Around the Hamptons: City Arts to unveil Cottage Street sculpture

Cottage Street Cultural District

Cottage Street Cultural District Pasqualina Azzarello

Site where the new sculpture is being installed.

Site where the new sculpture is being installed. Pasqualina Azzarello

Easthampton City Arts promotional post for public art.

Easthampton City Arts promotional post for public art. Pasqualina Azzarello

Artists Janna Ugone, left, and Piper Foreso are designing the  sculpture, entitled “Easthampton Storyscape: A Salute to Volunteers for the Arts,” that will be unveiled on Saturday in Easthampton.

Artists Janna Ugone, left, and Piper Foreso are designing the sculpture, entitled “Easthampton Storyscape: A Salute to Volunteers for the Arts,” that will be unveiled on Saturday in Easthampton. Tracey Eller photograph

By Alexa Lewis

Staff Writer

Published: 05-08-2024 3:49 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton City Arts (ECA) Public Art Committee will host an unveiling on Saturday of its newest sculpture on the Nashawannuck Pond Promenade. The sculpture has been years in the making, with the initial idea proposed in 2019 by committee Chair Denise Riggs and member Marsha Morrison. The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m.

The installation “will honor and celebrate the past, present, and future of volunteerism in the arts and cultural sectors in the City of Easthampton,” according to its announcement on the ECA website. It will also serve as a tribute to Debra Tautznik and Denise Herzog, beloved community members and artists who died in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

“This project is a true demonstration of community spirit and community care,” said Pasqualina Azzarello, ECA’s coordinator. “Volunteers are often underrecognized, and I think it’s really important to reflect upon and acknowledge the decades of consistent efforts on the part of this city’s volunteers to establish, create, and grow our vibrant community of arts and culture.”

The sculpture, entitled “Easthampton Storyscape: A Salute to Volunteers for the Arts,” is the joint creation of artists Janna Ugone and Piper Foreso, who were selected for the project from an open call for applications in 2022. The pair have been a fixture at Cottage Street Studios and in the broader Easthampton community for decades. Ugone established her studio at Cottage Street in 1987 and Foreso in 1997.

The sculpture is designed to reflect the historic mill building district in which it stands. It will feature various portholes which viewers can look into to “glimpse curated icons symbolizing art, music and other activities and the many hands that it takes to build and uphold a creative community,” said Ugone and Foreso in an announcement on the ECA website. It will be topped with a “sculptural globe” and a “golden star,” as symbolic markers of the Easthampton community’s place in the larger world, and will feature both a finial from Ugone’s lighting work and a steel bird silhouette from Foreso’s series of sculptures.

Easthampton Clay’s Spring Sale at 50 Payson Avenue and the Cottage Street Cultural District Spring Sidewalk Sale will also be taking place on Saturday. ECA also has several other upcoming community events: Art Walk Easthampton will take place on Saturday, June 1 from 4-7 p.m., and the 11th annual Cultural Chaos Street Festival will be held on Saturday, June 8 from 12-5 p.m.

May designated at Jewish American Heritage Month

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its May 1 meeting recognizing May as Jewish American Heritage Month. The resolution, brought to councilor Owen Zaret by Clark Street resident Alexander Roseman, seeks to recognize the complex history and many contributions of Jewish people in the United States.

May was first designated as Jewish American History Month via a 2006 presidential proclamation by George W. Bush.

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“Most of all, it’s an acknowledgement of belonging,” said Zaret. “It is my full intention — much like we’ve done with Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month — to offer some form of a panel in the future.”

The resolution acknowledges the value added to the city by Jewish American residents, paying particular recognition to the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC), Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center, The Yiddish Book Center, Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts for their services to the community.

The resolution states that “[t]his month shall be honored through events to honor and educate about American Jewish history and culture,” under its new designation by the city. It represents further commitment by the city to combating antisemitism and fostering “equity, inclusion, and dignity for all people” according to the language of the proclamation.

Book sale returns to Easthampton Public Library

EASTHAMPTON — Easthampton Public Library will host its twice-annual book sale on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Books will be available for purchase on the Library Lawn, rain or shine.

“It’s May, the month of yes-you-may buy all the books you want at our Friends of the Library Book Sale,” said the library’s director, Katya Schapiro in this month’s library newsletter. All funding raised by the sale will go directly to library programming and purchases, “such as the lovely new planter boxes adorning the ramp,” said Schapiro.

The sale is coordinated by Emily’s Friends of the Library, a group that routinely supports the library with fundraising, volunteer work, and planning events like this one. In the months leading up to each book sale, Emily’s Friends accept donations of lightly used books, CDs, and DVDs from the community for sale.The next book sale will take place in October.

Westhampton Public Library’s latest exhibit

WESTHAMPTON — Local artist Ann Lewis’s “A Bookish Collage Show” is on display this month at Westhampton Public Library in the community room gallery. Lewis is known for mixed media book art like what is currently on display at the library, but she also enjoys painting with “encaustic, gouache, and ink made from foraged plants” and writing prose, according to her website. 

“My art tends to be poetic and my writing is visual,” wrote Lewis. “Arranging and rearranging these elements gives me solace and stirs my curiosity in both the small sphere of my studio and the very large world beyond.”

Outside of the library, Lewis’s work is featured in a number of collections across the country, including those at Smith College, Princeton University, and the University of Vermont.

The opening reception for Lewis’s exhibit will be held tonight, Thursday, May 9, from 6-8 p.m. at the library. Lewis’s work will remain on display through May 29

Alexa Lewis can be contacted at alewis@gazettenet.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.