Tabor Academy puts New Bedford arts, culture and community on the curriculum

Posted at 3:01 AM

Tabor Academy sophomore students started the school year off right with a visit to the region’s arts and culture capital, New Bedford, this past Saturday, Sept. 8.

Roughly 130 students came to the city to kick off the new school year. Tabor Academy is located in Marion, but the New Bedford orientation project is now on its third year.

This year’s theme was “know yourself, know others, build community” — as seen through the prism of arts and culture. Accordingly, a panel of city arts leaders and tour guides was arranged to explore the topic and then downtown New Bedford. (Full disclosure: This writer was one of the tour guides.)

Zoe Hansen-DiBello, strategy advisor and founder of Ethos — a philanthropic education strategy consulting organization; www.ethosstrategy.org — explains how it all got started:

“Mel Bride, [Tabor] dean of community life, Tim Cleary, dean of students and myself came together three years ago and imagined what it would look like if we brought Tabor students to New Bedford for orientation as a way to bridge the two communities.”

Prior to the orientation, Bride and Hansen-DiBello had partnered to connect Tabor students to New Bedford Public School students through the community garden project, Grow Education.

This year’s arts and culture theme was selected because Hansen-DiBello, a city resident, believes, “In New Bedford, I find it intriguing that our public art is often rooted in the historical context of the city, always returning to our past to understand our present and imagine our future.

“In recent years, the city has been increasingly intentional in sharing the stories of those who are often overlooked — and so the panel and tour for Tabor students will recognize and honor New Bedford’s Abolitionists, thriving Cape Verdean culture, youth and hip-hop and the women leaders of New Bedford today but also the past as they are featured in the Lighting the Way Project.”

And, it certainly did.

The orientation tour began at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Union and Eighth Streets. Two busloads of Tabor Academy students disembarked to enter the historic building and meet New Bedford arts and culture leaders and their tour guides.

The spoken word and hip hop artist Tem Blessed launched the morning with an energetic appeal to students to know themselves and what they’re all about. Blessed later closed the tour at Wings Court under the Cey Adams “Love” mural with another inspired piece of wordplay that concluded with everybody chanting “Tabor — Academy” and “New — Bedford” in unison.

Panelists at the Unitarian Church, Jeremiah Hernandez, Rayana Grace, Gail Fortes and Dena Haden amplified the tour’s theme: arts and culture is very much about finding and building community wherever you are, but especially so at this moment in New Bedford.

Hernandez referenced the magic of creativity as depicted in the Netflix series, “The Get Down” as a real-life entry point for people of diverse backgrounds to experience unique culture. The show chronicles the birth of hip hop, with a generous helping of street art, in the late ’70s Bronx.

His family — from the Bronx — brought both him and those aesthetic values to New Bedford and he says the art and music has essentially given definition to his life. That came to be manifested as UGLY Gallery, which he opened with friend and artist David Gaudalupe on Union Street and operated for several years.

Now, that same aesthetic can increasingly be found throughout the city — and Hernandez is still leading the charge as one of the founders of the public art group, SUPERFLAT, which was on the morning’s agenda.

From the church, the students were arranged in groups of 15 and sent out with their respective guides to experience arts and culture on the streets of downtown New Bedford.

Some saw the city’s nascent Abolition Row Park and neighborhood. Others checked out the 54th Regiment mural on the side of Freestone’s City Grille.

Everyone ended up in and around Wings Court, where the recently wrapped up first SUPERFLAT mural festival occurred. Well, maybe not entirely wrapped up…

In a bit of serendipity, Tabor students got to see artist Brian Tillett at work on his massive Jean-Paul Basquiat mural overlooking Custom House Square Park. Tillett is also a commercial fisherman in addition to being an accomplished artist.

When the day job at sea intervened, he simply put the art on hold to return another day to get back to work. That day was Saturday, and the sophomore class of Tabor Academy got to see the legendary face of Basquiat being applied to a downtown New Bedford wall.

It turned into a bit of a (recent) art history class, as many of the students were unfamiliar with the 1980s era New York City street artist. Which just reinforced the whole point of the orientation: to fuse diverse communities together across time and space.

Zoe Hansen-DiBello sums it up nicely. She says the Tabor Academy 2018 sophomore orientation was about “highlighting the vehicles of art and culture as a means to better know ourselves, to understand others, and to ultimately build community.

“The overall goal is for Tabor students and educators to be inspired by the examples seen here in New Bedford for building community through art and culture, and to return to campus ready to connect and create with one another.”

I would add that it’s also just plain thrilling to see the city’s arts and culture, and the people who practice it, making the grade as an inspiration for the next generation. An A+ gets awarded to this outstanding effort.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

Original story here.

Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation awards grants to non-profits

Bristol County Savings Bank (BCSB), through its charitable foundation, awarded grants totaling $122,200 to 19 non-profits in SouthCoast Massachusetts at a recent ceremony at the Holiday Inn Taunton. All total, the bank presented $271,313 in grants to 40 non-profit organizations in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River regions, as well as the Taunton/Attleboro and Pawtucket, Rhode Island regions.

The organizations in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River region that received grants from the Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation (BCSCF) are as follows:AHA! ($2,500), Argosy Collegiate Charter School ($7,500), Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford ($3,000), Holy Name School ($6,000), Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, Inc. ($2,500), Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol County ($15, 000), Kennedy Donovan Center, Inc. ($8,200), Lloyd Center for the Environment ($2,500), Nativity Preparatory School New Bedford ($10,000), New Bedford Festival Theater ($5,000), New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center ($2,500), Inc., New Bedford Star Kids Scholarship Program ($10,000), New Bedford Symphony Orchestra ($5,000), New Bedford Whaling Museum ($10,000), Our Sisters’ School, Inc. ($10,000), The Schwartz Center ($10,000), Southcoast Mentoring Initiative For Learning Education and Service, Inc. ($5,000), uAspire ($2,500),and YMCA of Southeastern Massachusetts ($5,000).

Patrick J. Murray Jr., president of the BCSCF and president & CEO of BCSB, awarded the grants to the organizations. Also participating were Kristine Arsenault, assistant chief of staff for Jon Mitchell, mayor, City of New Bedford and representatives from the BCSCF – Southcoast Advisory Board and the bank’s branch offices in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River regions.

“In keeping with the bank’s mission of supporting our local neighborhoods to meet the growing needs of the population, our Foundation is proud to present grants to these 19 non-profit organizations doing good work in the Greater New Bedford and Fall River communities,” said Murray.

Bristol County Savings Bank is an active supporter in the communities in which it serves. The foundation was established in 1996 as part of the bank’s 150th anniversary celebration. Its purpose is to fund needs that contribute to the economic and the social well-being of the people and institutions located in the greater Taunton/Attleboro Region, the greater New Bedford/Dartmouth Region-Fall River Region and the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Region, with particular emphasis in the areas of education and literacy, economic development and housing for the low- to moderate-income population.

Since the foundation began, more than $19 million has been committed to hundreds of different non-profit organizations. In 2017, the foundation awarded $1.8 million to various 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

Original story here.

S&G Project Gallery offers shows that encompass an entire artist

Posted Aug 3, 2018 at 8:27 PM

What’s the best way to get to know an artist? If you see a painter or sculptor’s creations one at a time, in a show here and a show there, you can’t fully understand who they are or what they hope to convey. But when you see a developed series, expressed in a number of pieces displayed side by side, you get a more complete sense of the artist’s heart, mind and intentions.

At the S&G Project Gallery at Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford, gallerists Denn Santoro and Helen Granger offer immersion into the artist’s world. Their focus is solo exhibitions that encompass entire projects. Some of the artists they display have taken months to create their series, some years, but all of them present fully developed bodies of work.

Granger and Santoro strive for variety, displaying a wide range of materials and messages with each exhibit. Since the gallery opened in 2016, they have shown such diverse expressions as closeup photographs of botanical imagery, fabric and found-object sculpture inspired by the female body, and monoprints incorporating static electricity. This assortment reveals the dramatic power of the creative process, and that’s exactly what the pair hope to highlight.

While S&G tends to show local talent, they are open to artists from all across New England. “We are looking for conceptual execution,” explains Granger. “It can be anything from somber work to a more brightly colored series. What matters is the underlying thought.”

Their calendar features at least one public gathering per exhibit, in addition to opening and closing receptions. These occasions comprise lectures, musical performances, and artist talks, relating to each show’s unique theme. Photographer Deb Ehrens’ display of plant-themed photos, for example, included a visit from a local garden group.

The gallery also regularly participates in Hatch Street Studios’ ongoing schedule of events, including its well-attended annual holiday sale each November and a newly instituted “Second Saturdays” program every month.

Granger and Santoro had two particular goals from the beginning: to promote an appreciation for fine art, and to draw viewers to Hatch Street Studios. “We are trying to demystify art for people, make it more friendly,” says Santoro. “We want people to understand that you don’t have to be an art historian to know about art, to fall in love with it and want to live with it.”

He adds, “We want people to understand that this part of New Bedford is easy to get to, with free parking. There is momentum in this building. Stuff is happening here!”

S&G Project Gallery also runs an art brokerage, marketing works by Southcoast artists to businesses and private collectors who wish to enhance their spaces.

The brokerage recently collaborated with Bristol County Savings Bank in decorating their location in downtown New Bedford’s historic Candleworks building. With Santoro shepherding all aspects of the project including framing and hanging, the bank purchased 50 pieces of art from 8 local artists for their permanent collection.

“We will do any space that you want help curating good art into, and we have all price points,” says Santoro. “One living room we did was under $1,000.”

The fact that both Santoro and Granger are artists themselves brings a particular level of understanding to their efforts as gallerists.

A native of North Attleboro, Santoro loved photography from the moment he was handed a camera as a member of the yearbook staff in high school. When he began his studies at Southeastern Massachusetts University, now UMass Dartmouth, he was excited to discover Paul Rudolph’s distinctive architectural style.

Santoro’s interest in unique structures has extended throughout his artistic career to his current ongoing project of considering national museums as deconstructed spaces beyond the artifacts they house. From this standpoint, he has photographed the Hirshhorn Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, among others.

Granger, originally from western Pennsylvania, loved to draw as a child. “I always knew art would be a part of my life,” she says. After attending the University of Hartford and then Hunter College, she worked in television and publishing, living on both coasts. Painting and drawing remained a constant, “based on observations of inner life and the world around me.”

At last, says Granger, “I washed up in New Bedford,” where she met Santoro at an opening reception at Gallery X. That was back in 2007, and they have been together ever since.

The idea to open a gallery was first Santoro’s. Granger was hesitant until she visited the sunny studio at 88 Hatch Street and met Jeff Glassman, owner of the building. Then she was impressed by the potential to reach an audience within the budding art community at Hatch Street, which Glassman has helped to foster.

“Jeff is committed to the artists,” Granger says. “He is committed to the building and helping bring it to fruition as an art destination. It’s a nice space to be in.”

Today Granger and Santoro are proud of the strong response their gallery has received. “We have sold at least one piece out of every show,” Santoro notes, “which says we are picking work that is getting people’s attention.”

S&G Project Gallery, located in Space 306A at 88 Hatch Street in New Bedford, is open by appointment, by event, or by chance. Event information can be found on the gallery’s Facebook page. For further details, call 774.279.2606 or email contact@sandgprojectgallery.com.

Please note that the Hatch Street building has a handicapped entrance ramp and, during the gallery’s events, the elevator is staffed for easy access to the third floor.

Catherine Carter is a New Bedford artist and former Standard-Times journalist. Her profiles of area businesses will appear in this space regularly.

Original story here.

Learn all you need to know about America’s longest painting, the whaling panorama in New Bedford

Posted Jul 31, 2018 at 5:54 PM

Experts will give a series of lectures in August about America’s longest painting, “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” which is featured in two New Bedford Whaling Museum exhibitions: “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” and “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience.”

Chief Curator Christina Connett will speak about panoramas as a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century on Aug. 7 at the Whaling Museum. Michael P. Dyer, the museum’s curator of maritime history, will look at the Grand Panorama through the industrial lens of whaling and maritime culture on Aug. 14 at the Museum. On Aug. 28, Akeia Benard, curator of social history, will show how the painting reveals New Bedford as a global cosmopolitan hub with connections to the rest of the world through the whaling industry.

All lectures begin at 7 p.m., preceded by receptions at 6. The cost to attend is $10 for museum members and $15 for nonmembers. Series tickets cost $25 for members, $40 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at whalingmuseum.com or by calling 508-997-0046.

In 2017, the museum completed the conservation of the 1,275-foot-long “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” painted in 1848 by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Original” features the enormous painting in its entirety at the Kilburn Mill in New Bedford and runs through Oct. 8. “A Spectacle in Motion: The Experience” presents a large-scale digital reproduction of the artwork as a theatrical moving picture show, similar to what audiences would have experienced in the 1850s. This exhibition opened July 29 and will run through 2021 at the museum.

Tuesday, Aug. 7: A Spectacle in Motion: 19th Century Entertainment and ‘Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World’

At New Bedford Whaling Museum

By Dr. Christina Connett, Chief Curator

Dr. Connett will place the Panorama in the larger context of the era’s visual culture. The Panorama is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas, an enormously popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century. In many ways, panoramas were cultural indicators of public interests that fed the massive popularity of 19th-century World’s Fairs. Much like the extraordinary adventure writings of authors such as Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, panoramas brought the spectacle of the exotic and the unknown to eager audiences of armchair travelers in the Industrial Age. Audiences keen on the authentic experience, but without the means or desire to travel far afield, could be transported to another locale through the spectacle of the moving panorama.

Tuesday, Aug. 14: Industry of Whaling and Maritime Culture of Mid 19th-Century America

At New Bedford Whaling Museum

By Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History

Dyer will examine the Panorama through an industrial lens. Benjamin Russell probably conceived his idea for a traveling whaling panorama picture show sometime between 1841, when he shipped on board a whaler, and 1847, around the time when he and Caleb Purrington actually began to paint it. The painting coincided with the height of American whaling, economically, physically and culturally. The impacts of the whaling enterprise were felt through many segments of American society and its profits later funded the fine and mechanical arts, and local industries as divergent as banking, machine-tool manufacturing, and cotton-spinning. The growth of the industry demanded an American diplomatic presence in many faraway lands, advancing the vanguard of American hegemony in the Pacific.

Tuesday, Aug. 28: Globalization and Diversity of Maritime Industries from New Bedford

Kilburn Mill, 127 West Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford

By Dr. Akeia Benard, Curator of Social History

Benard will show how the Panorama reveals New Bedford as a global cosmopolitan hub with connections to the rest of the world through the whaling industry. The painting illustrates the path of expanding hegemony of the United States through American commerce worldwide in remote and “exotic” ports and landfalls. Details of the ports – their geography, inhabitants, architecture and maritime infrastructure – are vividly represented in the painting. In its very structure, the Panorama represents the connections between these far-flung locations and different cultures forged by the American enterprise of whaling and the global dominance of the American whaling industry.

Original story here.

Hatch Street Studios: A world within a city

By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer
Posted May 31, 2018 at 3:01 AM

Alissar Najd Langworthy was at the helm of the 88-ton, 75-foot research vessel, Phoenecia for what turned out to be a four-month voyage to — and stay in — Cuba this past year.

The intense experience so changed her that when she returned to her studio at Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford’s North End, her painting took an entirely new — and stunning — abstract direction.

The smell of cedar wafts through the second floor outside Woodworker John Giacobbi’s studio. He’s storing a quantity of red cedar for future use.

But right now, he’s busy creating intricate and beautiful adornments for the historic Christmas House on Route 6A in Sandwich. After construction here in Hatch Street Studios, the woodwork will be disassembled for the trip down the highway and reassembled on site.

New Bedford residents are most likely aware of sculptor Erik Durant’s work due to his Fishermen’s Monument on the waterfront and statue of Cape Verdean leader Tom Lopes at Washington Square.

But his studio at Hatch Street is a fantastical land all its own, where Erik’s sculpting runs riot through history and mythology.

In their spaces and others throughout Hatch Street Studios, you see not only the work of its many artists and artisans, but glimpse the infinite within and without New Bedford as discerned by talent, tenacity and industry.

It’s a world within a city informed by experience and brought to life through pure imagination.

You can enter this world frequently now, thanks to a new, ongoing series of Second Saturday Open Studios events inaugurated by the Hatch Street Studios Artist Association. The first Second Saturday happened on May 12, and the next is scheduled for June 9.

All of them are free and open to the public and will feature special events in addition to the opportunity to tour the artists’ studios, chat them up, and see and buy their work.

It’s all part of a new lease on life for the venerable building, home to upwards of 50 artists and artisans on three floors and across two buildings — 88 Hatch St. and annex 90 Hatch St. — two blocks off Acushnet Avenue, with a view of the river with the same name, in the historic Nashawena Mill District of New Bedford.

Open Studios on Second Saturdays

Robert “Jack” Babb of the Hatch Street Studios Artist Association says he got the ball rolling for the Second Saturday Open Studios based on his experience attending regular open studio events at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell. He was living in New Hampshire at the time and would drive down for the events.

A chance encounter at a Yoga event in Boston brought Jack to Hatch Street.

“I met Amanda Walker, a lifetime resident of the area,” he explains. “She introduced me to the South Coast: the arts, the cultural variety, the natural beauty, the history. I was doing some glass work and interactive art in New Hampshire part-time. I moved my studio to Hatch Street because of the vibrant arts community in the area, the culture, the ocean.” And, “Easy access to Boston, Providence and New York.

Realizing that Hatch Street lacked a regular opportunity for arts patrons to meet building residents, outside of its annual Open Studios event in November, he decided to organize Second Saturdays.

The first monthly Open Studios in May featured members of the SUPERFLAT mural team and a pop-up 3rd EyE Unlimited music, dance and art jam. The second floor of Hatch Street Studios has a large, open community space to accommodate special happenings like that.

Between the special programming and the participation of most of the artists, the launch was a solid success and bodes well for future Second Saturdays.

Jack is generous with the praise for all concerned in the effort, noting Keri Cox’s organization of 3rd EyE, Destination Soup’s event kitchen, and the support of building owner Jeff Glassman.

“And, of course, Brian Tillett, Meaggsy, and Alexx Jardin who generously gave of their time and talent to create murals,” he said of the SUPERFLAT team.

Upcoming Second Saturday Open Studios will feature more special programming and themes. The aforementioned Amanda Walker is putting together a “Sun and Sea” theme for August.

“In September, Jeff Angeley is pulling together a music-themed event. In October, I am planning a Maker/Makerspace themed event,” said Jack. (Jeff Angeley is the musician behind the recent World Fiddle Day event in the building, where he maintains a studio.)

The June 9 special event will be a drawing for works of art donated by Hatch Street Artists. July is currently open, and Jack is open to collaborating with people throughout the city who may have creative ideas.

It’s why he’s been visible at community meetings, like the last Love The Ave meeting. That’s the group dedicated to extolling all things good on and around Acushnet Avenue. One of the Hatch Street Artist Association’s goals is to reach deeper into the neighborhood it shares in a diverse north end.

Keep up with events at Facebook.com/88hatchstreet.

Hatch Street Studios 2.0

Hatch Street Studios has been a fixture of the New Bedford arts scene for many years.

But a seminal event occurred in 2014 which changed the course of its history and set it firmly upon its present reinvigorated course.

That year, Jeffrey Glassman, owner of neighbor Darn it!, Inc. at 686 Belleville Avenue, bought the building — actually two. Hatch Street Studios today consists of both 88 Hatch St., the original studio building, and 90 Hatch St., which now houses smaller studios than the almost cavernous spaces found at 88.

Glassman bought Hatch Street Studios committed to retaining its integrity as an arts center. Indeed, he’s been keen on doubling down on its reputation as a destination for artists seeking studio space in the city and from throughout the region.

What’s remarkable about this is that Jeff Glassman is a businessman — and a successful one, at that. Darn It! is an apparel and general merchandise repair and inspection business that found a successful niche for itself after NAFTA. Glassman joined the family business in 1994 and has overseen its steady growth since then.

When the opportunity arose to purchase neighbor Hatch Street Studios, it was the businessman in him that made the deal. Fortunately, he’s a creative businessman with a concern for the community, who doesn’t simply want to own and manage, with his wife, Lori, an artist studio building.

He wants it, everyone in it, and the arts destination New Bedford to thrive.

There was trepidation among some of the artists when he took over the building at first, because of that businessman’s approach. In that first year, everyone in the building had to do something that previously had happened on a loose, ad hoc basis: sign leases. And, there were rent increases.

But, concurrent with those actions were improvements to the building, both in terms of infrastructure and management. And, the addition of an entirely new floor of studios, the second — with that large community space that’s now being put to good use during the Second Saturday Open Studios events. All of it has brought new energy to Hatch Street Studios.

Glassman the business owner has been aggressive in bringing attention to the art and work being produced by the residents of Hatch Street.

He’s hosted events at the building that introduced other members of the business community to the creative community, for example. He’s also invested his time in promoting the studios and people in them whenever possible at multiple venues and meetings throughout the city and region.

For New Bedford, Hatch Street Studios signifies that the creative economy has found real purchase — as an idea and as a brick and mortar cornerstone in the city.

Now open to the public every Second Saturday of the month.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

Original article here.

Whaling Museum’s big exhibition landing in South End arts space

In true “Greatest Showman” style, the imminent exhibition of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World is being billed as “A Spectacle in Motion.”

It is certainly going to be that — and a whole lot more.

The Standard-Times was given exclusive media access to plans for the exhibition of the restored 19th century 1,275-foot work of art, Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World last week at the museum.

From that meeting, we can now report that the legacy cultural event of the summer will take place in the city at none other than Kilburn Mills Studios on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford’s South End.

It is there where the Whaling Museum found the space and proper historical ambiance to reveal the restored Grand Panorama to the world in a special off-site exhibit that will open on July 14 and remain on view through October 8, 2018.

“Kilburn Mills was built in 1903,” says Tina Malott, museum director of marketing and public relations, “The same year the Whaling Museum was founded.”

It’s not the only bit of serendipity behind this inspired choice.

The selection of Kilburn Mills as an exhibition site for the panorama comes as the building itself is undergoing a renewal — along with the entire “peninsula” section of the city.

As such, the Whaling Museum’s decision to show the panorama there reinforces the idea that arts and culture is not only a means in itself, but a means to an end. It has the power to reinvigorate a city and revitalize neighborhoods by its very exercise in often overlooked spaces.

Just as this unique panorama was once forgotten but given new life, “A Spectacle in Motion” brings national attention to all of the City of New Bedford’s cultural and emotional infrastructure.

The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World

Without hyperbole, it’s accurate to write that The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World is a national treasure.

It is a 1,275-foot-long painting on canvas that depicts a whaling voyage — originating in New Bedford, of course. Which is no surprise, since it was painted in 1848 by New Bedford artists Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington, when the city was secure in its position as the world’s top whaling port.

Museum materials state that it is a unique work of art because it is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas — a popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century.

Panoramas were very much the movies of the time period.

In its entirety, and accompanied by narration, music and other special effects, this Grand Panorama ran a feature-length two hours.

All panoramas were “played” across a stage in a theatrical setting from spool to spool — much like early films ran from reel to reel.

According to Whaling Museum Chief Curator Christina Connett, panoramas can be placed squarely in the context of a rising middle class enjoying leisure time in the nascent industrial age. It is very much a part of the burgeoning popular entertainment forms of the day, like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show; P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth; and other amusements like World Fairs.

Indeed, over a century after its initial “theatrical” run, the Grand Panorama was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, Queens. It’s next stop after that? A former furniture store on Pope’s Island, New Bedford in 1969!

But a showing way back in 1849 at the Boston Armory intrigues Christina Connett the most.

The historical record shows that Herman Melville was at his sister’s home a few blocks away from the armory at the time the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World was on display — the adventure of which his own popular early novels, like “Typee” and “Oomo,” brought to life.

“It’s nice to imagine that he saw the ‘Panorama’ when he was there,” she says.

Restoring the Grand Panorama

It’s nice to imagine that anyone can see the Grand Panorama at all — let alone back in the city where it was created over 150 years ago.

Thanks to some more serendipity and a lot of hard work, imagination becomes reality — and digital reimagination — this summer at Kilburn and the Whaling Museum.

The museum chanced upon ownership of the work of art when it was donated to them in 1918 by Benjamin Cummings — who found it in a local attic. Some 300 feet were missing, so the voyage ’round the world ends at Fiji — but at 1,275 feet it’s still likely the longest painting in the United States. (A nice piece of promo material at the museum teases visitors with the fact that the painting is actually longer than the Empire State Building is tall.)

The Whaling Museum has exhibited sections of it at various times over the years, and as noted, it made its way to New York City and Pope’s Island in the 1960s, just about a century after its original tour of East Coast and Midwest cities like Cincinnati, Buffalo, St. Louis, Baltimore, New York and Boston from 1849 through 1870.

The restored Grand Panorama visitors will see at Kilburn is the first time it has been publicly shown since the 1970s, when only sections of it were on display at the Whaling Museum before being put in storage.

Christina Connett says that the goal of the restoration project wasn’t perfection, but stabilization so that it lasts another 100 years.

“We want people to see it for what it was back in the 19th century,” she explains, “So there are some small abrasions and the like which allows the authenticity to show.”

 As part of the conservation effort, the panorama was photographed in blocks — and those images will be put to good use in a new, permanent exhibit outside the Lagoda half-scale whaling ship replica in the museum’s Bourne Building.

The 15-minute running time digital display will mimic the original movement of the Grand Panorama — while the original will be displayed in its entirety at Kilburn mounted on static, brushed aluminum panels of 400 feet each.

Both the actual and digital exhibits will also feature new, original artwork commissioned by the museum, special performances at various times and other related ephemera of the period over the course of the summer exhibit. After that, elements of it will hit the road for another tour, just as it did in the 19th century.

The Grand Panorama at Kilburn

Which brings us up to the present day — and the exciting decision to display the restored Grand Panorama at Kilburn.

Kilburn Mills Studios — officially called Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove — itself occupies a special place in the city’s emotional infrastructure.

Originally a textile mill, most city residents probably recall it as the former home of Madewell, the apparel company. Today, Kilburn Mills Studios is home to an eclectic range of businesses as it undergoes its own renovation.

A gym, a dancing studio, a silk screening company, a vast antiques store and other going concerns call it home. Significant improvements have recently been made to the building, including new windows, a new roof, refurbished staircases and more.

Importantly for this story and in the context of the creative destination New Bedford has become, a number of noted artists maintain studios in the building. Artists like Mark “Maki” Carvalho, Kelly Zelen, Will Wolf and others.

It also houses the gem-like Judith Klein Art Gallery & Studio, which in addition to beautiful works of art also boasts a stunning view of the new Cove Walk atop the Hurricane Barrier — and Clarks Cove itself in the rear of the building.

Further, the owner of Colo Colo Gallery, Luis Villanueva, has an outdoor sculpture garden on the drawing board for the property.

And all of this sits in the South End of New Bedford at the entrance to what is referred to as the “peninsula” area, which encompasses the city’s municipal beaches, Fort Rodman, Fort Taber, a companion Hurricane Barrier walk to the east, Harbor Walk, and too much more to mention.

The decision by the Whaling Museum to exhibit the Grand Panorama here and in this context is an amazing opportunity to thrust the entire peninsula and its many attractions into the spotlight when literally the eyes of the region and nation will be on the Grand Panorama.

This is arts and culture at work across the city — for the good of the entire city.

You could call it A Spectacle in Motion.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

In GroundWork! exhibit Barbosa captures life through a fantastical filter

Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM

“Every dream has a name. And names tell a story. This song is your dream.”

— Talking Heads

“Duende” is the perfect name for the current exhibition of artwork by Tracy Barbosa.

The term refers to a moment of unrepeatable excitement that originated in dance and music, but has come to also define a rush of the soul that manifests itself even in static art.

The Spanish poet Francisco Garcia Lorca once described duende as “a sort of corkscrew that can get into the sensibility of the audience.” It is the dance between the muse and the goblin and Barbosa is the chaperone.

Curated by Jessica Bregoli at Groundwork, “Duende” is an intriguing showcase for Barbosa, who has created complex works that are densely layered, both literally (in her deft application of material) and conceptually (seemingly bouncing from one alternate reality to another.)

She glides seamlessly between glasswork, photography printmaking, painting, gold leafing and sculpture. It is often difficult to ascertain where one ends and the next begins, and that speaks to her mastery of her chosen media.

Thematically, she straddles a place between the mystical and the earthbound, the visceral and the cerebral, the private and the public, the familiar and the queer, and the natural and the manmade.

In the large scale acrylic painting (with brass and copper leaf, patina and toner) “Spring Snow,” Barbosa presents a marvelous fantasy landscape that draws from reality but becomes something entirely new and refreshing.

In the background, Northern California’s Bay Bridge spans a bay somehow connecting Texas to the New York City borough of Queens. Nearer to the viewer is a plump antlered deer in the wood, Canadian geese and starlings flit about, and the sky is both ominous and lovely.

But the most remarkable element is the dozen or so oversized doily-like snowflakes that become both a decorative element and a sign that winter has succumbed. It is clearly “unreal” but it resonates as though it were a bolder and better plane of existence.

“Derrick” is an homage to her cousin of the same name who died of an overdose of opiates in December 2017. There is something reverential in it, almost holy.

Bulbous, cartoon-like gold leaf clouds recall the Momoyama (Peach Hill) Period of the late 16th century in Japan, expressing an opulence that dangerously borders on decadence.

Barbosa zealfully embraces symbolism. A large bird carries a photographic device as if trying to record and understand the unfathomable. In the distance, gulls flock but they are in black silhouette and look like crows. Their number constitutes a murder, perhaps an unconscious reference to the opiate dealers. And in the distance, on a dead-still sea, is a derrick.

“16 Octaves Below Middle C” (which according to Barbosa is “the hum of the Earth”) is a ceramic print on glass, illuminated from behind, which gives it the feel of a church’s stained glass windows. But the iconography is not big-C Catholic. It is little-c catholic … it is universal. Heaven is a multi-hued sky, angels are the ever-present birds, the altar is a barren tree, and the shrine is an off-in-the-distance Chrysler Building.

Another work of note is “Ink and Wine” which features entangled octopuses as a metaphor for family, silver grails with all religious understanding locked in place, and a spattering of red. It is ink, it is wine, it is the blood of Christ and family bond.

Barboza’s work exists in a dreamstate that is both lucid and temporal. She knows the muse and the goblin. She lives with both.

“Duende: An Exhibition by Tracy Barbosa” is on display at Groundwork, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford through June 9. An opening reception will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Don Wilkinson is a painter and art critic who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at Don.Wilkinson@gmail.com. His columns run each week in Coastin’.

Original article here.

A whale of a heart: Life-size model of a blue whale heart arrives at New Bedford Whaling Museum

A life-size model of a blue whale heart arrived at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Thursday, all the way from New Zealand.

Visitors are welcome to crawl inside the heart, which has four chambers and is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

“It’s pretty spectacular,” Chief Curator Christina Connett said.

The heart is the first major element in a complete redesign of the Jacobs Family Gallery and other spaces for an exhibit titled Whales Today, which focuses on ecology and conservation. Other elements to come include a model of a whale’s head with baleen, plus life-size silhouettes of whale flukes.

The museum staff had waited for days to hear that the heart had cleared customs. Finally it was ready, and it arrived at 8:05 a.m. in a shipping container trucked from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Everyone kept their good humor as they unscrewed the two-by-fours holding the heart in place, fetched ramps, and gingerly unloaded the pieces using a pallet jack and dolly.

“How’s your heart today?” one employee quipped to an onlooker.

The first piece was too large to fit through the museum doors. A door had to be removed to create a larger opening.

The living heart of a blue whale — the largest animal ever known to have lived — weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The fiberglass model weighs 660 pounds and was made by Human Dynamo Workshop, a fabrication company in New Zealand whose website says, “We Make Unusual Things.”

Once both halves were inside, movers arrived to get them into the gallery. By 1:15 p.m., Connett was placing lights in the heart and arranging the signage.

Museum volunteers did a double take as they arrived.

The living heart of a blue whale — the largest animal ever known to have lived — weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The fiberglass model weighs 660 pounds and was made by Human Dynamo Workshop, a fabrication company in New Zealand whose website says, “We Make Unusual Things.”

Once both halves were inside, movers arrived to get them into the gallery. By 1:15 p.m., Connett was placing lights in the heart and arranging the signage.

Museum volunteers did a double take as they arrived.

“Oh, my!” volunteer Judith Giusti exclaimed. The retired New Bedford teacher said the heart will be a wonderful teaching tool.

“Oh, that’s going to be incredible,” she said. “It was well worth the wait.”

It’s one thing to tell people about whales and another thing to show them, said Robert Rocha, director of education and science programs.

“Every tool we can have to explain to people how magnificent and how amazing these whales are is a good thing,” he said.

Connett has wanted to bring a model heart to the museum since before she worked there. When she was interviewing for the job at the museum a few years ago, she saw a heart like this at a traveling exhibit in New York. She looked into borrowing the heart, but it was so popular, its owners wanted it back, she said.

The Whaling Museum’s blue whale heart is a permanent exhibit — the only one in the United States.

One the goals of Whales Today is to bring attention to the status of living whales, an especially timely topic given scientists’ recent warnings that the North Atlantic right whale could be on the edge of extinction, Connett said.

“They’re really in dire straits,” she said.

Blue whales, too, are endangered. According to the website of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the population stands at less than 10 percent of its historical level.

Follow Jennette Barnes on Twitter @jbarnesnews.

William Street Neighborhood Festival is growing

Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM

Spring is here and organizers are planning for this year’s 3rd annual William Street Neighborhood Festival.

Set for Sept. 15, the footprint of the festival will expand this year to include Eighth Street from William to Union. Organizers are also expanding festival hours with fun on tap from noon to 6 p.m.

The Festival is a celebration and collaboration between the three historic church buildings in the neighborhood — the First Unitarian Church, the First Baptist Church and The First Universalist Church (Gallery X).

“Although their past as houses of worship has dwindled, they are now active as centers for art, culture, community gathering,” a press release about the festival states. “Our goal is to show how vital these buildings can be and how much they all offer the Community.”

The second goal of the festival is to introduce area residents and visitors to local artists, performers and artisans. To achieve that goal, free booth space is available.

Original story here.

$300K coming to Whaling Museum, Zeiterion, The Strand

Three institutions in the city are getting a $300,000 boost from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, announced state Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral on Friday.

The MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors approved the grants Thursday for three projects planned for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford.

“We’re delighted to support these exciting New Bedford projects as part of our ongoing investment in the city’s burgeoning cultural economy,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council executive director, in a statement. “Thanks to Rep. Cabral, who as House Bonding Committee chair has been a steadfast supporter of the CFF alongside Sen. (Mark) Montigny and their colleagues in the New Bedford legislative delegation.”

WHALING MUSEUM

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is set to receive a $170,000 capital grant to construct an urban greenspace on the museum’s campus, which will facilitate an outdoor gallery and public programming, according to a news release.

The greenspace is the soon-to-be-expanded Capt. Paul Cuffe Park. The museum hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in late March, and construction is under way.

The new Capt. Paul Cuffe Park will elevate the current park facing Union Street to the level of the doorstep of the Johnnycake Hill building behind it, the Wattles Jacobs Education Center. The work will connect what are now the high and low sides of the parcel, enlarging the available space and making it easier to access.

Cuffe, whose story began in the late 18th century, had roles as sea captain, philanthropist, community leader, civil rights activist and abolitionist.

ZEITERION

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center will receive a $100,000 capital grant to restore its marquee.

In 2015, the theater began renovations, including fixing leaks, repairing the white terracotta decorations and bricks on the building’s exterior. In later phases, doors and windows will be replaced, and the marquee above the entrance will hang once more.

THE STRAND

The Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford was awarded a $30,000 feasibility and technical assistance grant, to plan for the restoration of the Strand Theater in the gateway to the “International Marketplace” in New Bedford to house the Cape Verdean Cultural Center.

In WHALE’s first foray into the city’s North End, it has partnered with the Cape Verdean Association to restore and renovate the group’s home in an old vaudeville theater. The building, built in 1896, has had a lot of patchwork repairs and is used for small-scale music and cultural performances.

The building, with a scorched ceiling from a fire in the early 1990s, was bought by the group in 1992 as a place to promote and maintain Cape Verdean culture.

WHALE and the association plan to replace the Italianate facade of the theater, the blueprints for which have been stored all this time in New Bedford City Hall.

“New Bedford’s creative economy is attracting visitors and talent from across the country— these capital investments will further bolster our reputation as a hub of cultural activity,” said Cabral in a statement. “The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the anchor of our City’s downtown, while the Zeiterion has transformed itself into an entertainment destination. Thanks to the feasibility grant, the Strand Theater’s planned restoration will allow our Cape Verdean community to truly flourish.”

Original story here.