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Local Gallery, Artists Support Louison House
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:48PM / Saturday, July 02, 2022
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Louison House's Kathy Keeser thanks the artists who provided the work for 'A Sense of Place,' a fundraiser for the shelter, at Real Eyes Gallery in Adams.

Betty Vera is inspired by textures and as well as unexpected images of inspiration.

The work of Sarah Sutro is from the '80s and '90s, when she was using thick oil paints to create texture while Deb Pendell's mixed-media pieces are about how people find meaning in symbols.

Diane Sawyer is fascinated with light, atmosphere, and the rich spectrum of color in landscapes.

Artists and patrons mingle at Friday's closing reception. The works will be available through the gallery's website through July.



Real Eyes Gallery owners Bill and Francie Riley opened their doors to host the exhibition.

ADAMS, Mass. — An exhibition at the Real Eyes Gallery has raised several thousand dollars for Louison House to help those affected by homelessness.

"A Sense of Place" opened on June 4 and concluded on Thursday but the pieces will be live and available on the gallery's website for another month. Fifty percent of all artwork sales go to the non-profit organization.

Gallery owners Bill and Francie Riley were approached by the four participating artists who wanted to do something good in the community and happily played host. 

"The driving force behind the art show and to team up with the Louison House was the inspiration from the COVID lockdown," Bill Riley explained at a closing celebration.

"From the COVID lockdown, the artists met regularly and they wanted to give back to the community."

It has so far raised more than a third of the $10,000 goal.

The theme suggests a feeling of belonging — whether it is to a household, a neighborhood, or a town — and how a sense of place can invoke feelings of security and inclusion while lacking that can cause anxiety and a sense of exclusion.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to isolate themselves, it also caused a loss of jobs and income that caused many to become homeless.

Local artists Debi Pendell, Diane Sawyer, Sarah Sutro and Betty Vera produce their work in the Eclipse Mill in North Adams.

"We've had such a good response to the show, people have loved the show," Pendell said. "And they feel that although each of us do all different work, very different, it  hangs together beautifully."

She explained that her acrylic, collage, and mixed media work is about symbol systems and how people read symbol systems and make meaning from them.

Sawyer's work in soft pastel is largely local landscapes, some that she has even done from her studio window. She is fascinated with light, atmosphere, and the rich spectrum of color in landscapes.

Sutro's featured work is from the 1980s and 1990s when she said she was working with very thick oil paint, scraping it up and building textures to create a sense of landscape.

Vera's textile work is inspired by anything around her that she finds beautiful, sometimes graffiti on a wall or the texture of a wood floor. She captures unexpected images of inspiration with her cell phone while out and about.

Louison House Executive Director Kathy Keeser attended the celebration to show her gratitude and give an informative talk about the organization.

"It was really cool at the opening to see so many artists here and it's good to see, again, so many artists in one place and the fact that you guys really have a community and support each other," she said.

"And I think that's the most important about what happened with this was the crossover."

The nonprofit provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and support services to those in need. It has locations in Adams and North Adams and has helped thousands of struggling and homeless residents in the Northern Berkshires.

It has received $135,000 in state and local funding recently, including $75,000 from the state's American Rescue Plan Act funds through the efforts of state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. John Barrett III.

North Adams also contributed $50,000 from its ARPA funds and  the Williamstown $10,000.

During the event, four of the artists' pieces were raffled off as another form of fundraising.

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