Extraordinary art by everyday people

  • ValleyBike Share’s Florence Center station is located in front of Cooper’s Corner at Chestnut and Main Streets. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 9/20/2021 7:42:35 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Common Wealth Murals is kicking off a two-month-long art exhibit that will showcase local artists and their work across Pioneer Valley at an event this Wednesday.

ValleyBike initially reached out to Common Wealth Murals because it “wanted to do something to celebrate the arts in western Massachusetts,” according to Britt Ruhe, the director of Common Wealth Murals.

Starting Wednesday, the “Valley Arts Expo” will display photographs of 20 local artists and their work on dozens of ValleyBike kiosks across towns and cities including Northampton, Easthampton, Springfield, Holyoke and Amherst.

The organizations will hold an event Wednesday featuring representatives from ValleyBike and Common Wealth Murals, along with three artists whose work will appear in downtown Northampton kiosks: Timna Tarr, a quilter; Jackie Lucchesi, a corset maker; and Tuyet Linh Lafleur, a painter. The event will take place at the ValleyBike station at 99 Main Street in Northampton at 3 p.m.

After many people turned to artistry during pandemic lockdowns, Ruhe said she was inspired by “so many different kinds of art” made by everyday people in local communities. The artistic talents showcased by this project include painting, graphic design, quilting, costume design and welding.

She said she hopes the exhibit will inspire more people to follow their own creative urges.

Isabella Dellolio, a portrait photographer who has worked with Ruhe in the past, photographed each artist with a piece they created to be displayed on 2-by-4-foot posters inside the ValleyBike kiosks.

The exhibit is expected to be displayed through Thanksgiving, with ValleyBike dedicating its advertising space to art “out of the goodness of their hearts,” Ruhe said.

The Mill District in Amherst and E Ink of South Hadley are the exhibit’s sponsors, and representatives will make an appearance at Wednesday’s event.

In a statement, E Ink said it “proudly sponsors the Valley Artists Expo to support artistic expression through local artists who share their unique historic, cultural, and social values and experiences.”

“When we learned about their Valley Artists Project, with our friends at Common Wealth Murals, it felt beautifully aligned with our own efforts to bring increased visibility to local artists at The General Store and Hannah’s Local Art Gallery,” The Mill District said in a statement.

Ruhe said she appreciates the sponsors, as well as ValleyBike, for making this possible. These organizations “stand out for their commitment to the arts,” she said.

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