Art and business intertwine

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DALTON — Sculptures and spreadsheets will mingle at an upcoming art exhibit.

On Friday, Jan. 19, Berkshire Money Management will host a one-night display of 23 local artists' work throughout its new Model Farm offices. "New Art in an Old Building" will feature more than 80 creations, including paintings, photographs and three-dimensional pieces. The financial management firm's CEO and chief investment officer Allen Harris culled his choices from almost 600 submissions.

"I'll never do this again by myself because — how do you tell someone who has such great art, 'I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the room,'" Harris said in his office at 161 Main St.

The company paid each artist $100 per work selected, but Harris hopes the event, which is free and open to the public, will also spur some purchases. The firm will reimburse buyers for half of a work's sale price, according to a press release issued by the company. All of the pieces are for sale.

"This is pretty generous of him," said painter Scott Taylor, who has six acryllic-on-canvas works in the show and a studio up the road at the Stationery Factory, of Harris.

The business leader admits that he is not an art expert.

"If I were to go to a museum and have a conversation with [someone] who really knows art, I would embarrass myself," he said.

But he is an art enthusiast. He has installed 16 new pieces of art in the building, including sculptures by Richard MacDonald and photographs by Natalie Lennard, who is better known as Miss Aniela.

"I just know what I like and what's pretty," he said.

"Allen loves art, and he's always been a strong supporter of arts," Taylor said during a telephone interview.

Taylor helped the businessman envision how the pieces would fit in the company's offices. Harris hadn't initially anticipated showing so many.

"I underestimated how many pieces we would get. I thought initially we'd show off, like, 36 pieces, and that would be about it," he said.

The Model Farm doesn't lack for space, though. The main house, which was built by Frederick G. Crane Sr. in 1898, has 15 rooms and 12,424 square feet to house 10 employees.

"The space is not used very efficiently," Harris quipped during a recent tour of the company's headquarters.

Berkshire Money Management paid $1 million to acquire the property and was planning to spend $780,000 to renovate the building, according to a report by The Eagle's Business Editor, Tony Dobrowolski, in April. The company moved in on Nov. 10; the exhibit is not only an opportunity to showcase local artists but also the Cranes' old home.

"We wanted to show off the building," said Harris, a Dalton native.

The works will be featured in a large music room, hallways, offices and even, in the case of some sculptures, on top of a conference room table. Andrew DeVries will be one of the artists showing three-dimensional work, transporting five of his bronze sculptures from Middlefield studio.

"I don't enter a lot of shows because moving sculptures is a difficult thing," said DeVries, who has a gallery in Lenox.

DeVries' pieces in this show include "Moment of Grace," "First Dance" and "The Juggler."

"It's a matter of meeting new faces. People who are interested in art," DeVries said of attending these types of events.

Carol Lew, a Washington resident who paints animals dressed in historical costumes, said attracting new business is certainly an appeal.

"'I wonder what my dog would be wearing?'" Lew said she hopes attendees will think when seeing her work.

Lew will have six paintings on display, including "Cat with a Pearl Earring" and "Frenchie on Horseback." She has been painting these types portraits for 18 years. Most of her work is commissioned by people who want to celebrate their pets. Business has been good enough that Lew hasn't had a chance to depict any of her two cats, two pugs or chickens.

"I just don't really have time," she said.

The Rosamund Trio, a string group from the Berkshires, will play throughout the evening. The other artists who will show work are Grier Horner, Mike Carty, John and Sandra Houseman, Meagan Buratto, Edward Pelkey, William Casper, Susan Robinson, Mary Anne Pellegrini, Barbara Patton, Candice Cimini-Farrell, Michael Fabrizio, Crystal Martin, Julie Morgan, Anna Dupont, Kathryn Stocking-Koza, Michelle Iglesias, Catherine Foster, Joe Goodwin and Suzanne Stefanik, according to a press release.

Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at bcassidy@berkshireeagle.com, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.

IF YOU GO...

What: "New Art in an Old Building"

When: 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19

Where: Model Farm, 161 Main St., Dalton

Information: Free and open to the public. All exhibited works for sale.


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