Dan Bosley Celebrated

Retirement Event Held at Mass MoCA

By: - Dec 10, 2010

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“Life is too short” Dan Bosley commented while addressing the some 100 political dignitaries and friends who gathered in the lobby of Mass MoCA for a combined birthday celebration and retirement party. “You have to work hard for what you believe in.”

After 24 years in politics, 22 of them representing the First Berkshire District in the Massachusetts Legislature, in a couple of weeks, Bosley will be out of office.

He was in high spirits although his ambition to run for Berkshire County Sheriff did not go according to plan. Bosley did not seek reelection and his seat has been filled by former North Adams City Councilor Gailanne Cariddi.

In a move that didn’t make much sense, Bosley, a veteran campaigner, was defeated by a political novice, Pittsfield Police Detective, Thomas N. Bowler.

With typical humor Bosley described how his entry into politics was fueled over drinks at the VFW. On a rainy night he was complaining that the North Adams City Council did not see the wisdom of putting a roof over the downtown bus stop. Somebody suggested that if he wanted to do something about it he might run for the Council.

Apparently sleeping it off Bosley conveyed surprise when a friend dropped by his house with the petition papers. After just two years on the Council, and an early fumble with the Republicans, he saw the light and subsequently became a legend on Beacon Hill.

In the remarks to an impressive array of well wishers, including a surprise appearance by former Republican Governor, and Williamstown resident, Jane Swift, everyone noted his integrity, humor, keen intelligence, and vast knowledge.

Although on opposing ends of the political spectrum Swift explored areas of mutual respect and common cause. She evoked a familiar laugh commenting on how Dan would give her a head’s up to expect an angry call from Mayor John Barrett. She noted with a zinger that one of the pleasures of being out of politics is no longer having to take Barrett’s calls.

Both Barrett and current Mayor, Dick Alcombright, were on hand to speak on behalf of Bosley.

Unlike Bosley, after 26 years as Mayor of North Adams, Barrett has not gone softly into that good night. He reminded us of his role in the creation of Mass MoCA. Which is undeniable. But on this occasion he stated that Bosley deserves some credit as well. It is actually a much longer list and even includes Jane Swift during a crucial transition between Governors Dukakis, Cellucci, and Weld.

This past weekend I chatted with Bosley when we were guests at a holiday gathering in the Eclipse Mill. I was surprised by his deep interest in photography. Much of it taken when touring the world with various delegations.

We asked about a rumor that he will oppose Alcombright in the next election. He flatly denied that.  I followed up with another rumor that Barrett will run for City Council. “John started that rumor” was his quick response. Barrett is said to be writing a book on the theme of the Creative Economy. It has been his topic on the national lecture circuit.

There are a number of individuals taking credit for the Creative Economy and its impact on the turn around in North Adams. In his remarks Joe Thompson shed some light on the subject.

He recounted an undergraduate project at Williams. Under then Williams College Museum of Art director, Tom Krens, a group of students created a study about how the arts, and transforming the 17 acre, former Sprague Electric campus, might bring economic recovery to North Adams.

The students submitted the report to Rep. Bosley and were astonished that he took them seriously. “We had to study our study” Thompson recalled as he and the others in the project prepared for a meeting with Bosley.

Initially, it took some persuading at the local level that the idea of Krens was indeed viable. When Barrett and Bosley were convinced they had the more daunting task of pitching a $35 million bill to build a contemporary art museum in North Adams.

Today, of course, it’s a no brainer. In hindsight, only in Massachusetts, would you get everyone on board to fund an art museum. Bosley related how, over and over, the bill died at the end of the year. During his final year in office Dukakis called Bosley, just after New Year’s, to promise that he would get the bill passed. It took another seven years to start to see some of the money. And three more to actually open the museum. It has now been open for eleven years.

So, from the original idea of Krens, until now, represents some 21 years. It spans most of the political careers of Barrett and Bosley who often have been described as joined at the hip.

Coming into another season I asked Thompson if the Wilco Festival will be staged in June. He squirmed and smiled but would not go beyond confirming that, indeed, they are working on another Wilco Festival. In June, I prevailed. Another smile.

The bigger news is that Mass MoCA is planning further expansion.

The Wilco Festival last summer opened up the entire campus for the first time. The new Joe Thompson field was created as the main performance stage. There were other stages in the interior courtyards. Mayor Alcombright has had discussions with Thompson about opening other access paths connecting to the under used Heritage State Park.

With the success of the Sol LeWitt building other, similar collections are interested in developing long lease installations on the MoCA campus. The museum has hosted an extended loan of works by the German artist, Anselm Kiefer, from a Connecticut based collection.  But if a Kiefer project goes forward it would entail other loans.

Thompson acknowledged that these and other possibilities are being explored. He stated that the museum would be making an announcement within several months. That news may come as early as next week.

While out of office Bosley assured the assembled well wishers that he will continue to work on projects for the benefit of North Adams. We may expect his calls. You can count on Bosley to continue to do good work.

Tammy Daniels report for I