On September 28, 2022

Amateur artists to gather at Pittsfield Town Hall

By Brett Yates

A new monthly event in Pittsfield called Art in Our Heart will hold its first gathering at the Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 6:30 p.m.

Pittsfield resident Suzanne Ellis has spearheaded the initiative, which aims to bring locals of all ages and backgrounds together to make art among their neighbors. Attendees will bring their own supplies and work on independent projects in a supportive, communal atmosphere.

“Maybe you do watercolor; I do acrylic; maybe somebody else is doing collage,” Ellis imagined. “I’m not an instructor. I’m just somebody that loves art and creating, so I’m just acting as the leader to bring the community together.”

Further down the line, she speculated, the group could decide to coordinate on a collective project, bring in a professional artist to teach a class, or “do something like a Paint and Sip.” For these kinds of events, Art in Our Heart might encourage donations, but for now, admission is totally free of charge.

According to Ellis, the idea came to her during a visit to the Pittsfield town office, where she encountered Town Clerk Tricia Fryer and Betty Warner, a member of the board of listers.

“We were all talking about our art, and I said, ‘How cool would it be if we just picked one night a month and met and talked about the projects we’re working on and kind of did it together?’” Ellis recounted. “Betty said to me, ‘It needs a leader that has some energy around it.’”

Feedback at the first meeting will help determine the calendar for gatherings in subsequent months.

Traditionally, community events in Pittsfield have taken place at the Roger Clark Memorial Library, but Ellis, hoping to attract perhaps a dozen painters and sculptors, worried that the space might be too small this time. On Sept. 15, the Pittsfield Select Board granted permission for a one-time use of the town hall on Oct. 5.

“This is the kind of group that we want to encourage to come in,” Board Chair Ann Kuendig said.

But Ellis’s request for ongoing access seemed to have caught the board unprepared. “We need to look at our insurance. Do we need to come up with a rental agreement, or at least a policy on what kinds of groups we’re going to have?” Kuendig wondered.

Ellis lives across the street from the town hall but noted that she’d never seen the inside. “I see people go into the Select Board meetings, and I also know other communities that are doing things with their buildings and have activities going on, whether it be for seniors for coffee, or have a yoga class there or bingo, things like that,” she said. “It’s been in the back of my mind that we should be using this building.”

An ongoing renovation of the town hall could pose scheduling challenges for Art in Our Heart, Ellis said, but she’d gotten the impression that the Select Board otherwise strongly supported opening the building to greater community use.

“They’re really psyched about this idea,” Ellis said. “I know in the future, they do want this to happen. They want it to continue.”

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