Around Amherst: Incorporating art into the neighborhood

  • Josiah Hasbrook painting in the Mill District in North Amherst. —Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Saturday, February 08, 2020

AMHERST — A portrait of a 19th-century African-American who grew up in New York in the family of famed abolitionist John Brown now adorns a barn in the Mill District in North Amherst, part of an effort to incorporate art installations and storytelling into the neighborhood.

The painting of Josiah Hasbrook, who is buried at Wildwood Cemetery, was recently unveiled.

W.D. Cowls Inc. President Cinda Jones said the idea for honoring Hasbrook came from Baer Tierkel, a former Amherst resident whose research has determined Hasbrook was present at Brown’s hanging in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

After Hasbrook came to Amherst, his jobs included being a mail carrier and operating a lumber and wood company in west Amherst.

“This historical figure inspires greatness,” Jones said.

Hasbrook is the second painting unveiled in the district where the North Square mixed-use project is being developed. The first is of Mabel, a girl who died while still a baby. That portrait is on the side of the Atkins store facing the yellow playground.

Jones said the next story she hopes to tell through art is that of Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who helped develop the University of Massachusetts’ African American and Women’s Studies Departments before becoming provost of undergraduate education.

Cole was then the first black female president of two historically black women’s colleges, Spelman and Bennett, and is currently chairwoman and president of the National Council of Negro Women.

Fundraiser scheduled

To help students get to Philadelphia for a performing arts field trip during spring break in April, an Amherst Regional High School sophomore is organizing a Valentine’s Day gala.

Ruby Cain, who is also finishing her Girl Scout Gold Award, said the event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 14 at Munson Memorial Library, 1046 South East St.

The idea is to help defray some of the costs for high school students in band, orchestra and chorus, which will cost around $600 per student. In addition, scholarships will be available for students whose families might not otherwise be able to pay for the trip.

The banquet-style dinner is open to anyone in the community over the age of 13, with ticket prices $25 for one and $45 for two. Tickets can be bought on eventbrite.com at or through a link at the Amherst Regional Public Schools Friends of Performing Arts Facebook page.

Woman’s Club Talk

The book “Lois Weber: An Early Hollywood Film Maker During the 1910s and 1920s” will be the subject of a talk by Marty Norden, professor of communication at UMass, at the Amherst Woman’s Club, 35 Triangle St., on Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Norden edited the book, which contains text of a speech that Weber gave to the Los Angeles Woman’s Club in 1913.

Admission is free and refreshments will be served following the meeting.

Child care program comes to Amherst

The Maple Hill Play Garden, a home-based, licensed family child care program led by Amanda M. Lugo, has relocated to Amherst from South Hadley.

The program offers children ages 14 months to 3 years the opportunity to experience the benefits of outdoor independent play.

“The modern world is so busy, so hectic, so fast-paced; it is truly a gift for children to have the opportunity to slow down and experience the deep sense of calm that stems from grounding ourselves in the natural world,” Lugo said.

Enrolling children for fall 2020, the site at 52 Jeffrey Lane will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, go to MapleHillPlayGarden.com or send email to Lugo at NourishingChildhood@gmail.com.

Award to former principal

Former interim Amherst Regional Middle School principal Patty Bode has been selected as the National Ziegfeld Award recipient by the U.S. Society for Education through Art.

The award will be given to Bode during a ceremony March 27 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

Bode, an Amherst resident, will start a new position as faculty in the arts education program at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven later this year.


MONDAY: Outreach, Communications and Appointments Committee, 9:30 a.m., Town Council, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Library trustees, 9:05 a.m., Goodwin Room, Jones Library; Residents Advisory Committee, 10 a.m., and Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., both at First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Amherst Cultural Council, 4 p.m., Amherst Room, Jones Library; Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, 6:30 p.m., high school library.

WEDNESDAY: Transportation Advisory Committee, 5:15 p.m., meeting room, police station.

THURSDAY: Joint Capital Planning Committee, 8:30 a.m., Town Room, Town Hall; Board of Assessors, 11 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.