Featuring the work of resident visual and performing artists
Nine local artists have worked diligently to craft artwork reflective of themselves and their environment in studio spaces within the City of Pittsfield’s Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. In a new exhibit, the Lichtenstein gallery will be transformed to present the work of these painters, sculptors and dancers in an exhibit entitled Out of the Studio on display from Wednesday, December 5 to Saturday, January 19. An opening reception takes place as part of First Fridays Artswalk on Friday, December 7, from 5pm-8pm, hosted by the artists themselves featuring live music and dance numbers by Gypsy Layne Cabaret & Company.
Visual and performing artists Lorraine Abbruzzo, Mario Calouri, Peg Dotchin, Julio Granda, Marion Grant, Jim Horsford, Sean McCusker, Nicole Rizzo and Michael Rousseau each contribute original artwork spanning multiple genres—from oil and water color paintings to burlesque dancing—in a show that is certain to exemplify the vibrant arts community characteristic of Pittsfield, Mass.
After 15 years, Abruzzo continues to use paper as her preferred medium, integrating her studies in paper making at the New Jersey School of Visual Arts as the basis for her body of visual artwork. Utilizing paper and paper slurry—mostly flax and abaca—Abruzzo’s work is part of a larger project that incorporates a collection of her curiosities, with enough character to stand alone in this particular show. This sculptural body of work also includes wire, beads and found and unfound objects.
A former professor at Berkshire Community College, Calouri retired 11 years ago from teaching, including writing, literature, various humanities courses and painting. Calouri is primarily an abstract artist, practiced in painting, drawing, two-dimensional design and printmaking. He has always been concerned with patterns of forms that are alike, yet different, suggesting something of the mysterious and perhaps primeval forces in nature and ourselves. Currently, his spontaneous focus has become the simultaneity of human instincts and emotions.
For Dotchin, the changing of seasons, contrasts, light, color and atmosphere presents an endless challenge, particularly in the paths and roads of the Berkshires. Even a familiar place can offer her a visual experience that is perpetually fresh, as she works to capture the emotion of a scene not the image. The luscious colors afforded to her in the pastel medium help to bring life to her landscapes, though a challenge always lies in the exploration of patterns and colors in a given scene.
New York, N.Y., native Granda received his art training there at the School of Visual Arts and Cooper Union, but not before serving two tours of duty in Korea with the U.S. Navy in the 1950s. Later, Granda earned his Masters in Fine Arts in painting at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His broadsides, drawings and paintings are in libraries and museums, as well as in private collections, throughout the United States.
Grant’s artistic experience is as a meditation on the physical world, viewing her work as a co-mingling of observation and invention. Her purpose is to utilize an intersection between representation and the formal considerations of design, surface, pigment and color to convey an appreciation both for the traditions of representational art making, as well as modernist/post-modernist concerns. Grant’s ultimate goal is to elicit an emotional response from spectators by representing large expanses of sky, agricultural lands and forests at particular times of day, or when weather is in transition using effects of lighting, color, placement, and paint surface.
Horsford ventured into pottery on the wheel beginning at UMass Amherst in 1972, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education. His next 30 years were spent as an art teacher at Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield, working mainly with clay and slab work. Horsford earned a Masters degree in Creative Arts and Learning at Lesley College in 1993, furthering his love of teaching the technique of throwing to beginners. Currently, he offers wheel-throwing classes here at the ceramic studio in the basement of the Lichtenstein to people with ability levels ranging from beginner to advanced.
Living in the quiet town of Middlefield, Mass., McCusker grew an affinity for his quaint surroundings in its quiet, hilly landscape, channeling his focuses on developing striking surreal landscapes full of color and mystery. The complexity of his work is what makes McCusker’s paintings so desirable, adding contrast and drama through the 30-or-so thin layers of painting that go in to each piece. His work mirrors the themes of a traditional Greek drama, representing characters and objects as emotional archetypes while evoking an allegorical protagonist as the focal point of his pieces.
A lifelong performing artist, Rizzo studied dance and theatre in her formative years, earning a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts at the prestigious Circle in the Square Theatre Conservatory in New York City. She has acted off-Broadway, in commercials, on television and in various movies, including an independent film screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Rizzo’s abiding love of dance has spurned her passion for and immersion in burlesque, not to mention her zeal for spreading this tantalizing art form to her community in the Berkshires.
A Pittsifeld native, Rousseau resides in the Berkshires following his pursuit of a Masters degree in Art Education from Rhode Island School of Design and his duty as a High School Art teacher for four years in Boston, Mass. and Vermont. By day, Rousseau is the Graphic Designer for Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and a teacher at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires. He has a knack for capturing contemporary subjects using a combination of modern and traditional oil-painting techniques. An interest in the science and history of oil paintings is what drives Rousseau when the subject matter is derived from the people, places, things and ideas that are around and surround me as an American artist living in the 21st Century.
The Berkshires’ first homegrown cabaret and burlesque troupe, Gypsy Layne Cabaret & Company continues to woo and wow audiences since its debut in 2010 at the Red Herring in Williamstown, Mass. The troupe’s goal is to educate audiences about the history of burlesque, from its origins in the London music halls of the late 19th century to its American Golden-Age peak in the early and mid 20th century and beyond. Gypsy Layne’s productions incorporate various theatrical components into an eclectic repertoire that attracts a wide demographic of audience members, ranging from ages 20 to 70, featuring original skits of farce and parody and an array of dance such as Bollywood/bhangra and bellydance.
Out of the Studio can be viewed at the city-owned Lichtenstein Center for the Arts Wednesdays through Saturdays, 12pm-5pm. Located at 28 Renne Avenue in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District, the gallery is free and open to the public. For more information, visit discoverpittsfield.com or call 413-499-9348.