public art

Local Theater Groups and Upcoming Productions

If you’re in need of an escape from reality, Lowell’s various theater groups have upcoming productions that can do just that.  From plays that embody the relationship between two dissimilar family members, to festivals that celebrate females in film, these productions are ready to let you flee from your daily responsibilities.

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Merrimack Repertory Theater

MRT remains true to their mission statement to “share theatrical stories of human understanding that reflect and engage community” for 40 years. Under the direction of Artistic Director Sean Daniels and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas, MRT allows their audience an opportunity to be so much more than a spectator in the crowd. They get their audiences to experience the play so deeply it feels as if they’re on the stage themselves.

With the brand new month comes a brand new play for people to enjoy opens February 13th and runs to March 10th.  The World Premiere of “The Heath” by Lauren Gunderson will bring you into the world of family members with dissenting personalities, yet their differences are what makes their relationship that much more beautiful.

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Image Theater

Image Theater was formed in 2005 as a non-profit theater company.  In the nearly 15 years the company has been around, they have made quite a name for themselves as they do so much for local writers, playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers.  Founders Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin have worked with gifted producers in order to produce their fan-favorite “Keep Your Kids at Home” naughty readings; “Mill City Minutes” ten minute plays; and the full length play “Kerouac’s Last Call”. 

Garvin had humbly noted that Image Theater is a “little homeless theater company” as the group does not have one set home stage, however numerous Lowell companies have welcomed their productions with open arms.  You can find Image Theater’s productions at popular Lowell destinations such as The Old Court Pub, The Whistler House Museum of Art, and The Lowell Freshman Academy.  The company will take an interesting spin on Garvin’s “Femnoire: The Women’s Playwriting Festival” to create the “Femme Film Fest”, which will feature short films by women filmmakers from all over New England on May 3rd and 4th.  Shortly following “Femme Film Fest”, the company will also produce some “one-acts” between May and November.  Image Theater rarely follows a “set season”, but you can keep updated about exciting upcoming productions at www.imagetheater.com

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Studio 506

Only a short 5 years after Studio 506’s founding in 2014, what started with a few friends keeping the love of theater alive turned into a successful theater group in Lowell.  Founder Kaitlyn Crockett hopes that Studio 506 sheds the “stigma” around what it means to be a community theater group.  Instead, the company calls themselves an “Indie Theater Company” as they perform shows in creatively unorthodox ways to get the surrounding community connected to their shows.  The group has had success with past productions. Some were performed in the center of a Lowell garden with the audience just inches away from the actors. 

In March, Studio 506 will bring something new to the table with, “Revolt.  She Said.  Revolt Again”, a production written by Alice Birch and directed by Kaitlyn Crockett.  “Revolt” will be performed at the Humanity Boutique, and it will discuss sex and gender in a way that “does not behave”.  Don’t miss this rendition of a play that doesn’t play by the rules by a Lowell group that throws the concept of “ordinary” to the wind. 

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Balefire Theater Group

Similar to Studio 506, Balefire Theater is a recently created theater group (founded in May 2016), that wants to give their audience members a different theater experience.  Past productions, such as “Sherlock Holmes: ‘A Study in Scarlet’”, involved audience members surrounding the action of the play while they are served dinner and drink.  Balefire Theater recently began to adopt this production method of “Dinner Theater” in August of 2017, that allows audiences to enjoy the theater with their eyes- and their stomachs. 

The next opportunity to please your palate will take place from March 21st-24th for the company’s upcoming production of “Waiting for Godot”.  This play takes place in a post-World War II, and explores the awaiting of the mysterious “Godot” through the eyes of the two main characters.  The play is a wonderful mix of history, humor, and the human experience that will serve warmth to your heart with a fresh side of laughter. 

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography


Off-Broadway Players

For locals who are wondering what UMass Lowell students bring to the stage, a Spring production called “Triptych” is currently in the works.  President of the Off-Broadway Players club, Daisy Var, had done a wonderful job of relaying information about all things “OBP” in 2019, but her “lips are sealed” in terms of news for their fall production.  However, there are 6 opportunities for folks to view Triptych from February 27th-March 3rd.  The production will include original pieces that were written by the club’s advisor, Dr. Dale J. Young.  Check out how these UMass Lowell students will bring this new creation to life! 

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The Lowell Public Art Collection: Past, Present, and Future

The Lowell public art collection that we know today began to take its shape during the 1980’s when six works of public art were installed between the years 1984-1989. Lowell native and Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas was key to this boom in public art as he sponsored several pieces and created a public art committee in 1987 to explore new ways to present public art in the city. During these formative years, the Lowell public art collection had become one of the country’s most important visual arts projects.

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

Before Lowell was the public museum that we know and love today, the city’s only public art consisted only of traditional monuments, statues and murals like many other cities had at the time. During the late eighties however, the city introduced several contemporary art pieces such as the “Homage to Women,” “The Lowell Sculptures,” and the recently restored “Pawtucket Prism.” Installing six public art pieces between ’84 and ’89 was an impressive accomplishment for the City of Lowell and the result was a collection of art that not only visually enhances the city, but reflects Lowell’s rich history and culture.

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

In recent years, the city has added several more pieces to its diverse public art collection, each having their own unique theme and relation to Lowell. With hydraulic systems playing such a vital role in Lowell’s industrial era, Enterprise Bank added a public art installation in 2012 that mirrored the cities canals, spillways, and waterfalls. The result was the George L. Duncan Fountains, which consists of three weathering steel stacks, each slightly modified to move water differently.

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

In 2016 the Decatur Way Path was established to display local artists’ murals, poetry installations and other artwork. These artists include students from 26 local schools, UMass Lowell Art Prof. Stephen Mishol, poet Paul Marion, muralists Donald Maker and Kurt Ledoux of Lowell, and artist Liz LaManche of Boston.  This blend of art pays homage to Lowell’s impressive mills and canal ways like many of the past installations do, but it represents the city’s modern culture and values today as well.

Lowell Street Piano. Art by Margo Thach (2018) - Photo Courtesy of Karen Frederick

Lowell Street Piano. Art by Margo Thach (2018) - Photo Courtesy of Karen Frederick

The latest edition to Lowell’s ever expanding public art collection is also an instrument. In October of 2018, the city unveiled its first Street Piano to support the city’s growing music and art scene. The piano was donated to the city by Lowell Resident Paul Belley, and has been transformed into a work of art itself by local artist Margo Thach. Thach has designed the piano with gold accents that capture several themes of Lowell, including a textile mill, the City Hall clock tower and images of Cambodian culture.

Concept art for “Hydro”

Concept art for “Hydro”

The development of Utopia Park located in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District has provided the necessary space for another special public art installation. Artist Nancy Selvage was chosen to create “Hydro,” a large stainless steel fixture with a fluid, abstract design that resembles Lowell’s natural waterfalls and its turbine waterfalls as well. The project is being led by the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) in partnership with the city, Lowell National Historical Park and others.

Foundation of “Hydro”

Foundation of “Hydro”

Take a Walk on the Art Side

The Lowell Folk Festival is all about traditional music, ethnic food and culture - lots of culture and art! If you come for the festival, there are plenty of galleries and museums to visit and plenty of artistic inspiration to be found in neighborhoods across the city. We invite you to explore your surroundings and enjoy Lowell's creative scene while taking in the sights and sounds of this incredibly diverse music festival.

Decatur Way - Photo Courtesy of Liz LaManche

Decatur Way - Photo Courtesy of Liz LaManche

1.  Lowell Public Art Walk

Outdoor art is all around in Lowell! Whether you're walking downtown or exploring our neighborhoods, you're sure to see a variety of original works that reflect the city's history, ethnic heritage and contemporary life. Our self-guided tour encourages residents and visitors to chart their own course and discover the public sculptures, murals, memorials and historic monuments that make Lowell unique. Visit Lowell Public Art Walk to learn more and discover local treasures near you.

Photo Courtesy of the Lowell Folk Festival_Higgins _ Ross

Photo Courtesy of the Lowell Folk Festival_Higgins _ Ross

2. Art in the Courtyard

Under the tents in the shaded, brick-lined courtyard between the National Historical Park and the Brush gallery, you will find Art in the Courtyard, a high-traffic  spot featuring some of the finest art and craft work by local artists. This venue provides an opportunity for visitors to meet the artists and learn about the  techniques and processes that go into creating their works. Art in the Courtyard is coordinated by the Brush Art Gallery and is one of the best
places  to view and purchase art and fine crafts at the Lowell Folk Festival.

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3. Pop Up Art Show

If you're looking for a respite from the over-stimulation of the festival then head over to the Arts League of Lowell and check out the work of their talented artists in a special pop up show of small works especially chosen for the Folk Festival weekend. Works are no larger than 12 x 12 inches or smaller and all priced at $100 or below. This is your chance to find something lovely and unique from Lowell!

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4. Threads of Resistance

Located in downtown Lowell, The New England Quilt Museum is the only institute in the Northeast solely dedicated to the art of quilting and the second-oldest quilt museum in the United States. Their new exhibit titled "Threads of Resistance", on view now through September 9, 2017, proves that the art of quilt-making is alive and kicking. This national exhibition, organized by the Artist's Circle, features 64 juried works of fiber art, contemporary quilts, and art quilts designed to express a range of emotions from anger and sadness to hope and empowerment. Inspired by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".

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5. Discover other Galleries and Museums

There's plenty of art to see elsewhere: Stop by  UnchARTed Gallery  and check out the abstract map prints by the artist Jennifer Carland of Carland Cartography! Also check out these other exhibits:  Gallery Z   - Reflections II, thru July 30 -  Ayer Lofts Art Gallery  - Lowell Loves Art, thru July 30 -  Loading Dock Gallery  - The Cultural ARTbeat, thru July 30 -  LTC Gallery  - Opening August 3: Japan: Tradition and Inspiration, thru August 31 -   Whistler House Museum of Art  - Opening August 5: Contemporary Art Quilts 2017, thru September 1.
 

The Mill Yard: Lowell's New Outdoor Hotspot

Looking for the perfect way to celebrate the end of a long week?  Well, we have just the event that will get you outdoors and keep you entertained for hours!  Friday Nights is returning to The Mill Yard with delicious food, beautiful art, music and a beer garden for all to enjoy. 

1. Friday Nights and The Mill Yard Grand Opening

While Friday Nights, sponsored by Made in Lowell, has been an ongoing event, this week’s festivity is going to be something you will not want to miss!  With food trucks, local vendors and live entertainment, it’s the perfect setting for family and friends to enjoy this social event at a beautiful venue surrounded by mills and canal ways.  Friday Nights begins at 5 pm, with the grand opening of The Mill Yard starting at 6.

In addition to Made in Lowell’s monthly Friday Nights celebrations The Mill Yard venue will serve as a prime outdoor location aimed at enhancing community engagement, offer space for entertainment, showcase local musicians and expand the city’s collaboration with food trucks.

The Mill Yard will provide the perfect setting for families, friends and foot-truck aficionados and will be available to host a variety of artisan markets and private functions.  Come celebrate Lowell’s first ever community food truck park at the grand opening event tonight at 6 pm!

2. Art is in the Air

If you want a break from all the excitement at The Mill Yard, there is a lot to do in the surrounding area that will keep you entertained.  The Mill Yard’s location is within sight of some cool public art.   “Veils of Color,” created by artist Barbara Poole, fills the windows of a former mill wall with brightly dyed panels of fabric representing the dyes that used to be dumped in the canal when the Appleton Mills Dye House was operating.  Nearby a pop up art park has been created from concrete blocks and jersey barriers, part of the City’s effort’s to creatively transform construction and security materials.  When not being used for Folk Festival and other street closing security, they will be on display in the park, located across the Lower Pawtucket Canal in the Hamilton Canal District.

3. Mill NO. 5 and its many amenities just a footstep away

Photo: millno5.com

Photo: millno5.com

The fantastic thing about The Mill Yard is its centrally located right across the street from Lowell’s vibrant Mill No. 5.  The quaint shops and weekly farm market in this renovated mill building are open all week long.  Mill No. 5’s Luna Theater is always showcasing films and shows, with an upcoming comedy movie Band Aid this Friday night starting at 7:35pm.  By expanding the use of The Mill Yard and making it an urban oasis for current and future district residents and businesses, local shops will be busier than ever! 

4. The Breathtaking Western Avenue Studios

If you’re an art lover looking for something to do after grabbing a bite at Lowell’s new food truck park at The Mill Yard, the Western Avenue Studios located just around the corner is where art comes alive.  The space has over 300 artists and 250 studio spaces for local artists and provides exquisite art for the public to see.  The Western Avenue Studio is home to the largest artist’s community on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.  The studio has art classes and art exhibits year round.  The current Gallery show is The Cultural Artbeat which runs through July 30th. 

 

ART CREATED FROM CONCRETE AND METAL

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[LOWELL, MA] - When the Lowell Folk Festival returns to downtown Lowell July 28-30th, visitors will enter festival areas past security blocks and barriers that have been transformed into works of art. The Cultural Affairs and Special Events Office (CASE) has teamed up with local artists to create public art from chunks of concrete as a creative approach to brighten the entries to the festival. 

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Eighteen security blocks are being painted by artists Mary Hart, Alexandra Derderian and Ioana Singureanu. CASE provided funding for stipends and materials.

“With the City of Lowell owing much of its multi-cultural heritage to its immigrants, each pattern I selected is meant to honor individual immigrant groups without being too specific about the inspiration,” said artist Ioana Singureanu. “I'm happy to participate in this project and I hope other cities follow Lowell's example of creative integration of safety and art.” 

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In addition to the concrete cubes, twelve jersey barriers will be painted by artist Bret Weese. 

“When you give the public something to look at, the way they interact with each other changes, making the community stronger,” said Weese. “If my work is to be defined, I would say it is inspired by the graffuturism movement, which is a more modern and contemporary fusing of abstract expressionism and graffiti.”  

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“We are delighted to engage our local artists to create works of art out of basic construction blocks and in so doing, change perceptions about our safety measures,” said City Manager Kevin Murphy. “We look forward to continuing this program and to using these blocks to create a temporary art park when they are not in use for events.”

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In addition, a metal storage container, placed in The Mill Yard in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, will receive an artistic treatment.  The painted container will be used for events equipment storage for Mill Yard events such as Friday Nights, enhancing the area and serving as another piece of public art.

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