Annual outdoor art show returns to Darien’s Grove Street
Grove Street Plaza will host its fifth annual open air art show Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 to 4 p.m. The Paris-style exhibit features local artists. The rain date is Sept. 28. Five food vendors will be open for business, as well.
This year’s festival will showcase top local painters, photographers, ceramicists, and live chamber music. Returning to the Plaza after a four busy years away, will be renowned Darien contemporary artist Billi Kid, whose splash into urban art has become a tsunami.
Also a 1962 Airstream “Art Kart” will be parked nearby. It’s a mobile sewing and crafting school for kids, run by Erika Allen of Darien who founded The Handwork School to teach textile art and other handwork.
The show is unlike other craft shows on town greens dotting the Connecticut coastline, explained Nobu Miki, the Darien modern folk artist who first organized the event in 2015. “This is not a craft and trinkets sale. It is fine art, in the open air,” Nobu said.
Nobu’s French-themed day takes its inspiration from Montmartre, a hilltop outdoor art district overlooking Paris where the impressionist movement originated in the mid-19th century.
Most works will be priced for less than $500.
“The talent assembling in the plaza command much higher prices for their larger, commissioned and gallery work,” Nobu said. “This event has become a yearly art reunion of sorts, and it’s a good chance for people to chat face-to-face with some very accomplished and engaging local artists,” Nobu said.
A portion of the day’s sales, which last year totaled $12,000, will benefit the Darien Library art gallery. There is no admission charge.
Returning to the Plaza since his appearance in 2015, Darien’s own Billi Kid has achieved superstardom as an inventive artist mixing graffiti, a street art sensibility with elements of high art. His commissions include work for Herman Miller, Barneys New York, Gatorade and Sprite.
For the NBA, Billi just completed a wooden mosaic portrait of basketball great Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal. Ingeniously, Billi created the giant work from cut floor lumber harvested from a retired LA Lakers basketball court.
Follow this link to see Billi’s 60-second video:
Young musicians will play classical chamber music. All are students of Aikiko Silver of Darien, whose career as a violinist began as a child prodigy in Japan before her Julliard training. All tips dropped into the open violin case at the musicians’ feet will be donated to the Darien Library.
Five food vendors will be open. Gofer ice cream parlor, on the Post Road, will deploy a refrigerated cart to the event. In the plaza itself are the NEAT coffee shop which will feature cafe au lait, and the Melting Pot on the plaza will feature cheese and chocolate fondue. Next door, the Darien Butcher Shop will feature BLT sliders. Flour Water Salt Bread will offer canelé de bourdeaux and chouquettes.
Use of the Grove Street Plaza and promotion for the day was made possible by the Glassmeyer family and David Genovese of Baywater Properties. Also, Laurel Road Bank contributed to defray set-up expenses.
For the first time, Nobu recruited Baywater to help with this year’s art show. Lisa Elwell of Baywater Properties already organizes the Darien Summer Nights concert series on Friday nights in the plaza. “A lot of work goes into planning a one-day event, and Lisa’s experience and professionalism will make for a better day,” Nobu said.
“With our new development in downtown, The Corbin District, we intend to host more concerts, more art shows, outdoor exercise classes, farmers markets and other live events once we complete the project,” Genovese said. “The new downtown Darien will be actively programmed, giving people of Darien even more reasons to come and spend time with family and friends downtown.”
Exhibiting artists are: Pamela Riley Abear, Sandra Aldrich, Julia Byrne,John Coots, Alex Dolan,Stephen Fritsch,Billi Kid,Susan Leggitt, Nobu Miki, Nanci Natale, Jon Puzzuoli, Jan Raymond, Eunice Roy, Chet Saur, Vicki Smith, Kathleen Weinstock, and Ed Wilson.