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.