Arts festival set for Amherst Town Common on Sunday 

  • A view of Main Street in downtown Amherst. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 6/24/2021 1:58:12 PM

AMHERST – The Town Common will be the center of a celebration of the arts on Sunday with festivities that include live music, an art market and dance performances by Amherst Ballet.

“We wanted to have something outdoors so local artists and arts supporters could have a chance to gather together,” said Ann Tweedy, chairwoman of the Amherst Center Cultural District Steering Committee.

The free event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m., is also an opportunity for the winners of the COVID-19 Artists Contest to showcase their art publicly. The contest was organized online by Amherst Center Cultural District last summer to give artists an outlet during the pandemic.

Violet Kitchen, the grand prize winner, illustrated individualized postcards during quarantine, which she would send to anyone who wanted one.

“I basically just put up a post on Instagram and said, ‘hey, if anyone wants one, let me know,’” she said.

Kitchen also thought that the postcards were an important way to stay in touch with her friends and community.

“I was looking for the human connection in the pandemic,” Kitchen said. “The making and exchanging of physical artwork was really important to me.”

Art installation

In the coming weeks, when strolling through Amherst center, the work of local artists will be filling the windows of local businesses. The “Windows Into Art” installation is an initiative meant to bring a little extra foot traffic into the downtown, according to organizers.

The art will be on display through the end of August, giving Pioneer Valley residents plenty of time to see these works.

The installation is funded through a grant from the Amherst Center Cultural District, with the intent to “help revitalize business centers affected by closures or limitations of the pandemic,” according to the Amherst Center Cultural District.

“We feel that arts and culture are great economic drivers,” Tweedy said.

The Amherst Public Art Commission also is working on another initiative to bring creativity into the downtown. The commission plans to launch a pilot program to display artwork on Boltwood Plaza, a space that it re-named the Portal Gallery.

“We were excited when we heard about a state grant to revitalize the Boltwood Parking area,” Tweedy said. “It fit so well with the theme of bringing art throughout the town center.”

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