Grass Gallery – a brief history

Grass Gallery was our follow-up to Avalon Seafood, which had two exciting seasons in North Adams. After flexing our muscles in the tiny Avalon Seafood space, we coordinated with MCLA and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center to program a much larger space around the corner. We christened this space Grass Gallery since grass is ubiquitous, second only to dirt. Once again, the storefront was a diamond in the rough, a “raw” space, though I had helped clean it up three years prior for the first incarnation of the North Adams Artists’ Co-op Gallery. Small world!

Inspired by Mark Danner’s investigative journalism, I wanted to organize a show of anti-war art. So I asked my friend and colleague Richard Rand if he’d be the juror, and we put out a call to artists, and we received dozens of submissions from around the world, and we produced “End of an Empire: a Survey of Anti-War Art”. Eighteen superb artists held down the walls and floor for an extended two month run. There were lectures, artist talks, music, and more. North Adams has a large veterans community, and we were happy so many veterans came to the show and had a positive reaction. We didn’t end war in our time, but we were able to bear witness and host informed debate.

To follow up this success, Claire and I wanted to present an immersive environment with the hundreds of tiny figures she creates. We also wanted to work with our friend Ann Scott, who had curated a show of contemporary political prints from Oaxaca and was keen to exhibit new work from the same collective. We took the risk of intermingling these two ostensibly very different shows. The result was a home run. Bold graphic works hung on the walls, totemic figures flooded the center of the room, and they had a conversation. Turns out disparate schools of art have more in common than one might think.

Artists who showed at Grass Gallery included Rose Desiano, Susan C Dessel, Christina Ernst, Paula Everett, Rosemary Eden Fitzgerald, Claire Fox, David Gyscek, Lisa Hecht, Artemis Herber, Wayne Hopkins, Erin Ko, Daniel Monteavaro, Nabawia El-Soudani Olivera, Kevin Orlosky, Humberto Ramirez, Joy J Rotblatt, Elizabeth White, Cathy Wysocki, and the ASARO Collective of Oaxaca. The gallery was active in 2011.

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