State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development/CT Office of the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Multiple, CT
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 14, 2013

CHN Artist Boots-n-Doll with some of her many fans at Envisionfest

CreateHereNow (CHN) is underway with the revival of historic McLevy Hall in Bridgeport, CT. Upon leveraging a $50,000 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office, inclusionary programming and artist residency opportunities are in development coinciding with a citywide event: The 5th Annual Bridgeport Arts Trail. Exhibitions will build upon the historic elements of the site intermixed with contemporary interpretations by local and regional artists and performers.

Waterbury’s “State of Makers” exhibition is planned as the first in a series of maker’s markets to illustrate the “buy local/support local artists and artisans” philosophy of CreateHereNow. By merging makers’ networks, organizers have initiated a Black Friday Market and have been engaged as community leaders to plan the State of Maker’s Market at Waterbury’s famed City Hall. A subsequent “State of Makers” is planned in Hartford as a series of workshops for and by artisan makers to strengthen their business and marketing savvy in the electronic age. Partnering with Hartford’s Office of MECA (Marketing, Events, and Cultural Affairs), CreateHereNow will activate a storefront for this installation in tandem with their nascent storefront program iConnect.

The UARTS (Universal Arts) program was also debuted live at Envisionfest Hartford 2013. UARTS features Connecticut artists mentoring Connecticut artists with autism. During this month, plans have been established for the creation of four pioneering UARTS sites across the state in Willimantic, Torrington, Hartford, and Bridgeport.

An aspect of all of these developments is the opportunity for municipalities, creatives, and arts organizations to find unusual partners and work toward income generating projects in an effort to nurture sustainability after the grant period ends. There is a deliberate interconnectivity utilizing existing resources (Bridgeport Art Trail, MECA) and CreateHereNow initiatives, thereby better integrating the impacts of CreateHereNow into the existing framework of each community.

Recent Wins
CreateHereNow at Envisionfest Hartford 2013
We were excited to highlight a sample of the CreateHereNow artist network at Hartford’s capital city festival, Envisionfest 2013. The event was a free, one-day festival showcasing Hartford’s abundance of innovative and extraordinary history, arts cultural assets. As a State of Connecticut initiative, we wanted to showcase the span of CHN talent at this event. CHN artists executed site-specific installations in addition to operating three CreateHereNow tents.

CHN's Ruben Marroquin's interactive giant loom at EnvisionFest

CHN's Ruben Marroquin's interactive giant loom at Envisionfest

Participating programming included:
-- Hartford's Interactive Poetry by artist, Pedro Yanowitz. Pedro Yanowitz was the artistic inspiration for the statewide initiative CreateHereNow, by creating this interactive poetry installation. Pedro was an instrumental artist aiding the community through his all-hands project during the crisis of 9/11 and was also part of the Healing Newtown Through the Arts Exhibition. A multi-disciplinary artist and musician, Pedro’s installation allowed people to creatively speak their minds and helped communities interact and reconnect through the power of words.

-- Rubin Marroquin. Textile designer and weaving specialist, Ruben Marroquin creates internationally exhibited works. He is an anchor artist of CreateHereNow in Bridgeport and will be presenting his In Situ installation.

The In Situ installation (Community Weaving Project # 2) installation consists of an interpretation of the traditional Peruvian "Back Strap Loom" made out of bamboo poles and yarn. The bamboo was cut to measure, perforated and then attached at regular intervals, using strings as binders to form a ladder like loom that was attached between two trees over a distance of approximately sixty feet.

Using brightly colored strips of recycled paper joined together into rolls, parents, children and passersby wove the horizontal weave repeatedly over a distance of sixty feet. They were then able to weave the vertical portions of the instillation, creating a highly interactive artwork sixty feet long in the middle of Bushnell Park.

The bamboo in this piece came from a farm in South Windsor, one of our CHN Communities where we hope to repurpose the heritage site from which it was harvested.

-- Liz Squillace-Paradox Ink. Liz is a public artist and screen printer. Public art brings fine art and creative illusion to the street, whereas her screen-prints cross over into public art in her series “wear your city”, which uses images unique to each place, such as power stations and other location specific industrial landscapes. Paradox Ink is an anchor artist of CreateHereNow Bridgeport.

-- Boots and Doll-The Human Kaleidoscope.  A collaborative and interactive performance piece, Erika Van Natta transports participants to a realm of pattern and color. Captivating for children and adults alike, her latest work was part of the New Museum of NYC's Ideas City. She has been a part of the CHN team since its inception

-- Keith Paul-Desultory Theatre Club:  The Desultory Theatre Club is a locally based traveling theater-production house, designed to bring new and thought provoking entertainment and arts into the Northwest corner of CT.

Northeast Folk- Watertown CT, New Haven Ct, Willimantic CT:
A unique collective of CT based, renowned artists with autism including Ricky Hagedorn, Chris Platt, Debra Lynn, and David Hogan. Their work has been exhibited internationally and is represented in both public and private collections.

-- Kath Bloom and Tom Hanford:  This folk musical duo plays original songs, spirituals, and historic songs with heartfelt abandon to create musical programs that delight children and adults.

-- Kate Stephen and Diane Bowler: Kate Stephen is owner of Kate Stephen Jewelry, one-of-a-kind copper and brass designs featuring up-cycled materials, natural found objects and semi-precious stones, this team will curate Waterbury’s made market for the holidays.

-- Designer and public artist Mary Schiffer created a site-specific sculpture in the Bushnell Fountain from a variety of materials including recycled bike inner tubes destined for a landfill. This piece inspired the message of recycle, reuse, rethink and highlighted the Connecticut Cycling Festival on September 22nd. Mary is an original CreateHereNow artist.

McLevy Hall a landmark destination at the 2013 Bridgeport Art Trail
CreateHereNow at McLevy Hall has now been integrated into the Bridgeport Art Trail launch agenda on November 7th. In its fourth year, the Art Trail has grown exponentially connecting arts organizations, residents, and attendees throughout the state. A central location in the heart of downtown Bridgeport, CreateHereNow’s involvement will provide the opportunity for participants to learn about and explore this historically significant site that has been previously closed to the public.

CreateHereNow launches in New Britain with PARK(ing) Day 
CreateHereNow and New Britain became participants on a global scale when the streets of New Britain were re-imagined on September 20th for PARK(ing) Day. A worldwide event where artists, citizens, and activists come together to transform parking spaces into temporary public places, the mission is to call attention to the need for more urban open space. Through this event New Britain will join the conversation on public space creation, space use, and the quality of the human habitat, all while engaging the community, the municipality, and local artists.

To learn more about PARK(ing) Day visit:

By joining with existing organizations, programs, and events CreateHereNow has been better able to make meaningful and enduring connections within the communities. We learned that many participating municipalities have events that CreateHereNow can become a part of, such as Envisionfest Hartford and The Bridgeport Art Trail, or concepts that CreateHereNow can enhance, such as the “State of Makers” in Waterbury, and New Britain’s involvement in PARK(ing) Day. These partnerships not only strengthen our opportunity for success within these communities but also aid in creating authentic bonds and relationships. 

Working with unseen populations has brought a great wealth to the placemaking process. Very Special Arts says that one in four people are disabled, making them one of the largest minorities in the word. States can be ahead of the curve or behind it with inclusiveness preparations, particularly in the creative sector.

Shared resources amongst municipalities have also become an asset throughout our process. For example, in South Windsor bamboo from a large and established grove at a feral heritage farm was harvested to create a giant loom. This loom was on site at Envisionfest Hartford, another one of our partners, for participants to take part in interactive, community weaving. Similarly, Hartford extended one of their available storefronts from their space-reuse program for the “State of Makers” exhibition where 100 artisans from throughout Connecticut will be showcased. As we continue to expand and build the CreateHereNow network, we anticipate that a sense of connectivity and comradeship will increase.