NEW BEDFORD – The City of New Bedford released its downtown and waterfront parking study recommendations, based on a study by the consulting firm Stantec that began last year.
With significant input from stakeholders, including residents and small business owners in the downtown and waterfront area, and collection of data on parking use in the area, the recommendations were developed to document existing demand and improve parking for residents and visitors.
Other goals were to ensure that the recommendations are customer-friendly for parking enforcement, signage and wayfinding for visitors, walking/biking/transit improvements, financial sustainability for the City’s parking, and other systemic improvements.
It had been several decades since the City last undertook a comprehensive look at parking in the downtown and on the waterfront, and with many significant changes and developments in both areas, as well as advancements in parking management practices and technology, the City determined a study was long overdue. The study was funded through a combination of the Downtown Parking Enterprise Fund, New Bedford Port Authority, and MassDevelopment funding.
While several major recommendations have been proposed by the Stantec study, the City will adopt one of the recommendations effective Oct. 1, 2019. On that date, time limits in metered spaces throughout downtown New Bedford will be extended from the current two-hour time limit using three zones.
The highest-demand area, or the core, of downtown will be extended to a three-hour limit. Moving farther from the center of downtown, a second zone will be extended to a four-hour limit. The farthest zone from the downtown with metered spaces will be an unlimited time limit. Parking rates will not change in the three zones; they will remain 75 cents per hour, with longer parking limits.
The study area included the entirety of downtown New Bedford and selected waterfront areas. The downtown study area was bounded by: Kempton Street on the north side; Walnut Street on its south side; County Street on its west side; and JFK Boulevard (Route 18) on its east side. It also included the area of the New Bedford Public Schools Administration Building west of County Street, and waterfront parking east of Route 18.
Key Findings of the Parking Study
The parking study included several key findings from the team at Stantec based on qualitative and quantitative data, including meetings with downtown stakeholders and collection of parking data. Key findings included: high rate of driving into downtown New Bedford; public perception of parking varies widely; employee use of more convenient spaces compared to visitor use of more convenient spaces; underutilization of parking garages in the evenings; highly enforced parking, and more.
The study by Stantec made the following recommendations related to parking availability:
Extending time limits across the downtown in several zones. The study recommends extending the time limits to be longer than the current 2-hour parking limit, and creating three zones. The three zones would include a 3-hour limit, a 4-hour limit, and an unlimited-time parking. The zones are in the map attached and are based on demand of spaces. The study recommends that the restructured pricing change in the three zones.
Incentivize use of parking garages. The study recommends increasing the use of parking garages, especially after work hours, given the ample supply of parking spaces. The study recommends reducing or eliminating the cost of garage parking after 6:00 p.m., and working with local businesses and restaurants to promote free or discounted parking in garages. Earlier this summer, the City completed the major, two-year renovation project on the Elm Street Garage, which included significant improvements to its security, lighting, structural performance, and cosmetic changes to the lobby, stairs and elevator areas.
The study also made the following recommendations:
Encourage public use of ample private supply. The study recommends the City work with private property owners to open parking to the public, through permit programs, paid parking, or other parking arrangements.
Prioritize high-volume/business-friendly curb. The study recommends managing curbside pickup and dropoff locations that would improve locations for centrally locates places to pick up and drop off.
Enhance user experience. The study recommends a customer-first approach to provide more resources and information, along with a street presence, to make both visitors and residents feel more welcome as part of the Traffic Commission’s management goals.
Communications coordinated with downtown businesses. The study recommends partnering with downtown businesses in a coordinated, systematic effort to help spread the word around parking in downtown New Bedford.
Enhance signage, wayfinding, lighting, and safety. The study recommends improving signage that directs visitors (known as wayfinding), and improving lighting and safety with suggestions such as brighter LED lights.
Multi-modal network improvements. The study recommends reviewing one-way streets in the downtown to improve safety, improving pedestrian and bicycling access, and incentivizing shared commuting or other forms of transit.
Improve waterfront parking strategies. The study recommends parking strategies on the waterfront, setting up a waterfront parking coordination committee to determine potential changes to parking on the waterfront, coordinate with waterfront stakeholders, and simplify the management of parking on the waterfront, which currently consists of 20 separate regulations.
While the City is taking all recommendations under consideration, one recommendation will be adopted effective October 1, 2019.
The City will extend time limits on metered parking spaces in the downtown, extended in different zones to 3-hour, 4-hour, and a section with no time limits. The City will not adopt changes to the pricing in these zones on October 1; metered parking will remain at 75 cents per hour.
The green zone, at the core or center of downtown, will be extended from its current 2-hour limit to a 3-hour limit.
The blue zone, the next zone outside the center of the downtown, will be extended from its current 2-hour limit to a 4-hour limit.
The yellow zone, the farthest zone outside the center of the downtown, will be extended from its current 2-hour limit to unlimited parking.
“The City has heard from residents and local businesses about the need to modernize parking operations downtown. We’ve continued to invest in improving parking, including the City’s recent major renovation of the Elm Street Garage and enhanced technology that makes parking easier through an app and credit card payments. This comprehensive review of downtown parking needs furthers our focus on improving parking for everyone,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “I’m especially grateful to the many downtown stakeholders who worked hard to offer and consider locally-driven recommendations for parking downtown.”
“As downtown New Bedford continues to grow and attract more visitors, the time is right to consider how to best accommodate business, restaurant and arts patrons’ parking needs,” said Rick Kidder, President & CEO of the South Coast Chamber. “The parking study was completed in a collaborative way, partnering with downtown business stakeholders, and presents many potential ideas for improving parking for residents, businesses, and visitors in New Bedford. When we have to talk about parking solutions, it is a wonderful sign that the downtown is becoming increasingly economically vibrant. Business is good and the need for parking reflects that.”
Arthur Bennett, a longtime downtown resident and DNB Board leader said, “I commend the City for taking on this often difficult and contentious aspect of downtown life, and recognizing that improving and modernizing our parking system could provide a significant boost to downtown development. The report’s recommendations reflect an understanding of downtown New Bedford’s unique features, and they are in line with best practices throughout the country. I believe they will make our parking system more efficient and user-friendly over time. I’m particularly excited for the flexibility of the new zone system, and the City’s commitment to making the parking management apparatus more customer-service oriented.”
Original story here
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!
Downtown is well on its way to getting a noticeable addition.
A proposal to build a five-story, $15 million to $17 million mixed commercial and residential building at the corner of Union and North Second Streets has received the necessary permits from the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historical Commission, according to City Planner Tabitha Harkin.
“It’s a project we support because it adds residential density to the downtown, will add some retail space on the ground floor, and it has an architecturally appealing design,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “It remains to be seen whether the developer can finance the project, but it’s certainly one that we support because it fits with what we’re trying to do along the Union Street corner.”
Constructing the proposed 42,650-square-foot building would require the demolition of several single-story buildings currently located at the site on the corner of Union and North Second streets. The demolition permit still needs to be approved, said Harkin.
“All the one-story buildings on the property are just old retail buildings; they have no historical significance to them and they are in very poor condition,” said Michael Galasso, executive director of the New Bedford Development Corporation and the project’s developer.
The five-story building constructed in their place would have 42 residential rental units with a cafe/restaurant and coworking space on the ground floor, according to Galasso.
The residential units will include microunits, studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments, said Galasso, and five of them will be completely handicap-accessible.
“This project is intended to provide housing for the downtown workforce, that is our main market,” explained Galasso, “We see that as a growing market.”
One of the reasons the market is growing, said Galasso, is because more office space is being leased downtown and the offshore wind industry will be bringing in new workers.
The rates for rent have not yet been decided, but Galasso said a portion of the building is going to be affordable housing and the rest will be market-rate.
When reached for comment about the project in her ward, Councilor Dana Rebeiro said, “I’m interested to see if the affordable housing is forever or just for the first three years and what they consider ‘affordable.’”
In addition to the affordability of the housing, Galasso has to consider how the building will fit in with the historic nature of the city’s downtown.
Galasso said the brick facade, the size of the windows, the scale of the building, and material they plan to use are all in keeping with the downtown aesthetic.
“We wanted a building that had some modern feel to it, but was done in a very historic way,” he said.
The modern aspects of the building will include a contemporary design of the interior with a community kitchen and patio overlooking the harbor on the fifth floor, said Galasso, and microunits that are fully furnished with high-end amenities (including kitchenettes).
The design is also meant to encourage people walking by the building to come inside.
“It’s very important that the first floor is very transparent so people that are walking by would get excited and want to come in whether it’s the lobby area or restaurant,” Galasso said.
He referenced the Seaport District in Boston as inspiration for the design, that also includes outdoor seating for its cafe.
Another proposed modern aspect of the building is resident access to a shared electric vehicle and a bike-sharing program, said Galasso.
The current plan only includes the construction of one handicapped parking space, even though a residential building this size would normally require a total of 106 parking spaces.
The proposal received a special grant for reduction in parking, according to Harkin, because “there’s ample parking downtown” with the parking garages.
Rebeiro said she is also concerned about the effect of adding people in what she described as an already dense area, but she did say she likes the car and bike sharing ideas.
“I think it takes away from the problem of too many cars parking downtown,” said Rebeiro.
Mitchell said he doesn’t think parking will be a problem for residents, “The city in the weeks ahead will announce a new parking study that will really pave the way for better parking management in the long run, that will emphasize the use of the garages.”
Going forward the developer has to close the purchase of the properties on Union and North Second streets, which he said he expects to do by the end of this week, and look for financing for the project.
Galasso said the project includes redeveloping the Moby Dick building next door into 8 studio apartments and a restaurant. He still needs to go through the permitting process for that part of the plan.
Once the project is financed through a “combination of conventional financing using some tax credits and funds from the city and from the state,” which Galasso said will take six months, construction on the new building will begin.
Galasso said they’re aiming to complete construction by the end of 2020/early 2021.
“This is potentially a real catalyst for downtown to create millennial focused-housing… and activate a street corner that has been inactive for a long time,” said Harkin.
“We really wanted to set the mark high for future development in downtown and I think we’ve really achieved that,” he said.
Follow Kiernan Dunlop on Twitter @KiernanD_SCT
Original story 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 email@example.com 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
“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
Something happened 15 years ago in the historic district downtown that came to define — or rather, re-define — the City of New Bedford.
If you’re thinking it had something to do with cobblestones or lamp lights, whaling or fishing, industry or the arts, you’re wrong. Well, not entirely wrong — but partially wrong.
Fifteen years ago, mediumstudio formed just a few blocks away from their current location at 38 Bethel Street, on historic Centre Street where BeJeweled is found now.
Over the course of the past 15 years, the graphic design firm has taken everything New Bedford has to offer as enumerated above and re-branded, re-packaged, and re-presented it to the world for the 21st century. Simply put, mediumstudio took design to a new professional level in New Bedford, just as the city was ready for that happen.
You can’t help but notice a certain freshness and graphic audacity in all of their work. It’s defined them from the beginning to this day. And, through countless logos, display ads, flyers, posters, website and social media images of all sorts produced on behalf of their clients, helped rebrand the city they call home.
It’s unquestionable that they burst upon the scene as the hip new kids on the block within the graphic design world in New Bedford and on SouthCoast — in their own unique way. From the beginning, the lowercase ‘m’ and ‘s’, all-one-word agency was much more than just a graphic design studio.
Founding member Keri Cox explains that out back of their first location on Centre Street was a rather famous space she simply refers to as “The Garage.”
As mediumstudio formed by day, on nights and weekends The Garage was a spot to hang out at to socialize, listen to bands, hold an art show — all manner of creative pursuits.
“Generations remember that place,” said Cox.
In those halcyon days and nights, mediumstudio was born in and of the community it would come to rebrand in the future. From Day One, community wasn’t just a place where they had set up shop — it was part of their natural business plan, and remains so to this day.
Cox has long been an important part of the 3rd EyE Unlimited leadership team. She’s also one of only two paid AHA! New Bedford staff persons, assistant to director Lee Heald.
Today at 38 Bethel Street, in a voluminous open space above the Fishing Heritage Center, 3rd EyE members still meet each and every week. The artist Nicole Winning conducts Saturday morning Colorful Yoga classes for children in the space. It’s not uncommon to attend a meeting or event at mediumstudio that has nothing to do with the work being done — but everything to do with the bigger picture that is New Bedford now.
Keri is one of four partners at mediumstudio. She mostly functions as project manager, or as she terms it, “I’m just bossy!”
The other partners are her husband, John Cox; Hannah Haines; and Frank Goncalves.
Each works on their own individual wavelength and reacts to the needs of their clients in their own way. There never has really been a business plan at mediumstudio; it’s evolved over the years and become successful in an organic way.
But it is a successful — and very busy — creative Business, with a capital ‘B’. Back in The Garage days, Kerri says a lot of work was done just for the fun of it, or to fulfill a community need. Over time the dictates of “adulting” caused them all to focus on the bottom line — just not at the expense of creative freedom.
Each of the partners has a distinct identity and client roster, yet collectively become mediumstudio. That brand is distinctive and rests on fundamental design principles that are allowed to breathe and most often built from the ground up via typography. (See a full portfolio of their work at mediumstudio.com.)
Keri Cox is the public face of the firm. As this column once wrote of her, “Very often, when you look behind an event, you find Keri Cox there. She is the glue that holds the various elements of some important happenings together. She almost effortlessly brings diverse people in the city together.”
Hannah Haines is voluble and expansive in an interview. She says that the most memorable praise she recalls a client saying was that “you could always tell mediumstudio designed something because it looked ‘thoughtful’.”
Hannah is responsible for the graphic “look” of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, designing its upcoming season offerings each year, for example. She says, “I’m proud to have worked closely with The Z to conceptualize their seasons for the last 14 years.”
John Cox is reticent to downright shy. He likes the work to speak for itself. It does; his graphic design is widely acknowledged as setting a new standard in the city. The dude is viewed as innately talented by anyone you speak to about him.
On the day an interview for this profile was conducted, Frank Goncalves was unavailable. It’s obvious he is a valued member of the team, however. All the others boasted that he had been with mediumstudio since he was 19, soon after he finished high school. He’s now been at the firm for about nine years.
“Where was he?” that day, Hannah, John and Keri asked one another. It didn’t matter; he and all of them have the space to create on their own time.
Maybe that’s another way mediumstudio launched as and has stayed a design firm for the times. A time in New Bedford’s history that’s also seen it gain national recognition for the creative artistic impulse that is in its DNA.
The graphic design of mediumstudio reflects that even as it is helping to brand it for the wider world.
Their client roster is a mix of non-profits and commercial clients. From AHA! and the New Bedford Folk Festival to Brick Pizzeria, Travessia Winery and Rose Alley Ale House. Plus, developers — some far beyond the city limits — and large organizations like Brigham and Woman’s Hospital.
They “bring a curiosity” to each project, Hannah says, and the reward is “we get to do what we like to do,” she concludes.
Finally, it comes down to quality of life for all the partners. Here, too, they may have helped set the tone 15 years ago for the New Bedford we have now.
A place that supports a creative quality of life and that as a community recognizes the value of artistic fulfillment and achievement.
That’s a place that looks so much better has seen through the eyes of mediumstudio.
Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.
Original story here.