To provide artists with a supportive environment, opportunities to exhibit their work, and networking opportunities and to reach out to the community at large with education and artistic expression.
A Brief History
Loft Artists Association began in 1978 as the vision of three artists living and working in the Yale & Towne factory building. The hulking brick factory, built 100 years ago in the South End of Stamford, was for two decades, the territory for a vigorous community of studio lofts where a surprise outcropping of significant modern art appeared. Painting, sculpture, photography and crafts were produced where Yale locks were once manufactured. Novice artists shared the scene with veteran professionals, whose biographies are studded with solo exhibitions, major commissions, teaching careers and local, regional and international art awards.
This community has a removed, cellular aspect. For art is generally a solitary affair. Anyone who pursues an art career must be prepared to go it alone. Yet, in the old factory building a professional art association has been established to form cultural and mutually beneficial ties between the individual and the community. This organization, now in its twenty third year, has produced lecture series, arranged studio tours for students and adult civic groups, supervised public art projects in Stamford, and staged art demonstrations, poetry readings and theatricals.
The loft community was founded by the late sculptor, James Jackson Burt, who moved into the abandoned Yale and Town president's office in 1978. He soon brought in the internationally known artist Reuben Nakian. Before long other artists moved into the old corporate offices among them the painter Sophia Gevas, photographer Bob Baldridge, sculptor Tom Fertig, folk art curator Dan Prince and the teacher, historian, Renee Kahn [known as "the architectural conscience of Stamford"] who conceived the idea of a Loft Open House Weekend during which the public was invited to tour the studios. Music, films, and dramatic events took place. Guest attendance was far above expectations. The Loft Open House has since been repeated every year. As many as 4,000 visitors have come over a single weekend to roam through the lofts, meet the artists and observe them at work.
In 1988 the loft artists were honored in a major group exhibition curated by Dr. Robert Metzker at the Stamford Museum. The group has received substantial grants from the Stamford Coliseum Authority, Pitney Bowes, Xerox, Heyman Properties, Champion International, Lewis Kuriansky, the Hinda and Richard Rosenthal Foundation. The LAA has participated in Stamford's Festival of the Arts, its members winning first prizes in watercolor, sculpture, pastels and photography, plus several honorable mentions. Members also won the Festival's Grand Prize for an onsite installation entitled "The Wall" which was constructed to benefit Stamford's homeless. The LAA also participated in Worldfest 1998 by giving art demonstrations. The LAA has donated art to the Child Guidance Center for three gala fundraiser auctions and to the Student Health Services of Stamford as well. The group has also sponsored young South End artists and local high school students at Open Studios. At the 1999 Open Studios the LAA invited its neighbors, The Lathon Wider Community Center and Soundwaters. Inc. to display the art work of the children participating in their programs. Also, as part of the 1999, 20th Anniversary of Open Studios the LAA produced a performance series, free to the public, featuring Chalasa Dance Performance, comedienne Rosevelyn, poet and artist Iyaba Ibo Mandingo and film maker Paul Yates. This program was funded by the CAPP grant from the city of Stamford.