Ridgefield artist brings his work where people live, work and walk

RIDGEFIELD, CT – A local artist has teamed up with a company in Ridgefield to bring paintings out of gallery basements and into your living room.

In the fall of 2018, artist Luiza Budea launched Ridgefield Art on Main. In partnership with a small group of other local artists, the organization has rented artwork from local businesses William Pitt, Sotheby’s, A Touch of Sedona and a few others. The artists also mounted a few exhibitions at the library, all with the intention, as Budea put it, of “keeping the arts at the center of the city”.

Then the coronavirus hit, and it got tough to be an artist in Ridgefield.

“It was a tough time to be anybody,” Budea said.

As venues where his art could be seen closed, temporarily or otherwise, the artist literally took his work to the streets. His sidewalk chalk drawings were popping up everywhere.

Before the pandemic, Budea had done some well-received chalk drawings on the sidewalks of Ridgefield. But with COVID raging, she’s gambled it all.

“People love them,” she told Patch.

Locking up art in galleries and museums is a relatively new idea, as far as history is concerned. There was a time when “all art was public…in a place where everyone could experience it”, but the role of art in the public square today has been usurped by advertising, a said Budea.

“I have so many friends from art school who got into some kind of commercial art. Advertising sucks up so much talent and gives us, ‘what?’ in return.”

The drawings were a spontaneous reaction to the “barrier” that exists between people and art, even – if not especially – in an “artsy” town like Ridgefield, Budea said. Despite having plenty of venues nearby, including the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art on Main Street, the art didn’t come in front of the Ridgefielders.

“I used to ask people I knew who were interested in art, ‘have you seen this show?’ And they’re like, oh no, I haven’t had time.'”

So Budea decided to bring them art. She brought the business model for her Ridgefield Art on Main to Dee Dee Colabella, who operates Ridgefield PRPAC and D. Colabella Fine Art Galleries.

Colabella loved the idea. In 2019, she had opened PRPP, which not only provides wall space for artwork, but also studio space and other professional services for artists. Through the PRPP, she agreed to handle “all the insurance, the finances, the contracts, all the official stuff,” according to Budea, freeing up the artists to create.

The result is a newly launched art rental business open to residents and commercial enterprises. Rental fees vary depending on the size of the room and the prestige of the artist. There is a three-month rental minimum, but residents can exchange art during this period. Someone who falls in love with their rental and can’t part with it has the option of buying it outright.

The gallery also offers photo hanging assistance, as well as curatorial services where PRPP art experts will help you select the right piece to hang in your room or hall.

“We think this will be a great revenue generator for the artist. We’re thrilled,” Colabella said.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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