Female artists of 'SWAN Day' thrive in new venue

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Tue., Mar. 29, 2011
Artist Kerry Kozaczuk creates a painting live on stage during SWAN Day, while bands perform. Photos by Steve Smith.
Artist Kerry Kozaczuk creates a painting live on stage during SWAN Day, while bands perform. Photos by Steve Smith.

Hundreds turned out for the SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day CT event at the East Hartford Community Cultural Center on March 26 to see female artists, musicians, crafters and dancers perform, display and sell their works.

SWAN Day CT coordinator Jennifer Hill (also frontwoman for the band Jennifer Hill & Co.) said qualifying the event was simple. “I think it went off pretty well,” she said. “I think next year we can make it even bigger. Everybody made money, so I was excited.”

Mary Carsons, of the Manchester-based band Waking Elliot, called the event “amazing,” and said the SWAN mission of bringing female artists together was exceeded.

“I love seeing all the artists and the vendors here,” Carsons said. “I'm discovering a lot of new musicians that we weren’t aware of, and making a lot of great contacts. It's creating this nice community that wasn't here before.”

Carsons added that SWAN Day also helps put female musicians in a truer light. “Especially in music,” she said, “women are thought of as vulnerable. This helps promote us as strong. We’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Windsor-based band The Grimm Generation (Carmen Champagne and Jason Krug) played a set of their “morning after music,” but said they wanted to change things up a little for SWAN Day.

“We mixed it up,” said Krug. “We sort of gear our stuff toward the event. Coming into this, we looked at all the different styles of bands, and decided we wanted to come as close to a glam-rock show as we can.”

“Really awesome,” Champagne said of the event. “We've only played together for about a year now, so to be able to come in and play one of the biggest events in Connecticut was awesome.”

Artist Kerry Kozaczuk created an original painting – from blank canvas to completion - on the music stage while the bands were playing.

“I had no idea what I was going to do,” she said. “Originally, I thought I might do a self-portrait while looking in a mirror. The way the lighting was, the first thing I saw against the canvas was my shadow, so I traced that and kind of morphed it into other things from there.”

Kozaczuk joked with one of the bands, telling them their music was too upbeat for her painting. “I wanted the painting to stay within the theme it was in,” she said, “but it was kind of hard because I wanted to be throwing the brush all over the place, dancing.”

Kozaczuk said she really related to the burlesque dancers, and cleared up any misconceptions about them.

“What they're doing is an art form,” she said. “They finally take that really sensual, passionate, sexy woman’s body and put it on display in a way that displays their talent, and not to objectify themselves. They use it as their canvas – their instrument.”

Hill said after the festival’s first time in East Hartford(after three years in Hartford), the EHCCC may indeed become SWAN Day CT's new home, as it suited the event well.

“I think the seating area in the auditorium was good for everybody,” she said, “and the extra rooms. I would like to come back here again.”

“The venue is the best yet,” Kozaczuk said. “The best space - best acoustics.”

Hill added that she hopes to keep the annual event growing every year.

“I hope to expand it as much as I can,” she said. “I'd like to put more bands up, and maybe have it go longer.”

For more information, visit www.womenarts.org, or visit SWAN Day CT on facebook.com.

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