Putnam’s ‘First Friday’ brings art to the streets

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Tue., Jun. 7, 2011
Susan Rosenstone Larrow in front of her poppy panel in Putnam. Photos by D. Coffey.
Susan Rosenstone Larrow in front of her poppy panel in Putnam. Photos by D. Coffey.

Al Dziedzic and his 1946 Martin announced the unofficial start to Putnam’s First Friday with the soulful sounds of saxophone. His was the perfect accompaniment to the warmth and promise of summer.

Sean Condon from Glimpse of Gaia was one of the forces behind the First Friday movement. He credits a core group of business owners and interested parties with trying to organize an event that will continue to draw people into the city.

“We’re getting our feet wet,” he said. The group has been meeting regularly for more than a year to discuss ways to make First Fridays a reality. They are still working out some of the details. But already their second “First Friday” – held June 3 – was full of events. There was an art show featuring Terry Lennox at Silver City Gallery, and outdoor performances by Gypsy Romantique and the Sax Man. A group of artists gathered to paint over boarded-up windows. A makeshift production table sat outside Arts and Framing for people to make their own magnets. Artwork by Brooklyn Elementary School students hung in the community gallery in the egress from Silver City Gallery to Main Street. “Doubt” played at the Bradley Theater.

First Fridays are meant to showcase all the arts, according to Delpha Very, a member of Putnam’s Economic and Development Committee. Artists are a creative work force in the area, and First Fridays are great way to showcase their talents, Very said. “This is about enhancing the quality of life and making Putnam the best it can be,” she added.

Artist Susan Rosenstone Larrow was putting the finishing touches on her panel of poppies. Much of the paint was donated exterior house paint, but Larrow brought her own acrylic paint to make her red poppies more vibrant. Each artist had created her own vision of spring and summer, the official theme of this month’s “art attack,” according to Putnam Business Association President Karen Osbrey. Some of the artists worked on scaffolding so they could reach the upper portions of their windows.

“This is what we’re calling an ‘art attack’: spontaneous, random acts of art,” said Osbrey. The artists had been working since 2 p.m. on their panels. Osbrey promised the “art attacks” would be different for each First Friday. “They won’t always be visual,” she said. “Last month we had a dance in the street. Next month will be different. The important thing is that when people drive by here, instead of seeing boarded-up windows, they’ll be seeing these fabulous works of art. They’ll be here for people to see and enjoy for as long as they last.”

Karen Paine and her husband Dick made the trip from Webster to check out the activities. They weren’t sure what to expect, but it gave them a reason to get out and look at the art. “My daughter comes to Putnam all the time,” Paine said. “And we like looking at art.”

Silver City Studio featured artwork by Terry Lennox, a faculty member at Eastern Connecticut State University and accomplished artist in her own right. More than 150 people came through for the reception. Lennox’s work included oils, acrylics, mosaics, metal sculpture and digital art. Her happy cat illustration for Blue Buffalo cat food is going national soon. Silver City also showcased artwork by Brooklyn Elementary Schoolchildren and local artists.

Silver City Studio owner Carly Martin was happy to see the crowd that had come out. “This is what it’s all about,” she said. “Having it out there for the public to enjoy.”

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