The Bridgeport Arts Fest, in its second year, more than doubled its artists and more than quadrupled its scope yesterday. Artists reported actually selling their works (a feat not to be taken for granted) and today, with the fair over, a permanent outcome graces Main and Gold streets — a pocket park and an inspiring graffiti wall. Actually there are colorful, vibrant murals all the way to Middle Street. The art perks up an area that needs it — it’s where the old boys club caught fire last winter, and where the Ethical Pharmacy was torn down.
Cities like Bridgeport are natural incubators for art and creativity. Again, Westport had its art fair at the same time. A much bigger affair, but without any edge, offering no challenge to the viewer.
Politicians caught on to the BAF’s relevance right away. Last year, there was Dan Malloy at the BAF’s first go-round, and today he’s governor. (Yes, I’m suggesting a cause and effect.) This year, Mayor Bill Finch, in an election year and facing some tough competition, was all over the place — much more than last year. The photo (above) was something I snatched from his Facebook page.
Take any dead artist, from Renaissance time to the 20th century. Where would they rather have hung out yesterday? With the Westport crowd along the Saugatuck or on the Green in Bridgeport? Before the Bridgeport Arts Fest, I was a Westport attendee every year. I even bought pieces that matched my decor. I enjoyed the event. This year, the Bridgeport fair officially overtakes Westport in terms of being both interesting and engaging, culturally and socially relevant, and in the quality of its art. A serious art collector will take Bridgeport, and its grass-roots approach, much more seriously.