Great Barrington – The town’s 12 months of fame, thanks to Smithsonian magazine’s designation as the Best Small Town in America, may have faded away – Chautauqua, N.Y., is the new jewel in the Smithsonian’s small town crown (“an idyllic 19-century lake town devoted to learning”) — but that hasn’t slowed down the use of the BSTiA rubric by those seeking to promote the virtues of Great Barrington, especially as the Main Street deconstruction looms. The starting date for the demolition and rebuilding of Main Street is still not determined, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. Merchants and tourists await with bated breath.
Nevertheless, the Friends of the Great Barrington Historical Society is mounting an invitational art exhibit, entitled “Great Barrington, the Best Small Town,” featuring paintings, drawings and photographs from 25 local artists at the Mason Library on Main Street.
Supported by the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the exhibit opens Friday, May 23, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., and will run through July 12. Hours for the exhibit will coincide with the normal operating hours of the Mason Library.
Among the 25 artists whose work will be on display are Morgan Bulkeley, Jarvis Rockwell, Joan Griswold, Warner Friedman, Janet Rickus, Peggy Reeves, and John Lawson whose collage of itinerant Great Barrington resident David Magadini accompanied Magadini’s profile on The Berkshire Edge (https://theberkshire.wpengine.com/david-magadini-mayor-main-street/ ) as well as a painting of Main Street in bloom by Sharon Gregory, chairman of the town Finance Committee.
In addition, an archival exhibit of images of Great Barrington, curated by Gary Leveille, will also be on display.
“Originally, this exhibit was conceived to mitigate the effects of the Main Street Reconstruction. We are working in collaboration with the Great Barrington Historical Commission, and with this exhibit, we want to celebrate the history and beauty of Great Barrington,” Gregory told the Board of Selectmen last week, formally announcing the display. “This will give us an opportunity to see many of our most renowned artists because their works are shown primarily outside the Berkshires.”
She added that funds from the show will be used to purchase signage to publicize the Great Barrington Historical Commission’s self-guided tour of many historical buildings.
“Residents and visitors can now access an oral history of buildings as they walk through town by downloading a free app,” she noted.