After the successful completion of a crowdfunding campaign with Patronicity, and earning a matching Commonwealth Places Grant from MassDevelopment, the Ashland Street Initiative is excited to announce the selection of the muralist Gaia as the artist who will paint a large scale mural as part of the Ashland Street efforts.

The Ashland Street Initiative is a collaborative effort of The NAMAzing Initiative, Common Folk Artist Collective, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and the City of North Adams to help facilitate creative placemaking along the Ashland Street Corridor from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to the corner of Main Street.

The effort, developed and launched in the Spring of 2019, is fully funded through community crowd-funding and a $12,500 MassDevelopment matching grant.

As a cornerstone of the project, a large-scale mural has been planned to be painted on the North facing wall of the North Adams Housing Authority complex.

Gaia grew up in New York City and is a 2011 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. His studio work, installations and gallery projects have been exhibited throughout the world most notably The Baltimore Museum of Art, Rice Gallery in Houston, the Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive in Spoleto and the Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta.

To inform the design for the mural, the Ashland Street Initiative will be working with Gaia to conduct a survey of residents in the complex and interested community members to help draw inspiration for the design directly from those most connected to the building.

Benjamin Lamb, Program Coordinator of The NAMAzing Initiative notes,

I am incredibly excited that Gaia has agreed to be our muralist. His O+ work in Kingston NY is some of the most inspiring, bold, and eye opening public artwork I have ever encountered. His work is of a caliber and quality, with incredibly deep intention, that will help inject new vibrancy and beauty on Ashland Street while celebrating our community’s present and past.

Jessica Sweeney, Creative Director of Common Folk adds,

I am eager for Gaia to not only share his talent, but to further encapsulate the voices of our community. His work to engage the community of the building and of the city in this process affirms how art and creativity is more than just a picture, it is saying something. I look forward to seeing what our community has to say and how Gaia makes those voices permanent through this mural.

As the Ashland Street Initiative rolls out the numerous aspects of their project in the coming months, these efforts aim to create new engagement, economic development opportunities, and connectivity for those who live, work, and learn along the corridor, helping to emphasize the complete streets efforts on Ashland, and the vital role this street plays as an artery into the heart of North Adams.

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