There are, and have been, some good galleries in downtown Fairfield, but somehow I have a hard time thinking of art when I think of that particular town. It’s just so … squeaky clean. For years, the largest gallery there was the cynical Greenwich Workshop Gallery, which was basically an expensive Hallmark Card store hogging one of the most desirable gallery spaces on the Post Road.
Black Rock, however, has never been confused with Fairfield, at least along Fairfield Avenue. Seems the only viable business models involve selling either booze or happy endings. The Gallery at Black Rock has some interesting neighbors: an adult video store, a bodega, a cell-phone store, a vacant Mexican restaurant, a tattoo parlor and a nail salon where the girls cook rice on the stoop. Ominously, a failed art center stares down Eileen’s Walsh’s gallery from across the street. Rarely do Black Rock’s handful of massage parlors go out of business — what could be their secret of success? (Hint: my use of the word “handful” is intentional) It’s great for a gallery that offers outside art and cutting-edge abstracts. You just can’t buy that kind of cred!
Judge if you will, but that subversiveness lends “The Avenue” an ’80s SoHo vibe. Nothing undermines an art gallery more than a respectable neighborhood.
But the FAC is a reliable source of excellent artwork from proven artists, as is Art/Place, also downtown, where my beloved Ulla Surland Gallery was. Fairfield’s downtown basically caters to people who want to have their nails done, or eat and drink (the retail sector still hasn’t really recovered, but pizza served on a sidewalk cafe still thrives by filling our fantasies of being suddenly and effortlessly on a piazza somewhere overseas). Even the bookstore is busiest at the cafe. But maybe one more credible gallery will round out the downtown experience a little more.
The photo show opens Friday, July 30 at 6 p.m. and runs until Aug. 20. A “Brown Bag Lunch Discussion” is Thursday, Aug. 12 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm