Assets for Artists: North Adams Project Round Two


Samantha Pasapane, Bridging the Gap, 2011

MASS MoCA and Assets for Artists are excited to announce the second round of the North Adams Project! Launched in 2014, the Project aims to support North Adams-based artists while adding momentum to the City’s growing cultural economy.

Assets for Artists is known for its innovative artist support programming. Through a mix of funding and educational resources, the program helps artists work toward business growth and financial stability. After years of serving creatives across Massachusetts, Assets for Artists piloted its hometown North Adams Project last summer. The result? A cohort of nine artists, three of them long-time Berkshire county residents, and six, newcomers who packed their bags and relocated to North Adams from as far away as California.

Tim Walker, Relational Storage, 2013

Tim Walker, Relational Storage, 2013

For newcomers, the lure is the unique support of Assets for Artists, plus the considerable assets of North Adams itself: natural beauty, affordability, and a happening arts culture.

Last year’s new artists have wasted no time becoming part of the local scene. Natalie Tyler, a glass artist from California, is renting a downtown storefront from which she’ll sell her glass sculpture and teach workshops. Metalsmith Kristal Romano, who moved to North Adams from New Jersey, found her studio at the historic Beaver Mill and will soon be selling her signature torch-fired enamel jewelry in MASS MoCA’s store. Sculpture duo Tim Walker and Samantha Pasapane, from New York and New Jersey (respectively), have set up a workspace at the Blackinton Mill in North Adams. This year, joining their creative skills in wood and metalwork, they plan to launch a collaborative business producing functional objects for the home.

We’ve included some examples of their fantastic work, and you can check out their artist profiles on the A4A blog!

Sarah Tortora, The Transplantable, 2014

Sarah Tortora, The Transplantable, 2014

For the second round of the North Adams Project, we are again taking applications from current residents and new arrivals. It’s an exciting time to be in North Adams: Last year we were named one of the top U.S. cities for young creatives and this year we have the Huffington Post asking, “What is it about the extreme northwestern corner of Massachusetts, squeezed between Mt. Greylock and the Green Mountains of Vermont, that draws such exceptional art institutions?” Throw MASS MoCA’s upcoming expansion into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a city on the precipice of something huge.


Kristal Romano, Torch-Fired Enamel Earrings, 2014

There are plenty of reasons for creatives to call North Adams home: its abundant natural beauty, outdoor recreation, amazingly affordable homes and studio space, and local dynamic art scene. MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program is adding another: financial support and professional development for artists committed to building a creative practice in North Adams. Artists selected to participate in the North Adams Project will receive artist-focused training and match money for investments in their creative enterprises. We’re excited to attract and retain another round of great artists in North Adams and, in the process, make North Adams an even more vibrant place to live and work.

John Ryan, The Tempest, 2013

John Ryan, The Tempest, 2013

We invite artists to apply in two categories: those already living or working in our hometown, and those who have yet to discover North Adams. We’re offering incentives and special programming for new artists eager to put down roots in our hip little city. Artists in all disciplines and financial circumstances are encouraged to apply.

Interested? Learn more about our North Adams Project here. The deadline to apply is May 31, 2015.


Natalie Tyler, Yellow Jacket Nest, 2010

Feel free to email us at with questions and let us know how we can help you achieve a creative future in North Adams!

To learn more about MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program and to stay up to date with the 200+ artists in our network across the Northeast, visit our website, find us on Facebook, and follow us @Assets4Artists on Twitter.

Posted April 10, 2015 by MASS MoCA
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Keeping the Light Alive: Behind the Scenes with Karl

The Dying of the Light: Film as Medium and Metaphor, a film exhibition which featured several massive projectors and analog films, closed to the public last week. In a photo essay, our film technician intern reflects upon the six months he spent tending to one of our highest-maintenance exhibitions. 

By Karl Frederick Mattson

The Dying of the Light: A once continuously looped film exhibition, temperamental in nature, and spliced together with a heavy dose of preservation and nostalgia. The delicate technical maintenance required for such an exhibition came down to a physical science. The projectors — essentially living and breathing mechanical wonders — came with their fair share of daily issues. Given that the exhibition ran constantly for 11 months from opening to close on a daily basis resulted in an indefinite amount of time behind the scenes to keep the bustling machines running.

The following series of images is a brief account of the attentive technical maintenance that was required to preserve and often repair the nearly obsolete presentation, medium, and metaphor of analogue film in a public setting.



The film before the film.



The War Room, where a vast array of film equipment was stored.



The film tech cart, which included all of the necessary projector tinkering tools.



Prepping the ol’ movie theater projector (oil leaks galore) for a new print of Rosa Barba’s The Long Road.



Watching for the green ray while testing out a new print.



Turning on Matthew Buckingham’s False Future, hoping the projector lamp won’t burn out (again).



A box full of used chandeliers.



A trusty bright neon microfiber cloth used to clean Rosa Barba’s Stating The Real Sublime.



Dead light.

Posted February 26, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Film, Interns, The Dying of the Light, Uncategorized
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Thank You from MASS MoCA

As the holiday season whips by in a flurry of flash sales and, well, flurries, it can be easy to get carried away in the “getting” and forget to be thankful for all that we already have. As our fifteenth year becomes our sixteenth year, the staff here at MASS MoCA looks back with gratitude on twelve months’ worth of programming, residencies, and exhibits. From music festivals to educational workshops to large-scale art installations, here are the moments from 2014 that we’re the most thankful for:

Glenn Kotche and David Cossin’s duet at the Bang on a Can Marathon


Nick Veasey and Marilène Oliver’s Kidspace residency


Installing Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre


Having an amazing time at Beck in June


The amazing turnout at our FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival

The transformation that occurs in our galleries at installation time

2014: Teresita Fernandez: As Above So Below Install INTERNAL USE

Doubling the number of students served by our school partnership program

Brayton 3rd Grade Tour

Bang on a Can playing Terry Reily’s In C inside Izhar Patkin’s veiled suite, and…


…working with Ann Hamilton on her Paper Chorus.


We’re thankful to you for making these moments happen, and for joining us to watch them unfold. Can’t wait to see you next year, and the year after…

Posted December 23, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Darren Waterston: Uncertain Beauty, Exhibitions, Kidspace, Uncategorized
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Peeping Leaves from a New Perspective: Your Guide to a Fabulous Fall Weekend in the Northern Berkshires

By Julia Leonardos

Bags of apples straight from the orchard line your pantry. Your stoop is overrun with decorative gourds and festive hay bales. You’ve swapped your shorts and t-shirts for cardigans and lacquered leather boots. You spent the last three hours bushwhacking your way out of a corn maze, your house smells like the Yankee Candle store and Starbucks had a baby, and the Monday Night Football theme song echoes constantly throughout your hallways. That’s right, folks, fall is upon us: nature’s final, fiery burst of beauty before crisp air turns frigid and brilliant trees become barren.

Fall is a pretty big deal out here in the northern Berkshires and so is the weekend that lands closest to the date of October 12. Some call it Columbus Day Weekend, but I’ll refer to it as most Berkshire locals do: the peak of leaf-peeping season. Yes, it is this weekend that the leaf peepers pack up their cars and head to the Berkshires from all directions to see the leaves at their most vivid. And we welcome you, leaf peepers, with open arms, warm hearts, and plenty of picture-perfect landscapes for you to Instagram, no filter required.


After a while, though, staring at trees can get a little boring. We get it — you might get hungry, decide to do some activities, or feel a sudden, overwhelming urge to stare at something else (maybe some art?) for a few hours. That’s where we come in. MASS MoCA and a bevy of other northern Berkshire institutions are here for you if (and when) you decide you want to peep some leaves from a new perspective this weekend. Here’s our guide for the upcoming fall weekend, designed to enhance your leaf peeping with art, events, food, and merriment…


Day 1: Friday, October 10
Arrive at the Porches Inn in North Adams, MA, after work, then, head to Public for dinner and drinks. By 8pm, be at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for The Source, Beth Morrison Projects’ latest music-theater work-in-progress. It’s all about Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning’s decision to leak the most classified material ever released to the public, and the worldwide media hysteria that ensued. The Source premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on October 22, so this is an exclusive chance to be a part of the process and see the show before it premieres.


Day 2: Saturday, October 11

View the Radical Words, Make it New, and Raw Color exhibitions at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown before they come down. In the evening, head back to MASS MoCA for the opening reception of Lee Boroson’s Plastic Fantastic, in Building 5, our largest gallery space (yes, that’s the gallery where Xu Bing’s Phoenix was) at 5pm. You can make reservations for the reception here. Next up, just a few steps away in Building 10, is guitar hero Gary Lucas, who is playing his original live score to the 1935 Chinese cinematic touchstone The Goddess (for only the second time in North America!) up in Club B-10, starting at 8pm. That leaves you plenty of time to chow down on some burritos/sandwiches/ice cream at Lickety Split in between the opening and the show.

Day 3: Sunday, October 12
In the morning, dive into the 900-acre Berkshire wood for some up-close and personal leaf-peeping at Ramblewild forest adventure park. You can zipline, swing, climb, and slide from tree to tree on one of their many forest trails. If you’re like me and you want to have both of your feet on solid ground as often as humanly possible, you can also (free of charge) take a meditative walk in the forest as you watch the other members of your party jump from tree to tree above you.


In the afternoon, head to the MASS MoCA galleries to relax and rejuvenate by taking in all of our exhibitions at your own pace. As you head home, look out your car window and admire the rolling Berkshire mountain range that has inspired so many literary greats, and Instagram a couple photos so your friends know that you did, in fact, take in some foliage during your fall weekend in the northern Berkshires.



Posted October 9, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Exhibitions, Lickety Split, North Adams, Openings, Theater, Uncategorized
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FreshGrass and R.O.P.E.S Team up for FreshGround

By Alliey Pevay

With FreshGrass around the corner, I am busy readying the campground for festival-goers. I have realized that FreshGround camping has become an important part of the North Adams community since its inception. As a resident of this city, it is exciting to see its culture intertwines with the culture of MASS MoCA and the bluegrass festival. A portion of camping pass proceeds is given to the R.O.P.E.S. program, which in turn provides organization and logistics to operate the campground, while a local sports team often provides concessions. In the past, campers from R.O.P.E.S. have helped lay out campsites in addition to helping FreshGround campers move in their gear.

R.O.P.E.S. is a camp run by local law enforcement and emergency personnel. The acronym stands for “Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem.” Campers divide into six teams, each led by an officer, and are challenged by low and high ropes courses to encourage teamwork and friendly competition, as well as overcome difficult obstacles physically and mentally.


Each course has a different objective and a new lesson to be learned. One example of this would be the “Leap of Faith.” This obstacle is a high ropes course in which a camper is hooked to a harness and grounded (via a thick climbing rope) by his or her group leader. A call-and-response communication method is used: a camper starts with, “Team can I trust you?” and the team echoes back, “You can trust us.” “Spotters ready?” comes next, with the leader responding, “Spotters ready.” Finally: “Ready to climb?” and the leader responds, “Climb away.” The camper then begins ascending thirty-five feet up the pegs hammered into a tree until he or she reaches a one square foot platform. Once at the platform, the camper is challenged to leap in an attempt to touch or grab a ball hanging about three feet away before flying back down to the ground.


As a young camper, I sat on that platform and was too scared to jump, as both my leader and teammates yelled up to me that I would be okay and could make the leap. Eventually someone suggested that I climb back down, and I did so with haste. After one year of R.O.P.E.S., campers may return as mentors who assist leaders in getting the kids through the obstacles. As a mentor, I still was afraid of the aforementioned course, but somehow the campers talked me into putting that harness and helmet back on and trying again. As I reached the platform and gazed down at my team, I was struck again with fear. This time, as my leader picked me up off my feet and scooted me closer to the edge, I heard one camper yell that I would be doing push-ups for the rest of the week if I did not jump. So I laughed and took the plunge and on my way down learned that trust really is key to any relationship.


As a member of the R.O.P.E.S. program, not only did I learn about teamwork, trust, respect, and all the other usual camp “take-aways,” but having law enforcement officials trust me with campers up in a tree while they set up the next event taught me a great deal about responsibility and accountability as a mentor. This experience gave me the opportunity to take the work I did and use it to form connections through my teenage years and into adulthood. As an intern for FreshGrass I now work with Lieutenant Dave Sacco – who I know well as the head of R.O.P.E.S. – as we map out campsites for the FreshGround area.

R.O.P.E.S. is not only meaningful to me, but to many North Adams families. Having a positive, organic experience with law enforcement has the ability to open the eyes of local youth. The proceeds from each FreshGround camping pass help the program continue growing for years to come, and for that I am grateful.

If you want further information check out R.O.P.E.S.’ website, as well as MASS MoCA’s website for tickets to FreshGrass.

Posted September 10, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, FreshGrass, Interns, North Adams, Uncategorized
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MASS MoCA: A Fusion of Arts

By Danelle Cheney
Previously published on August 15th, 2014, by AEQAI 

In fall of 2009, I sat on my bed in a small apartment surfing the web with the fervor only a student soon-to-be graduate has. I wanted an internship — preferably an affordable one (a tall order in today’s arts economy, to be sure)— at a decidedly Really Cool Place.

Somewhere along the way, I found a link about MASS MoCA’s internship program. It sounded too good to be true, and to be honest… it very nearly is. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is a collection of mind-boggingly huge galleries and venues located in the Berkshire mountains, an area that looks straight out of a fairy tale (and — fittingly perhaps — is the place Herman Melville wrote his famous tale). No, it’s not in Boston (a running joke among staff); it’s as far as you can get from Boston while still in the state of Massachusetts.

A little history: the galleries and performance venues are in renovated factory buildings constructed by Arnold Print Works (from approximately 1860 to 1890) along the Hoosic River in North Adams, Massachusetts. Arnold Print Works was forced to consolidate as a result of the Great Depression and sold the site to Sprague Electric Company in 1942. Sprague played a major role in the manufacture of materials needed for WWII and later government projects such as the Gemini Moon Missions, but closed in 1985 due to overseas competition. The director of the nearby Williams College Museum of Art was looking for a large space to exhibit contemporary art and the mayor of North Adams, John Barrett, suggested the huge former Sprague campus (13 acres, to be exact) — voilá. Joseph Thompson, also working at the Williams College Museum of Art, was named founding director of MASS MoCA, and after a lot of work to acquire funding, conduct feasibility studies, and complete renovations, etc., the rest is history. Thompson still spearheads the museum today, working with plenty of other dedicated folks who have been there since before the doors opened; they celebrated MASS MoCA’s 15th anniversary in May of this year.

YouTube Preview Image

North Adams is small, with neat rows of colorful houses and an overload of cute churches. There’s good food (Jack’s Hot Dogs and The Hub) and plenty of other cultural attractions nearby: Williams College Museum of Art, the Clark Art Institute, Jacob’s Pillow Dance, Natural Bridge State Park, and Mount Greylock (the highest point in the state). It’s a cozy, unassuming place for either a weekend getaway or a longer vacation. Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, is adjacent.

MASS MoCA’s campus feels comfortably human and welcoming. Maybe it’s because when we go to a museum, we’ve come to expect sterile white rooms, gilded gold frames, and plenty of signs saying “Don’t Touch the Art.” Maybe it’s because we don’t usually get to look at fine art before a rock concert. It’s a little intoxicating to see art — visual and performance — among exposed brick walls and pipes and old metal staircases and nice big picture windows with breathtaking views. You still shouldn’t touch, but, well… maybe you won’t get yelled at if you do (like being at Grandma’s house: don’t touch, and here’s a cookie instead).

As an intern, I was lucky enough to get a tour of some buildings still awaiting renovation. They’re full of potential and history, and are a little haunting with old Sprague office supplies and hardware hanging around. The MASS MoCA crew is ever resourceful (naturally) — Nari Ward’s 2012 exhibition Sub Mirage Lignum  repurposed old Sprague capacitors as part of an installation of giant foam sculptures. That exhibition also included a suspended 30-foot wooden boat and 60-foot replica of a basket-woven fish trap that made me feel like I was standing at the mouth of Jonah’s whale.

Ward’s exhibition wasn’t even in the largest gallery space, which is roughly the size of an American football field. Previous installations in that gallery have included nine cars suspended from the ceiling (Inopportune by Cai Guo-Qiang), light projections and large comfy bean bags from which to observe them (Projections by Jenny Holzer), an upside-down house with exterior glass walls (Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle), silver particles fabricated at a scale of 25,000 times their original size (The Nanjing Particles by Simon Starling), psychedelic piles of soil and shards of styrofoam during my internship (One Floor Up More Highly by Katharina Grosse), and, most recently, two awe-inspiring birds constructed from discarded construction materials in China (Phoenix by Xu Bing: watch an installation video here).

MASS MoCA’s must-see exhibitions are an enormous Sol LeWitt Retrospective and a new long-term exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Anselm Kiefer. Both occupy an entire building: three floors are dedicated to LeWitt’s wall drawings, and 10,000 square feet house Kiefer’s rich and layered work.

LeWitt’s wall drawings were executed with great care and precision over six months, and ordered semi-chronologically. The number, scale, and variety of this installation is staggering — this retrospective alone is worth the trip to the Berkshires (TIME named it top exhibition of the year when it first opened). It’s a dizzying maze of color, texture, and pattern that one really doesn’t mind getting lost in. Luckily it’s in place until 2033 at least, because it’s an installation that gets better each time you visit. If you’re not a conceptual art connoisseur or familiar with Sol LeWitt, I recommend taking a tour.

In addition to stunning galleries, MASS MoCA attracts crowds for both music and theatre performances. Recent shows have included Beck and Iron & Wine, and huge crowds (we’re talking 5,000+) appear for the Solid Sound Festival that is curated by Wilco. The museum also hosts the Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival, which provides composers and performers a chance to explore contemporary music and share it daily in the galleries (sadly, this just ended the first week of August, but take note for next year). There are films showing both indoors and outdoors in the courtyard, and a beer garden during warm summer months. Oh, and, of course, there’s Kidspace, a set of galleries and exhibitions and activities especially for the small ones.

Currently on view (in addition to the year-round Sol LeWitt Retrospective and seasonal exhibitions including Anselm Kiefer) are Uncertain Beauty by Darren Waterston (a contemporary interpretation of James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room; review by The Boston Globe here), Eclipse by Elizabeth Kolbert and Sayler/Morris (exploring extinction through the story of the once-plentiful passenger pigeon), The Dying of the Light: Film as Medium and Metaphor featuring the work of six artists, and… plenty more.

What made me fall in love with MASS MoCA? Several things: the love and dedication of the staff, from the interns to security to senior management. Their ability to ask “What’s art? We’re not sure, but let’s find out.” The inclusive nature, where experimentation and questions are not only encouraged, but actively sought. The fusion of visual art, installation, performance, music, and festivals defines this most contemporary of art spaces. I’m looking forward to seeing what MASS MoCA does over the next 15 years.

By Danelle Cheney with gracious help from Marissa Kurtzhals

More information can be found at and

Posted September 5, 2014 by MASS MoCA
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