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 "You win by working hard, making tough decisions and building coalitions". - former governor of Michigan, John Engler

The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, looks to strengthen its support to the region (Danbury, Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, and Sherman) with five new Board members, selected to build on its strong foundation. Executive Director Lisa Scails, now serving on the Private Sector Network Advisory Team of the Americans for the Arts, is enthused by the future. "With our welcomed new Board members, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut is poised to expand partnerships with business, increase access to and equity for the arts, and strengthen our key commitment to regional arts promotion", she says. 

The pARTnership Movement, an initiative from the Americans for the Arts to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage, has inspired the Cultural Alliance's next steps. Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce is among its prime goals. The opportunity for growth and the potential to create dynamic, mutually beneficial partnerships that diversify audiences and build sustainable support networks, rooted in local communities, is ever increasing, and the Cultural Alliance has adopted this model.

The new members to the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut's Board of Directors, who support the concepts of partnership with and for business, are: 

 NICOLE ALMEDIA - Owner, Arthur Murray of Danbury

Born in Danbury and raised in Brookfield, Nicole graduated from UMASS Amherst with a degree in Communications in 2005.  As a way to stay active while looking for her career job, she started a training class at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Danbury in May of that same year (the business was started by her parents in May of 1979) and she never looked back. She became a franchisee in 2008, and then started a second business, Dance Dynamix, in January of 2016 - especially to apply her love and knowledge of dance to focus on children.  She also is a mentor through Danbury Youth Services and a member of the newly created group, Danbury Select, which is a group of entrepreneurs focused on the growth and expansion of Downtown Danbury.

ROBERT CRAWFORD - Professional Artist

A resident of Woodbury, Robert is an illustrator and fine artist, working in his own unique style influenced by magic realism and

the regionalism of post-World War Two artists like Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. His work has been featured on the covers of major magazines such as Fortune, Business Week, The Atlantic,  U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. He recently finished his fourth children’s book. A previous book, The Legend of the Old Man of the Mountain, reached #1 on the regional best-seller list. He includes two LL Bean Christmas covers in his portfolio and was chosen by the German car maker, Volkswagen, to do six paintings for a book which

celebrated Volkswagen's 50th anniversary. He's participated in a United Nation's show on the environment, that painting featured on CBS's Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.

HAL KURFEHS - Vice President of Coldwell Banker Commercial Scalzo Group, Bethel

Hal oversees commercial, investment, industrial sales and leasing, development, and has worked in commercial real estate sales for 26 years. Hal is a multiple recipient of the prestigious CoStar Power Broker Award for the Westchester/Southern Connecticut market. He is a past President of the statewide Commercial Investment Division (CID), Connecticut Association of Realtors, a state director of CID, and a past president of the Greater Danbury CID. He is also Chairman of the Western Connecticut Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA), Chairman of the Brookfield Economic Development Commission, serves on the Advisory Board and is a Corporator for Fairfield County Bank and was past Vice Chairman of the Brookfield Planning Commission. 


JENNIFER MALONE-SEIXAS - Vice President of the Filosa Facilities, Danbury

Jennifer A. Malone-Seixas has been the Administrator of Hancock Hall since June 2011. She was named long-term care “Student of the Year” from the University of Connecticut, School of Business, in April 2011.  Earlier in her career, Jennifer worked as an educator and program coordinator for the Museum of Modern Art and as a sommelier at various restaurants in NYC.  While the area of healthcare takes Jennifer a distance from her training in the arts and education, joining the team at Hancock Hall and Filosa has proven to be the right choice, continuing to bring the arts to the elderly and home bound.



IVAL STRATFORD-KOVNER - Professional Artist

Bethel resident, Ival  has been an artist and arts educator for many decades, teaching in various universities and museums in the New England Area.  Receiving a BFA from Boston University and after starting graduate studies, a position as Art Director for St. Croix Country Day School in the US Virgin Islands opened up,  and Ival spent several years teaching and scuba diving in the islands.  Colorful watercolors with a tropical feel resulted from those years where she taught art for grades 1-12. She returned to earn a Masters in Education and a Masters of Fine Arts at WCSU, while teaching full time in Harlem NYC at Public School 92.  Her work has been exhibited internationally at Oxford University, France, Italy, Germany and Scotland, and she hopes to exhibit at the 70th Anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival.  Art therapy and equine therapy remain ongoing concerns of Ival. Her most recent show was at Danbury City Hall through the Cultural Alliance's Accessible Art program where she exhibited her large scale charcoal horse drawings from her days as a trooper/historian for the Governor’s Horse Guard in Newtown.

The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut depends largely on community support for its programs and services.  Contact Lisa Scails to volunteer or to donate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information,  call (203) 798 0760 or 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



Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut
287 Main Street
Danbury, CT 06810

Tel 203.798.0760


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