Berkshire Beat: Porches, Alcombright, Galleries

Out and About in North Adams

By: - Apr 30, 2010

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Wouldn’t you know it? On the day that I made an appointment with Dean’s Auto, in Adams, to rotate the snow tires. Yes, you guessed it. There was snow. Two inches everyone was talking about it. On April 27. Good grief. Just a couple of days later the forecast is in the 80s.

Perhaps the grim and unseasonable weather put a frost on the Facebook party hosted by Nancy Jane Fitzpatrick at Porches. Her last one at Red Lion Inn drew a better attendance. Yet again she was a gracious hostess greeting us warmly. With a terrific buffet.

There were as always interesting people. We met Williamstown based filmmaker Holly Hardman. She is making a feature documentary on American fundamentalists. Seems she is native to North Adams but has now crossed the social and economic border and lives in Williamstown.

Chatting with Nancy Jane I asked if she owns Porches? It appears that her Red Lion Inn company manages the successful merger of a row of houses facing Mass MoCA. But the project was developed for the owner John S, Wadsworth, Jr., an alumnus of Williams, Class of 1961.

Just as we were discussing that he walked in. It seems he was making a rare visit to attend a board meeting this weekend at Mass MoCA. Fitzpatrick is also on the board. At least he always has a decent place to stay in North Adams.

Last night was super busy.

It started from 4 to 7 with a spaghetti dinner at the V.F.W. hosted by North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright. With just a two year term it seems that barely four months in office he is back on the campaign trail building the war chest. It takes a ton of pasta and Ragu to get elected.

There was a nice turnout as Dick worked the room. In a brief chat he revealed that it has been rough. Seems that in artificially keeping taxes down, during the endless era of Mayor Barrett, there was a painful neglect of infrastructure. Asked to comment on what he has found Alcombright said “It was worse than I thought.” So even discussing arts projects like developing the Mohawk Theatre are on hold at least until September.

After a fabulous meal we wandered over to Main Street for a string of openings.

We started with BART the Berkshire Art and Technology School. There was a display of student work in the former North Adams Antiques. We talked with art teacher Rachel Branham who was there with her fiancé.

Next door Gallery 51 displayed the annual student show for MCLA. There were musicians entertaining the packed room of students and guests. Overall the work was impressive.  We discussed it with Berkshire Eagle art critic Keith Shaw. Particularly impressive were  the paintings of graduating senior Merritt Fletcher. After three years at the Museum School in Boston she is completing study for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Also, she made the guacamole.

Moving up the street we explored a new antiques store. Eventually finding our way to Eagle Street. It was the grand opening of a new studio and retail outlet for artist/ designer Martha Flood. Her many friends dropped by to wish her well on an ambitious new venture.