Easthampton resident launches project to display local artists’ work in public places

  • Easthampton resident Simon Basse stands near a sculpture by Ann Jon of Becket, “Elastic Limit I,” installed a short walk from the Inn at the Lathrop Retirement Community in Easthampton, July 3. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

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    Easthampton resident Simon Basse stands near a sculpture by Ann Jon of Becket, "Elastic Limit I", installed a short walk from the Inn at the Lathrop Retirement Community in Easthampton on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

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    A sculpture by Ann Jon of Becket, "Elastic Limit I", installed a short walk from the Inn at the Lathrop Retirement Community in Easthampton on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • ">

    A sculpture by Ann Jon of Becket, "Elastic Limit I", installed a short walk from the Inn at the Lathrop Retirement Community in Easthampton on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • ">

    A sculpture by Ann Jon of Becket, "Elastic Limit I", installed a short walk from the Inn at the Lathrop Retirement Community in Easthampton on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 7/16/2018 7:07:11 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After 53 years of dreaming, Simon Basse has finally begun a project to cover the city with sculptures and paintings in hopes that Easthampton becomes the “new Florence, Italy.”

Basse’s goal is to put art in public places across Easthampton to “change society” and put people in tune with their creative sides. The Easthampton resident plans on using at least 10 sculptures from different artists, and paying them a $400 honorarium for keeping their artwork up for one year.

Basse, who began sculpting as a hobby at 24, is currently making a limestone sculpture on his balcony. He didn’t try to earn a living with his art and instead worked in the housing industry in New York City.

Basse said he moved to Easthampton three years ago and struggled with some health issues for a few years, preventing him from pursuing his public art initiative. Basse said his health has greatly improved over the last couple of months, and as he gets healthier, he dedicates more time and energy to his project.

The project is still in its beginning phases, but according to Basse, putting artists’ work on display around the city isn’t his only goal. He also hopes to finance workshops in local schools, to promote creativity and art to the younger generation.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle supports Basse’s plan, and said she has been talking “readily” with him since she took office. She said putting art up around the city is “a very logical addition to our community,” and such work will showcase the city’s creativity.

LaChapelle said there are issues that need to be considered when placing sculptures in public places, including the safety of the work from potential vandalism and weather. The sculptures also need to be installed in the right places to ensure their safety, which takes time. The Planning Department is working out the logistics of placing sculptures around town, the mayor said.

Basse said that it is a “great, great feeling” to be spearheading this project he has been thinking about for so long.

So far, one sculpture has been put up at the Lathrop Retirement Community, where Basse currently lives. The sculpture is called Elastic Limit I, and was created by artist Ann Jon, Basse’s ex-wife. Jon was at the center of a discussion about public art earlier this year when she unsuccessfully attempted to have one of her sculptures placed in Pulaski Park in Northampton.

According to Basse, the sculpture has been a hit with residents of the retirement home.

“All the people walked by and talked about it,” said Basse.

“The creative aspect of people needs to be realized” now more than ever, Basse said, especially as manufacturing jobs across the world become more automated.

“What are they gonna do, sit around watching television and drinking?” said Basse.

Basse said he looks at this issue of automation as an opportunity for people everywhere to have the time to pursue something creative. Basse says it’s time for humans to evolve into more creative and less industrial beings.

“The age of the industrial revolution is finished,” declared Basse.

LaChapelle also thought that public art would inspire more creativity in Easthampton, saying that just being around art makes people more creative.

“Inspirations comes on through osmosis,” said LaChapelle.




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