Friday, March 8, 2013

Rubicon Seven: Spreading the Gift of Art

One of Benay's clients, Rubicon Seven, is making huge strides for the art community in New Canaan. Tedrowe Bonner, principal of Rubicon Seven, has transformed the old Post Office Garage Depot (located between Elm and Cherry Streets behind the Dunkin Donuts) into a new arts center. The building, now called the Art House, will offer free studio space to artists. In return, the artists must teach art to local children for free.

"'The idea is that New Canaan was one of the greatest art centers in all of America,' Bonner said in an interview, 'and our aim is to bring back that spirit, to get the artists back in town. To do that, we know that we have to give artists space that is virtually free. We're giving accomplished artists basically free space, but in exchange for that they teach art to kids in the region.'"

The building will be designed and renovated by Norwalk Community College's Art, Architecture and Design students, which will provide them with an invaluable, hands-on experience.

"'Norwalk Community College has a very good design program,' Bonner said. 'Their work is to figure out how to create a green building, a sustainable building, that does not change the iconic nature of this building. A building that uses no fossil fuels, uses the sun, is a good working space for people, and really holds together the fabric of this building.'"

New Canaan is home to an interesting history of architectural design. If you've ever seen Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, then you know what I'm talking about. A quick look at Wikipedia and you'll see how a group of Harvard architects (The Harvard Five as they are now known) designed and erected about 80 modern homes in the '40s-'60s. In the middle of colonial New England, these homes looked out of place and garnered strong reactions. Today, many of the homes are still standing as a testament to the rich history.

There is already a prominent arts center in New Canaan, the Silvermine Arts Center. However, Bonner's goal is to create a more tight-knit community for artists. According to New Canaan News Online, "Bonner said his space will differ from Silvermine in that its virtually free space will allow a small group of artists-in-residence to form a tight creative community. He thinks they could eventually have up to 10 artists-in-residence. Silvermine has a guild of more than 300, according to its website."

It's a rather noble cause, in my opinion, for Bonner and Rubicon Seven to continue to make New Canaan a mecca of modernized architecture and art. The Art House is an ecologically sound building with the intention of freely spreading the gift of art. It will be exciting to see how this new center will impact the community.

Read more about the Art House here.

Learn more about Bonner and Rubicon Seven by visiting their website.

- Marcie Gainer

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