Wednesday, June 12, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

BITS & BYTES: James Taylor, Melissa Etheridge items in Berkshire Busk! charity auction; Samuel Harrison celebration; ‘Spring Mix’ at Spencertown Academy; Richard J. Melluzzo Scholarship; BCHS receives grants

The Samuel Harrison Society, in conjunction with the NAACP, Berkshire Country Branch, will celebrate the life of Reverend Samuel Harrison with a virtual birthday celebration on Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m.

Autographed James Taylor, Melissa Etheridge items in Berkshire Busk! charity auction

GREAT BARRINGTON — Musician James Taylor has donated three personalized items for a charity auction benefitting Great Barrington’s own Berkshire Busk! summer festival. The lot donated by Taylor includes signed and personalized sheet music for his classic song “Fire and Rain”; a signed and personalized Yamaha acoustic guitar and case; and a signed and personalized copy of “Sweet Baby James,” the pop-up book based on his beloved song.

In partnership with Magic Fluke and Ovation Guitars, a second auction is offering a guitar signed by musician Melissa Etheridge.

Bidding for both auctions is open until Thursday, April 21, 2022. Visit now to bid.


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Samuel Harrison Society to host virtual birthday celebration

Rev. Samuel Harrison

PITTSFIELD — The Samuel Harrison Society (SHS), in conjunction with the NAACP, Berkshire Country Branch, will celebrate the life of Reverend Samuel Harrison with a virtual birthday celebration on Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m.

Rev. Harrison was a civil rights leader, an advocate for equal pay, and chaplain of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. He was born into slavery in 1818 and found his way to Pittsfield in 1850 to become the pastor of the Second Congregational Church. His congregation was small, but his work for black equality put him on the national stage. Harrison lectured and debated in cities up and down the East Coast and as far away as Seattle.

For the most part, Harrison’s weapon was the pen rather than the sword. For more than 50 years he wrote passionate essays, pamphlets, sermons, and books condemning racism on every level. In an age of lynchings and violent bigotry, he feared no man, and no man or institution was too big for him to challenge.

During the Civil War, he went head to head with Abraham Lincoln over equal pay for blacks serving in the Union Army, and won. In June of 1864, Congress granted equal pay for the 180,000 black who fought on the side of the North. Harrison knew first-hand how badly blacks were treated in the military. He served as chaplain of the famed Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-Black infantry to fight in the Civil War. The exploits of this unit were dramatized in the film “Glory.”

Attendees will hear Rev. Harrison’s own words as he struggled for freedom and equality for his people. The streaming program will include Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, SHS President Marlena Willis, Vice President Blayne Whitfield, and others.

The event will be available to view on PCTV, the PCTV Facebook page, and the PCTV Select App, which is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, iOS, and Google Play. For more information or questions, contact Samuel Harrison Society Program Coordinator Jeannie Williams at or 860-558-7870.


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Spencertown Academy to present “Spring Mix” exhibition beginning April 23

William Bill Bullard
“Alexander Calder at the Whitney” by William Bullard. Photo courtesy Spencertown Academy

SPENCERTOWN, N.Y.Spencertown Academy Arts Center will present “Spring Mix,” an art exhibition featuring works by William Bullard, Tia Maggio, and Gina Occhiogrosso. The show can be viewed April 23–May 15, on Saturdays and Sundays from 1–5 p.m. and by appointment. An opening reception with the artists will be held Saturday, April 23 from 4–6 p.m. Admission is free and all art is for sale, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Academy.

Bill Bullard, a photographer who lives in Ghent, New York, returned to photojournalism and street photography when he retired as the academic dean of Collegiate School in 2017. He recently published a book of his volunteer photography for Village Health Works, a clinic in Burundi, Africa. This year, he was named to the “Hot 100” list by the Duncan Miller Gallery (Los Angeles) from a group of 4,700 international photographers whom they represent.

Tia Maggio is a native New Yorker who now lives in the Berkshires. She formally trained in graphic design and advertising at Pratt Institute and went on to study fine art and art history at the UMass Amherst.

Gina Occhiogrosso is currently based in Troy, New York. Her work has been exhibited at The Painting Center, Curator Gallery, and Kathryn Markel Fine Art, in New York City, and was also included in the 2020 exhibition “Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics and Beyond” at The Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.


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Berkshire Community College Foundation introduces Richard J. Melluzzo Scholarship 

Richard J. Melluzzo

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Community College (BCC) Foundation announces the creation of the Richard J. Melluzzo Scholarship, made possible by an anonymous donor in honor of the beloved late psychologist and public health administrator. Melluzzo, who died in December 2021, was a resident of Great Barrington for more than 45 years and was an active member of the community.

The scholarship, intended to honor Melluzzo’s passion for mental health, will be presented to incoming students at BCC who are enrolled in the human services field of study. Awards will range from $1,000 to full tuition and fees. Eligible students can apply by visiting the BCC website by August 5, 2022. Students in need of financial aid not covered by grants, scholarships or other funds are encouraged to apply.

During Melluzzo’s long career in mental health, he was a psychologist at the Wassaic Developmental Center, program director of Inpatient Psychiatric Units at Berkshire Medical Center, administrator of Family Care of the Berkshires at Berkshire Medical Center, and program director of Greylock Pavilion, a 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit at North Adams Regional Hospital. Most recently, he was a marriage and family therapist and social worker at RJM Consulting, an outpatient mental health clinic and healthcare consultation service in Great Barrington. Melluzzo also served on the Great Barrington Board of Selectman and Finance Committee collectively for 10 years.

The Human Services Department at BCC encompasses certificate programs in addiction recovery, mental health and human services, as well as a social work associate degree program for students planning to transfer into a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree. For more information about the Human Services Department or about the Richard J. Melluzzo Scholarship, email or call 413-499-4660.


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Berkshire County Historical Society receives grants and sponsorships

Arrowhead photo courtesy Berkshire County Historical Society

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire County Historical Society (BCHS) announces receipt of several grants and sponsorships that will support programs and exhibitions in 2022, as well as improvements to the landscape of Herman Melville’s Arrowhead.

Support from MountainOne will enable BCHS to present the majority of its summer programs at no cost to the public. The $2,500 grant supports programs including a bird walk, explorations of Arrowhead’s architecture and landscape, actor Stephen Collins’s presentation of monologues from “Moby-Dick,” discussion of “Moby-Dick” by author and editor Hester Blum, and other offerings related to the history of Berkshire County.

Berkshire Bank Foundation has awarded $2,000 in support of two exhibitions and related programs being presented this summer. “The WPA in the Berkshires” is being presented at Arrowhead and opens on June 4. The exhibition explores the history of the Works Progress Administration (1935-1943), the largest of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, and its associated projects in the region. “Envisioning Moby-Dick” is being presented at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield. The exhibition, which opens August 1, features original works by Jim Jasper and Chris Volpe that explore themes from Melville’s classic novel.

Preservation of Arrowhead’s architecture and landscape is an important core of BCHS’s mission. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, the historic gardens surrounding Arrowhead have lain fallow since 2020. A $2,000 grant from the Lenox Garden Club will support maintenance and re-planting of these gardens with historically appropriate plantings that the Melvilles would have had in the 19th century. The restored gardens will complement two new landscape initiatives: the planting of a demonstration heritage apple orchard and the addition of a pollinator area in the north field.

The 2022 “Moby-Dick” Read-A-Thon is generously sponsored through Berkshire Roots’ “round up” program. The read-a-thon and additional virtual programs are also supported by a $1,500 grant from the MA Humanities/Bridge Street Foundation.



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