Guild of Berkshire Artists holds exhibition in its first brick-and-mortar building / iBerkshires.com

The painting “Beach Sunset” by Bruce Shickmanter, left, and “Crimson” by Mike Coyne. The artists’ works will be on display next weekend at the Guild of Berkshire Artists’ new gallery at 38 Main St. in West Stockbridge.


Bruce Shickmanter

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. – The Berkshire Artists Guild has rented its first brick-and-mortar building for next year to provide artists with the opportunity to stage an exhibition and showcase their work while contributing to the vibrancy of West’s town center Stockholm.

In the past, the guild rented spaces to organizations to host group exhibitions. This new space, located at 38 Main Street, makes it easier for artists to receive feedback on their work as there are fewer artists outside of the exhibit.

“It was really up to the artists to come together, come up with a concept for their show, and put it all together,” guild president Amy Pressman said.

“So the guild helps out with graphic material, posting on our website, talking to people like you to help promote it, but it’s a real, full experience.”

This sudden effort came quickly when one of the building partners, Randy Thunfors, reached out to encourage the guild to make a deal with them. The partners made an agreement with the guild that they could not refuse to support the gallery.

The use of space is still evolving, but they have lots of ideas to provide more opportunities for artists in the growing organization.

Some ideas they want to pursue in addition to small exhibitions include artist talks, demonstrations, and art reviews.

The guild has grown exponentially over the past two years and now has over 200 members between the ages of 40 and 90.

“I think our presence on Zoom during the pandemic has been really helpful to our fellow artists, we have a lot of artists heading south in the winter,” Pressman said.

“So this presence gives them the opportunity to maintain contact. And then the outdoor program that Karen Carmen runs has also attracted a lot of new members.”

Although the average age of members is 70, the guild hopes to attract young artists. During the membership period, from February 1 to March 31, membership fees are $52 per year. After the membership period, it increases to $62.

Through the guild, Michael Coyne met many artists who helped him on his artistic journey.

“What’s been wonderful for me recently is joining this virtual guild, the artists guild, there are so many incredibly good and talented people here in Berkshire that I’ve started to meet and get to know “,

“And they’ve been very helpful to me in a lot of ways. So it’s an ongoing educational process to try to improve myself. And also try to experiment with different things, I like to try different things. And so I’ve good ideas across the guild and their members.”

Coyne will be one of the artists in the guild’s second exhibition titled “Imagination Creates Reality” in its new space.

The gallery will include abstract artwork created by Coyne and Bruce Shickmanter which will run from Wednesday August 31st through Monday September 5th.

The gallery will be open Saturday to Monday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There will be a reception for individuals to talk to the artists on Saturday, September 3 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Coyne is a retired emergency physician who worked at Berkshire Medical Center for more than 30 years.

Although he enjoys doing many different things, this exhibition will showcase his abstract oil paintings with metal and ceramic work. He is intrigued by colors, shapes and designs.

“I try to create something that’s aesthetically pleasing, fun, or thought-provoking — sometimes it can be all of the above,” Coyne said.

Although much of his painting is done indoors, Coyne said he had a romantic view of painting and was inspired after coming across a girl sitting “in nature wild” of one of Sedona’s trails while mountain biking.

“It’s kind of what I want to be able to do for a little while is just go out in the woods or wherever, and paint. And so that got me excited about that,” he said.

“Then I started painting and to be honest, I do almost all my painting indoors. It was kind of a romantic idea for me.”

Since then, he has been interested in the Plein Air style and hopes to do so more in the future.

Coyne has always enjoyed the process of working with his hands. Art is an outlet that allows him to create something while giving the rest of his body a chance to rest from his outdoor hobbies, including hiking and mountain biking.

“I think life is crazy. And I believe it’s good for everyone to take a break someday, sit down and get out of their crazy life, and just enjoy art. And if they like coloring and they like drawing, then I think they’ll enjoy our show,” he said.

Shickmanter is a retired endocrinologist who worked for 13 years at Berkshire Medical Center, where he created and ran the Densitometry Unit for 5 years.


Michael Coyne

He started painting 10 years ago when he retired, but developed an interest in art while working as a doctor, when he turned to pottery for stress relief.

“There’s a lot of stress when you’re a doctor, when you’re responsible for decisions that affect people’s lives. You don’t realize sometimes, when you’ve been doing it for a long time, how much of a burden it is, but all those things that you have to stay sane…” he said.

“At first it was kind of a relief and just a different channel, because medicine is very intellectual and requires rigor in every detail and everything. The artistic process is different. It’s like a different part of your brain. And it’s nice to relax things. You think about things in a different way. It’s also stimulating.

Shickmanter had to give up pottery and switch to painting due to the pressure of his job and the craftsmanship put on his wrists.

Although he had to give up pottery, he found painting insightful because of the techniques he had to learn to demonstrate perspective.

Perspective is a major aspect that interests him because it grabs the audience’s attention and allows them to “follow the lines naturally”.

“If you love art, it’s always fun to see someone else’s way of looking at reality, because it teaches you things. And sometimes it broadens your view,” Shickmanter said.

“For example, one of the best things about becoming an artist was that you realize that you look at things differently. You see colors in different ways. You see shapes in a different way because that’s your language now.”

While working on this exhibition, his perception of his own works also changed due to what he learned.

“I actually went back to some of my old stuff, and worked on some of my old stuff, and incorporated it into the exhibit,” he said.

“I think it’s interesting to do this because you see things that you couldn’t see before. And the answers are more apparent. So it’s, it’s a lot of fun to do this. Because you see where you’re from, you’re able to add, you know, maybe improve it.”

An exhibition like this gives artists a chance to see someone else’s creative process who can then provide insight into their own art, Shickmanter said.

The title of the exhibition represents what the artists are trying to represent. Shickmanter starts in reality and goes from there. He will change the perspective to make it work with his creative process.

“My impressions are from reality, but through my own lens, so it distorts them and I have a kind of distinctive painting pattern. It’s a little different for most people,” he said. .

“I have a way of looking at images, and I break them down. And I have, what colors are color gradients in them. I think it amplifies the image and brings out features that are interesting.”

More information about the Berkshire Artists Guild can be found here.

Key words: art exhibition,

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