Arts Briefs: New exhibits and a gallery expansion in Easthampton, a musical cabaret in Amherst, and more

An exhibit featuring work by Valley artist David Andrews will be part of a grand reopening this month of 50 Arrow Gallery in Easthamptom.

An exhibit featuring work by Valley artist David Andrews will be part of a grand reopening this month of 50 Arrow Gallery in Easthamptom. Image from David Andrews Facebook site

Easthampton’s Elusie Gallery opens a group show this month, “Vive la Différence,” for which artists have been encouraged to develop unconventional work. 

Easthampton’s Elusie Gallery opens a group show this month, “Vive la Différence,” for which artists have been encouraged to develop unconventional work.  Image from Elusie Gallery

The musical cabaret “My Evil Twin,” at The Drake in Amherst Feb. 15, stars identical twins and opera singers Jim and John Delmer as themselves.

The musical cabaret “My Evil Twin,” at The Drake in Amherst Feb. 15, stars identical twins and opera singers Jim and John Delmer as themselves. Image courtesy Eric Sawyer

The legacy of trailblazing sculptor Augusta Savage, seen here in 1938 with her work “Realization,” will be celebrated at UMass.

The legacy of trailblazing sculptor Augusta Savage, seen here in 1938 with her work “Realization,” will be celebrated at UMass. U.S. Works Progress Administration/Wikipedia

“The Upkeepers,” archival pigment print by Joiri Minaya. It’s part of “Trópico es Político: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime,” a new exhibit at the Mead Museum at Amherst College.

“The Upkeepers,” archival pigment print by Joiri Minaya. It’s part of “Trópico es Político: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime,” a new exhibit at the Mead Museum at Amherst College. Image courtesy Mead Museum

John Reily, aka Johnny Memphis, will give a talk today (Friday, Feb. 2) at the Northampton Senior Center on the evolution of the local music scene.

John Reily, aka Johnny Memphis, will give a talk today (Friday, Feb. 2) at the Northampton Senior Center on the evolution of the local music scene. Photo by Paul Shoul/courtesy Northampton neighbors

Published: 02-01-2024 3:08 PM

A grand reopening

EASTHAMPTON — With a dramatic increase in space, 50 Arrow Gallery will inaugurate its new locale Feb. 8 with a celebratory reopening and the unveiling of a new exhibit, featuring the work of Valley artist David Andrews.

The gallery’s new location, in Suite 136 in Eastworks (116 Pleasant St.) has 2000 square feet of space — up from 500 square feet in the original Eastworks locale. Now, 50 Arrow includes dedicated space for displaying works by established artists, as well as a new section featuring monthly exhibits of new work by BIPOC artists.

This month’s focus is on work by David Andrews, a painter, drawer, and mixed media artist whose exhibit “Perception & Perspectives” is designed to take visitors on a “journey that transcends the conventional boundaries of art,” as exhibit notes put it.

Andrews juxtaposes various abstract images with materials drawn directly from nature, such as wasp nests and tree bark, to which he adds bits of poetry and personal musings. This kind of “visual storytelling,” according to exhibit notes, “serves as canvas for David’s exploration of life-altering events … on personal and societal levels.”

The galley’s expansion has been supported with funding from the Barr Foundation, Holyoke Media, Eastworks, and The Odenong Powwow, according to 50 Arrow: “Their commitment to the arts has been instrumental in realizing the vision of an expanded and inclusive artistic space in Easthampton.”

The celebration of the new space and the opening of “Perception & Perspectives” takes place Feb. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the city’s monthly Art Walk.

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Different kinds of art

EASTHAMPTON — The Elusie Gallery is opening a group show this month with a bit of a French accent, or at least a French theme.

“Vive la Différence,” which runs through Feb. 29, is a group exhibit that’s predicated on artists trying a new approach. Elusie owner Jean-Pierre Pasche says he’s typically staged a group show at this time of year around varied themes, and this year he hit on the idea of artists going outside their comfort zones.

“NO LANDSCAPES!” he writes in program notes. “We are challenging you to think outside the normal box, to paint outside the typical frame (of reference), to bring this different side of you out of hibernation and into the light.”

“Your art is a little too… risqué? Aliases are accepted and we will respect your anonymity.”

There will be an artists’ reception at the gallery Feb. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the city’s monthly Art Walk.

 

I’m better than him

AMHERST — “My Evil Twin,” a cabaret musical about a unique sibling relationship that was previously presented in Northampton, will make its full Amherst debut when it comes to The Drake Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.

The production, by composer and lyricist Eric Sawyer and scriptwriter Harley Erdman, stars identical twin brothers and opera singers Jim and John Demler as, well, Jim and John Demler, who recount their life story in an irreverent and humorous presentation whose music draws on Broadway tunes, pop and opera.

“My Evil Twin” also offers plenty of poignant moments — “tenderness and vulnerability beneath masculine bravado,” as program notes put it — as it examines the special bonds and rivalries identical twins can have.

The Demlers, now in their 60s, revisit their high school years, their work to become professional singers, and the reckoning both face when their plans don’t work out exactly as imagined.

Sawyer, a professor of music at Amherst College, and Erdman, who teaches theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, previously collaborated on two acclaimed operas, “The Garden of Martyrs” and “The Scarlet Professor.”

Ron Bashford, who teaches theater and dance at Amherst College, directs “My Evil Twin” and also directed “The Scarlet Letter.”

 

College museums offer new exhibits

AMHERST — At UMass Amherst, the Augusta Savage Gallery is honoring the famed sculptor and educator it’s named for with a new exhibit, “As We Move Forward,” that features artwork by BIPOC women from Savage’s home state of Florida.

Co-curators Juana Valdes, an associate professor in the UMass art department, and Nhadya Lawes, an interdisciplinary scholar and arts professional in South Florida, have gathered varied work from 17 artists from Miami and the surrounding area.

According to program notes, the exhibit, which opens Feb. 7 and runs through May 10, looks to build on a symposium held last fall at the University of Miami Center for Global Black Studies for Black artists, writers, curators and others.

“As We Move Forward” also looks to celebrate the legacy of Augusta Savage, born in Florida in 1892, and her trailblazing work fighting for equal rights in the arts for African American artists.

The Mead Museum at Amherst College, meantime, has opened “Like a Slow Walk With Trees,” a solo show by New York multimedia artist Alicia Grullón, and a traveling exhibit of contemporary Caribbean art, “Trópico es Político: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime.”

Grullón’s exhibit includes banners, photographs, and video that explore ideas of land and labor. “Trópico es Político,” a group show that includes video, painting and installation, considers the artists’ responses to the confluence of tourism and finance in the Caribbean.

 

Sketching the music scene

NORTHAMPTON — With live music in the city expected to rebound with the reopening of the Iron Horse Music Hall and the Calvin Theatre, a veteran of the scene will give a public talk about it and the evolution now underway.

Deejay, musician, and writer John Reily, aka Johnny Memphis, will speak today (Feb. 2) at 2 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center. The talk, in-person and on Zoom, is part of the “Speaker Series” presented by Northampton Neighbors, the nonprofit group that provides services and support for older adults in the community.

Reily, of Florence, has been part of the Valley’s music scene for over 40 years in numerous capacities: as a performer, a music director at WRSI-FM, the music coordinator for the Florence Summer Concert Series, and a stage manager for the Green River Festival.

He also previously wrote music columns for the Gazette, and he’s the author of the 2016 book, “Music in the Air,” a history of the Green River Festival.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer