"Youth is in a grand flush, like the hot days of ending summer; and pleasant dreams thrall your spirit, like the smoky atmosphere that bathes the landscape of an August day." - Connecticut essayist Donald G. Mitchell

Ever growing, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut's year-long, multi-site program, Accessible Art,  joining Business with Art, continues to catch the eye with an upcoming 10 exhibitions of visual arts, opening on Monday, August 28th. Pour Me Coffee & Wine Cafe at 274 Main Street, Danbury,  is the newest presenter, featuring the works of Bethel artist JOSEPH ANNINO in an exhibition entitled "Diffractions." 

The artist is inspired by works by Agnes Martin, El Lissitzky, Yayoi Kusama, and Mark Rothko, and each piece results in varying moods and impressions as lines and forms "diffract" through the aperture of the mind of the viewer. Signing works as JoViAn, the artist has been painting for the past two years in a variety of mediums, techniques, and styles, believing that each informs the others along a path of creative development. Joseph has presented works in solo shows at Molten Java in Bethel, and has also shown in Boston, Redding, Danbury, and New Milford.

Accessible Art exhibitions, running through Friday, October 20th, also include:

KATIE TYNAN HELU, CityCenter Danbury, 268 Main Street, (203) 792 1711  "As a ceramic artist and potter, I employ a meticulous gas-kiln firing process to bring out the beauty of the glazes I use, adding a unique depth to the color as the flow of the flame directs its attention to each piece.  My creations include hand-built and sculptural pieces as well as pottery thrown on the wheel. My pieces are never exactly alike, but each piece carries an essence from the potter's hand."        

SUSAN KEOWN, YMCA's ESCAPE to the Arts, 293 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 794-1413 "I gather parts of my life through painted and drawn papers, discarded and found objects  As a life is woven together, balanced with many parts, I combine these pieces together to form my coherent visions."

SCOTT LEWIS, Filosa/Hancock Hall, 31 Staples Street, Danbury, (203) 794-9466 "As a professional artist's model, I have been the subject of many works of art on display over the years. Now I am pursuing my interest in photography and travel, and drawing on my creative background in film making and writing to create my own narrative images." 

KARIN MANSBERG, Mothership Bakery & Cafe, 331 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 417-6914 "In my art, the final versions rarely seem to resemble their source, which I guess can be the case for many observations. We see the world how we want to, and perhaps, not as it is. My art is an extension of my own reality or lack thereof."

CYNTHIA O'CONNOR, Bethel Public Library, 189 Greenwood Ave, (203) 794-8756 "I've been a photographer all my life. My camera is always with me, my eye, always open. Essentially self-taught, this is my gift, for which I'm so grateful. Yet, for true fulfillment, it's sharing my discoveries, moments that gave me a thrill, a lump in my throat, those that make me stop, sigh, and completely captivate me."

CHRIS PLAISTED, Danbury Public Library, 170 Main Street, (203) 797-4505 "My works tend to focus on forms of contrast. It may be in the concept: man vs. nature, social vs. emotion, or it may be the tension created by the use of materials. I connect with the juxtaposition of different materials; steel with copper and concrete, wood with metals. I believe that the opposing materials, forms, or colors in my work, intensify each element's properties to produce a more dynamic form of expression."

STEPHANIE SAFARIK, Danbury City Hall, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, (203) 797-4511 "Perseverance is how I describe my life and photography.    I love getting lost in black and white photography.  For me, it lets my imagination wander while still being elegant and simple.  Most of my work is concentrated around water since that is where I feel the most alive yet  peaceful."

GARY STANFORD, CityCenter Danbury, 268 Main Street, (203) 792-1711 "The very essence  of photography is the ability to create an historical record of an event  at a precise moment in time.  Events may involve people, places and things and be literal or figurative.  My purpose as a photographer is to depict the world around me and to offer my interpretation of that event."

HELGA RUOPP, Hodge Insurance Agency, 283 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 792-2323 "In my artwork I seek to capture 'innocence' and 'beauty' in everyday sightings using the  colors of  nature."

For information about Accessible Art and other programs offered by the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, call (203) 798 0760 0r visit www.artswesternct.org



“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” - Auguste Rodin

Appropriately hung to coincide within the week of Valentine's Day, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut kicks off its 10th year of presenting the Accessible Art series with HE(ART). After all, Art and passion go hand-in-hand, following Auguste Rodin's belief that “The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.”  Eight exhibitions, currently running through Friday, April 14th, mark the first of five rounds of this year-long, multi-site program joining Business with Art. The year's schedule plans for 39 exhibitions showing through Friday, December 29th. Accessible Art is sponsored by Fairfield County's Community Foundation and the venues who are generously hosting the artists: Bethel Public Library, CityCenter Danbury, Danbury City Hall, Danbury Public Library, Filosa/Hancock Hall, Hodge Insurance Agency, Mothership Bakery & Cafe, and YMCA's ESCAPE to the Arts.

This year's premier Accessible Art mounting highlights the works of Brian Bardo (Danbury), Debra Burger (Danbury), Ted DeToy (New Fairfield), Maressa Gershowitz (Danbury), Renato Ghio (Danbury), Toni Miraldi (Sandy Hook), Helga Ruopp (Hawleyville), and Tara Tomaselli (Newtown).  Hours at the venues vary, so call ahead. For more information about Accessible Art, call (203) 798 0760 or visit www.artswesternct.org All exhibitions are subject to change.

Brian Bardo

INTERACTIONS: A photographic essay portraying the dignity of people who have multiple disabilities

YMCA's ESCAPE to the Arts, 293 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 794-1413

Brian Bardo is a retired Special Education Teacher with 39 years of experience in Danbury area. He was named Teacher of the Year in1986 for Unified School District #3, Connecticut State Department of Developmental Services. He has exhibited at the State of Connecticut Capital Building in Hartford and the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, sponsored by CT Senator Lowell Weicker, and the Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC, sponsored by CT Representative William Ratchford.   

Debra Burger

Bethel Public Library, 189 Greenwood Ave, (203) 794-8756

Throughout the years, Debra Burger has been capturing images from her other creative passion - her garden. Challenging herself to create a body of work from the objects in her garden, she has created larger-than-life images that examine the color, shape, texture, and life of each plant and flower. They provide the viewer with a unique perspective on the fragile, yet bold impression each flower offers. She is President of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Western New York Chapter.

Ted DeToy

Mothership Bakery & Cafe, 331 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 417-6914

Ted DeToy’s paintings in acrylic on canvas offer sharp and colorful encounters with familiar imagery related to pop culture, race and gender, American politics and daily life. Rendered in expressive primary colors with contemporary neo-cubist flair, DeToy takes an innovative approach to painting, drawing from books, magazine, movies and the internet as he allows both the most intimate and the most universal aspects of modern existence to influence his art.

Maressa Gershowitz

Can Imagine That

Danbury City Hall, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, (203) 797-4511

Maressa Gershowitz claims her story is the same as always.  "No photoshop, no flash, no strobes, just me and the camera looking at the world," she says.

Renato Ghio

CityCenter Danbury, 268 Main Street, (203) 792-1711

Renato Ghio's collection is inspired by his continued fascination with mobile photography. He says, "My goal is to demonstrate that mobile devices are an extension of photography as an art form. I enjoy pushing the limits of what’s possible with mobile-created imagery by transforming seemingly normal snapshots into another world. All the photographs in this exhibition were taken and edited on my phone."

Toni Miraldi

Hodge Insurance Agency, 283 Main Street, Danbury, (203) 792-2323

Toni Miraldi writes, "As a mural artist, my mission is to transform plain walls into stimulating walls. I believe our attitudes are subtly influenced by our environs. If we surround ourselves and our communities with small positive messages--whether they be art, nature, inspiring architecture or kind words--we will see the world differently than if we are surrounded by suspicion, fear and despair. This is why I love murals. They take a thing that literally surrounds us--a wall--and turn it into an encouragement."

Helga Ruopp

Danbury Public Library, 170 Main Street, (203) 797-4505

Helga Jensen-Ruopp was born in a refugee camp in Czechoslovakia into a family displaced after WWII, Helga eventually emigrated to the USA.  Since she didn't understand English, she took to art as a way of expressing herself.  Later, she attended Adelphi University receiving Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Education with a concentration in Fine Arts. She has taught at Danbury High School, Western Connecticut State University, and teaches cooking and painting to children at YMCA's Escape to the Arts.

Tara Tomaselli

 Filosa/Hancock Hall, 31 Staples Street, Danbury, (203) 794-9466 

Tara Tomaselli is a fine art photographer with over 20 years working in the industry. Primarily self-taught in photography, she has been professionally exhibiting and selling her photographs since 2012.  She notes,"When I come upon an interesting subject, I like to observe and take it in from all angles, then I hone in on what I feel is the most appealing part - most often a close up view of an object or section of something larger. I want to show the beauty in things no matter their current state, objects that are old, discarded, junked, rusted, decayed, interesting. Many of these rusty relics are transportation-related, exciting to find, and windows into the past."



 The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, with offices at 287 Main Street, Danbury, CT, is a leader in supporting a vibrant arts and culture community in Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties. The Cultural Alliance promotes and advocates for arts, history, and culture as a primary driver of the economy and as an enriching influence for communities and people. The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, a 501c-3, is the largest and only regional service organization working to ensure better access to arts and culture for all residents and visitors in Greater Danbury. It is supported by public and private funding, corporate sponsors, and by its 290 members including more than 55 arts, history, and cultural organizations.  phone: (203) 798 0760

Published in ArtsWestern News

For years, Elena Kalman and Susan Hoffman Fishman did what artists tend to do, create art.

Painters both, they expressed themselves through pigment and canvas. About 10 years ago, these longtime friends noticed their conversations were revolving around purpose and potential. Were they making art that mattered? Were they addressing issues that concerned them, and by extension, their communities? Were they connecting with the public in deep and meaningful ways? They had come to the proverbial quandary: What were they doing with their lives, and were they using their talents in a meaningful way?

“We started asking ourselves what are we passionate about and what issues are really important to us,” says Kalman, an architect who has lived in Stamford for more than 25 years. “We wanted a meaningful connection with the public and to create art that was attached to subjects that were important to people. We wanted to make something that was really useful, and brought about a more serious conversation about art and the human condition. That is how our collaboration in public art started.”

Public art defines itself by its very name — art intended for public consumption in a public place. It is often free, easily accessible and at times, inspired by the community or place in which it is to be exhibited. It can delve into socially conscious or historically relevant issues. All those elements were appealing to Kalman and Hoffman Fishman, who lives in West Hartford, but they wanted the public to be more than observers or consumers. The public are creators, which is why they call their projects interactive public arts projects.


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