Let Local Art Lift Your Heart
- Visit North Central
No matter what’s going on in the world around you …. you’ve got to have art!
It’s been a difficult year for museum-goers, with galleries closing or offering limited hours or attendance. But as the country continues to open up, those gallery doors are swinging wider — including right here in North Central Massachusetts.
This region is home to a host of art venues, from the expansive Fitchburg Art Museum to the intimate GALA Gallery in Winchendon. Works on display run the gamut, too, from the treasures of the Russian Icon Museum to an astounding array of works by local artists at the Boulder Gallery in Fitchburg and Gallery Sitka in Shirley.
So much to see!
Where to begin?
For 85 years, the Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft has been a “must-see” event at the Fitchburg Art Museum. One of the oldest juried exhibitions in New England, this summer tradition strives to discover and celebrate the artists and crafters of our region by s
howing their work in a museum environment and connecting them to fellow artists, patrons, and enthusiasts.
This show, featuring art works from oil paintings to sculpture and photography, generally runs from June through Labor Day — but before heading out to visit, stop by the Museum’s website (fitchburgartmuseum.org) for updated information on exhibition dates and hours.
Can’t wait for the Regional Exhibition? The Museum has regular changing exhibitions of contemporary artists throughout the year. From April through June 6, you can enjoy The BIG Picture: Giant Photographs and Powerful Portfolios —recent acquisitions to the Museum’s growing collection of photography in two categories: very large digital color prints by twenty contemporary artists, and portfolios of multiple related works by André Kertész, Steve Locke, Kenji Nakahashi, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, and Barbara Norfleet. And here’s a tip: You can explore the exhibition online or in person.
Also at the Fitchburg museum through June 6 is Cloth is Money: Textiles from the Sahel, illustrating the complex and timeless value of woven cloth from the southern border of the Sahara and exploring weaving techniques, designs, and symbols in conjunction with the rich trade history and cultural role of textiles in the region.
If you’ve never visited The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, you’re in for a surprise — and if you’re a returning visitor, you’ll be thrilled to see the newest exhibitions at this local gem. Home to the largest collection of icons outside of Russia (and the only museum in the United States dedicated to Russian icons), the Museum is housed in a 150-year-old mill building — but it features a terrace with a green roof, a tea room, and performance facilities to accommodate lectures and concerts, along with three floors of galleries.
Within its walls you’ll discover a permanent collection of icons gathered by Clinton industrialist and Museum founder Gordon Lankton, as well as special exhibitions ranging from contemporary Russian art to icons from other Orthodox cultures.
This spring, you can explore Miniature Masterpeices: Russian Lacquer Boxes, a display for more than 100 papier-mâché treasures decorated with miniature paintings of folk scenes and fairy tales, lacquered and polished to a high sheen. The exhibition runs through May 23 — but you can enjoy a sneak peek in a virtual exhibition at www.museumofrussianicons.org/miniature-masterpieces.
Also on display this season is Pysanka: Symbol of Renewal, paintings inspired by Ukrainian Easter Eggs (through May 9); Painted Poetry: Alexander Gassel, a Retrospective, an exhibition of contemporary paint-ings by the Russian-born American artist and designer (through September 25); and Atomic Alert!: Confronting the “The Bomb” in the New Atomic Age, a look at the U. S. government’s Cold War-era efforts to educate Americans about what to do before, during, and after an atomic blast (June 28—August 15).
Beyond Museum Walls
In addition to these local art museums, visitors can swing by a number of area galleries to see what local artists are creating these days.
Located an easy walk from the Fitchburg Art Museum, the Boulder Art Gallery in downtown Fitchburg, open Thursdays through Saturdays, features original art, vintage art, photography, and prints — and spotlights artwork artists in a variety of mediums and styles by both emerging and established local and regional artists.
The GALA gallery in Winchendon, located behind the town’s History & Cultural Center, has been closed due to the Covid pandemic, but is expected to open in the spring — so be sure to check their website (galagardner.org) or Facebook page for details on the re-opening. And until the doors of the former barn are open again, you can take a virtual tour of the gallery when you “drop by” the GALA website.
But while the gallery has been closed, the Gardner Area League of Artists has continued planning for its Spring Art Show, which is moving to the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston this year. The show is scheduled for May 21-23; for information on hours and other details, check the website or Facebook page.
Spending a day in the country? Take a little road trip to the Petersham Art Center, a charming gallery and shop that’s open from noon to 4 pm on
Wednesdays through Sundays. Paintings, photography, textiles, jewelry, pottery, clothing, ironwork, paper works, glass, and much more fill the shop, along with books by regional authors. Enjoy the afternoon browsing — and then wrap up your visit to this picturesque town with a stop for a meal at the Petersham Country Store!
Drawing on a theme of connecting with nature, Gallery Sitka in Shirley is holding its annual Earth Day 2021 exhibition from April 23 through June 1. The show will focus on works that are related to the artists’ personal connection with nature.
It’s time to let art lift your spirits — right here in the heart of New England.
Fitchburg Art Museum
185 Elm St., Fitchburg
203 Union St., Clinton
Boulder Art Gallery
960 Main St., Fitchburg
135 Front St., Winchendon
Petersham Art Center
8 North St., Petersham
2 Shaker Rd., Shirley