative. To say nothing of the myriad other special events held at the museum – and the significant role ArtWorks plays in youth arts development.
But to truly fulfill its original mission and decisively enter the top tier of regional art museums, NBAM needs to grow. Specifically, it needs room to grow – and the $30,000 matching grant, as well as monies also recently awarded in city CPA funds, is a down payment toward making that a reality.
The vision, then, is this: to substantially renovate the museum and enlarge its footprint by annexing the second floor of its home at 608 Pleasant Street. Currently it houses offices not associated with NBAM.
That plan has been the focus of a sub-committee of the museum’s Board of Directors for some time – and is now gaining real traction and coming tantalizing into focus.
45 minutes to an hour…
AHA! Director Lee Heald is a member of the museum sub-committee, which is chaired by John Howland. She explains that in order to bring any cultural institution up to destination status, patrons should expect to spend at least 45 minutes to an hour at the location. Given the size of NBAM now, it falls short of that benchmark right now.
Of course, we know that whatever space limitations NBAM copes with, it certainly makes up for in quality, ingenuity and spirit. But still, to enable it to become what it needs to be for the city and region, it needs to grow. In fact, it’s actually part NBAM’s founding mission statement.
The City of New Bedford owns an extraordinary collection of art from the city’s gilded age onward. Much of it dates back to the mid-1800s. The original vision for the art museum saw it as a venue to bring this collection to the public.
An expanded NBAM would fulfill that vision and, according to Heald, realize the promise of public art as defined all those years ago. Gaining a second floor would allow room for the creation of a “City Gallery” in the space.
“Public art back in the 1870s meant exposing the public to art,” she says. “It was deemed as something important for the citizenry to experience.”
In the 19th annual report of the Trustees of the Free Public Library, which by default became a repository of art, it was written in 1871, “We have long cherished the hope, that in some future time, and that one not very far distant, a gallery of pictures, gathered through the enlightened munificence of the friends of art in our city, would be connected with our Public Library.
“The teachings of true art purify the taste, chasten and elevate the imagination, and give wealth and power of expression to the understanding, and afford to those who can have access to the works of genius, a pleasure that can never be exhausted and that never leaves a sting behind.”
One hundred and fifty years after the collection first began to be acquired by the city, it’s a goal of the committee working to expand NBAM to finally make that happen.
Upstairs/Downstairs at 608
Much progress has already been made on plans to expand NBAM. Much work – and fund-raising – remains left to do.
The $30,000 award from MCC, administered in conjunction with MassDevelopment, is a matching grant. No other state monies can count towards matching the $30,000, so the committee is seeking private and local public donations.
Heald says the City of New Bedford has been enormously supportive of the museum, and private donors have contributed, too. A campaign to reach or exceed their goal is underway.
Already, the architecture firm 3SIX0 in Providence has drawn up concept plans for an expanded museum. It sees the upstairs as gallery space devoted to New Bedford’s treasures. It builds upon the building’s unique character by opening up the two story high space in the center of the building, connecting it to the downstairs.
It also takes advantage of the beautiful windows on the second floor, which overlook Pleasant and William Streets. Naturally, infrastructure upgrades such as a new stairway and an improved elevator service are part of the plan.
Together with City Hall and the New Bedford Free Public Library, the buildings will form a graceful public square. Each historic building will enhance the other.
Besides fundraising, next on the agenda is using the grant money to hire key personnel to create an operational plan for an expanded art museum that’s financially sustainable into the future.
New Bedford’s larger role in MA arts
The effort to create a destination New Bedford Art Museum isn’t an accident of chance. It’s a reflection of the city’s reputation as a leader in arts and culture. Heald notes that the Massachusetts Cultural Council reached out to the museum about its expansion plans to learn more ahead of the Cultural Facilities funding decision.
The MCC is targeting the city in other ways, too. On Thursday, June 13, the council will hold a pop-up event in conjunction with AHA! New Bedford day and night. It will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the New Bedford Port Society Mariner’s Home and Seamen’s Bethel on Johnny Cake Hill.
Carmen Plazas of MCC writes that they hold, “community pop-ups to reach new partners and grantees with its range of grant programs, services, and initiatives.” Individual artists as well as groups and organizations are welcome to come and learn how the council can assist them.
The trend-line is clear: Massachusetts is investing in New Bedford arts and culture as never before. And part of that investment is turning the city’s art museum into a true destination.
The New Bedford Art Museum, and ArtWorks, which merged in 2014, have brought distinction to the city. The museum is vibrant, innovative and of-the-moment. It’s been driven – and still is – by remarkable staff and dedicated volunteers.
It’s also made a big impact in the city’s rise to creative prominence. With a large vision that embraces the city’s unique history, it promises to leave an even larger footprint on its future.
Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.
By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
“The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind”
– as sung by Frank Sinatra
Okay — “Summer Wind” by Ol’ Blue Eyes has little to do thematically with “Summer Winds” the kinetic outdoor public art installation coming to Custom House Square Park this July 1.
But there was simply no way State of the Arts was going to miss an opportunity to tip a fedora to the original Chairman of the Board.
The Chairman of the new Board, of DATMA — the Massachusetts Design Art and Technology Institute — is Roger Mandle. And it’s hard to imagine that he lacks any of the romance Sinatra brought to the game of life since he and his associates are introducing the wild concept of DATMA and “Summer Winds” to New Bedford and SouthCoast.
DATMA is defined as a non-collecting “museum” dedicated to large-scale, site-specific art installations. It was founded in 2016 with a diverse, 16-member board of trustees led by Mandle.
His bio states that he has 40 years of experience in building museums around the world and is a major contributor to the STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education initiative championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he served as president.
If you need some context regarding what, exactly, a non-collecting “museum” dedicated to large-scale, site specific art installations actually is, you’ve come to the right place. Actually, let’s travel back to another time and place to explore the subject…
The Gates & “Summer Winds”
Back in 2005, New York City was still a little shell-shocked from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It was a city that was still licking its wounds.
In the middle of winter, from Feb. 12 through Feb. 27 of that year, public art helped facilitate some desperately needed healing in a way that most initially thought improbable or even downright ludicrous.
Just over 7,000 deep saffron-colored nylon fabric panels were hung from ‘gates’ across 23 miles of pathway in Central Park. That’s it. Just colored fabric floating gently in the breeze
The world-renowned artists Christo Yavacheff and Jeanne-Claude, known jointly as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, were behind The Gates, as the exhibit was officially called. Indeed, they had worked for decades to bring the project to Manhattan.
Kudos must be given to Michael Bloomberg, mayor at the time, for facilitating the project on behalf of the city (with the vigorous support of Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris). All billionaires aren’t created equally; some missteps aside, he was generally enlightened regarding the arts – and the value of the arts to New York City. Millions came to visit The Gates.
For everyone who experienced the grace and sense of tranquility this public art project brought to a city that really needed it — this writer included, who was living in New York at the time — The Gates will always represent a special moment in time.
The Gates alludes to the tradition of Japanese torii gates, traditionally constructed at the entrance to Shinto shrines. In 2005, people reclaimed a measure of faith … through a shared public art experience.
So, that’s the context of site-specific public art exhibition. Thankfully, many years away from 9/11, and in New Bedford, it’s a future written on the wind we’re embracing and making a shared creative space for in 2019. But like The Gates, it promises to be no less meaningful.
Silver Current Over Custom House Square Park
“Summer Winds” is a visionary project for the city, signifying a new vision of the city. Like The Gates, it will be a visual representation of a moment in time at precisely the right moment in a city’s history.
In this case, that moment is when New Bedford prepares to host the nation’s first attempt to launch a viable offshore wind energy industry. And for this moment, DATMA has recruited another world-renowned artist, Patrick Shearn.
Patrick Shearn and his outfit, Poetic Kinetics, are based out of Los Angeles. But they’ll be heading east to install “Silver Current” over Custom House Square Park this summer. In fact, Patrick has already been in New Bedford to prepare for this large-scale, outdoor public art exhibition that will bring distinction to the city.
“Silver Current” will be an 8,000-square foot kinetic net sculpture floating in the sky above the park from July 1 to Sept. 30 this year.
Press material explains that, “made out of ultra-lightweight metalized film, ‘Silver Current’ is the latest of the artist’s series of ‘Skynets’ that move and shimmer with the wind, from 15 feet off the ground to 115 feet in the air.
“The customized piece is comprised of approximately 5,200 linear feet of rope, 200 hand-tied technical knots, and approximately 50,000 streamers of holographic silver film on a monofilament net, forming an iridescent wind wave form. Harnessing available wind, the artwork rises high into the sky and gently cascades down again, undulating in a display that is striking from a distance and intimately immersive up close.”
“Silver Current” is a statement piece that will visualize the State of the Arts in New Bedford Now — and the state of the city itself. A city that’s embracing the future and unafraid to think large.
The larger “Summer Winds” collaborative effort will entwine many aspects of the city’s indigenous arts and culture. From kite flying — with a nod to New Bedford’s growing Guatemalan community, in which Festival Tipico de Guatemala is part of its heritage — to the annual Seaport Cultural District Artwalk outdoor sculpture exhibit, which this year has adopted the theme of “wind.”
And here’s the bottom line — even though it’s one that’s going to be floating above the horizon: thousands will experience this city because of all this effort. That’s the power of arts and culture; to bring a community and region together for a unique shared experience.
It happened in 2005 in Central Park. It will happen this summer in New Bedford.
And it will be a moment to seize and hold on to … before it’s gone with the wind.
Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.
By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
Posted at 3:01 AM
The query in the headline was recently posted to Facebook by Charles Hauck. It struck a chord, and seemed worthy of follow-up with a cross-section of persons in the know across the SouthCoast theatrical world.
Based on Hauck’s question, they were asked the following: “What would it take for New Bedford to be recognized as a New England theatre destination or hub?”
All answers have been edited for space. And, in the age old debate whether it is “theater” or “theatre,” I have decided to largely go with what was submitted by each respondent, and thus drive the S-T copy editor insane.
Charles Hauck is, if any reader isn’t aware, the long-time driving force behind the city’s Gallery X on William Street. It’s a cooperative art gallery and multi-purpose venue. That alone commands respect for his opinions on any arts-related subject.
But what makes this question from Hauck especially pertinent is the fact that he is part of the team transforming the First Baptist Church just down the street from Gallery X into the Steeple Playhouse.
Indeed, a crew brought together by WHALE is working hard as this is being written to make that renovation happen. Other posts from Hauck and the crew are capturing the resurrection of this historic building in images — and its exciting to see.
YOUR THEATRE, INC.
The Steeple Playhouse will soon be the new home of New Bedford’s venerable Your Theatre, Inc. The community theater has been in continuous operation in a variety of venues since 1946.
Board member Mark Fuller has served in that capacity for the last 10 years, as well as assumed duties as varied as set and costume design for even longer. He also acts, and will portray Henry the VIII in the company’s next production, “A Man for All Seasons,” opening May 9.
He answers the question this way:
“Speaking from a community theater perspective, I feel that there needs to be a large variety of affordable shows that audiences want to see, including classics, contemporary, drama, comedy and musicals.
“You can’t be a major theater center without the audiences… patrons may come once to support a cast member, but they need to enjoy the entire experience in order for them to return on their own, especially if they will be traveling a distance to regularly attend performances.
“I also feel that a major theater center requires the productions to raise the bar to higher levels with well-written scripts, innovative interesting stories, proper directing, casting and production crew, and of course the best scenery, lighting, sound and costumes available.”
THE COLLECTIVE NB
Kevin Mitchell is a founding member of a company that is bringing innovative and interesting stories to the stage. The Collective NB is now into its fourth season, in residence at Gallery X.
Mitchell states in reply to the question, “Yes, of course I think New Bedford could be a hub of theater in New England. We already have the most important ingredients, a lot of talented artists and a community that is interested in and supportive of the arts.
“As The Collective NB has grown, we have been pleasantly surprised with how the community has supported us with attendance and also with people who are interested in getting involved in the performances as well. There are a lot of people here in the city that just don’t want to see theater, they want to take part, too.
“However, we do need some things to make the step to a theater hub. We need more access to performance space. The abundance of warehouse space in the area offers a lot of opportunity for just that.
“Another big thing we could use is something like Jazz Fest or Folk Fest, but for theater. A theater festival where all the local theater organizations get together to celebrate what we do and perform for the community and tourists.
“I believe that New Bedford can be a hub of theater not just in New England but the country…”
Another staple of the local theatrical scene is Culture*Park. Their signature event is an annual all-original short play marathon. The next will be the 17th edition, the Culture*Park Short Plays Marathon on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum Theatre. (From June 1 through September 1, writers can submit a short play – 15 pages/minutes or fewer – to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Co-founder and Artistic Director Patricia Thomas and co-founder and Executive Director Rebecca Schade submitted this joint answer…
“What would it take for New Bedford to be recognized as a New England Theater Destination/Hub? Support new plays, collaborate, and educate!
“Support the NEW. While we in New Bedford have a valid reason to embrace the old, the groundwork has been constructed here, short play by short play, for the support of the new — new plays and new works in theater.
“To many playwrights, directors and actors from outside of the city, the Culture*Park annual Short Plays Marathon is a known and trusted event that supports the development and presentation of new plays. Many of the same plays find further development or production elsewhere, such as the Humana Festival, Louisville, or Boston Playwrights Marathon — and the provenance reaches back to New Bedford.
“Reaching outside of the city with works originating in New Bedford creates awareness and recognition of New Bedford as a destination with a thriving, creative theatre community.
“Culture*Park presented ‘The Water Widow,’ by Ray Veary, a play culled from oral histories of the New Bedford fishing community, at the Trinity Rep Season Kick-Off in Providence a couple of years ago, and New Bedford was a character on stage alongside the actors that day in the Theatre at Trinity.
“And hosting a First Works or Fringe Festival, in addition to the Culture*Park Annual Short Plays Marathon, could create even more energy and awareness.”
The two also stress the importance of education by noting, “Bristol Community College’s training program for actors, educational in-school programs like Shakespeare 4Kids, or the Zeiterion’s Page to Stage programs, provide awareness and access and whet appetites for theatre and drama as a means of creative expression.”
NEW BEDFORD FESTIVAL THEATRE
The annual New Bedford Festival Theatre summer musical at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center is a much-anticipated cultural event. This summer, the Festival Theatre will present the regional premiere of “Mamma Mia!” in a professional production featuring many actors from New York under the direction of New York director Jennifer Swiderski, who has performed in the original Broadway production.
Festival Theatre Producer Wendy Hall answers, “More community involvement! Community integration is key, going beyond just purchasing tickets (although that is VERY important). Support through volunteerism, donations, and corporate sponsorship fortify every person and every organization in the New Bedford arts community.”
Festival Theatre Artistic Director, Armand Marchand writes, “There is a definite summer musical circuit including most notably the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine and the North Shore Musical Theatre north of Boston. The New Bedford Festival Theatre is part of this summer theatre circuit attracting wide audiences from all of the South Coast and Southern New England.”
“In short, the New Bedford Festival Theatre ranks as one of the foremost producers of professional musical theatre in the entire New England area.”
GLASS HORSE PROJECT
Korey Pimental is the Artistic Director of the Glass Horse Project, a newer addition to the scene which established itself with Shakespeare in Buttonwood Park productions. Its next staging is of Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” this May 30-June 1 at the Co-Creative Center downtown. (All shows at 7:30 p.m., viewer discretion advised; free admission — to reserve limited seating, email email@example.com).
He answers, “Infrastructure and artistry.”
“When I hear the phrase ‘major center for theatre in New England,’ I’m thinking about a sustainable infrastructure that bolsters New Bedford theatre to the next level: Are we able to create a transactional relationship with other theatres in the region and the major theatre centers (namely NYC and Chicago)? Are we able to provide training programs to young artists that will give them the necessary foundation to go out into the world and come home? Are we able to have institutions sustain five-, six-week runs of a play?
“Part two is artistry: are we taking risks with the work that we’re producing? Are we allowing new or marginalized voices to be at the helm of these older plays that have been done to death and allow these artists from a marginalized group the opportunity to breathe new life into them for a 2019 audience? How effectively are we engaging with our audiences in order to ensure they’re being challenged and responding to the work we make in a way that is constructive to our growth as organizations and individual artists?”
Bringing it back to where we began — on William Street- and broadening it out, Jessica Bregoli, executive director of the coming Steeple Playhouse places the question into a larger cultural context.
“As Executive Director, my job isn’t solely focused on theatre. It’s about creating a sustainable environment in the larger diverse New Bedford arts community in which theater is a thriving component.
“I personally think that an artist residence program would be a vital building block in spreading the word about New Bedford. If there were a way to attract a high profile artist / actor / musician to the city for a time period, and pay them to do workshops or classes, then let them spread the word to their communities in Boston or NYC or wherever, there’d be a lot of press opportunities and those artists could post/blog about the experience and push New Bedford’s reputation to the next level.”
Finally, Charles Hauck answered his own question, “Could New Bedford be a major center for theater in New England?” with an emphatic, “You bet it could it could!”
Some of these responses just may be the roadmap to drive it there.
Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.
Original story here.
By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
If you’re thinking it had something to do with cobblestones or lamp lights, whaling or fishing, industry or the arts, you’re wrong. Well, not entirely wrong — but partially wrong.
Fifteen years ago, mediumstudio formed just a few blocks away from their current location at 38 Bethel Street, on historic Centre Street where BeJeweled is found now.
Over the course of the past 15 years, the graphic design firm has taken everything New Bedford has to offer as enumerated above and re-branded, re-packaged, and re-presented it to the world for the 21st century. Simply put, mediumstudio took design to a new professional level in New Bedford, just as the city was ready for that happen.
You can’t help but notice a certain freshness and graphic audacity in all of their work. It’s defined them from the beginning to this day. And, through countless logos, display ads, flyers, posters, website and social media images of all sorts produced on behalf of their clients, helped rebrand the city they call home.
It’s unquestionable that they burst upon the scene as the hip new kids on the block within the graphic design world in New Bedford and on SouthCoast — in their own unique way. From the beginning, the lowercase ‘m’ and ‘s’, all-one-word agency was much more than just a graphic design studio.
Founding member Keri Cox explains that out back of their first location on Centre Street was a rather famous space she simply refers to as “The Garage.”
As mediumstudio formed by day, on nights and weekends The Garage was a spot to hang out at to socialize, listen to bands, hold an art show — all manner of creative pursuits.
“Generations remember that place,” said Cox.
In those halcyon days and nights, mediumstudio was born in and of the community it would come to rebrand in the future. From Day One, community wasn’t just a place where they had set up shop — it was part of their natural business plan, and remains so to this day.
Cox has long been an important part of the 3rd EyE Unlimited leadership team. She’s also one of only two paid AHA! New Bedford staff persons, assistant to director Lee Heald.
Today at 38 Bethel Street, in a voluminous open space above the Fishing Heritage Center, 3rd EyE members still meet each and every week. The artist Nicole Winning conducts Saturday morning Colorful Yoga classes for children in the space. It’s not uncommon to attend a meeting or event at mediumstudio that has nothing to do with the work being done — but everything to do with the bigger picture that is New Bedford now.
Keri is one of four partners at mediumstudio. She mostly functions as project manager, or as she terms it, “I’m just bossy!”
The other partners are her husband, John Cox; Hannah Haines; and Frank Goncalves.
Each works on their own individual wavelength and reacts to the needs of their clients in their own way. There never has really been a business plan at mediumstudio; it’s evolved over the years and become successful in an organic way.
But it is a successful — and very busy — creative Business, with a capital ‘B’. Back in The Garage days, Kerri says a lot of work was done just for the fun of it, or to fulfill a community need. Over time the dictates of “adulting” caused them all to focus on the bottom line — just not at the expense of creative freedom.
Each of the partners has a distinct identity and client roster, yet collectively become mediumstudio. That brand is distinctive and rests on fundamental design principles that are allowed to breathe and most often built from the ground up via typography. (See a full portfolio of their work at mediumstudio.com.)
Keri Cox is the public face of the firm. As this column once wrote of her, “Very often, when you look behind an event, you find Keri Cox there. She is the glue that holds the various elements of some important happenings together. She almost effortlessly brings diverse people in the city together.”
Hannah Haines is voluble and expansive in an interview. She says that the most memorable praise she recalls a client saying was that “you could always tell mediumstudio designed something because it looked ‘thoughtful’.”
Hannah is responsible for the graphic “look” of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, designing its upcoming season offerings each year, for example. She says, “I’m proud to have worked closely with The Z to conceptualize their seasons for the last 14 years.”
John Cox is reticent to downright shy. He likes the work to speak for itself. It does; his graphic design is widely acknowledged as setting a new standard in the city. The dude is viewed as innately talented by anyone you speak to about him.
On the day an interview for this profile was conducted, Frank Goncalves was unavailable. It’s obvious he is a valued member of the team, however. All the others boasted that he had been with mediumstudio since he was 19, soon after he finished high school. He’s now been at the firm for about nine years.
“Where was he?” that day, Hannah, John and Keri asked one another. It didn’t matter; he and all of them have the space to create on their own time.
Maybe that’s another way mediumstudio launched as and has stayed a design firm for the times. A time in New Bedford’s history that’s also seen it gain national recognition for the creative artistic impulse that is in its DNA.
The graphic design of mediumstudio reflects that even as it is helping to brand it for the wider world.
Their client roster is a mix of non-profits and commercial clients. From AHA! and the New Bedford Folk Festival to Brick Pizzeria, Travessia Winery and Rose Alley Ale House. Plus, developers — some far beyond the city limits — and large organizations like Brigham and Woman’s Hospital.
They “bring a curiosity” to each project, Hannah says, and the reward is “we get to do what we like to do,” she concludes.
Finally, it comes down to quality of life for all the partners. Here, too, they may have helped set the tone 15 years ago for the New Bedford we have now.
A place that supports a creative quality of life and that as a community recognizes the value of artistic fulfillment and achievement.
That’s a place that looks so much better has seen through the eyes of mediumstudio.
Original story here.
By Mark Feeney GLOBE STAFF
NEW BEDFORD — The first thing to say about “Obama: An Intimate Portrait. A South Coast Look into the White House — Photographs by Pete Souza” is that it’s the clear front-runner for longest exhibition title of 2019. With 50 images on display, that works out to just over two photographs per syllable.
The show runs through June 16 at the New Bedford Art Museum. The “South Coast” part of the title comes from the fact that Souza, who served as chief White House photographer throughout the Obama administration, is a South Dartmouth native.
The second thing to say about the show is that it might be thought of most usefully as three windows.
Window number one is narrowly photographic. Metaphorically, all photographs are windows, showing us what lay before the lens when the photographer clicked the shutter. So these photographs are a window on a particular person: his character, his family, his job, his travels.
Even in the extremely unlikely event that a viewer didn’t know that this slender, intense-looking middle-aged man was once the president of the United States, he’d still be visually compelling. The camera recognizes neither name, rank, nor serial number in the favorites it plays; and the camera clearly favors Obama (even with his prominent ears and that odd upper lip).
It doesn’t hurt that Souza is an expert craftsman with an excellent eye. Before becoming chief White House photographer under Obama, he’d worked on the photography staff of the Reagan White House and as a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune.
In the extensive and usefully informative wall text accompanying the show, Souza notes that he worked days of 10-12 hours, often six or seven a week. He accompanied Obama to all 50 states, more than 60 countries, and took nearly 2 million photographs. It sounds like both the best job in the world and the worst. It sounds not unlike the presidency that way.
There are only a few missteps in the show. A view of Obama at Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue is a window, yes, only this one has stained glass. A 2011 photograph of him standing in silhouetted profile in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., is more than a mite stagy. Conversely, one of him sitting in the bus Rosa Parks momentously rode in feels, and looks, just right.
The reason Obama was at the King Memorial and sitting on that bus — why his doing those things mattered in ways it would not have with any other president — was, of course, his race. Obama’s being the first African-American president meant that he could have done nothing for eight years and still been a historically consequential figure.
This is the second window: on history. Hung chronologically, the show gives a sense of the evolution of a presidency and offers moments of high historical drama. To see Obama letting himself be zapped by a trick-or-treating Spider-Man or making snow angels with his daughters on the South Lawn is great fun (also a real window — that word again — on character). But we also get a view out over the crowd at Obama’s first inaugural, of the crowded conference room where the president and his senior aides watched in real time the 2011 mission against Osama bin Laden, and Obama placing a note for the president-elect in the Oval Office desk on Inauguration Day 2017.
This is the third window: on today. It’s difficult not to sound partisan here, but try to set aside ideology. The human differences between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, or between Obama and Bush, while considerable, are matters of degree not kind. Here they seem almost taxonomic. The sense of discrepancy between the man in the White House from 2009 to 2017 and the incumbent is so vast as — well, simply consider the hair photo. You know the one. Obvious comb-over jokes aside, try — come on, try — to imagine Obama’s successor letting a 5-year-old touch his hair. And that’s leaving out the whole aspect of using hair as a statement on race and possibility and aspiration.
People would often comment on Obama’s formality, how professorial he could seem. They tended to do so as an implicit criticism. There was truth to such comments, but what they missed is how Obama’s sense of correctness in personal conduct, something so notably lacking in Clinton, for example, also served to liberate him. Dignity, when innate, isn’t aloofness. It’s a version of grace, one that can be spiritual as well as physical. What one consistently sees in these photographs is someone with an overriding sense of duty: to his family, to his office, to his nation. It’s a kind of vocational decency, that vocation being moral even more than it is political.
Knowing who he was, Obama could allow himself to display a human dimension as someone whose insecurities restrict him to playing a role never can. That human dimension is evident in every single one of these photographs: the formal, eye-of-history ones no less than when he’s getting swamped by a big kahuna of a wave, in Hawaii, or dancing with his wife to Earth, Wind & Fire. True, he’s wearing a tuxedo. The look on his face sure isn’t.
Just as every bully is a coward trying to mask his cowardice, so any person uncertain of his own humanity won’t — or can’t — display humanity toward others. The man seen consoling a grievously wounded soldier and his family at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or the family of one of the children murdered at Sandy Hook is the president of the United States. He’s also a man.
There are many criticisms to be made of Obama’s politics. Some of the harshest (and dumbest) come from the left. What Souza’s photographs remind us is how little that criticism can in any justifiable way extend beyond the political to the personal. Let exhibitions by other White House photographers show how well that might be said of other presidents.
A nearby alcove has a smaller exhibit with a title nearly as long that of the Souza show, “Artifacts of Recent History: Local Objects from a Historical Presidency Collected by the New Bedford Historical Society.” There are posters, books, flags, invitations, photographs. Many come courtesy of a man named Carl J. Cruz. The standout item is a truly nifty commemorative jacket. Quilted with fabric flags and stars and photos and even a few sequins, it’s the size and cut of a varsity jacket. Instead of being from your high school, though, it’s from your country — our country. How much you want to bet it would look great on Obama, even better than that tux does?
OBAMA: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT. A South Coast Look into the White House – Photographs by Pete Souza
At New Bedford Art Museum, 508 Pleasant St., New Bedford, through June 16.
Original story here.
By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
Posted Apr 1, 2019 at 10:45 AM
Updated Apr 2, 2019 at 1:42 PM
The public mural art group SUPERFLAT NB launched last year to excitement and enthusiasm — and with grand ambitions.
As spring 2019 begins, and its first anniversary approaches in May, the group is beginning its game plan for Year Two. Far from hibernating over the winter, SUPERFLAT has been recruiting new members, enlisting more artists and laying the organizational groundwork to ensure it is a permanent feature of the New Bedford landscape.
Last weekend, the group held an open artist call for a special series of photos which will form the basis of a new project and kick off their new year.
This week, they are launching a Patronicity fundraising campaign. It’s impressive goal is $50,000 — and its impressive partner is no less than MassDevelopment.
That’s the state’s economic development and finance agency, which works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth.
They will match that sum of $50,000 if SUPERFLAT can reach it within 60 days.
“In recent years, we’ve seen cities and towns across Massachusetts use public art as a tool to draw people in, activate neighborhoods, and enrich local arts and cultural communities,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss stated in a press release launching the campaign. “MassDevelopment looks forward to helping Superflat New Bedford achieve these goals through Commonwealth Places.”
Commonwealth Places is a collaborative initiative from MassDevelopment and Patronicity that leverages public support for placemaking projects through crowdfunding and a matching grant from MassDevelopment, the agency writes.
The program engages residents in the development of strategic projects in their towns and cities.
The Patronicity campaign can be found at Patronicity.com/superflat.
To amp up the energy over the next two months of the campaign, SUPERFLAT artists will be holding special events on the April and May AHA! nights.
During the second Thursday of the month, downtown cultural celebrations, artists will first be wheat-pasting on walls and then ‘writing’ — the street art term for creating designs — over the photos shot last weekend.
This will happen on the public art fence across from Custom House Square Park.
As they have since forming in late 2017, the SUPERFLAT team continues to meet weekly to organize, plot, promote, nurture and create the infrastructure for a robust arts organization that will stand the test of time.
Their mission statement is worth repeating:
“SUPERFLAT NB aims to eliminate barriers to the arts through public art that tells and shares personal stories; that draws upon, preserves, and reimagines our shared heritage and histories in New Bedford; and, through the renewal of the environment and our connections to each other, create new pathways for our future social and economic growth.”
SUPERFLAT went about doing that in 2018 in a strategic way. They launched on May 4, 2018 with five artists creating work outside the Co-Creative Center that was later auctioned off.
Proceeds and local funding from the New Bedford Economic Development Council allowed them to bring Cey Adams and Janette Beckman, artists with an international reputation, to the city during its first mural festival in August.
Taking place during the 3rd EyE Open, New Bedford artists were paired with over-sized prints of Beckman’s work from the dawn of hip hop and let loose to offer their own colorful spin atop her black and white memories of musical icons.
Meanwhile, Adams was charged with creating a permanent mural in Wings Court. Today, the “Love” mural has joined his other destination work in cities like New York and Philadelphia. Like that other work, “Love” is the backdrop for countless selfies — but from the Whaling City — featuring residents and visitors alike.
Other artists, like Brian Tillett, created their own new community focal points during the festival. In all, 18 local artists were enlisted to take part in the first SUPERFLAT mural contest last year. And — importantly — were paid for their efforts.
That last part isn’t only a point of pride for the team, but necessary in order for the creative impulse to economically mature in New Bedford. As Mayor Jon Mitchell said when introducing the city’s Arts & Culture Plan, “Great stuff doesn’t come free.”
One of SUPERFLAT’s goals this year is to create an artist referral network under the group’s banner. This will pair local artists with businesses or organizations seeking murals or other sorts of artwork.
“Some businesses may want to support artists by buying their work or employing their talent, but don’t know how to reach them,” says team member Kim Goddard, who handles publicity for SUPERFLAT NB. “This will give interested parties a way to connect with local artists and learn about their work,” she says.
The group is also seeking to enlarge its footprint throughout the city. In fact, with exception of the photo project and the mural festival during 3rd EyE Open, almost all other SUPERFLAT mural projects will happen on walls in places other than the downtown during 2019.
While a list of highly-visible spots were discussed at a recent meeting, it was requested that they remain under wraps until final approvals have been received. Suffice to say, they all live up to the SUPERFLAT ideal and will indeed renew the environment of neighborhoods throughout New Bedford.
Proceeds from the Patronicity.com/superflat campaign, matched by MassDevelopment if it reaches its $50,000 target by midnight on May 30, will directly fund the following:
An Artist-In-Residency Program. This will embed a recognized or emerging artist within the community to create a series of original and responsive public artworks in three distinct areas of the city — the North End, Downtown and the South End.
Ten New Murals reflecting the culture and community of New Bedford painted by local, national, and international artists in key locations throughout the North End, Downtown and South End.
And, the Artist Referral Platform connecting local artists, designers, and sign painters to gigs and employment opportunities throughout the region.
Underlying much of this is also a desire to engage youth in the city whenever possible — such as during the mural festival while 3rd EyE Open is happening.
SUPERFLAT writes on Patronicity.com/superflat, “The youth of this community is an important participant and recipient of our efforts. We endeavor to inspire them and expand their cultural point of view by connecting them to resources and opportunities.
“In 2019 we want to expand programming throughout the city, directly engaging youth and residents in the inspiration, ideation, and creation of transformative public art.”
Sounds super. Make that SUPERFLAT NB.
Original story here.
By The Standard-Times
Proposals should be reflective of the needs and interests of the populations the applicants wish to serve, according to a news release. A minimum of $100,000 will be available for projects that emphasize and celebrate the cultural expression of ethnically diverse communities in Fall River and New Bedford. Projects are to be completed or significantly underway by December and applicants must be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, municipality, or educational institution. Grant requests can be a maximum of $20,000.
“This is an especially exciting grant round for the Community Foundation, as through it, we seek to elevate and celebrate the richness of having so many cultures in Fall River and New Bedford. Inherent in our local and our American experience is the robust diversity that makes our communities vibrant and great places to live; and we are excited to support that through these grants,” said John Vasconcellos, President of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, in a statement.
Concerts, exhibits, festivals, performances, speakers/presentations, and visual arts are just some of the examples of projects they will accept for this Cultural Expression grant. The Creative Commonwealth welcomes artistic risk-taking and diversity of creative experiences and audiences.
Interested applicants can access the Letter of Interest at https://goo.gl/1UTHHP. Completed Letters of Interest are due by midnight April 5, and potential applicants should direct questions to Rayana Grace, Arts & Culture Program Manager, at 508-996-8253, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a detailed timeline of this grants process and for more information regarding eligibility, visit https://www.cfsema.org/about-us/creative-commonwealth#G5.
By The Standard-Times
Posted Mar 5, 2019 at 12:22 PM
Updated Mar 5, 2019 at 12:22 PM
PHILADELPHIA — Jennifer Smith is returning to her roots: She’s been named the superintendent of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
“Jennifer’s long history with the park and her personal connection to the New Bedford community make her a great fit for this position,” said National Park Service Northeast Region Director Gay Vietzke in a statement. “A New Bedford native, Jennifer was also one of the first park employees. During her 21 years at the park, Jennifer has demonstrated a deep passion for the park’s story and a wide range of critical skills that will serve her well in her new role.”
Smith’s first day with the National Park Service was the day of the park’s dedication on May 17, 1998, said Smith.
“I have watched the park grow into an important and vibrant part of the community. I am eager to continue to collaborate with park and community partners, including the City of New Bedford, to provide increased opportunities to access and explore the park and surrounding historic district.
“The buildings in the park are vital links to the fascinating history of New Bedford. One of my priorities will the ongoing maintenance and preservation of these structures which provide tangible and meaningful connections to the city’s multilayered past.”
Smith, who has been acting superintendent of New Bedford Whaling NHP since April 2018, started with the National Park Service in January 1998 and later became the park’s first seasonal park ranger. She has also served as the park’s chief of Visitor Services, Interpretation and Education, the site manager at Roger Williams National Memorial, and the deputy superintendent of a three-park group that included Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and Roger Williams National Memorial, according to a news release.
Smith has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a master’s degree in community planning with a concentration in urban design and historic preservation from the University of Rhode Island.
Smith is an avid birder and lives in New Bedford with her husband, Christian, and their four dogs. They have three grown children and a grandchild who also live in New Bedford.