6 Connecticut cities with thriving art scenes

Photo by Sarajane Sullivan

New Haven singer Thabisa Rich, who was born and raised in South Africa, performs a sound check while rehearsing on the New Haven Green ahead of a performance at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas later the night of 23 June 2021.Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Halfway between Boston and New York City, Connecticut’s hills, scenic beaches, and historic towns have inspired musicians, actors, sculptors, painters, directors, writers, and more for many years. Mark Twain, for example, lived in Hartford and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a house in Westport.

Today, there are many cities across the state with thriving artist communities – too many to include in a single article. So, for now, take advantage of this list of six “artistic” cities in Connecticut.

Kent


“Steel Roots” by artist Steve Tobin on display in front of the Kent Memorial Library as part of the Sculpture on 7 exhibition at the Morrison Gallery in Kent, which features a number of sculptures in the city center . The Morrison Gallery plans to create an international sculpture park in Kent in the spring of 2015. Friday January 2, 2015, Kent, Conn.

H John Voorhees III

Kent is a quaint New England town teeming with art galleries. Besides Bull Bridge – one of Connecticut’s only covered bridges – and the myriad of waterfalls in Kent Falls State Park, the city is home to several art institutions, including the Morrison Gallery, founded by famed guitarist William Morrison, the Kent Art Association and Craven Contemporary. There is also a thriving downtown shopping scene with plenty of items from local artisans.



Ridgefield


Longtime Redding resident Karla Knight recently opened her first solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, which runs through May 8.

Longtime Redding resident Karla Knight recently opened her first solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, which runs through May 8.

Karla Knight / Photo contribution

Ridgefield has a number of Broadway stars among its residents, including composers Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid”, “Little Shop of Horrors”), Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”, “Pippin”) and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson -Lopez (“Frozen”, “Book of Mormon”). So it’s no surprise that the city also has a thriving arts scene. In May 2021, the Connecticut Office of the Arts designated the city as the state’s premier cultural arts district. The neighborhood includes a Contemporary Connecticut Theater (ACT), Ridgefield Theater Barn, Dance Conservatory, Lounsbury House, Keeler Tavern, Aldrich Museum and more.



Norwalk


A mural of the Wall Street building in October 2029 above newly renovated storefronts on the corner of Commerce Street in Norwalk, Connecticut.  The city hired the design firm Fuss & O'Neill to conduct a study on how to reorganize the flows of Wall Street and the surrounding streets to reinvigorate the attractiveness of the district.

A mural of the Wall Street building in October 2029 above newly renovated storefronts on the corner of Commerce Street in Norwalk, Connecticut. The city hired the design firm Fuss & O’Neill to conduct a study on how to reorganize the flows of Wall Street and the surrounding streets to reinvigorate the attractiveness of the district.

Alexandre Soule /

Norwalk is a rich paradise for public art and street art. The official City of Norwalk website lists all of the city’s public art exhibits installed between 1960 and 2014.

The city even has its own set of mobile audio guides that educate visitors about the various art exhibitions throughout the city. Guides include the West Avenue neighborhood, Town Hall on Wall Street, South Norwalk, Around Town, and the WPA murals.


New Havre


Headline Concert opening night on New Haven Green at the International Festival of Arts & Idea on Saturday June 8, 2019.

Headline Concert opening night on New Haven Green at the International Festival of Arts & Idea on Saturday June 8, 2019.

Tiffany hopkins

New Haven is home to one of the most respected universities in the world, but it also has a thriving creative arts scene. The New Haven Arts Council hosts several events per month, including artist talks, classes, workshops, virtual game nights, and even a combo s’mores and yoga class night. The city also hosts an annual two-week art festival called the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, in which artists from around the world present their work.



Hartford


European Art Galleries in the Morgan Building at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.

European Art Galleries in the Morgan Building at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.

Wadsworth Athenaeum /

The Greater Hartford Arts Council hosts several arts events per week, including book club meetings, exhibitions, behind-the-scenes tours, lectures, performances and classes. Hartford is home to the country’s oldest art museum, the Wadsworth Museum. The city is also home to The Mark Twain House, which is the former home of one of America’s most beloved authors, Samuel L. Clemmons, also known as Mark Twain.



New Canaan


Jeanne McDonagh, visual arts teacher at New Canaan High School, previously described the works during an open house at the art exhibit

Jeanne McDonagh, visual arts teacher at New Canaan High School, previously described the works during an open house for the “Capturing New Canaan” art exhibit at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in Waveny Park on October 22. . New Canaan Society for The Arts Vice President Suzy Lavieri writes this letter on everything barn cars, like exhibits and fundraising.

John Kovach / Hearst Connecticut Media

New Canaan is a great place for anyone looking to explore the intersection of the arts and nature. The New Canaan Nature Center inspired artists during the pandemic, and the nearby Grace Farms Cultural Center combines five initiatives – nature, arts, justice, community and faith – in its humanitarian mission.

The city is also home to several cultural institutions such as the Philip Johnson Glass House, the Carriage Barn Arts Center, and the Silvermine Arts Center.




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