Old and new — art, that is — on view in Fitchburg & Lowell

Posted on October 6, 2020 by

The new and the very old take center stage in two shows on view now in Lowell and opening Saturday in Fitchburg.   

 It’s “Red, White and Blue” at Lowell’s Loading Dock Gallery. With the national election less than a month away, artists consider the country’s patriotic colors and what they symbolize in the 

regional juried show. On view through November 1, it is held in conjunction with the Sixth Annual Poetry Convergence. 

  Artists reveal what the colors say to them in a variety of media. Included are artistic memories, celebrations, symbols and ideals, plus perceptions of duty, democracy, elements of our Constitution or history and the opportunities provided by this “Great Experiment” — both pro and con — known as the American Dream. 

  To complement the artworks, the LDG invited area poets to preview the exhibit and create poems for the work that evoked a response in them. The poems are being recited in the gallery and recorded for the gallery website, continuing a much-loved tradition of reading newly written poetry inspired by the LDG art. 

 The LDG, located in the Western Avenue Studios and Lofts complex at 122 Western Avenue, Lowell, is open Friday-Sunday, noon-4 p.m. Visit www.theloadingdockgallery.com for Covid safety guidelines.

 At the Fitchburg Art Museum, “Cloth is Money: Textiles from the Sahel,” on view October 10-June 6, 2021, is all about old textiles and their historic importance in the Sahel, the southern border region of the Sahara.

  Textiles here, as throughout Africa, reach deep into the area’s multifaceted past. They evoke images of camel caravans, the trans-Saharan trade and the rise of great medieval West African empires.

 Cloth represents culture and wealth in Africa more than any other medium. It enhances the owner’s image and can be converted into other goods. Historically, cloth was money, like cowrie shells, iron implements or brass bracelets. Today, it’s valued for its expressive qualities, displayed during life-cycle ceremonies and as a marker of status and achievement.

 The exhibition illustrates the complex, timeless value of woven cloth in this region by exploring weaving techniques, designs and symbols alongside the rich history and cultural context of the Sahel. 

 Textiles on view date back to the 11th century, the medieval era marked by a robust trade network between North Africa and regions south of the Sahara. This created vast wealth and gave rise to the prominent medieval West African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. Evidence exists that these powerful kingdoms were known in Europe and considered major players in world trade. 

  Textiles offer a dynamic view of the region’s complex past and present. And they remain the most widely appreciated art form in Africa and the Diaspora today, a part of people’s lives whether as fashionable clothing, family heirlooms or aspects of their environment. 

  The exhibition aligns with the growing interest in the region and is presented concurrently with two major exhibitions — “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa” at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. and “Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

 The FAM is at 185 Elm Street, Fitchburg. Open Wednesday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; 1stThursday of month, noon-7 p.m. Visit www.fitchburgartmuseum.org.

Gallery notes

NATIVE AMERICAN CELEBRATION: Concord Museum celebrates the area’s rich Native history on Monday, October 12 — Indigenous Peoples’ Day — music, drumming and free admission with advance registration. Larry Spotted Crow Man, an award-winning performer/poet and member of the Nipmuc Tribe of Massachusetts, will sing and perform on the hand drum 11 a.m.-noon. The program will be performed for a limited live audience and live streamed to a virtual audience. Visitors can visit the museum’s “People of Musketaquid” gallery that chronicles Concord’s human history over the past 10,000 years. Advance timed tickets available at www.concordmuseum.org.

HONORING ‘HEROES’: Lowell-based painted Laurie Simko’s artwork is inspired by the natural world of the flora and fauna in the brooks, bogs and woods around her. But the emergence of Covid changed her focus last spring, when her daughter, a nurse, sent her a selfie with her newly acquired face shield. Struck with the image, almost like a soldier going into battle, Simko painted her portrait. Since then, she has created a series of 19 more hero co-workers to honor and show them gratitude and chronicle this challenging time. The “Thank You, Heroes” exhibit is on view in a virtual gallery presented by Simko and Christ Church United of Lowell. Check it out and be inspired at   


LOWELL NOTES: October 19 at 4 p.m. is the entry deadline for the Annual Juried Members Exhibition 2020 at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios. Exhibition dates are November 10-December 23. Up-to-date member artists of the Brush or New England Sculptors Association are eligible. All media welcomed. $25 non-refundable entry fee. Juror is Andrew Duncan, collaborative artist and community & cultural liaison at Enterprise Bank. Link to http://www.lowellartshows.com/brushmember/ to apply online. Contact Director@thebrush.org with questions…”Deplorables,” featuring art work by Peter Kalabokis, is on view through November 8 at Gallery Z, 167 Market Street. It is open Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit www.galleryzartistcoop.com

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.

Leave a Reply