Bridgeport's art scene takes the spotlight in downtown 'pARTy' Saturday

Downtown Bridgeport wants to entertain and inspire folks with its ARTcade downtown pARTy on April 24.

Suzanne Kachmar, executive director of City Lights Gallery and one of the organizers for the ARTcade event, described the event as a mixture of creatives that features local businesses, art and music.

Taking place at three locations at the Arcade Mall located on Main Street, City Lights Gallery on Golden Hill Street and at the Firm Art Gallery at Lafayette Circle, the event will feature music from WKPN, buskers, performances by Savor City’s band Latin Americana, two new art exhibitions and a number of offerings from vintage and artisan shops.

Kachmar said she had originally planned to hold an event like this in the fall, but the rising coronavirus cases ended up causing her to scrap her plans. Now that the weather is improving and vaccines have become more readily available to the public, Kachmar said she’s ready to make art an in-person experience again.

“We’re all putting art online so people aren’t going crazy staring at the walls during COVID, but there’s nothing like seeing art in person. There’s nothing like hearing music live. There’s nothing like hanging out with your friends and being out in the sunshine,” she said.

City Lights Gallery will be launching its new exhibit, “Pandemic Art,” and Ursa Gallery will be opening its “Here Comes the Sun” exhibition. Kachmar said the City Lights exhibition focuses on the hardships of pandemic life while the Ursa show is more upbeat.

“We feel we need to show both sides of the coin,” she said.

Cris Dam, artist and founder of Ursa Gallery, explained that the “Here Comes the Sun” exhibition is intended to celebrate the “enlightenment” of the vaccine and to look ahead — hopefully — to the future.

“After coming through this last year that’s been devastating for so many people, I think we’re just looking to the light at the end of the tunnel now and really just hopeful and bring something positive to downtown,” he said.

While attendees to the outdoor event will be required to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance, Kachmar is hopeful that the ARTcade downtown pARTy will provide attendees with a fun and safe way to enjoy art.

Kachmar said that the April 24 event is intended to be the first of three monthly ARTcade events. “My dream is that we try to do something at least during the warm months at least once a month.”

In addition to giving people the opportunity to get out and enjoy the arts, Kachmar said she hopes the event will help bring people together while they support downtown businesses.

“There’s this resilient group of creatives downtown that made it through Covid and they want to go back to work. They want to show their wares and get people back into their theaters. The arts are always used as a way to activate change of some sort whether its thinking differently, different behaviors, different attitudes, trends, fashion, music whatever it might be, mixtures of people from diverse backgrounds you kind of get to know each other through art, through shared cultural experiences,” she said.

“One of the things I’ve been talking to a lot of art directors and administrators is that in this moment when we’re so polarized and I think socially confused and raw and tired,” Kachmar continued. “The arts are a place where we can approach difficult conversations and also learn about each other, our commonalities and our differences and hopefully bring people together.”

Dam’s gallery partner, Dustin Malstrom, added that he thinks the event will help bring more attention to the arts, design and vintage presence in Bridgeport.

“I think people who have been cooped up in their house for the past year are all quite anxious to get out,” Malstrom said. “The fact that the seasons are changing, the weather is warming up and it’s finally nice to be outside kind of lends itself to creating a safer environment to be able to do this. We’re really trying to celebrate this new era and give people hope and get people excited about what comes next on a macroscale but also here in Bridgeport.”

The ARTcade downtown pARTy will be held on April 24 from noon to 6 p.m. and has a rain date of May 1. For more information about the event visit, bridgeport-art-trail.org .

tinamarie.craven@hearstmediact.com