The photography of Justin L. Oliver: The Kirkbride Asylums

They were buildings of grandeur, their beauty and form meant to have a curative effect and to be ‘a special apparatus for the care of lunacy’. Now many of the ‘asylums’ built under the Kirkbride Plan stand abandoned, neglected, vandalized and decaying. Justin L. Oliver is a professional photographer/preservationist from East Freetown, MA who has spent the last nine years photographing and documenting derelict Kirkbride Buildings. He has an interest in both preserving these structures via photography and also in sharing their eerie beauty with others. Justin Oliver’s photographic essay of ‘asylums’ is a stunningly vivid and ethereal body of work and will be on exhibition at the Narrows Gallery in the Narrows Center for the Arts from June 19 through August 31, 2008. The Kirkbride Plan refers to a system of mental asylum design advocated by Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride in the mid-1800s. The Kirkbride Asylums of Massachusetts are the Danvers State Hospital, Worcester State Hospital, Northampton State Hospital and most locally the Taunton State Hospital. Once state-of-the-art mental healthcare facilities, built in a time when the art of American architecture was young and many (now famous) architects were just coming into their own, Kirkbride Buildings have long been relics of an obsolete therapeutic method known as Moral Treatment. In the latter half of the 19th century, these massive structures were conceived as ideal sanctuaries for the mentally ill and as an active participent in their recovery. Careful attention was given to every detail of their design to promote a healthy environment and convey a sense of respectable decorum. Placed in secluded areas within expansive grounds, many of these insane asylums seemed almost palace-like from the outside. But growing populations and insufficient funding led to unfortunate conditions, spoiling their idealistic promise. Within decades of their first conception, new treatment methods and hospital design concepts emerged and the Kirkbride plan was eventually discarded. By the end of the 20th century most had been completely abandoned or demolished. Many that survive sit abandoned and decaying’their mysterious grandeur intensified by their derelict condition’. The above research and copyrighted information was found at kirkbridebuildings.com and wikipedia.org. Please visit those websites for complete information. The Photography of Justin L. Oliver will be on exhibit in the Narrows Gallery from June 19 through August 31. The Narrows Gallery is located in the Narrows Center for the Arts at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, MA. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, Noon ‘ 5:00 p.m. and by appointment. Admission to the Narrows Gallery is free. All concert ticket-holders are also welcome to view the exhibition on performance night. Visit the Narrows’ website at www.ncfta.org and the artist’s website at http://jloliverphoto.com for more information.

Debbie Davies Band

Since 1993, Debbie has produced nine solo recordings and two collaborative CD’s, one with guitarists Tab Benoit and Kenny Neal, and another with guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Otis Grand. The roster of other artists who have joined Debbie in the studio on her recordings reads like a who’s who of the blues: Albert Collins, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Tommy Shannon, Chris ‘Whipper’ Layton, Sugar Ray Norcia, Mudcat Ward, Charlie Musselwhite, Bruce Katz, Per Hanson, Noel Neal, and Rod Carey. She has received eight nominations for Blues Music Awards, and in 1997 won the award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. She is nominated yet again in this category for 2008.

The Iguanas

Some call their music ‘roots rock.’ But those who have grooved to the sound of these New Orleans fixtures call their music ‘fun.’ Another taste of the ‘Big Easy’ at the Narrows.

Donna Jean and the Tricksters

Donna Jean was with the Grateful Dead and you’ll no doubt feel the Dead groove during the show. She and her crew have played the Narrows several times, drawing a great crowd and good vibrations. Trivia: Donna Jean sang back-up on Percy Sledge’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ and Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds.’

My Brightest Diamond

This year Diamond releases their sophomore album, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, originally meant to be a more classical, string quartet affair, the work slowly evolved and refined itself over a period of six years. Influenced by artists such as Tricky, French composer Maurice Ravel and Tom Waits, in addition to the star exploration themes of Anslem Kiefer’s paintings, the imaginary landscapes of photographer Robert ParkeHarrison, films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Alice in Wonderland, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth is a musical snowglobe that sparkles each time you touch it. The songs, whose themes broach intimacy, kisses by moonlight, laundry, lost friendship and more, marry vast instrumentation ‘ marimbas, harps, clarinets, French horns, rabid guitars, vibraphones to name a few ‘ to create an unequaled amalgamation of style and color. A Thousand Shark’s Teeth was released in Europe on June 2nd and in the US on June 17th, 2008 on Asthmatic Kitty Records

Moonalice (featuring GE Smith, Pete Sears, Barry Sless)

This tribe of hippie freaks features GE Smith (Saturday Night Live), Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna etc.) Barry Sless (Phil Lesh, David Nelson), Steve Parrish (longtime Grateful Dead roadie) and some surprise gusets. They conjure the spirit of the 60’s and beyond. This should be a special night of music and mayhem.

Deke Dickerson

Deke has one of the funnest shows you’ll ever see. High energy rockabilly that is not just a throwback to the 50s, but takes the musical style well into the 21st century. He’s such a hot guitarist that he writes for Guitar Player magazine. Pencil this one into your calendar. You gotta love the Deke!

Laura Cantrell

She’s a country and folk artist whose also known in the NYC area for her radio work. She’s played a bunch with our good friend Jimmy Ryan.