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Willimantic as a Work of Art

Published on April 30, 2015

Willimantic as a Work of Art

Venice has its Biennale, New York has Art Fair Week and Connecticut has My Windham. Eastern Connecticut State University, the Town of Windham and the My Windham Partnership are proud to announce that a one-mile stretch of historic Downtown Main Street in Willimantic, CT, will be transformed into an alternative art space from April 25-June 6. Yarn, thread, paint, concrete, vinyl, digital imagery, chalk, metal, clay, wax and ceramics will dangle from bridges, cover buildings, adorn windows, mark steps on sidewalks and fill exhibition spaces with art, music, dance and theatre.   For six weeks, three indoor venues will be open Thursdays 5-8 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Storefront windows and outdoor projects can be viewed day and night during the project.

Alumbaugh, and dance by DAndrea Knox. A shuttle van will take guests to the various locations. The

Guests can follow the yarn and  frog footprints down Main Street to visit Kerri Gallery and see paintings and photographs by artists with national and international reputations; stop by the library and see the architecture of the town;  see local artists at The Lily Pad gallery; glimpse a fish swim above the river beneath the Garden Bridge; gaze at the thread web in Jilson Square;  witness the creation of a mural; watch the river in a new way; view a photographic quilt draped across the Hooker Hotel  building,  see sculptures of mixed materials in the old Nassif building; read word poems in a storefront window; and compare contemporary Willimantic with its historic past through photographs mounted on the street. African drums will roar, Latino dancers will soar and piano music will fill the air along with a specially created vaudeville performance.

The My Windham Project features 30 artists in 15 venues, including Town Hall, Whitewater Park, Kerri Gallery, Windham Public Library, Arts at the Capitol Theatre, Willimantic Records, the Hooker Building, the Nassif Building, Burton Leavitt Theater, Jamaican Me Crazy Restaurant, The Lily Pad, The Mill Museum, Heritage Park and the streets of downtown Willimantic.reception is sponsored by The Willimantic Brewing Company and O. L. Willard Co.The exhibition is being curated by Gail Gelburd, art history professor at Eastern.  “Many people who believe in the future of our town have come together to make this happen because we believe that art can reveal the soul of a place and reinvigorate it,” said Gelburd. “Willimantic has a wealth of unique and outstanding artists and this project will share their voices with friends and neighbors from all over the region. This is a truly collaborative event that will help people to see Willimantic as an art place. It could not have happened without the help of so many caring and talented individuals. We hope that everyone will start to see our town as we do.”

Maps and a brochure can be picked up at any of the indoor venues, Town Hall, the Mill Museum, Eastern’s Art and Art History Department (Shafer 100) and the Chamber of Commerce.  The artists were selected by a jury of professionals, including project curator Gelburd, Lehman College Curator Yuneikys Villalonga, and Fawn Potash, program director at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. Artists include Imna Arroyo, John Byrne, Edmond Chibeau, Ryan “Arcy” Christenson, Greg Dyson and the Visual Arts Club, David Fenn, Gail Gelburd, Belinda Gabryl, Cynthia Guild, Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh, Tom Hebert, Jean Henderson, Nancy Hoffman, Jim Turner and Horizons, William “Andy” Jones, Nicolas Kahn, Hea Kim, D’Andrea Knox, Emily Kohn, Eleanor Linkkila, Alex Moshier, Kathryn Myers, Kacee Potter O’Brien, Afarin Rahmanifar, Scott Rhoades, Elisha Sherman, Kenneth St. Onge, Jessica Wagner and Tenzin Wangchuk.

Bob Bloom’s Take A Drum Ride will be held on May 14 at 7 p.m. at EastConn/Capitol Theater. Vaude-willie will be performed on May 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. at the Dugan Hall of The Windham Textile and Mill Museum with Bill Dougal, Suzanne La Tulipe and Dan Coyle. The exhibition is made possible with support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional funding was received from the Town of Windham and Eastern Connecticut State University. Sponsors include the O. L. Willard Co., Willimantic Brewing Co., Meyburd Associates, Willimantic Waste Paper Co., Windham Area Landlords Association, Meehan and Daughters Real Estate and Jamaican Me Crazy restaurant.“My colleagues on the My Windham Partnership worked tirelessly on this project,” said Gelburd, “and included Jean deSmet, Jamie Eaves, James Finger, Victor Funderburk, Alison Kaufman, John Murphy, Afarin Rahmanifar, Kenneth St. Onge and Jim Turner.”  Student curatorial assistants include Kendra Streater, Lauren Duke, Jessica Wagner and Joseph Perez. The fall 2014 Museums and Exhibitions classes at Eastern also participated in preparing for this project.

Midway between New York and Boston, Willimantic will be the center of the arts for a few weeks. Come see how a town transforms itself. Spring in Willimantic is exciting and there are additional events as well — 3rd Thursday, Riverfest, the Thread City Hopfest, Windham Theatre Guild’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the Victorian Home Tour will all occur during the My Windham Project. For more information contact Gelburd at, visit or, check out MyWindhamProject on Facebook or Instagram, or call (860) 465-0197.