NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Robert Giardini wants to get art on people's walls.
That's one of the inspirations for his pop-up Media Gallery that opened during the season's first DownStreet Art event last month.
Located at 70 Main St., the walls of the former Radio Shack store in the L-shaped mall that once displayed electronics have proved a perfect setting for hanging a variety of artworks from both local and Philadelphia artists.
"We've got about, I think 12 or 13 different artists here," Giardini said not long after opening. "Some photographers, we have printmakers, a couple painters. We got some letterpress people. ...
"It's a collection of different media. And that was one of the reasons why I call it the Media Gallery."
A videographer by trade, Giardini and his wife, Lori Spencer, reside in Philadephia but have had a summer and weekend home in North Adams for about three years.
He saw the chance to open a small gallery during a time when the arts seem to be flourishing here and the real estate is reasonable.
"It was one of the reasons I figured I should just go ahead and do this," Giardini said. "I mean, it is a labor of love but I wouldn't be able to do this, I don't think, probably five years from now. This space would be too difficult or too expensive or whatever. But you know, right now it's still doable so I figured why not jump in and do it right away."
About half the works come from Spencer's connections at the Philadelphia University of Art's School of Art, where she is director and a professor. Also on display are their works, including Giardini's photographs from trips overseas. He also plans to add more video elements.
One attraction for local residents is the agreement he's made with the North Adams Historical Society to sell large prints made from its collection of vintage postcards of the area.
"They've given me I think about 40 images," he said. "They'll get part of the proceeds, if I can sell any, of these vintage postcards that I think are wonderful, beautiful. And then we have some old photographs as well. So if you have any interest at all in the history of North Adams, these are some beautiful shots."
Giardini said he's been working with the Print Shop in Williamstown and a printer in Philadelphia on the postcards and other prints for sale. Using an inkjet printer provides for a quality item at a lower cost than other forms of reproduction, he siad.
"You can get things for not nearly as much money and so I can sell it for less money and you know, my feeling is you want to get the art on people's walls," Giardini said. "So we can have artists reasonably priced."
Right now the Media Gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays 11 to 7 through August and Giardini will decide if he wants to go into the fall. He sees it as a first step in possibly a permanent studio where he can do his videography work as well. He largely works with nonprofits and educational institutions and his talking with the Historical Society about doing some videos for it.
"I'm on the hook for July and August and I'll be up every weekend," he said. "But I'm actually looking forward to it and you meet a lot of interesting people coming in and out of the gallery. And my big chore now is just to get people in the door because this side of the street is a little slow and doesn't get quite the foot traffic."
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