SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 4, 2013

Heard Around Town: Rare treat on tap for Peabody’s For the Birds Gala

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — When John James Audubon created “The Birds of America,” it was the ultimate “hands-on” project. Not only did he provide the painted images, but he oversaw the printing process and the work of artisans who painstakingly colored the images.

Less than 200 sets were sent out to mostly wealthy collectors. The Peabody Institute Library has one of those treasured books, purchased by benefactor Eliza Sutton and given to the library in 1871.

You can see some of the prints restored and displayed at the library on a regular basis. But if you have a ticket to the library’s $100-a-head For the Birds Gala tomorrow, you can also see something even more rare, an unexpected addition to an event that has already sold 85 out of 100 tickets.

After Audubon’s death, when times got tough for his widow, she sold off the copper plates used to print the pictures for their value in metal. But apparently not all of them reached the scrap heap, says library trustee Anne Quinn.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Museum of American Bird Art will bring one of the few surviving copper plates containing images that the artist himself created — hands-on — as he directed the engravers. Moreover, Quinn says, the library will also display its version of the print produced by that very plate.

“I’m really excited about it,” she says.

In addition, the evening will include an appearance by David Allen Sibley, author of “The Sibley Guide to Birds.” The gala will also feature music, drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

All the profits earned will go toward the continuing preservation of Peabody’s precious Audubon prints.

Drop those clothes

Yes, warm weather will come eventually. You can shuck off all those excess clothes. And since you won’t be wearing them, you’re welcome to toss some of them into drop boxes around the city. It’s all part of the Higgins Cares Peabody Clothing Drive, an effort mounted by kids, teachers and staff at Higgins Middle School.

The citywide effort lasts until Wednesday. Leading it are eighth-graders Katie Wallace and Matt D’Amato.

For more information, contact mayoral aide Chris Ryder at 978-538-5701 or Higgins Principal Todd Bucey at 978-536-4800.

Gangway

It was no place for a claustrophobic. A shoehorn couldn’t have fit more people into Champions Pub on Tuesday night as supporters of Leah Cole’s successful campaign to win the special election for state representative celebrated. Regular customers seemed to take all the crowding and commotion in stride, however. Waiters and waitresses delivered meals by balancing trays high above and snaking their way past raucous revelers.

Newspeople, dripping sweat, had to fight through raised beer glasses and bottles to get near the smiling victor. It was all a sharp contrast to her opponents’ headquarters, the AOH and Knights of Columbus Hall, where there was plenty of room and still more of it as the bad news came in.

Champions manager Kevin Houlden explained later that he was simply asked to host the event — he never accommodated such a gathering before and wasn’t part of the campaign.

“We weren’t one way or the other,” he said.

None of the regulars complained, he added. He estimates that 90 percent of the crowd had come to celebrate the victory. It’s something he would be happy to do again.

Have one on Peabody

The Licensing Board had one to give, and they gave the all-alcoholic license to John Mastrangelo, who intends to open Kelley Square Pub in the downtown space that previously hosted the Fire Bull Restaurant.

“It’s a good thing for Peabody,” board Chairman Minas Dakos said. “We’re trying to revitalize the downtown.”

Mastrangelo, he noted, has a good record operating a Kelley Square Pub in East Boston. Speaking on his behalf was Tom D’Amato of the Light Commission.

While a Salem man had initially expressed interest in obtaining the license, Mastrangelo was the only one to apply for it.

The vote was 3-0 in favor of him. Dakos notes that Mastrangelo’s brother Steve runs the Courthouse Pub just up the street.