“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keefe, artist

Through figurative gesture,  expressive mark making and color choice, Woodbury CT artist Karen Bonanno captures a mood suggestive of Cezanne, Bonnard or Matisse. Her new solo exhibition, "The Female Perspective," opens on Friday, January 19th, 2018, at @287 Gallery, 287 Main Street, Danbury CT, with a free public reception from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. An RSVP is strongly suggested. For reservations, go to http://bit.ly/female_perspective or call (203) 798 0760  "The Female Perspective" runs through Friday, April 20th. The exhibition marks the beginning of @287 Gallery's 2018 season, as it enters its sixth year of presenting fine art by Western Connecticut artists and others that capture the gallery's sense of vision and looking forward.  

Karen Bonanno received her B.A. in Fine Art/Painting from Western Connecticut State University in1993, and since then, she has shown extensively throughout the region. In 2016, her work was featured in Prince Street Gallery's 8th National Juried Show in New York, juried by Guggenheim Fellow, Graham Nickson. Influenced by the Bay Area Figurative movement, including artists David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, Karen's figures are formed with intent, often appearing in an ambiguous atmospheric space and creating an emboldened narrative that is both solid and proud. For more information and gallery images, visit Karen's web.

@287 Gallery's 2018 season will also feature solo exhibitions by:

May 4th - July 27th

Larry Morse, Bronx, NY

August 10th - November 2nd

Hannah Munroe, Bethel, CT

November 16th - February 8th, 2019

Megan Marden, Danbury, CT      

@287 Gallery, a project of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, is open 12:00 noon to 4:00pm Tuesday to Friday, 12:00 noon to 3:00pm Saturday, and by appointment. For more information, call at (203) 798 0760.

Published in ArtsWestern News

Panel discusses the value of the arts for lifestyle and the economy

Not only are the arts vital to healthy living, they are an economic engine that deserve more support at the local, state and federal levels.

That was the conclusion of a panel of government and industry experts as well as a sympathetic audience that gathered Thursday, October 26th, at Hancock Hall in Danbury to discuss the findings of a recent survey that shows arts and supporting organizations in Fairfield County generate millions of dollars in annual spending.

The panel featured state Rep. Stephen Harding, R-107; Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker; Hal Kurfehs, vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial; Mary Larew, director of the Danbury Music Centre; and Brian Vernon, dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Western Connecticut State University.

“We often forget how much of an element art can be to business,” Harding said. “The Legislature needs to invest more in the arts. It’s more of a business than people think.”

The discussion, sponsored by the Cultural Commission of Western Connecticut, was prompted by an Arts and Economic Prosperity study conducted by Americans for the Arts that showed the arts industry annually generates $235.2 million in economic development for Fairfield County.

Knickerbocker cited the sculpture gardens that have been created each of the past two years in front of Bethel's town hall and library as an example of the value of arts to the community.

“In a town the size of Bethel, we know there is an economic impact from the arts but we don’t do polling and it’s hard to measure,” Knickerbocker said. “The sculpture gardens make the community more progressive and hip, if I can use that term, and it signifies to millennials that this is not some backward town. It’s progressive and somewhere they might want to live.”

Kurfehs noted that quality-of-life issues are important to business, including those looking to relocate.

“When you define art and culture, it’s about creativity and innovation, travel, philosophy — these are all things that make life interesting,” Kurfehs said. “If you have businesses looking to relocate here, your employees will be happy if the area has the ambiance they are looking for.”

Vernon pointed out that education and experience in the arts don’t always lead to jobs in the arts.

“My sister danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and later became a physical therapist,” Vernon said. “It’s interesting to think about how that kinesthetic awareness and understanding of the body can turn into a career in physical therapy.”

He also echoed a universal theme at the gathering — that many aspects of art are valuable beyond financial rewards.

“Music transforms us,” Vernon said. “It doesn’t matter how old or young we are. We all love music. You can’t measure that value.”

Larew admitted frustration with continuing questions about the value of art.

“I really wish we could get to the point that the arts are recognized as an important industry and start with what we want to accomplish artistically or culturally,” Larew said. “We don’t ask whether restaurants are important, or utilities.”

The Music Centre was founded in 1935, Larew noted, as a place residents could continue to perform the musical arts they learned as students.

Every week hundreds of people travel to downtown Danbury for rehearsals and performances, she said, making this arts organization one of the catalysts of the local economy.

“Where do we want our community to go?” Larew asked. “What makes Downtown Danbury special?”

Lisa Scails, director of the Cultural Alliance, pointed to additional findings from the Arts and Economic Prosperity survey: In Fairfield County, the arts industry supports 6,789 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $142.3 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $20.6 million in local and state government revenue.

“We say the arts are resilient, but people who love the arts have to remain vigilant,” Scails said. “In my opinion, in this region, we could be more vigilant.”

The complete Arts & Economic Prosperity (V) report is posted on the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut's web site, www.artswesternct.org

Newstimes || By Hal Kurfehs  Published Sunday, September 10, 2017
Without “culture” life would be dull. Culture is human intellectual achievement and the creative elements in our lives. It includes fine art, the performing arts, expressive art, sculpture, travel, philosophy, literature and music. Anyone who eschews these wonderful gifts of life is destined for a pretty miserable existence.

If we, as the general public, value these life-enhancing pursuits, how do you think the artists themselves feel about their life-work? Any artist who I know is passionate about their work and contributions. They know that, except for a few, they will not make a pile of money from their art. But that does not seem to deter them because their creative output and its appreciation by others is psychic reward enough.

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