Around Amherst: Boltwood garage getting gallery; poets getting spruced up

Staff Writer
Monday, May 03, 2021

AMHERST — Bringing new public art to the area of the Boltwood parking garage and restoring a downtown sculpture are projects being undertaken by the Amherst Public Art Commission this spring.

Commission Chairman Bill Kaizen said the Boltwood Gallery is a project slated to open in late June on the upper level of the garage that will be situated at the defunct “Poem Windows” exhibit.

More details about the project, supported by $2,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Recovery and Rebuilding Grant through the downtown cultural district, will be announced in the coming weeks.

At the Gates Lot off Main Street, between Sweetser Park and the Emily Dickinson Museum, the metal sculpture depicting Dickinson and Robert Frost in conversation is being repaired for about $1,200.

A quarter-century after the installation “Poetic Dialogue” was completed by artist Michael Virzi, the commission is moving forward with local metal fabricator Kamil Peters, who will refurbish the prominent work. Rust, dents and dings that have detracted from its appearance will be fixed.

The money comes from the town’s Community Preservation Act account and the Amherst Cultural Council. Kaizen said it is unfortunate that there is no regular source of money in the town budget for upkeep of artwork the town owns.

Pickleball courts

The Amherst Recreation Commission is looking at adding pickleball courts in town.

Recreation Director Barb Bilz said the options being explored include putting new lines on the tennis courts at Mill River Recreation Area or having designated pickleball courts at Mill River and next to War Memorial Pool.

Bilz said resident Joyce Hatch suggested the idea at a recent meeting.

Tillis tribute

The University of Massachusetts Department of Music & Dance is presenting a video tribute to late music professor and Fine Arts Center Director Frederick Tillis on Friday evening.

The tribute, marking one year since his death, will air on the department’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/umassmusicdance/videos, at 7 p.m., before the annual Jazz Showcase at 7:30 p.m.

Tillis, a performer and composer, founded the department’s Jazz & African-American Music Studies program and helped establish the Fine Arts Center’s Jazz in July Program, the New World Theater, the Augusta Savage Gallery and the Asian Arts and Culture Program.

The video tribute, created in cooperation with his daughter Pamela Tillis, features performance footage of UMass faculty from February 2020 when he was honored on the occasion of his 90th birthday, as well as a remembrance from department chair Salvatore Macchia.

Hadley fundraiser

The Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation in Hadley will be selling asparagus-related merchandise, as well as both historic bricks and new pavers, during the next three Saturdays.

On May 1, May 8 and May 15, representatives from the foundation will be set up at the gazebo adjacent to Hopkins Academy from 9 a.m. to noon.

Items for sale include children’s and adult T-shirts, hats, bags and buttons. Each has an asparagus logo and reads “Grown in Hadley.”

In addition, memorial bricks from the historic Hooker School and pavers that will become part of the sidewalk on Academy Lane in front of the gazebo can be purchased.

Proceeds from the sale will fund grants to teachers at both Hopkins and Hadley Elementary School.

Tim Brennan award

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts are creating the Tim Brennan Exemplar Award to recognize both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

A Hadley resident, Brennan died last year just months after retiring from five decades of public service, primarily as the commission’s executive director

The award will recognize local organizations that mirror Brennan’s dedication to community, while demonstrating the ability to adapt to changing economic and cultural landscapes.

“Tim Brennan made the improvement of this valley and its residents’ quality of life his career’s work — forever seeking to use data and long-term vision to guide the nitty gritty daily efforts required to make big positive change,” said Rick Sullivan, Western Mass EDC president and CEO, in a statement.

U.S.Rep. Richard Neal said Brennan advanced the common good: “He was an exceptional planner with a keen eye on preserving our past for future use.”


MONDAY: Town Council, 6:30 p.m., virtual via Zoom.

TUESDAY: Elementary School Building Committee, 7:30 a.m., and Design Review Board, 5 p.m., both virtual via Zoom.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:30 p.m., virtual via Zoom.