In Cummington, Main Street becomes an art gallery

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CUMMINGTON — Beckie Kravetz’s interactive sculpture, “Time to Reflect: A Human Sundial,” lets people use their own shadow, a symbol of death, to tell the time. Time and looking back on the past are the theme of “Reflections,” a show staged up and down Main Street.

“All artists were encouraged to submit work that reflects Cummington’s agricultural history or scenic beauty,” explained Hunt Chase, secretary and fiscal officer of the Cummington Cultural District Committee (CDCC). “That’s why there is a common thread.”

“Miss Comet”, a sculpture by Sergei Usopov, uses the subtle remnants of time, which is cracked and broken, to freeze time. The giant head of a girl with bright red lips and a cute nose wears a mosaic of broken tiles, pottery shards and shattered crockery in her hair. The size of the head and the apprehensive expression of “Miss Comet” – why did I land upside down? – stops traffic.

“He asked to produce a sculpture in front of his own property,” said Leslie Ferrin, Usopov’s business partner. Ferrin also coordinated the show and is an expert in ceramic art. “It is one of nine projects that have been funded. They were all funded by the committee making the decisions.

The CCDC, created in 2019 to take the steps for Cummington to be designated a cultural district by the Mass Cultural Council, sponsored the projects and the show. The Hill Town Community Development Commission administered grants from RuralLISC, the Mass Cultural Council and Eversource.

Visitors to the Main Street Fair will see an image documentary of the Sheep and Bull Fair in Holly Lynton’s ‘At the Fair, 2022’. Residents of Cummington and beyond will be on display, projected out of the Historic Commission building on Main Street.

“The fair is one of the most historic and regular events that takes place here,” Ferrin said. “In Cummington, I think it’s over 150 years old. It is looking back and documenting the passage of time.

Museums preserve the past and its art. In Jane Dyer and Gail Roberge’s play, “The Tiny Museum,” miniature rooms with tiny dolls seem to show that our lives have a museum quality. Preservation is also one of the intentions of “Time Machine”, the installation of Phil Shedd and Becky Waterhouse, a fun colored box. Current and future children are invited to draw on the large box with fun colors and contribute to the sculpture.

Chase thought Ana Busto’s “Spring Bears” was “pretty fantastic”.

“I was watching it today and taking pictures,” Chase said. “It’s sourced from local materials and is a collaborative effort from a group of well-known growers in the Hilltowns.”

Chase learned a lot as a member of the committee working to designate the town as a cultural district. Cummington has a long artistic tradition dating back to the first decades of the last century. The Cummington Art School and Bryant Homestead show that art has been important to city dwellers for a very long time.

“The programming they did there,” Chase said, “it shows there’s a long-standing appreciation for arts and theater in the Hilltowns.”

Engagement with the community made it necessary to host two opening receptions for the show. The first opening, June 24, was for the project created by ceramics students at Chesterfield and New Hingham elementary schools. Led by art teacher Leo Quiles, the students created large ceramic beads that will hang between the trees at the local elementary school.

On July 2, a reception will be held in Pettingill Park at 14 Main Street at the Gazebo from 5 to 7 p.m. The opening will be followed by a counter-dance hosted by the Friday Night Café.

Ferrin didn’t want anyone to worry about too much exercise. “Main Street,” she said, “is an easy walk from one end to the other.”

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