On 10 and 11 November, the historic Arcade Mall will open its doors to the public for a two-day Open Studios organized in collaboration with the Bridgeport Art Trail. A popular destination for both local enthusiasts and collectors, the Arcade is home to six of Bridgeport’s most renowned artists and innovators, who will be on site to give tours of their studios, demonstrate their crafts, and provide insight into the most immediate aspects of their creative practices. The event will also allow visitors the opportunity to purchase artworks—many of which will be on public view for the very first time—directly from studio inventories.
The distinct group of artists at the Arcade work in a wide range of media, from oil painting, screen printing, and weaving to graphic design, interior design, and mixed media. Featured artists include Liz Squillace of Paradox Ink, the creative force behind the recently unveiled Painted Stairway of the Broad Street Steps; Ruben Marroquin of the critically acclaimed Fiber Weaving Workshop; Cris Dam, an internationally recognized painter and muralist; Philip Post of Dertbag Atelier, a line of graphic and hand-printed apparel embraced by celebrities such as Kanye West; Robert Valle of the distinguished Robert Valle Designs; and Razul Branch, shop owner and operator of BPT Creates/Magnacon 7, a multifunctional event and creative space. Although they employ divergent methods, these individuals share a tendency to bridge the continuity of experience between art and life, not only honoring the physical nature of materials through their highly disciplined crafts but also inspiring the community to recognize—and rekindle—the sources of art in the everyday. Marroquin and Squillace will be hosting workshops throughout the Open Studios; Dam will be featuring a new body of work as well as models for outdoor murals.
The festivities will kick off on Friday, 10 November, with Arcade Night!, a launch party that will transform the Arcade into an all-immersive happening. For this special event, which will be free and open to the public, the Arcade artists are thrilled to welcome guest artist Holly Danger, owner and curator of Stamford’s experimental art space Danger Gallery, who will showcase a new body of performative video art. Stamford-based sculptor Mark Andreas will also install a provocative “reactive” sculpture, one of a series of works that have been lauded worldwide. Music will be provided by DJ Justin Shay of JMS Jams, and drinks and small bites will be offered.
Earning accolades all over the tristate area for her visionary projects and community outreach, Liz Squillace is a Bridgeport-based artist and owner of Paradox Ink—screen printing, public art, and murals. Squillace founded Paradox Ink in 2002 in a studio in Stamford, moving it to the Arcade Mall in 2013 as part of the Create Here Now program to turn vacant spaces into vibrant places. Her newest public art project is the Painted Stairway of the Broad Street Steps. For this, the artist partnered with Bridgeport Generation Now! and painted with the local and artistic community. Squillace has also painted fifty utility boxes throughout Fairfield County and continues to enhance urban environments by bringing art to public places. Squillace is a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and resident of Read’s Artspace live/work studios. To see more of the artist’s work, visit www.paradoxink.com.
Visual artist, textile designer, and weaving instructor Ruben Marroquin received an Associates degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2009, where he is currently pursuing a BFA in Textile and Surface Design. In 2011, he enrolled in Paris’s École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle through a scholarship from the Fondation Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. His studio doubles as a weaving school for children and adults, and he has collaborated in educational programs with such distinguished institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To see more of the artist’s work, visit www.marroquinruben.com.
Raised in both Alaska and Spain, Cris Dam attended Parsons School of Design and SUNY’s Studio Art MFA Program before becoming a full-time curator, artist, and community organizer. In 1998, he cofounded Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery, becoming an early gallerist to propel Williamsburg, Brooklyn, into an international art mecca. Dam has since traveled internationally for commissions and shows in Germany, Istanbul, and Russia. Recent exhibitions include 1x1 Show, Danger Gallery, Stamford, CT (2017); Friends + Lovers, Danger Gallery, Stamford, CT (2016); and Williamsburg on Warren, One Art Space, New York City (2015). Commissioned murals can be found in Stamford, CT (Lorca Coffee Shop); Jacksonville, FL (Florida Life Building); and Berlin, Germany (Kunsthalle Bethanian and Ökozentrum). To see more of the artist’s work, visit www.crisdam.com.
Philip Post is a designer and entrepreneur from Norwalk, CT. At the age of thirteen, he launched the streetwear company Dertbag, and five years later, he opened Dertbag Atelier in the Arcade. Post has organized pop-up shows from from Austin, TX, to Shibuya, Japan, and he has exhibited with Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard. His studio is decorated with murals by his father, the famed artist Frank Foster Post, who also informs his designs. To see more of the artist’s work, visit www.dertbag.us.
Event planning + decorating are Robert Valle’s expertise. Designing one of a kind events, weddings and galas throughout the tri-state area for various organizations and clients. Through his experience in Interior Design he adds the right elements to create those unforgettable moments.
An artistic, cultural, and social innovator, Razul Branch has been a trailblazing force in the development of Bridgeport’s creative community for nearly a decade. Founder of the consulting firm Magnacon 7 Enterprises and the art gallery BPT Creates, Branch has galvanized the arts and business scenes with his expertise in community development and outreach, social media, brand identity design, creative consulting, content creation, print collateral, and executive production. Branch has also served as co-coordinator of countless projects in the area, among them the Bridgeport Arts Fest (2011–16), the largest of its kind in the city. To explore the magnitude of Branch’s impact, visit www.magnacon7.com.
A kinetic sculptor working and living in Stamford, Mark Andreas has garnered international acclaim with his self-titled Reactive Sculpture Series, which explores the concept of time through transformation. Inherent in these compositions is the artist’s extensive experience as a metalsmith and shipwright, allowing him to tap into the tensile strength of his materials in a way that is masterful yet shockingly new. Andreas has participated in residencies worldwide, including Helsinki and Turku, Finland; Berlin, Germany; Arctic Circle, Norway; and Basel, Switzerland. Solo exhibitions have been held at the Cress Gallery, University of Tennessee; Marc de Puechredon, E-Halle Gallery, Basel; Leo Kesting Gallery, New York; and Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery, Brooklyn and Berlin, among others. He currently teaches courses at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan. To see more of the artist’s work, visit www.reactivesculpture.com.
Pushing the boundaries in multimedia art for nearly two decades, Holly Danger is a creative director, motion graphic designer, video editor, and live-performance video artist, based in Stamford, CT. She is also the owner and curator of the experimental art space and post-production studio Danger Gallery located at the Glenbrook Industrial Park. In the last few years, Danger has been the honored recipient of grants from City Canvases Bridgeport and the LAMP Festival in New Haven, and her animated video “Soul Seasons” won “Most Innovative” at the Digital Graffiti Festival, Alys Beach, FL. Renowned for her experiential platforms, Danger has performed live video art shows across the country in rock venues, clubs, galleries, and museums, including the Museum of the Moving Image, New York City; SXSW, Austin, TX; Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, NV; and Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT. For more information, visit www.hollydanger.com.
The Historic Arcade Mall
One of the nation’s first enclosed shopping malls, the Arcade Mall was built in 1840 and has since undergone a number of renovations during the 1920s, 1950s, and 1980s, all the while holding its historical significance as one of the few remaining arcades from its time period. Having been reactivated by artists, the Arcade has since become an uplifting space that engages the dynamic cultural energy of Bridgeport. For more information, see www.arcademallbpt.com.