New Bedford Regional Airport adds commercial flights to Florida

City’s art museum hires UMD grad as new executive director

Nov 6, 2017 at 9:12 PM

Ashley Occhino, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduate, has been named as the new executive director of the New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, officials announced Monday.

“I’ve always found myself coming back to New Bedford again and again. There’s such a rich art community there,” said Occhino, who is in her mid 30s. She’s from Attleboro and lives in Taunton.

Occhino has served as the manager of studio class programs at the Worcester Art Museum since 2014.

Occhino is set to take the helm Nov. 27. Her leadership follows retirement of Noelle Foye who shepherded the merger between the New Bedford Art Museum and ArtWorks! which occurred in 2014 and directed the combined organization. Under Foye’s guidance, exhibitions and educational programs grew while collaborations with other institutions expanded, according to a news release from the museum.

“Noelle Foye’s leadership positioned the art museum to be central to the community and that strength has allowed us to attract such a new talented leader,” said Lee Heald, director of AHA! and a member of the museum’s board and search committee for a new executive director. “We expect that Ashley will continue our strong support of community expression in the arts as well as support for excellence and achievement in the local arts community.”

Heald also said Occhino has a lot of enthusiasm and will bring a fresh perspective to the city.

“New Bedford holds a very special place in my heart and it’s through my times at UMass Dartmouth that I really learned about the city,” Occhino said.

She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts and has an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. She was one of the first classes to experience the Star Store in New Bedford, part of her thesis involved displaying work at ArtWorks! and she’s also taught art classes there, she said.

At the Worcester Art Museum, Occhino said she was in charge of developing programming, managing staff and working with community partners. Also, an education wing with dedicated exhibition space fell under her purview. The museum has an intensive education program with more than 100 classes each season, Occhino said.

She’s previously held leadership positions at Danforth Art in Framingham and the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, each time serving in education departments.

“I really just want to embrace the idea of a community museum,” Occhino said. She praised Foye for being successful with the merger, adding “I’m really honored to be following in her footsteps.”

“We are excited the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks! has hired Ashley Occhino as the museum’s new Executive Director. The NB Art Museum/Artworks! is ideal for arts travelers and invigorates the community. Ashley is familiar with the arts & culture landscape in New Bedford as well as her years of experience and passion for the arts, we look forward to working with her,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s director of tourism and marketing, in a statement.

Jamie Uretsky, curator at NBAM/ArtWorks! said she looks forward to removing her hat as acting director.

“I’ve only heard good things about Ashley,” Uretsky said. “It’s going to be nice to have her energy in the space.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT

Original Story Here



Refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home opens in New Bedford

By Steve Urbon

NEW BEDFORD — Visitors to the Whaling Museum had a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they bought their tickets Friday: Tickets may have gone up a dollar to $17, but that extra dollar bought them admission to the “soft” opening day of the refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home.

Fred Toomey, president of the Port Society of New Bedford, which owns the two buildings, showed up at 7:30 a.m. Friday to pick up where he and others left off in completing the building projects. “This has been my second home,” he said. “My wife never sees me.”

Whaling Museum curator Arthur Motta and senior historian Michael Dyer were among those installing antiques and images from the museum’s vast collection in the Mariners’ Home, which is open to the public for the first time in anyone’s memory. No longer will it be a haven for mariners but rather a museum with themed exhibits representing facets of New Bedford. The original kitchen is now an exhibit devoted to modern fishing, and the brick beehive oven has been exposed to admire but not actually use.

There is a room devoted to “Moby-Dick,” the book and especially the movie. There is the Rotch Room, so named for the family that built the Mariners’ Home in 1797.

A walk-through the Home and the Bethel makes it clear that this $2.9 million restoration and expansion project has given Toomey and the rest of the society and the docents a lot of new things to talk about.

In the new main entry, back behind the buildings, is a reception desk made entirely out of salvaged wood and planks.

The desk top, Toomey explains, “came from a plank that was 29 feet long and 30 inches wide and made up a part of the floor” of the Bethel’s basement meeting room, or salt box. “Imagine the size of the tree that came from,“e said.

Over in the Bethel, unlike the Mariners’ Home, everything looks as it has. But there are hidden improvements. “The building is air-conditioned for the first time,” Toomey said.

It is also structurally stable, as compared to the dire condition prior to the project that found the Bethel ready to collapse.

“There’s $89,000 worth of work underneath the floor” of the saltbox, Toomey said. Rotten support beams had taken their toll.

Another selling point: A large granite block, perhaps six feet square and 16 inches thick, is the new welcome mat, having been discovered when uncovering an old cistern.

The Bethel rests on ledge, which brought its own issues. Repairs to the floors had to be done in the Bethel by digging down to uneven ledge, then filling with packed sand, peastone gravel, concrete, two-by-four stringers, marine plywood and then the floorboard.

There is an elevator for the first time to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is big enough to handle a gurney, Toomey said. “We don’t say casket.” That is a reminder that the Bethel is a church and sometimes hosts funerals.

Most visitors won’t see the second and third floors of the Mariners’ Home. The second floor is already occupied by the Waterfront Historic Area League, and the Preservation Society will soon move in to the shared space.

The third floor will house the Port Society, a conference room and a kitchen/break room.

The project has raised much of what it needed to pay for it all, but Toomey said that “the capital campaign continues.”

At the Whaling Museum, which has filled the Mariners’ Home with dozens of objects and more to come, admission has risen a dollar to $17, and it is now a combined admission to the Whaling Museum and the Port Society’s properties.

Toohey said there will not be a paid ticket to get into the Bethel and Mariners’ Home directly because it is a church. Anyone who skips the museum will be admitted anyway with a polite request for a donation to defray expenses.

An official grand opening is set for May 19.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.


Original Story Here

National fiber art magazine’s inaugural exhibit lands in New Bedford

Contemporary fiber art is not your grandmother’s crocheted afghan.

Excellence in Fibers, an exhibition of selected works drawn from the second annual international juried print exhibition published by Fiber Art Now magazine, presents some of the most exciting and innovative work being done today in the world of contemporary fiber art.

The show, up at New Bedford Art Museum / ArtWorks! from Jan. 25 to March 19, is FAN’s first venture into presenting their print exhibition in a real-world venue.

Fiber Art Now received submissions from artists around the world in response to the call for entries. The prestigious panel of jurors were: Emily Zilber, Curator, MFA Boston; Gerhardt Knodel and Norma Minkowitz, both internationally recognized fiber artists and icons in the field of fiber; and Melissa Leventon, principal of Curatrix Group Museum Consultants and a former curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Of the over 50 works in the print exhibition, 31 were selected for the show at NBAM/AW.

Excellence in Fibers runs the gamut from established artists to newcomers; from traditional age-old basket weaving techniques to digital manipulation and printing; from familiar sewing and quilt making to laser cutting techniques.

Within the broad category of fiber, the show includes weaving, sewing, applique, embroidery, basket making, sculpture, crochet, felting, screen printing, joomchi and knotting.

As part of the print exhibition, special awards were given and several of those are in this show.

Nicole Benner’s Comfort/Confine is a large work of crocheted copper wire that becomes a performance piece when donned by a wearer. Named as the Paul J. Smith Award for Excellence in Fiber winner, Benner’s work is a thought-provoking piece on the effects of chronic pain.

“In Comfort/Confine, I utilize the copper yarn as a reference to the nervous system: an aspect of my own chronic pain that can be debilitating. Here the body has defined mobility, only capable of reaching where the textile allows,” the artist stated in the exhibition issue of Fiber Art Now. Benner hails from Marshall, Missouri.

Joel Allen’s hand-wrapped, tied and knotted work Hooked on Svelte was named the winner in the installation category. A series of large mixed media pendants are suspended from the ceiling creating a fun, textured and colorful display 12 feet long by this Steamboat Springs, Colorado, artist.

At the other end of the size spectrum, at only 17 inches in height, is Massachusetts artist Lois Russel’s NZ, a little jewel of twined waxed linen thread – and winner in the Vessel Forms/Basketry category.

The Nigerian Riot Girl, by artist Jacky M. Puzey of the United Kingdom, is one of the international submissions. Employing a tour de force of fiber techniques, this winner of the Wearables Award is an intricate couture dress designed and constructed by the artist that dazzles with a complex mix of materials.

In the Wall/Floor Works category artist Heather Ujiie of Langhorne, Pennsylvania was named the winner for her textile mural consisting of five panels that together are 126 inches by 250 inches. Battle of the Sea Monsters was originally hand drawn in markers, pen and ink, then scanned at high resolution, digitally manipulated and printed on canvas. Vibrantly colored, the work is an intense mass of men, women and other creatures waging a ferocious battle on a lemon colored sea.

The complete list of artists also includes David Bacharach, Pat Hickman, Pat Burns-Wendland, Pat Busby, Anna Carlson, Deborah Corsini, Ania Gilmore, Anna Kristina Goransson, Meredith Grimsley, Henry Hallett, Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, Jean Koon, Mariko Kusumoto, Jeannet Leendertse, Dorothy McGuinness, Alicia Merrett, Elizabeth Odiorne, Kathryn Rousso, Chloe Sachs, Diane Savona, Deloss Webber and Wendy Weiss.

The opening reception for Excellence in Fibers will be held Sunday Jan. 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. Marcia Young, editor-in-chief of Fiber Art Now, along with a number of the artists, will be on hand. Workshops by well-known fiber artists Elin Noble and Jeanne Flanagan will be offered in New Bedford the preceding day.

Registrations and special hotel discounts are available through Fiber Art Now.

For further information contact the Museum at 508.961.3072 or visit

New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! is located at 608 Pleasant Street, New Bedford. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; open every Thursday until 9 p.m.

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New festival offers opportunity to eat, drink and be merry in New Bedford

Posted Jan 12, 2017 at 2:59 PM

NEW BEDFORD – A Massachusetts-based event company is bringing a trendy new addition to New Bedford’s slate of summertime festivals.

The city will host a Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival on July 15 at Fort Taber.

The event, announced Thursday, will bring at least 20 food trucks from the surrounding region and more than a dozen local, regional and national breweries.

“We are delighted they chose us as one of their locations,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s Director of Tourism and Marketing. “We were looking for new ways to attract new visitors and new demographics to New Bedford and we thought this would be a good way to doing that.”

Ashley reached out in the fall to Anne-Marie Aigner, president of Allston-based Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group and executive producer of Food Truck Festivals of America, about bringing a festival to the city.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve lived in Massachusetts for 35 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever been in New Bedford,” Aigner said. “But when I drove around with Dagny …; I was totally blown away.”

The festival, Aigner said, could help spread the word about all New Bedford has to offer.

“We’re using a trendy event …; to draw young people to the area for a reason other than, ‘Hey, come see New Bedford,'” she said. “Once they get there, I think they’ll have the same reaction I did – ‘Wow, I didn’t know this was here.'”

Ashley said that is precisely the goal.

“Let’s bring them in and show them everything we have to offer in the city,” she said.

The tour began in 2011 in the Pine Hills community in Plymouth. It has since grown to a national concern.

“At the first one in 2011 we had eight trucks. We now have a listing in New England alone of 550 food trucks,” Aigner said.

It has effectively seized upon the rise in food culture and the spike in popularity of craft beers.

“Food trucks and craft beer, it was a marriage made in heaven in our books,” she said.

Original Article Here:



Nantucket-New Bedford ferry has strong summer


NEW BEDFORD — The harbor was a much busier place than usual last summer, as a strong revival of Nantucket ferry service boosted Seastreak’s passenger numbers and ridership skyrocketed on launches to and from Pope’s Island, local moorings, City Pier and other spots, ferry and harbor leaders said Thursday.

“We definitely saw an incline (in passengers),” Seastreak general manager John Silvia said Thursday. “It was a good season, very good.”

Silvia, reached outside his office and without access to firm numbers, said Seastreak had about 45,000 passengers on the first season of revived ferry service to and from Nantucket, which ran from May 18 through Labor Day. Seastreak’s service to Martha’s Vineyard also began May 18, and ran through Columbus Day.

Total ridership for all Seastreak services over the summer was nearly 120,000, he said, well above the summer 2015 total of about 70,000.

Silvia said in May that Seastreak was expecting to increase ridership by about 37,000 passengers.

“I think the service outperformed what we were expecting,” said Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission (HDC). “I think it’s a great sign for New Bedford that in the first year, that (Nantucket) service was going like gangbusters. We look forward to getting as many of those people to stop in and learn about New Bedford as we can.”

Increases in ferry passengers can have ripple effects throughout the local economy. Anthes-Washburn said a difference in local foot and vehicle traffic was noticeable over the summer.

He said that over the Fourth of July weekend, for example, “we filled the Whale’s Tooth parking lot to capacity” for the first time in about 10 years.

“We definitely saw a big difference in parking revenue,” he said.

Silvia said the Nantucket ferry service “absolutely” will continue next year, in addition to other current destinations — and new destinations could be coming in future years.

Silvia said Seastreak is “building a new boat” that will be based in New York City and make runs to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, while docking in New Bedford over the summer weekends.

Once that boat is on the water, Silvia said, a Seastreak boat currently used in New York will come here. That 141-foot vessel has a capacity of 500 passengers, he said, and could increase spots for Vineyard service while also freeing up a smaller boat for potential runs to new destinations, possibly starting in 2018.

“Potentially Provincetown, maybe Block Island, we’re not sure,” Silvia said. “We’re excited to be growing the New Bedford end of things. There are a lot of new things coming up on the horizon in the next few years that will continue our growth and really put us on the map.”

Anthes-Washburn said recreational boating activity picked up on the harbor, as well. Ridership on the HDC’s launch service jumped from just over 1,000 last summer to more than 3,000 rides this summer, he said.

Much of the increase was seen in “transient moorings,” or people coming in on boats from outside the area, he said.

Anthes-Washburn said while the busiest route for launch rides was between moorings and the Pope’s Island marina, the second-busiest was between the island and City Pier — indicating summertime visitors were heading toward events on the pier or downtown.

“We’re showing people that New Bedford is a unique place to visit, and that seems to be resonating,” he said.

Original Story Here

New Bedford Harbor as a Sailing Destination & Adventure!


Blue Hill, Eastern, Corinthian, Edgewood, Red Brook, Beverly, New Bedford; these are not just a string of names and places, but some of New England’s top yacht clubs. Add to that list – Cruising Club of America and the Catalina Owners Association. Now, can you guess what they all have in common? Answer: This summer they will all be setting sail for historic New Bedford Harbor.

Once considered strictly a commercial fishing harbor, through the efforts of the Harbor Development Commission (HDC) this well-protected, deep water harbor has been transformed into a Mecca for visiting boaters. The 2010 re-grid of the Pope’s Island mooring field at the north end of the harbor, newly installed ground tackle and the fact that the mooring field can now accommodate boats up to 55 LOA have played a big role in making this a popular destination for regional boat clubs and organizations. Both Pope’s Island Marina and the U.S. Coast Guard Park (located on the downtown waterfront) have been upgraded with new dinghy docks.

Pope’s Island has nothing to do with the Vatican but its location is divine. The small island is home to a big marina known for creating a welcoming community for seasonal and transient boaters alike. Operated by HDC, the marina sits prominently at the head of the harbor like a jewel in the city’s recreational boating crown. Additionally, the location offers easy access to downtown restaurants, museums, galleries and other attractions – including the Whaling National Park Historic District. Flanked by New Bedford on one side and Fairhaven on the other, the marina is also convenient to a ships chandlery, hardware store, engine repair/parts and canvas shop.

Top this all off with much to do within walking distance of the downtown waterfront and you have the perfect destination. Just a few blocks from the Visitors Center is the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Ocean Emporium. Art galleries are abundant, as well as an array of shopping opportunities and an eclectic selection of restaurants Ð from casual to fine dining; seafood to Italian, Portuguese and whatever your palette is craving!

In addition to being such an excellent cruising destination, New Bedford is a very nice gateway to Martha’s Vineyard. For all of you who love the water, would like to visit beautiful places and don’t want to drive or hop aboard their own boat Ð here is the answer to your summer vacation! If you live close to Atlantic Highlands, NJ or Manhattan, catch a ride on Seastreak! Seastreak leaves Chelsea Pier on Friday afternoons for Martha’s Vineyard. The ship gets onto the Island at about 10 pm and leaves Sunday afternoon – a perfect schedule for a weekend break or a 10-day island vacation.

For those who live closer to Eastern Connecticut, a two-hour drive will put you in New Bedford where you can either explore the city or board Seastreak. Seastreak arrives at Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, where transportation to anywhere on the island be arranged. Rent a car, catch a cab or catch the island bus, which operates until the wee morning hours during the summer.

Even without a boat, the Vineyard offers so much to do! One of my favorite weekend past times is to buy a day pass on the bus. Pick up a route map at the bus ticket office, get on and off where you want. The island’s transit system will take you just about anyplace you want to go Ð including Morning Glory Farm, which is famous for its fresh produce and specialty products.

Of course, if the bus isn’t your thing, you can always tour the island in the luxury of a rental car. But scooters and bikes are an other option for those who want to feel the sun on their face and wind in their hair. With so many little delis and the local Stop & Shop, it’s easy to throw together a picnic lunch and head for your favorite corner of the island Ð be it a beach or an off-the-path hideaway. Whatever your sightseeing and relaxation needs may be, you are sure to find them on the Vineyard!

New Bedford Harbor no longer a secret, but New England’s new, must visit sailing destination and your gateway to the world beyond!

For more information visit – go to the third page of our cruising section and read Laurie Bullard’s Destination New Bedford story; visit or Visit and to plan your Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

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