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A Studio and a Stage

May 2016

Blackstone Valley Tribune
February 2016

WHITINVILLE — Alternatives in Whitinsville and its arts and culture branch, Blackstone Valley Culture, Art, Science Together (ValleyCAST), are providing a an outlet for those in the community who seek to express their creative sides. The two organizations welcome people of all ages and abilities to participate in both the 4th Annual Art Palette Contest and One-Act Play Festival in March. Each event is highly inclusive, attracting people from all walks of life who come together to create an exhibit and perform original masterpieces.IMG_5717-cropped

The Art Palette Contest starts on March 4 and continues to be a hit in the art realm across the community. For the contest, artists transform a plain 16 x 20” wooden art palette into an original piece of art. The options are limitless. For example, people have collaged, painted, burned, sculpted, used photography, and even cut up and crafted their palette into a 3-D model. The event stresses creativity to the max and anything goes.

Once collected, each participant’s finished palette is hung up and displayed in the Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery at Alternatives for the opening Reception on Friday, March 4, from 4-8:00 p.m. The exhibit will remain free and open to the public on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. up until the final day of voting on April 1.IMG_5729

Prizes will be distributed to the artists’ piece that receives the most votes:

  • Ages 18 and up will receive $300 for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place.
  • Ages 12-17 will receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place.
  • Ages 6-11 will receive $30 for first place, $20 for second place, and $15 for third place.

In the past, children as young as 6 years old have competed, with their palette being hung in between a professional artist’s creation and a person with disabilities’ piece of work that he or she made for therapeutic reasons. Last year, 65 people competed, and this year, 67 people have already registered.


“What’s really cool about this event is that we hang an art palette from someone who may make a living as an artist next to a palette created by a six-year-old, or from someone with disabilities, or from someone who ‘dabbles’ with art, and they all look amazing,” said Alternatives Director of Outreach and ValleyCAST Director Cristi Collari.

Teaming up with the Artist Palette Studio in Whitinsville, Alternatives and ValleyCAST are currently providing the art palettes to interested participants for a $14 fee until Feb. 19. Palettes must be dropped off and sent to Alternatives in Whitinsville by Feb. 26.

Winners will be announced on April 2. For any questions about registration, owner of the Artist Palette Studio, Pamela Murphy can be contacted at pwmurphy@verizon.net. Registration forms and submission fees can be sent to Alternatives Main Office located at 50 Douglas Road in Whitinsville.

For those who have the “theater bug” or desire to explore the performing arts, the One-Act Play Festival on the Mumford may suit your need. Starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12 at the Singh
Performance Center at Alternatives, amateurs and professionals will perform 10-30 minute-long original acts.

Each year, the One-Act Play Festival provides the spotlight for well-known local theater groups in addition to everyday community people for no cost. Each participant directs their own short skit before welcoming the next actor(s)/actress(es) to the stage to perform a different comedy, drama, classic, or any original work.
People of all ages, experiences, and abilities are welcomed to submit a skit.

“What we do is sponsor a wide variety of community events for people of all abilities to enjoy together,” said Collari. “The reason we restored the mill in the first place was because Alternatives’ Executive Director, Dennis Rice, had this vision that if he created an arts and culture hub between Worcester, Rhode Island, and Boston, people would come here to enjoy theater and arts and become more receptive to our mission and the people we support.”

In the past, participants have acted out a scene from a popular movie or play, as some groups chose to present entertainment like improv. The sky is the limit.

This year, groups including Worcester Shakespeare, Braid Theater Productions, and Algonkuin Theatre Projects will be performing acts such as scenes from Moby Dick and Shakespeare V. Dante.

Experienced members of the theater community serve as judges, and cash prizes are awarded in several categories. Interested theater companies, drama clubs, and individuals must submit their one-act description to Alternatives by Wednesday, Feb. 24. All appropriate acts will be accepted. For more information, visit AlternativesNet.org/event/playfest.

Spectators can attend the entire event including the reception on March 12 from 6-7 p.m. in Alternatives’ Heritage Gallery for free.


by Greg Barlow