Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sneaker Gallery Opens in downtown Springfield

The Springfield Business Improvement District (SBID) announced today that the popular 6-foot sneaker sculptures known as Art & Soles is moving indoors for the holidays. The 20 painted sneakers will be prominently displayed in the Art & Soles Gallery located at 1391 Main Street, at the corner of Main and Harrison. The space is being donated by the building owner Glenn Edwards to enhance visitors experiences in downtown Springfield and to increase awareness of the building.

The Art & Soles Gallery will be open to the public beginning November 17th and staffed by SBID employees and volunteers. Hours are Monday through Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm, Thursdays open until 8:00pm, Saturdays from 10:00am to 2:00pm. In addition to the 20 sneakers, artists will have additional merchandise available for purchase. Branded merchandise will always be available.
SBID Executive Director Don Courtemanche stated, “Our decision to postpone the auctioning of the sneakers was a great one. Now families who are visiting Springfield for the Balloon Parade, the Festival of Trees or a sporting event will be able to see all of the sneakers under one roof, meet our talented local artists, and perhaps attend a workshop or special event. This means one more chapter in a successful public art project.”

Art & Soles is a Public Art Project created by a team of volunteers including the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership, TSM Design, and the Springfield Business Improvement District, all who share an understanding that public art can change people’s perceptions and understanding of public spaces.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art & Soles Gala/Auction takes over Tower Square on October 23rd

COME PARTY in SPRINGFIELD. Art & Soles is taking over Tower Square for the party of the year celebrating the power of PUBLIC ART to change people's perceptions.

The Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership, The Springfield Business Improvement District and TSM Design have collaborated on Springfield's first ever coordinated public art project. With 6-foot sneakers as their canvas 19 talented PIONEER VALLEY ARTISTS worked their magic and created their own distinctive response to the question: What makes Springfield great?

The evening will feature abundant hors d'oeuvres from Adolfo's, Big Mamou, Cafe Lebanon, Sitar, Student Prince, Theodores' and desserts from Palazzo and a cash bar. We'll auction off 19 sneakers to the highest bidders and leave lots of time for dancing to the music of Brass Attack and partying.

Cities around the country have raised their public are profiles and created a lasting source of ARTS FUNDING by auctioning fiberglass art objects to the highest bidder. Auction proceeds will establish the Art & Soles Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Your high bid will buy more than a piece of art - it will pay forward art in Springfield.

Date: October 23rd, 2010
Time: 7pm to 12pm
Place: Tower Square, Center Court, ground floor
Attire: Black tie optional, sneakers preferred

Parking: Tower Square Garage, weekend rates apply or street parking. No valet service
Tickets: $75/person

To pay by credit card, call CityStage at 413-788-7033
To pay by check, make payable to CityStage. Memo line: Art & Soles Gala
For more information call the Springfield Business Improvement District at 413-781-1591

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Springfield Students Showcase Their Tech Creations

11 Springfield middle-school students who have built and programmed electronic music machines under the direction of UMass Amherst engineers will showcase their projects for the public and news media at a special showing on Friday, Aug. 13 from 2-4 p.m. Mayor Domenic J. Sarno is expected to arrive between 2-2:30 p.m.

The students have been taking part in "Circuits and Beats," a free, two-week summer tech workshop by the UMass Amherst College of Engineering, in collaboration with the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership. The program was developed by UMass Amherst’s M5 open learning environment for techies, with major financial support coming from UMass Amherst, ProSensing, StandardAero and Bruce and Nancy Urbschat. The intensive program is taking place in the Parish House of the Old First Church on Court Square in downtown Springfield. Each young sound designer has learned how to read circuit schematics and modify computer programs for an 8-bt microcontroller, and will keep his or her creation. The participants did not have to have any particular technical background, but have been expected to have a genuine interest in learning more about computers, electronics and music.

DATE: Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
TIME: 2-4 p.m.
PLACE: Parish House, Old First Church, Court Square, Springfield

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

UMass Athletics to hold clinic at the Basketball Hall of Fame

As a part of the Basketball Hall of Fame 2010 Enshrinement festivities, UMass Amherst Women's Basketball head coach Sharon Dawley, her coaching staff and team will hold a free basketball clinic, August 11th at 11am at center court at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA

For more information on UMass Amherst Women's Basketball visit:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mayor Sarno welcomes Art & Soles artists, community and press to downtown studio

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, along with Maryann Lombardi, director of creative economy for the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Don Courtemanche, executive director of the Springfield Business Improvement District and Nancy Urbschat of TSM Design welcomed artists, community and press to the Art & Soles Main Street Studio.

C&W Realty has donated the retail space at 1200 Main as the downtown studio space for the Art & Soles project. The space has been vacant for years, last used by a financial services firm. The reflective film has been removed from the large display windows to allow people to look in to see these magnificent sneakers being created.

“I can’t think of a better way to showcase this space to potential tenants. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to the space, energizing it, and bringing thousands of people into it, we will also be able to bring about a creative retail tenant to occupy the space long term.” – Don Courtemanche, Executive Director, Springfield Business Improvement District.

The artists who hail from Springfield, UMass Amherst and around the Pioneer Valley then posed for a picture with the Mayor.

Sneakers Arrive in Downtown Springfield

Patrick Keough, all the way from Nebraska, delivered the five-foot sneakers early in the morning July 8th. Patrick along with Don Courtemanche, executive Director of the SBID carried them into the Art & Soles Studio at 1200 Main Street.

Later that morning the studio was visited by a family who were just walking by and wanted to check out what was going on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

UMass Amherst Activities in Springfield highlighted

John Mullin, Chair of the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership, was interviewed about UMass Amherst activities in Springfield in the lastest issue of Business West.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bamidele teaches African Dance to students in DeBerry Elementary

Students at DeBerry Elemementary School are participating in a six week program on African Dance. They are working with Marilyn and Sekou Sylla from Bamidele Dancers and Drummers. Marilyn and Sekou also teach and perform within the Five Colleges.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Art & Soles is requesting proposals from Valley artists!

Art & Soles is the result of a collaboration between the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership, the Springfield Business Improvement District and TSM Design, a Springfield-based ad agency. These three organizations came together during a discussion around the notion that art can change perceptions about public spaces.
According to Maryann Lombardi, Director, Creative Economy, UMass Amherst, “UMass Amherst couldn’t be more excited about this collaboration. It’s a strong example of what the Partnership is all about.”

The medium – fiberglass sculpture – has made its way to cities all over the U.S. Remember the cows in Chicago? So what’s in store for Springfield? Twenty 5-foot sneakers will serve as the canvas for 20 artists whose proposals best answer the question: What makes Springfield great? Judges include Holly Smith-Bove, Springfield Museums, Loretta Yarlow, UMass Amherst University Gallery, and Rosemary Woods, a local gallery owner. A stipend of $500 and $250 materials allowance will be paid to the 20 winning artists.

According to Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, “This is a terrific idea for the City of Springfield in that it will highlight many downtown businesses and attractions. It will help with the city's economic revitalization as it brings people to Springfield to view these art pieces.” He extends his thanks and appreciation to the Springfield Business Improvement District, TSM Design and UMass Amherst for their commitment to this public art project.

According to Don Courtemanche, Executive Director of the BID, “This is exactly the type of project we need to encourage foot traffic through our beautiful downtown. The sneakers will be strategically placed to encourage visitors to view the art and get familiar with businesses in the area.”Area businesses and organizations will have an opportunity to step up and sponsor a sneaker. There are a number of high profile media opportunities and public events that will be offered as sponsor benefits. The sneakers will go on display throughout downtown prior to 2010 Enshrinement festivities and remain until late October. A gala celebration is also planned during which the 20 sneakers will be auctioned for charity.

“The timeline for the project”, according to TSM Design’s Nancy Urbschat, “is pretty aggressive. Our mold guy told us these projects generally take seven or eight months. He’s fast-tracking our sneakers and will deliver finished forms to Springfield by June 28. That’s when the fun will really begin!”

Anyone who is interested in receiving an Artist Prospectus should email

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art Exhibit in One Financial Plaza Showcases Student Artwork

May 1st, One Financial Plaza in Springfield served host to an art exhibit by UMass Amherst senior honors students. The students, all non-art majors, have recreated painted historical masterpieces including such famous works as the “Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli and “St. Matthew and the Angel” by Caravaggio and the “Doni Tondo” by Michelangelo. Under the tutelage of professor John Simpson, students worked individually and in teams recreating extremely elaborate landmark paintings such as the “Bacchanale” series by Titian.

“Unlike my biology classes where the subject is written out for you in a textbook and then lectured to you by professors, recreating a masterpiece is an entirely different process. The struggle to understand is internal, and the answers are never laid out nicely for you in text. You must think critically about what is happening in the painting, because even the most realistic paintings contain areas of abstraction.” – Emily King, UMass Amherst student

This is the third time NAI Plotkin has donated the lobby of One Financial Plaza to artists as a space to showcase their work. “Our development strategy is grounded in the theory that Springfield must become a place where people want to live, work, and play. It is my belief that the key to creating such an environment is the presence of art… Offering the One Financial Plaza lobby as a gallery space at no cost to the Artist is just one example of what private developers and landlords can do to help local artist, thereby attracting them. If I have my way Springfield will be known as the ‘City of Artist.’”- Evan Plotkin. President, NAI Plotkin.

NAI Plotkin and the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership are currently in conversation to bring work by UMass Amherst faculty, students and from the university galleries to One Financial Plaza on a regular basis. “This gallery space is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and to continue to fulfill the Partnership mission of contributing to Springfield’s downtown development and creative economy.” Maryann Lombardi. Director, Creative Economy, UMass Amherst

(photo: John Simpson, Maryann Lombardi and Springfield Mayor, Domenic J. Sarno) This exhibition is supported in part by Commonwealth Honors College, The UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, Hampden Gallery, and NAI Plotkin and One Financial Plaza Trust. The exhibit will run through the month of June.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sneakers are coming to Springfield!

UMass Amherst, The City of Springfield, The Springfield Business Improvement District and TSM Design have signed an MOU to bring 5 foot sneakers to the City of Springfield.

"...Therefore, be it resolved that The Greater Springfield - UMass Amherst Partnership, The Springfield Business Improvement District and TSM Design agree to sponsor, plan, implement and manage the public art project, Sneaker Parade, in Downtown Springfield. This cooperative activity will be designed to celebrate the City of Springfield, its communities, artists and all partners involved..."


Friday, March 5, 2010

UMass Amherst Sponsors Urban Land Institute Riverfront Development Event

Last night, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Chief Development Officer John Judge welcomed panelists from Providence, RI, Manchester, NH, Lowell, MA and MassDevelopment to discuss riverfront development challenges and accomplishments. The event, organized by the Urban Land Institute and sponsored by UMass Amherst and the City of Springfield, was well attended by regional industry and municipal representatives along with UMass Amherst faculty and students.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Design Center Renovations Underway

Renovations under in full swing on the new design center in Court Square. First image: this corner was once the private office of the previous tenant-a jeweler, the walls came down to give us more studio space for UMass Amherst students and faculty. .

Second image: Standing inside 7 Elm street, the sheet rock from the wall adjoining 3 and 7 Elm has been removed. In both images the old flooring has been removed, the plywood sanded, the walls have been stripped, and the lovely dilapidated New England Patriots wall banner is nowhere to be seen...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Design Center Construction Kickoff

On February 5th, UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomed invited guests to a construction kick off event for the new design center in Springfield's historic Court Square.

Michael DiPasquale, Director of the design center speaks with a reporter about the 4 current UMass Amherst studios collaborating with the City of Springfield planning department through the new design studio. DiPasquale is also the Director of the Citizen Planning Collaborative, a UMass Amherst Extension program, and a faculty member in the Department of Regional Planning.

Step Afrika! performs for 500 Springfield elementary school students

On February 5th, 500 Springfield public school students from 5 different schools packed Old First Church in an event celebrating Stepping and the Sankofa Youth Reach Stepping program. Critically acclaimed Step Afrika! from Washington DC, performed and spoke on the power of education and self expression. The three schools involved in the Sankofa Youth Reach Stepping Program; Gerena, Rebecca Johnson, and Zanetti, performed what they learned to a cheering student crowd. Springfield Mayor, Domenic Sarno was there to welcome students along with John Mullin, Chair of the Greater Springfield/UMass Amherst Partnership and Dean of the Graduate School at UMass Amherst.