Main Street was blocked off at the Friends of Eagles building detouring traffic around the center of town. When we noticed that the metered parking spaces along Prospect Street were all occupied, the kids and I knew there was a party going on in town; we just didn’t realize that the party was EVERYWHERE downtown. Turning left onto Water Street, the Morrison building’s door was open as Keith Paul’s Desultory Theatre prepared to present the haunting sounds of the electronic indie-rock band Ghost & Goblin. As we traveled past the WAPJ building, we listened to Tony Henry present classic rock favorites on the radio. Stopping at the traffic light at the Five Points, we were in the hub of a palpable excitement within the city. To our right was an opening of a new exhibit at the Five Points Gallery. To our left was a classic car show put on by the Torrington Police Explorers. To the southeast above the shopping plaza we could see the luminescent lights of Fuessenich Park and we could hear above the din of the crowd outside a concert was playing at Coe Park.
We were in the eye of the artistic and cultural storm in Torrington and we had to explore.
The municipal parking was nearly full but we found a space and looked at the Naugatuck River as we walked over the bridge, making our way through the Five Points Arts District. My daughter wanted to see the art and be in the party that she had seen through the window of the Five Points gallery. We stopped in and looked at the artwork while I firmly held my son’s hand lest he made a run for the food table. The work of renowned artist Janet Slom was presented beautifully and we enjoyed the ambiance of standing within the gallery, perceiving an organic quality to the figures within the scrolls.
We crossed over Water Street to the Arts Desire to say hello to Jessica Stepler and I requested some specific art supplies. Having a neighborhood art supply store can’t be understated for this is the difference between quality personal customer service and big box store chain environment. The BYOB painting experience was going on at the Artwell Gallery and we didn’t want to interrupt so we exited onto Main Street. A store front near the S &S SweetTreats ice cream store that I had never seen open was filled with activity so we entered to find it was a “pop-up” art gallery put on by the Artwell Gallery! The gallery showcased the beautiful work of Rachel Sterns, a photographer in our area.
As we left the pop-up gallery, the last vestiges of the sun was gone but the marquee of the Warner Theater shone brightly while within their walls, the movie “Clerks” played in gleeful expectation of the arrival of director Kevin Smith a few weeks from now. Along Main Street was a cavalcade of classic automobiles and motorcycles. My son was thrilled to see them and not so thrilled that he couldn’t have a ride in them! In front of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, the young police explorers were thanking those who had participated and attended the car show for the event ‘s funds were going to benefit this worthwhile organization. When the presentation ended a few of the police explorers walked past us with a glow of excitement that rivaled the Warner Theater’s bright lights.
Although we could have gone to Fuessenich Park where we would have discovered the Tri-town Trojans playing a baseball game against Bristol, or gone to Coe Park for a well attended concert, it was bed time for my young ones so we returned to the car to make our way home.
We weren’t supposed to be out that night, I had intended on a quiet evening at home but we needed a few supplies at the store, and then while already in the car I asked the kids if they wanted to take a drive and my daughter said, “Yes”. For the longest time my experience of Torrington had nearly always been simply our own house, the local grocery store and regularly getting gas for the car. Maybe that’s the same for some of you too. But something has happened in our community, a revival of spirit and a triumph of artistic endeavors and we are fortunate enough to experience it here. Torrington and the surrounding area are in the fertile beginning stages of a new age of arts and culture in New England. It did not spring up in a vacuum; the foundation was laid by those with vision and worked to make it succeed. The architects of that vision are many and each person played their own part in the success. The success is continuing to evolve and grow and we can all participate in our own ways, often simply by participating in the artistic and cultural opportunities before us.
We are all architects of the future but some build with a blue print. We can build an even better future for our communities. It starts with engagement, with getting involved. For our community, look what has happened already, and imagine the bright future, brighter than the lights of ten Warner theaters on Main Street.