May 23, 2024


Super Art is Almost

Pop-up art gallery lends new life to vacant Branford storefront

When outdoor clothing shop Denali shuttered its location in downtown Branford two years ago, it left a hole in the community. Until a new tenant moves in, the Branford Arts & Cultural Alliance (BACA) has stepped in to transform the space into a pop-up art gallery for the summer.

Among its initiatives to make art accessible for all, the alliance is putting the finishing touches on the pop-up at 1004 Main Street. The BACA Gallery will host 35 area artists showing all kinds of media from photography to paintings and sculpture July 1 through the end of August. Hours will be Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 5.

Frank Carrano, alliance president, said they organized a holiday window display in this space in December, with the landlord’s blessing, that was very popular. They also displayed art in the streetfront windows for a few months this year before getting permission to use the whole building.

“The appeal of this is to turn a dark space in the center of town into something filled with light and bright colors,” he said. “The experience that people will have when they walk in will be that they are really standing in a gallery that is expressing the many ways that art is created in the mind of the artists.”

In its five years, BACA has sponsored concerts in town, art shows and mounted a major exhibition in the fall of 2020, “Painted Doors of Branford.” The latter saw 80 artists paint household doors that were displayed along Main Street, raising enough money to permanently endow an arts scholarship at Branford High School. The alliance is dedicated to promoting the arts in town and raising awareness of the importance of art as a quality of life issue.

Given Branford’s shoreline location, it’s not surprising that marine art will be prominently featured in the gallery though a wide range of subject matter from traditional to abstract and modern art will be included. Alliance member Jerry Casanova, who has helped organize the gallery, said there is a lot of shoreline art on view from seascapes to boating scenes.

“I think what is exciting here is first of all the extraordinary talent that is in our neighborhood,” he said. “The variety and the caliber of the work is very impressive and there’s something for everyone.”

From the golden-hued wood floors to the silvery steel support columns and large street-facing windows that let in much natural light, the space is more than suitable as a gallery. Artists were able to take advantage of existing wall hardware to easily hang their art and the space is spacious yet inviting and warm. “The space is so amazingly perfect as a gallery,” Casanova said. Despite the logistics and time commitment it took to pull this venture off by sourcing artists, introducing them to this space and making it happen, support was immediate, he said. “It is a win-win-win.”

Besides the gallery, the Alliance will also present an artistic garden tour, “Petals, Paint And Pollinators,” the last weekend of June in conjunction with the Branford Garden Club, pairing 12 notable gardens with a featured artist. Self-guided garden tours (tickets are $20) are available this weekend, Saturday from 10 to 4 and Sunday, noon to 4. “This is another one of our efforts to bring art to the public in unusual ways,” Carrano said. “I believe there is a synergy between designing a beautiful garden and painting a beautiful painting.”