NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 23, 2014

Representing the community

Pentucket Arts Foundation's public art project is a unique collaboration

What do a fuel pump, a saute pan and a 42-year-old lottery ticket have in common?

Each is part of a public art project currently going on in Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury — the three towns of the Pentucket Regional School District.

The project — a brainchild of the nonprofit Pentucket Arts Foundation — marks the first time that these communities have collaborated on this type of artistic endeavor.

“In honor of our 10th-year anniversary, this fall, we launched an ‘Arts Connecting Community’ campaign,” said Sue Stasiuk, vice chairwoman of the Pentucket Arts Foundation.

The public art project is one component of this yearlong celebration, which seeks to highlight the organization’s milestone by infusing the community with innovative fine and performing arts experiences throughout its cultural season.

With this in mind, Stasiuk and other members of the foundation’s all-volunteer board of directors reached out to municipal and community organizations and businesses from the three Pentucket towns, inviting them to each donate one item — no bigger than a shoebox — that in some way distinctly identifies the group or its mission.

With sponsorship from the Institution for Savings and the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, they commissioned local mixed-media artist Sean Bixby to assemble the various donated items into one cohesive piece of artwork.

Over the next several months, nearly 50 groups spanning the tri-town region stepped up to donate items — a response far exceeding the board’s wildest expectations. Particularly rewarding, Stasiuk said, were the participants who expressed how grateful they are to be part of a project like this that brings people in the community together.

On a cold Monday in mid-December, Stasiuk and fellow board members Diane Doyle and Karen Rubino hauled the donated booty into a visual arts classroom at the high school, carefully spreading it out across the wide tables to photograph each piece individually before turning them all over to Bixby.

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