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The Boston Globe

Travel

First Fridays Artswalk energizes downtown Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — It’s late on Friday afternoon and a small crowd has gathered at Mary’s Carrot Cake on Union Street. Today Mary McGinnis’s 27-ingredient carrot cake and addictive red velvet cupcakes take second billing to the art of Jackie Kearns, 26. The University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate is presenting a show of her latest works at the store. Kearns’s unpopulated street scenes, created with a hazy charcoal and oil mix, evoke a feeling of mystery, especially when painted on objects such as chairs, a bookshelf, and curtains. The pieces are on the floor and on walls around the room, one painting hanging atop a display case of cakes, cupcakes, and other goodies.

When the 17 artists working in studio spaces above McGinnis’s bake shop approached her with the idea of presenting their work in her store, she embraced the idea and renamed that section of the shop Gallery 25. Then McGinnis took it a step further. Having heard about art walks around the country, she wanted to create one downtown. Except there was one big difference. Those other cities had art galleries to showcase artists’ wares. Except for the Ferrin Gallery, Berkshire Community College’s Intermodal Gallery, and the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, there wasn’t much traditional gallery space in Pittsfield.

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