By Kiernan Dunlop
Posted Aug 17, 2019 at 8:14 PM
Updated Aug 20, 2019 at 9:39 AM
If you were walking through Downtown New Bedford on Saturday, you might have been confused by what you saw. 3rd EyE Open Hip Hop Festival not only had break dancers, but also everything from graffiti artists giving demonstrations to farmers selling sunflowers to families playing miniature golf.
“Just the sight of alpacas walking around the hip hop stage is so cool to see,” Allison Faunce said.
Faunce is one of the founders of Southcoast Open Air Market (SOAM) and she teamed up with the organizers of 3rd EyE Open to host the market in Custom House Square during the festival.
While the combination of a hip hop festival and a market with alpacas; farmers; and vendors selling pottery, soaps, and other artisan craft goods may seem odd to some, to Faunce it makes perfect sense.
“I think our chain or link is just the creative community,” Faunce explained, “Creativity comes out in so many different forms.”
For some that could mean performing spoken word poetry, for others throwing a pot.
“We figured it would be a great collaborative effort to bring cultures together and cross demographics and show that we can have unity even when you may think two things don’t necessarily mesh,” Tyson Moultrie, one of the organizers of the festival and current mayoral candidate in New Bedford, said.
The festival was originally founded in 1998 and was held in Buttonwood Park. After a three-year hiatus the festival returned in 2017, but this time to Custom House Square.
The collaboration with SOAM is one of many 3rd EyE Open has fostered with local community groups since their return.
“Ever since the festival came back and got planted in downtown, we’ve been collaborating with more and more local businesses, making other partnerships, and just growing and trying to make the community stronger and better,” Moultrie said.
One of those partnerships is with A’s Before J’s, a nonprofit based in New Bedford that stresses the importance of academics to athletes.
The non-profit ran a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for middle and high schoolers during the festival in the Carter’s parking lot.
A team of four girls from the MCW Starz AAU team won the middle school division and out of the six teams from that age group, they were the only girls team.
“It felt good,” one of the players, Ahnay Adams, said about winning, “Payback from last year from all the boys talking trash.”
The team, including Alexia Thompson, Armani Rivera, and Tisharona Blackwood in addition to Adams, had to play and win four fourteen-minute games to win their division.
“They play basketball the right way,” said A’s Before J’s co-founder Manny DeBrito, “It’s so fun to watch them play fundamental basketball.”
Children were doing more at the festival than competing in basketball, they were also among the 35 performers on the event’s main stage.
IPC Dance company out of Pawtucket, Rhode Island is made up of nine 5 – 17 year olds and they performed an over 15-minute dance at the festival, the longest they’ve ever performed in front of a crowd, according to their instructor Kethy Santos.
Their performance featured elements of hip hop, Cape Verdan, merengue, and West African dance styles and to prepare the group practiced four hours a day for four days in the week leading up to the event.
Santos said she wanted her group to perform at the festival, “Because it’s for the community – anything for the community that’s what I do – I’m with it for the kids, from the 3rd Eye theme, which is just being comfortable with yourself, not thinking that you can’t overcome anything.”
12 year-old Jayla Gibau said dancing in front of so many people was overwhelming at first, but the time went by fast and she thought they did a good job.
One of the drivers behind 3rd EyE Open is to foster talent in young people like Gibau.
“Specifically 3rd EyE is for the younger audience to cultivate their talents so we have children’s performances sprinkled throughout the day,” Moultrie said.
3rd EyE Open has been cultivating homegrown talent when it comes to Shanai Barboza. Barboza graduated from New Bedford High in 2017 and has been performing at the festival for years.
She performed on Saturday with her group Mos Def Dance Crew.
The crew, which formed during their time in New Bedford High’s hip hop club, focuses on break dancing, hip hop, and popping and their routine featuring a staged robbery and masks drew a large crowd.
Barboza explained that the group was only able to perform because 3rd EyE Open gives them a free and safe place to practice.
Other performers on Saturday included Brockton resident Carlene McNair, whose stage name is Chosen., who sang and performed a spoken word poem.
McNair called the festival amazing, specifically because musicians and artists were coming together.
Bringing things together isn’t foreign to McNair who works in the mental health field, “I bring what I know at work into my art to enlighten the community about mental health.”
Much of the 3rd EyE Open Festival focused on lifting the community up and after working on the festival for two years Moultrie said it could have indirectly influenced his decision to run for mayor.
“When you get so entrenched with the community and you get to hear some of their needs, their concerns, their desires, their wants, sometimes you can’t help but want to stand up and step up for them and overall make it better for every resident of New Bedford,” Moultrie said.
Original story here.
By Sabrina Guilbeault / Contributing Writer
Posted Jul 27, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Updated Aug 1, 2019 at 10:36 AM
In the heart of downtown, two women are revolutionizing the way we think about beauty.
With the growing fad to use natural and ethical beauty products, two new store fronts have found a home in New Bedford, and thanks to the passion from their owners, they’re aiming to outlast any trend.
Wellness and happiness with one’s self is closely tied to beauty at each store, and the women who operate them each take their own original spin on the idea. The result? Two one-of-a-kind experiences where the customer is put at the front of mind.
Take Shimmer, located on 187 Union Street, owned and operated by New Bedford native Katherine Lowe. The store itself is fresh and minimalistic in nature, clean white walls and natural wooden shelving. Inside, Lowe has tactfully arranged her curated collection so that a customer new to the “clean beauty” trend does not feel overwhelmed, but rather captivated and excited to try something new.
“I wanted the room to reflect the products, clean and understated,” explained Lowe, who with a background in business came up with the idea for Shimmer after her sister developed severe allergies, and she began researching “clean” product options. Clean products are ethically sourced, never tested on animals, and made with our wellness and the environment in mind.
“I did so much research on what is actually clean, non-toxic, and ethical, and wanted to create a place where people could find these products and know that what they are using is safe,” said Lowe.
According to Lowe, as the concept of clean beauty has grown popular, the trend has not been particularly regulated, and just because something says “organic” does not necessarily mean it is ethical. “It’s really important to me that all the products I’m selling are things I would recommend to my sister,” she said.
In addition to beauty products, home goods such as laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners are available at Shimmer as well. Lowe recommends and reminds her customers not to feel pressured to switch to all-natural products all at once, but rather try a few products at time to find what works best for you.
Just a couple of blocks down away on 30 North Water Street is La Vie est Belle Apothecary, owned and operated by Dr. Tammy Gleeson, a thoracic surgeon with SouthCoast Health.
The store is a romantic dream with a French eclectic flair. The dark wood, mirrors, and accent pieces like the fabulous pink sofa by the register transports customers back in time to the days of the original apothecary.
“My focus is to make people happy, and feel good about themselves,” said Gleeson, who has lived downtown herself for the past three years, after running her own private practice in Michigan for a bulk of her career. “I realized I’m not getting any younger, and it was time to do something different. You can’t take life too seriously,” she said.
La Vie est Belle, or “Life is Beautiful,” is the perfect name, and the tiny details made by Gleeson add to the store’s artistry.
The apothecary, which is described as a “fortress of relaxation and peace” on its website, features all-natural beauty products including perfumes, essential oils, and a table full of soap selections. Furthermore, Dr. Gleeson offers aesthetic medicine such as facials and botox, and will soon offer cool sculpting.
Expanding the treatment and wellness component to the store is a goal for Gleeson, who specifically researched skin-care products that could help with acne, scarring, and wrinkles. Everything available at the store has been researched and tested by Gleeson, including the all-natural dog shampoo, thanks to the help of her English bull-dog, Salvadaor.
Both Lowe and Gleeson explained that the support they’ve received from the downtown community has been wonderful.
“The small business community has been so supportive. There’s such a sense of community downtown,” said Lowe, who has deep ties with the community as her father is a long-time teacher at New Bedford High School, and her mother served as an admissions clerk at the Whaling Museum for 30 years. “I always knew I’d open a boutique downtown someday.”
“I love downtown New Bedford,” said Gleeson, who although is newer to the area, explained how much change and growth she’s seen just in the few years she’s lived there. “The neighbors have been extremely supportive. It’s been a fun adventure, and will continue to be as we grow,” she said.
“It goes hand and hand with the wellness industry,” said Lowe, sharing that a goal of hers is to one day offer make-up application and product consultation at Shimmer. “Younger generations are paying close attention to what is in their products, and how safe it is for their bodies and the environment.”
“When people leave the apothecary, I want them to feel comfortable, happy, and confident,” said Gleeson, who further explained that looking and feeling our best can boost our confidence and overall happiness. “They deserve to feel a step closer to who they want to be,” she said.
Original story here.
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 Catherine Carter / Contributing Writer
Does your dog dream? If so, you can guess what fills his slumber — tasty snacks, fun toys, a snazzy bandana and a comfortable harness.
Now there’s a downtown location that fulfills all of these desires.
Woof Woof Pet Boutique and Biscuit Bar, located on Union Street in New Bedford, has just opened its doors to welcome you and your canine friends (leashed, please) with rack upon rack of carefully chosen treats, foods and playthings.
“We hand-pick all of our products and test them on our own dogs,” says owner and dog-lover Sherri DeChaine, who also operates a store at Woof Woof’s original location in Bristol, Rhode Island. “If a product doesn’t meet our standards, out the door it goes.”
While Woof Woof stocks a full range of stylish collars and leashes in fun fabrics like paw prints and skunks, they pride themselves on their selection of hardy, comfortable, adjustable harnesses, many with a lifetime guarantee. Customers are invited to bring their dogs in for a custom fitting.
“Everything we have is chosen for durability, fit and function,” explains DeChaine.
Many of these products are made in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, so customers can feel good about “shopping local.”
“Nothing made in China,” DeChaine emphasizes.
There are toys galore, including stuffed toys in the shape of whales and squids, pull toys in the shape of anchors and buoys, and squeak toys in the shape of pretzels and tacos.
“Some things are very fun,” says DeChaine, “but all have a function.”
Treats abound at Woof Woof. Their extensive bakery case is stocked with doggie treats in the forms of fire hydrants, baseballs and pizza slices, many frosted with dog-friendly yogurt.
The shop’s Biscuit Bar features crunchy bones in multiple flavors including bacon, cheddar, pumpkin and peanut. There are also filled bones and bully sticks.
Nutrition is prized here, with multiple lines of healthy wet and dry dog foods lining the shelves. DeChaine trains her staff carefully in canine nutrition, and the shop offers individual consultations on special diets.
“We will work with you on finding a nutrition plan,” she explains.
The streamlined shop interior reflects a six-month “full gut” renovation. A few sections are still under construction but ready soon, including a meat locker to stock raw-diet foods.
More displays hold supplements and other health supports including shampoos and insect repellents.
The shop also stocks gifts galore especially for dog lovers, such as mugs, plaques, dog bowls, and treat containers.
Feline customers have not been neglected; there is a Kitty Corner at Woof Woof, featuring toys, treats, and the same types of nutritious canned and bagged foods the store offers to dogs.
Woof Woof even goes on the road, with its custom-built Woof Wagon, a mobile version of the store that travels to such venues as food truck events and farmers’ markets. It’s also available for booking at private events.
Woof Woof’s merchandise will soon be available through their website, WoofWoofBoutique.com. Customers will be able to place orders online and pick up in the store.
DeChaine grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. After years of corporate retail, she decided to work with animals. “That was always a dream of mine,” she said.
She became a veterinary technician, in addition to running her own dog-walking business for 14 years. In 2011, she opened Woof Woof, first in Warren, Rhode Island, and later in Bristol.
She discovered the possibilities of New Bedford when visiting a friend who owns a restaurant here. She liked the “cool vibes” of the city and decided that an expansion here “just seemed right.”
Woof Woof plans a grand-opening event over the weekend of June 22 and 23, which will include dog photos by Wiggle Butts Pet Photography.
Woof Woof Pet Boutique and Biscuit Bar is located at 255 Union Street in New Bedford. The store is open 7 days a week: Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 774-202-7559.
By The Standard-Times
A new addition to the downtown boutique shopping scene is open at 187 Union St. Shimmer focuses on “clean and ethical beauty brands, carrying a variety of cosmetic, personal and home care products,” according to a news release.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Katherine Lowe, proprietor, has roots in the downtown community. Her first job was working in the admissions department of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which was run by her mother for almost 20-years. “Working at the admissions desk taught me everything I know about customer service, and as the epicenter of downtown, it gave me the opportunity to learn about the downtown community,” she said in a statement.
“I’ve always known I wanted to open my own boutique downtown and the time was finally right to venture out on my own,” says Lowe.
The curated collection ranges from organic bath salts to non-toxic mascara, and from non-toxic detergent to safe and reef-friendly sunblock. Shoppers can find brands that are health-conscious and environmentally-friendly, such as Clove + Hallow, Ginger June Candle Company, Lola Jane Naturals, and The Laundress, to name a few, according to a release.
“When my family was making the switch to clean products, we found it very difficult to distinguish between what was actually safe for use and what was simply being marketed as safe. I wanted to create a place where you knew all of the brands were clean and offered a variety of products. Switching to a clean laundry detergent is just as important as switching to clean makeup or skincare.”
For more information, visit www.shopshimmerbeauty.com.
Original story 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 email@example.com.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.