Monday, April 16, 2012


Artscape Announces New Group of Sculptures Now Being Installed in Downtown Pittsfield

"Call Me Melville" Theme Embraced by All Applicants

PITTSFIELD, Mass., Apr. 26, 2012-- Artscape, the public outdoor art exhibition, today announced the selection of seven new artworks that are being installed in various locations within Downtown Pittsfield. In keeping with the city's year-long celebration of Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby-Dick, which was written in Pittsfield, all of the 2012 sculptures adhere to the Moby Dick theme.

Installation began in early April, and will continue through the month until all have been placed. The art spans a broad spectrum, from decorative to inspirational, functional to whimsical. Some sculptures are installed at ground level, and others on light poles. All can be appreciated by people of all ages. Locations are wide-ranging and are on private and public land, including Dunham Mall in front of City Hall, Bank Row, Park Square, and city planters and medians along the city streetscape.

Artists selected for this year's installations come from the mid-Atlantic and New England region, including three from the Berkshires. Each work has its own distinct personality and appearance, with notable installations including:

a large representation of Melville's pen, with flowing ink forming the shape of a whale (City Hall garden on Allen St.); twin octopi flying from a light pole at the Colonial Theatre. Lighted by LEDs, the work takes on an especially dramatic look at night; and a figure of Moby-Dick itself, in the planter on Bank Row.

Artists chosen for this year's new installations include C.R. Gray, whose "Sail" is made of New England fieldstone, steel and limestone; C.R. Gray also has a sculpture called "Great White Whale" made of white granite; Matt Thomases, a bronze bust of "Ahab"; Mark Hanford and Bill Tobin (of Pittsfield), a "Breaching Whale" made of welded steel; plus the above-mentioned: Paul Angiolillo ("Melville's Pen"), Donna Dodson ("Moby Dick"), and Marissa Dipaola ("Twin Octopi")

In addition to these juried items, there is also a special downtown bench that will be wired so as to read a random passage of Moby Dick whenever someone sits down on it. The passages are being recorded with a wide variety of local people from all walks of life, and is being created by Berkshires composer Evan Lurie and sculptor Joe Wheaton.

"The outdoor display of public art has always been a crowd-pleaser, and each year the artists' creativity stirs the imagination and encourages discussion," stated Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi. "Artscape contributes to the downtown personality, and give people one more reason to visit and spend more time walking our vibrant City streets."

Artscape includes sculptures, banners, and street signs that energize and add whimsy and beauty to the city. The exhibition has been ongoing for 12 years, with new additions coming into rotation each year.

The mission of the city of Pittsfield’s Artscape program is to enhance the downtown’s character and attract visitors by installing and promoting works of art in various outdoor locations accessible to the public throughout the downtown area.

In celebration of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, I wanted to create a sculpture of the novel’s hero. Melville was a brilliant writer. He created the Captain of the ship who sought revenge on the whale who had harmed him, not from malice, but from some animal instinct. I came away from the novel thinking of the nature of the whale & the feeling that the whale just being itself- a wild animal, unpredictable, fierce and mysterious. I made some technical breakthroughs in the making of this piece. Normally, I sculpt directly in wood, allowing the grain pattern and shape to dictate the forms that I create. When I work outdoor on a monumental scale, I use Styrofoam which has no grain pattern, and I use cement to create the surface. Then I often paint them to bring in color and texture to the surface area. Although outdoor work should be bold, and I believe that it should make a strong visual statement, I miss the naturalism of working with wood whenever I work in foam and cement. With Moby Dick, I was able to realize the sculpture using only natural materials to achieve the surface and texture. In turn, these materials help to emphasize the nature of the whale.

Update: Robert Whitcomb wrote about this piece on This New England blog for the Providence Journal in an article 'A Whale of a Town." Paul Rapp invited me to talk about my work on Friday May 4th, for the Splatto Festival radio program which airs on WBCR-LP 97-7 FM in Great Barrington and streams at The SPLATTO FESTIVAL airs on Fridays from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. The full interview here. Andy Moerlein captured the installation on video.

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