What will Justice Lowy decide and the room where it happens | Last stop for Berkshire Museum docket SJ-2018-065 at John Adams Courthouse #BostonMA Supreme Court

John Adams Courthouse Superior Court Boston MA_20180301_© C Ryan (9)
Front entrance John Adams Courthouse, Boston, MA. The Berkshire Museum case is under review by Supreme Court Justice Lowy

How did the Berkshire Museum brouhaha wind up in the highest court under SJO (Single Justice) review by Justice David A Lowy?

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, deemed it necessary to alter an original historic building and sell off its priceless core art collection in order to build a dream and survive. This controvertial move garnered attention and divided opinion.  The Trustees of the Museum explained that they hired a consultancy firm which confirmed this new direction (“New Vision”), via extensive public outreach* no less, so what gives? (*22 focus groups involving over 200 people is hardly extensive.) Opponents cried, “Foul!”, and pointed out questionable and perhaps shady fodder, i.e. would museum members and the Berkshire community have voted YES had they been told that the best works from the permanent collection must be sold off to make it happen? Also, the art was consigned to Sotheby’s June 13, 2017, but the Trustees altered the museum’s Charter after the consignment date and only then informed the “public”.  Timing is everything. There was even an infamous email with a ‘loose lips sink ships’ subject line.  We know these details because of dogged reporting by the The Berkshire Eagle, notably Larry Parnass, and a wide network. The story is urgent and compelling, the art world equivalent of a Spotlight-All the President’s Men-Pentagon Papers type investigation.

The first auctions were slated for November 2017. Shuffleton’s Barbershop by Norman Rockwell was to have been the Berkshire Museum star lot. Its presale estimate alone was 20 to 30 million. By the Fall of 2017, the museum was hit with multiple lawsuits, sued by the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Norman Rockwell descendants, and various plaintiffs. Eventually, all were folded into #TeamAGO vs. the Berkshire Museum. On November 8th, the Lower Court ruled in favor of the Museum, clearing the legal right of way to auction. The Attorney General Office appealed to the State’s supreme judicial court to block the sale for more time to evaluate and investigate the case. Attorneys for the Museum fought that request vigorously, but were denied. On November 10, 2017, the AGO procured an injunction from Judge Trainor of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, scuttling any scheduled auction prior to December 11, 2017. Allowances for extensions to build the case were granted. On February 5th, the AGO switched teams and filed jointly with its former adversary, the Berkshire Museum, petitioning the court to apply cy pres and maintaining its opinion that indeed all the art is restricted:

“As detailed elsewhere (e.g., in its filings in the litigation referenced above) the AGO believes that all of the works of art deaccessioned and proposed for sale are subject to one or more restrictions that limit the Museum’s ability to proceed with its planned sale and use of proceeds to fund an endowment, pay for operating expenses and fund renovations. The Museum continues to believe no restrictions (beyond the Museum’s charitable purposes) apply.”

This alliance left many scratching their heads  and interested parties formerly #TeamAGO adrift. Although the Rockwell plaintiffs backed off and dropped their case, law firms Sullivan & Worcester and  Foley Hoag with Barker, Epstein & Loscocco solicited amicus status on behalf of their clients.

Sullivan & Worcester Berkshire Museum
Sullivan & Worcester blog post about their position

Immediately, the AGO and the Berkshire Museum filed opposition papers. They weren’t persuasive. The Justice granted the participation of the law firms which means that the SJ-2018-065 docket was vastly enlarged and enlightened on February 27, 2018, and I had to see. And share. (Although everything I was looking for and questioned was not there.) The attorneys disagree with the AGO and Berkshire Museum proposal, and request oral argument. The AGO and Museum responses were filed after I visited. Justice David A Lowy will make that decision. He can act on filed papers related to Docket SJ-2018-065, order a hearing, or pass the case back to the full court. What will he do? I’m crossing fingers that arguments will be heard, and with the full court (which meets the first week each month and is open to the public), especially after I considered the material in person.  The Berkshire Museum could inspire a Frank Capra-esque courtroom movie treatment one day.

In the meantime, the art remains in Sotheby’s possession and the auction house stands down as the case is sorted. The docket includes Sotheby’s contract.

For armchair lawyers and detail detectives: I offer a blizzard of documents, on the eve of the next Nor’Easter blizzard and hope I’ve peaked your interest. (Leaving my analysis aside for now.)  Scroll past this post’s “read more” indicator to see interior architectural photos I took of the stunning John Adams Courthouse, and to read some of the complete and unfiltered new filings and documents related to the Berkshire Museum case, specifically-

  • AMICI CURIAE Sullivan & Worcester LLP law firm on behalf of ‘Berkshire Museum Member Plaintiffs’: James Hatt,  Kristin Hatt,  and Elizabeth Weinberg, filed Feb 26 2018, case SJ-2018-065 (52 pages)
  • AMICUS CURIAE Foley Hoag and Barker, Epstein & Loscocco – attorney Michael B Keating of Foley Hoag with attorney Daniel Epstein of Barker, Epstein & Loscocco on behalf of clients: Tom Patti, who completed two commissioned installations for the Berkshire Museum entrance and reception areas–spaces that will be gutted if the historic building is disfigured for the New Vision; Marilyn Holtz Patti – resides and works in Berkshire County as does Tom Patti; Jean Rosseau and Jonas Dovydenas- residents of Stockbridge and Lenox; James Lamme, resident of Egremont; and Donald MacGillis, resident of Pittsfield, MA. (21 pages)
  • Sotheby’s Contract with the Berkshire Museum (9 pages)
  • Affidavit from Dan Monroe, Director of the Peabody Essex Museum opposed the Berkshire Museum sale (4 pages)
  • Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) provided major facility funding since 2000. Some related construction was completed by a board member and warrants scrutiny
  • links to prior GMG Berkshire Museum posts

Interior views John Adams Courthouse 

John Adams Courthouse Superior Court Boston MA_20180301_© C Ryan (2)
The John Adams Courthouse Great Hall is stunning. On the right side in this photos is a Daniel Chester French gilded sculpture of Rufus Choate

 

Continue reading “What will Justice Lowy decide and the room where it happens | Last stop for Berkshire Museum docket SJ-2018-065 at John Adams Courthouse #BostonMA Supreme Court”

SAINT JOSEPH DAY PASTA MAKING WITH THE GROPPO FAMILY AND FRIENDS <3

Early morning and friends and family gather at the Groppo home. Nina has laid out trays of warm bread and pastries, a medley of fresh fruit, and vats of homemade ricotta steaming on the stovetop to greet the pasta-makers. Everyone pitches in, from the very youngest to the very oldest, men and women, boys and girls. The house is overflowing with helpers. The time goes by way too fast and in a few short hours, racks and racks of pasta are drying, in preparation for the March 19th Feast of San Giuseppe.

At another pasta-making station, Grace and Frank Sciortino made a special batch of maccarruna pasta, just for the helpers. After all the pasta-making mess was cleaned up, Nina served heaping bowls of maccarruna topped with homemade canned tomato sauce, from tomatoes grown in her garden last summer. A delicious lunch was had by all and as I looked around the room at the many generations gathered around the table, I thought of the memories being created from this very special community tradition of honoring Saint Joseph each year at the welcoming home of the Groppo Family. Happy San Giuseppe Pasta-making Day! 

 

View this post on Instagram

Littlest pasta makers💖

A post shared by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

SHORING UP THE NILES POND-BRACE COVE CAUSEWAY BEFORE THE NEXT NOR’EASTER (ARRIVING TONIGHT)

With the third nor’easter to hit our shores during the month of March expected to arrive tonight, track-hoe excavator Larry shares that the work continued today to fortify the causeway, and to possibly get more water to flow through the clogged drain that is preventing excess water from leaving Niles Pond.

For our readers general information, the cost of the repairs, restoration, and continued ongoing maintenance of the causeway, and surrounding area, are paid for entirely by the generous residents of Eastern Point, not tax payer dollars.

Beautiful Fish: Short Big-eye -By Al Bezanson

 

The most striking characters of this fish are its very large eyes and its brilliant red color. Apart from these, it is distinguishable from the sea bass tribe by the fact that its whole head, as well as its body, is clothed with rough scales and that the anal fin is longer than the soft-rayed portion of its dorsal fin. Its sidewise flattened body, unusually stout dorsal fin spines, very large ventral fins, and small pectorals, are ready field marks to separate it from the rosefish, the only common Gulf of Maine species of similar appearance that rivals it in color.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

A big-eye found alive on Marblehead Beach, September 3, 1859; a second, found at Scituate, Mass., in 1932 or 1933;[43] and a third, about 1½ inches (38 mm.) long, picked up in a tide pool at Cohasset, Mass., by F. G. Bemis in September 1937,[44] are the only definite records for this southern fish within the Gulf. But since it occasionally appears in some numbers at Woods Hole in summer, it may round Cape Cod more often than this paucity of actual records suggests.

 

From Fishes of the Gulf of Maine by Bigelow and Schroeder (1953) online courtesy of MBL/WHOI  http://www.gma.org/fogm/Pseudopriacanthus_altus.htm

 

GHS Docksiders perform & Wine Tasting booster at Gloucester House – tix available at Alexandra’s Bread

GHS docksiders
look at the energy! courtesy photo- Mr. Fleury, Band Director, and GHS Docksiders 

What’s on the set list and the tasting menu for this great pairing? Mark your calendars for the GHS Docksiders Wine Tasting booster at The Gloucester House on Saturday, March 17, at 6:30PM.

Enjoy an evening with the GHS Docksiders: Listen to great music, sip fine wine, shop & support local music. Special Guest auctioneer, Senator Bruce Tarr. Tickets are $25 at the door or from a GHS Docksiders member or… 

Docksiders fundraiser March 17 2018

You can buy a ticket or donate at Alexandra’s Bread, 265 Main Street, Gloucester

Pet of the Week- Bambi

Bambi image

Bambi here! I’m a sweet lady looking for a home to call my own.

No one knows everything about my past, but that’s okay because I’m looking forward to a bright future. I made my way here from the south because I know up here I have a much better chance of finding a forever family. There’s just way too much competition down south! I just recently arrived following a very long van ride with many other animals who are also dreaming of their very own homes. Because everything is unfamiliar I’m a little stand-offish at first, but I’m quite easy to win over with a little bit of treats and attention.

I imagine my hair blowing in the breeze as I run through the leaves with my new owner by my side. Do you think you may fit into this vision? Stop on by today and see if we were meant to be together forever.

To learn more about me or other animals waiting for homes, please come visit our shelter at 4 Paws Lane In Gloucester or check us out online at www.capeannanimalaid.org.

Saturday Sunshine at Stage Fort Park

The sun and blue skies pushed me out the door to explore Stage Fort Park.  I love the way the snow is still stuck to the tree trunks, all facing the same direction like soldiers standing duty.

I call this one “Sentinels”

IMG_6548

Some other scenes from Stage Fort Park on a beautiful morning. It all just looked different somehow, fresh and new.

IMG_6508IMG_6510IMG_6519IMG_6556