Necee Regis
The Boston Globe
January 20, 2013

Melanie Mowinski stood near the fully automated Vandercook press, at PRESS in North Adams.
(Image by Necee Regis for the Boston Globe)

“I want to introduce you to Darth Vader’s mother,” said Jarvis Rockwell, holding up a small plastic toy.

We were in his Main Street studio, standing next to an 11-foot-high stepped pyramid sculpture lined with thousands of action figurines, including personalities real and fictional, from the queen of England and Whoopi Goldberg to Jesus, Shakespeare, Freud, E.T., and Gandolf from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Rockwell, 81, son of the famed illustrator Norman Rockwell, is one of dozens of artists working and exhibiting in reclaimed storefronts in this northern Berkshires town that is home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country.

In an effort to spur local development and promote local art, the program Downtown Street Art, now in its fifth year, was created by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.

“The goal is to bring foot traffic to North Adams,” said Jonathan Secor, who teaches arts management at MCLA and is director of MCLA Gallery 51.

“Using art as a catalyst, the program turns empty storefronts into pop-up galleries. We’ve had close to 100,000 visitors in five years, and five new businesses were started,” he said.

Click here for the full article and profiles of the North Adams Artists’ Co-Operative Gallery (NAACO Gallery), PRESS, studio21south, Martha Flood Design, River Hill Pottery, and Hudson’s at bostonglobe.com.