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IS183 Art School Announces Virtual Pop-up Holiday Shop
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
01:54PM / Saturday, December 05, 2020
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STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — IS183 Art School is hosting its first-ever Virtual Pop-up Holiday Shop from Friday, Dec. 4, through Friday, Dec. 11. For the week of the pop-up shop, the public can support Berkshire County artists by purchasing their work through this virtual market.

This virtual shop will launch on the art school's website and will include miniature shops for each of the 13 participating artists who will have more than 200 artworks for sale.

Each miniature shop holds the artist's merchandise along with videos and biographies to learn more about the artist and their creative process.

The event is set to support artists in two ways: 70 percent of the sales go directly to the artist and 30 percent goes to the school, which is the largest employer of local visual arts in the region.

Local investment group Mill Town Capital is sponsoring the pop-up shop.

The pieces for sale range in price, beginning at $15. There is a wide variety of gifts available including jewelry, textiles, homemade bowls and mugs, and of course an array of paintings.

"You really get to see, even without being in person, you get to see a glimpse into their studio and hear about what inspired them to create the work that is on sale," Executive Director Lucie Castaldo said. "That really follows our mission to connect artists with the community."

With the holiday season approaching, IS183 wanted to continue providing community-based programming that will support the work of local artists and bring attention to what they are doing.

"It's a really rich variety of different mediums," Castaldo said. "And that to me, as an artist and as Director of the art school, is just so exciting to see."

Because of COVID-19, artists are facing a time when they don't have the opportunity to sell work because gallery shows, festivals and holiday fairs have been canceled. 

"Once COVID-19 struck in March, one of the biggest issues that were most clear to me is that our local artists are really the ones who are being hit, I wouldn't necessarily say the hardest, but right up there in the groups that are being hit hard," Castaldo said.

She said IS183 has held holiday fairs in the past, but never a virtual one. She credited the art school's staff and participating artists for making this virtual event run smoothly.  

"I have such a fabulous team," Castaldo said. "So in my eyes, I feel like this was incredibly streamlined and our artists had work ready and are very professional and are established in their careers so everybody was phenomenal to work with."

Last year, IS183 produced Art Town in the Onota Building on North Street, which was part of the Festive Frolic in Pittsfield. This was a community installation that housed a giant pop-up coloring book that people could walk into and be surrounded by a coloring book world.

This installation had free "take-and-make" art kits for children and a room filled with blow-up furniture and light tables for color exploration. Castaldo said it was really geared around bringing art to the community.

She thinks this virtual shop will be a great way for the public to match a face with art pieces they may have seen out in the community. She used the example of Jesse Tobin McCauley, who recently worked on the mural titled "The Sun Will Rise" at the corner of North and Linden Street in Pittsfield and who has painted pieces on the exterior of The Lantern Bar and Grill in the city.

"It's opportunities like this that really put a face to the artist behind the visual," Castaldo said.

In addition to the Holiday Pop-up Shop, Tobin McCauley will be speaking more in-depth about her work in a virtual event that the art school will hold in March. She is also part of IS183's art-centric curriculum, which positions locals artists as masters whose work is studied and used as inspiration for pieces created by children.

Castaldo said the children will learn about Tobin McCauley's process as they would Pablo Picasso's, but will able to see that she grew up in Berkshire County just like themselves. This program is new as of March and will be virtual until the virus permits in-person meetings.

In January 2021, IS183 will be launching an art program to local elementary and middle schools.

Virtual programming has been well received and the art school plans on continuing it even after it is able to have in-person programming, Castaldo said.

Additionally, recorded classes will be added to IS183's curriculum with sliding scale tuition to provide an accessible and socially distanced art education to the public.

"We're movers and shakers over here," Castaldo said. "So we really took that kind of quiet time that we had and I was very lucky to have been able to retain our full staff, so when we weren't having students in the door and everyone was working remotely we started working on some programs that cans till support local artists."

The Virtual Pop-up Holiday Shop will feature work from these artists:

  • Kim Waterman - Jewelry
  • Jesse Tobin McCauley - Paintings
  • Dylan W. Kubis - Photographs
  • Victoria Fiorini - Jewelry
  • Diane Firtell – Prints
  • Ben Evans - Ceramics
  • Amy DiLalla of The Peach Tree – Jewelry
  • Elizabeth Spangler – Paintings
  • Ali Herrman- Encaustic Paintings & Assemblage
  • Stacy Scibelli – Textiles
  • Lorimer Burns – Ceramics
  • Thaddeus B. Kubis – Photography
  • Brielle Rizzotti – Plush "Pooties"

For more information on IS183 Art School visit is183.org, call 413-298-5252 x100 or email info@is183.org.

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