Brick + Mortar = An international video art festival In Greenfield’s historic buildings

September 25, 2009

What do you get when you mix historic buildings, cutting edge contemporary art, and powerful political issues? Visit downtown Greenfield on Saturday, October 10 from 2 p.m. to midnight and you’ll find out. That day, downtown Greenfield will be transformed into a temporary art district as site of the first Brick + Mortar International Video Art Festival.

The festival is a unique opportunity to experience more than 30 video works by 25 artists from across the country and globe and to explore the historic buildings near the intersection of Main Street and Bank Row. The festival will include video art installations in several buildings, a panel discussion with exhibiting artists, a flip-book animation workshop for children between 7 and 12 years old, an exhibit of GCC students’ video art, and a party with live music in the evening. The festival is a collaboration between Conjunction Arts and Greenfield Community College, the Greenfield Business Association, building owners, local businesses and the Mayor’s Office. The festival is curated by Natasha Becker, Mellon Assistant Director in the Research and Academic Program, at the Clark Art Institute. All Festival events are free and open to the public. The Greenfield Business Association will have a tent on the Greenfield Common (Court Square) with maps, schedules, and information.

Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura, Art Department Chair Paul Lindale, and Associate Dean of Humanities Leo Hwang-Carlos have been instrumental in helping turn video artist and Greenfield historic building owner Bradley McCallum’s idea for an international video festival into reality. Lindale said, “This is perhaps an unparalleled opportunity to see this many video art works first-hand in one day and a unique opportunity for GCC art students to exhibit video work alongside that of professional artists. We are recruiting art students to help run the festival, providing them with critical experiences in exhibition preparation, set up, break down, and as greeters at the various venues. We expect that students and faculty from area colleges and universities will also attend the festival.”

Bradley McCallum, owner of the Abercrombie Building on Bank Row, sees the festival as an opportunity for discovery. He said, “Festival-goers will get an introduction to video art as a medium, a chance to engage with the ideas the artists explore, and an opportunity to discover architectural treasures at the heart of downtown Greenfield, including the First National Bank, the Abercrombie Building, and others. There is a renaissance underfoot in Greenfield – Greenfield has the potential to become a cultural center, a link in the cultural chain in northwestern Massachusetts. This festival will show that contemporary art is welcome in Greenfield.”

In the many nooks, crannies and open spaces of those buildings will be video art, short pieces and longer pieces, running on continuous loops so viewers can move between the spaces and step into watching a work at any point. Festival Curator Natasha Becker said, “Video art is about exploring boundaries. This is what makes it attractive to me and why I wanted to do a video art festival. The artists I have selected are all about exploring boundaries. Rico Gaston’s ‘History Lessons’ (2004) and the collaborative partners Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry’s ‘Within Our Gates’ (2008) explore, in different ways, narratives from and about the past and their power in the present. Micol Hebron and Hillary Mushkin take on a more current issue, that of the U.S. war in Iraq, in their video work. Other works, by Lucas Michael or Koken Ergun, probe the formation of identity and the boundaries of our sexual orientations. There is also work that explores the politics of urban space, as in Jonathan Calm’s video about the projects in New York City, and work that explores the crossing of boundaries, as in Sue Williamson’s video about African immigrants coming to South Africa in search of opportunities.”

GCC’s Associate Dean of Humanities, Leo Hwang-Carlos, reflected on the importance of the festival. He said, “Creativity is crucial in any endeavor, we all need to be flexible and open to new things. This festival happening in Greenfield at this particular time is all about possibility, optimism, and opportunity. It is a fantastic opportunity for the College and the community.”

For information, visit the festival website created by Paul Lindale at www.greenfieldvideofest.org or contact Becky George, Greenfield Business Association at 413-774-2791.