Cultural Ninjas on the Loose

Bristol Art Squad Blog Post Picture
Artist Cody Martin paints his “All Heart” traffic box

Driving through Bristol, Connecticut is getting much more exciting these days. Operation: Traffic Boxes, an initiative of the Bristol Art Squad, is creating vibrancy on the streets and showcasing the artistic talent of city residents. The Bristol Art Squad, a group of “cultural ninjas,” organized artists to paint the clunky silver traffic boxes throughout the city.

I had a great opportunity to sit down with members of the Arts Squad, including Lindsay Vigue and Mark Walerysiak, in the old Sessions Clock factory (where Vigue’s photography studio is located), to learn more about how they are contributing to restoring vibrancy and art into their city. I can attest that they are passionate about their city. Members of the Arts Squad span across generations. I happened to be sitting with a group of millennials who all left Connecticut at some point during their formative, young adult years, but returned to their hometown to make a difference. Cliché Alert! But trust me, it’s a necessary one: Finding yourself in the position of a small fish in a massive pond can inspire you to reconsider how you can make a bigger impact.

For the Art Squad, their impact started with their first mission, installing pop-up art exhibits in empty storefront windows. Operation: Storefront Art had two agendas, restore vibrancy to these empty windows by displaying local artistic talent and attract potential businesses to those vacant spaces. This operation was followed by Art to Fight Blight Day. Artists gathered to paint pieces of plywood that would create a much more appealing façade on blighted buildings. Now it’s on transforming unattractive traffic boxes, into delightful works of art.

“The Art Squad brings color and life to the city of Bristol through public art. Art brings people together in a beautiful way and when a community is brought together, it becomes limitless,” said Vigue. “The city can take off in a positive direction, connecting community, creating an outlet for artists and for driving economic development. Art bares the light of the soul of community!”

You can meet members of the Bristol Art Squad at the Greater Hartford Arts Council CANvas Meet Up this January. The event takes place at Bristol’s own Firefly Hollow Brewing. Enjoy a pint of local craft beer, mingle with the cultural ninjas of Bristol, and enjoy the company of others who believe the arts are vital in Connecticut.

Pints with the Bristol Art Squad

Date: January 27, 2016

Location: Firefly Hollow Brewing. 139 Center Street, Bristol, CT

Time: 6pm – 7:30pm

RSVP: Canvas meetup