NORTH ADAMS -- A mix of residents and tourists flowed through galleries and along the streets Thursday night, admiring the work of local, regional, national and international artists while listening to performers during the kick-off of the fifth installment of DownStreet Art.
The evening celebrated the opening of 15 new gallery spaces, part of 31 art destinations in the city, along with ribbon-cutting ceremonies for two new public works of art.
"The great news this year is, that for the first time in a decade the majority of storefronts in downtown North Adams have year round tenants," Valeria Federici, program coordinator of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, said Thursday during a ceremony for the first of four public murals to be unveiled. "This led us to rethink the tools of DownStreet Art, which led us to public art."
To celebrate the completion of the mural, which was painted over the last month on the back of the Mohawk Theater, Mayor Richard J. Alcombright and Muralismo Publico artists Marta Gil and Estabaliz Vera were hoisted into the air on a hydraulic lift to cut a ceremonial ribbon.
"What are we going to do next year? It just keeps getting better and better," Alcombright said.
Several local officials were on hand to dedicate the mural and celebrate DownStreet Art.
He encouraged the crowd to support the artists and local businesses, noting that DownStreet was a wonderful economic development tool.
MCLA Vice President Cindy Brown said the mural "emblematic of the good things that are happening in the city and region."
"It's part of our larger commitment to this city and this region -- to revitalize this region and to bring the community and the arts together," she said.
Prior to the "unveiling" of the mural, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at "Bus Stand," a multi-colored bus stop installation created by artist Victoria Palermo.
"This is our fourth collaboration with Mass MoCA and Kidspace, who have been great partners," Jonathan Secor, director of special projects for MCLA said.
Palmero, no stranger to the city, first created a piece for the 2003 Kidspace exhibition "Nature Park." Her latest collaboration with the museum, has been four years in the making.
"There were three or four times this project could have fallen apart because it's hard work to put art in public places," Mass MoCA Director Joseph Thompson said. "Every time it seemed impossible, Mayor Alcombright found a way to make it possible. It's been a terrific collaboration. I'm really looking forward to this year's version of DownStreet, with all these outside works of art."
DownStreet Art runs through October 25. New exhibitions open the last Thursday of July, August and September. For more information, visit www.downstreetart.org.