Hilltown Voices: Chesterfield artist brings “A Lifetime” to Lifecare center in Longmeadow

  • From left, Susan Goldsmith, chairwoman of the board for JGS Lifecare; Dr. James Rosenthal; state Rep. Brian Ashe; artist James Kitchen; state Sen. Eric Lesser; and Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of philanthropy at JGS Lifecare, pose near “A Lifetime,” a new sculpture located at the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation on the JGS Lifecare campus in Longmeadow. Fran Ryan

For the Gazette
Sunday, November 26, 2017

CHESTERFIELD — A sculpture by popular Chesterfield artist James Kitchen was recently unveiled at the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation on the JGS Lifecare campus in Longmeadow.

On Sunday, Nov. 19, state Sen. Eric P. Lesser and state Rep. Brian M. Ashe joined more than 100 people at the facility’s Fall Festival to unveil Kitchen’s sculpture, “A Lifetime.”

JGS Lifecare serves seniors and their families by providing nursing home, home health and hospice care; assisted living; rehabilitation services; palliative care; music therapy and independent living.

Kitchen’s piece was commissioned by Dr. James Rosenthal of the center’s board of directors, who said that he wanted a signature sculpture that would be linked to the work and mission of the center.

“We are dedicated to improving the physical, spiritual and emotional health of individuals and families,” Rosenthal said. “I believe that art is key in providing this sense of inner well-being and overall emotional health.”

Kitchen has been welding scrap metal for 15 years at his home and studio in Chesterfield. His versatile pieces range from a few inches to 30 feet high.

He described “A Lifetime” as sort of a personal journey through time.

“The base of the sculpture is made of large and expansive circles, representing the limitless possibilities of youth,” Kitchen said. “In the middle, circles become more compressed and intertwined, representing how mid-life can be more complex as we balance relationships, parenting, working and common mid-life challenges, while the upper portion of “A Lifetime” ascends gracefully to the heavens.”

Kitchen’s unique recycled metal sculptures are constructed of iron and steel objects, such as rusted tools and farm equipment. All of the metal in his creations comes from places like local farms, antique stores, and auctions.

“A Lifetime” is constructed from old wagon wheels that once rolled down the streets of Springfield over a century ago. These are welded to rings cut from piping installed in the new Sosin Center that opened in December 2016.

“The Sosin Center was created to care for our community’s elders, and we felt that the art that surrounds and comforts them should be a reflection of the community in which they live, created by local artists,” said Susan Halpern, vice president of philanthropy at JGS Lifecare.

Kitchen began showing his work in 2001 at the William Cullen Bryant Art Fair, winning Best of Show for the quality of his work and innovative display.

Since then, he has displayed his art in other local fairs, museums, and art guild shows in western Massachusetts and is well known throughout the state.

His work can be seen at Michelson’s Gallery in Northampton and the L’Attitude Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston.

“Public art enriches us all,” Lesser said. “We are lucky to have such a thriving arts and cultural community here in Western Mass.”

Plainfield rescue equipment

PLAINFIELD — The Plainfield Volunteer Firefighters Association recently donated a new $3,700 Ferno EZ Glide Evacuation Chair to the Plainfield Fire Department.

The chair is used to move patients down and up stairways and from their homes to a transport ambulance, and is similar to the chairs carried on Highland Ambulance, the regional paramedic level transport service for the Hilltowns.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Dave Alvord, the need to upgrade the department’s older model was made evident last winter, when the existing unit did not perform safely for patients and first responders.

The money to purchase the new equipment was the result of PVFA fundraising activities.

Plainfield EMTs and first responders have reviewed hands-on training of the new chair, which is now in service and stored on the department’s Class 2 Ambulance.

Worthington wreath-making

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Gardeners will host their annual wreath-making workshop on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at the Worthington Town Hall.

Members will give instruction on how to make fresh, double-sided wreaths, and most supplies will be provided.

Participants are asked to bring their own pruners and scissors, and are also welcome to bring ribbons, greenery and anything else they would like to add to their creations.

The cost of the workshop is $15 per wreath. This is the main fundraiser of the year for the Worthington Gardeners, a group that maintains the town gardens and also gives donations back to the community.

The group has donated to the RH Conwell School, the Worthington Library, the Hilltown Community Health Center, and community members in need.

Refreshments will be provided. Reservations are required as this event fills up quickly.

For more information or to make a reservation, call Elodi McBride at 238-4466.

Ideas for the column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.