With February coming to a close and most of New England snowed-out, we have Spring on our mind. Luckily, Bridgeport has plenty of arts and culture to cure your cabin fever! 

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Welcome to our Bridgeport Art Trail newsletter, providing a listing of arts and cultural events.

With February coming to a close and most of New England snowed-out, we have Spring on our minds. Luckily, Bridgeport has plenty of arts and culture to cure your cabin fever! 

Join City Light's Gallery for their Annual Artist's Talk & Chili Party this Sunday, March 1st. Plus, they have a robust calendar of events for their BLACK & WHITE Exhibition currently on view. 

Our Featured Artist Shanna Melton, a  Bridgeport poet and painter, shares about her work and the spoken word experience. She will also be participating in two upcoming poetry events at McLevy Hall and the Housatonic Museum of Art. 

The Bridgeport Theatre Company presents "Lord of the Flies" with an all female and male cast, The New England Ballet Company has a new location and variety show, and The Arcade Mall shines with special evening music and artist programming. 

Check out all the details below! 

-The Bridgeport Art Trail Team

For a year-round map/listing of area studios, galleries, and cultural organizations visit our Bridgeport Art Trail Program Guide.

Art attribution for image: Francesca Andre
Performance, Poetry, and Artists Talk at City Lights



City Lights Gallery
Sunday, March 1st, 2015, 4:30-7:30PM
Suggested Donation: $5

Comfort food for the body and food for thought.
City Lights holds an annual chili night and artists talk this time of year. Participating artists in the current exhibit BLACK & WHITE will discuss works on view. Community conversation is encouraged. Doors open at 4:00, chili served by 4;30(ish) artists' talk begins 5:00 (ish)

Meat and vegetarian chili served.
(SNOW DATE 3/8/15)

McLevy Hall
Saturday, March 7th and March 14th, 2-4PM

Led by Shanna Melton, the Writer's Group welcomes artists of all levels of writing experience. Shanna always presents a stimulating session designed to get the creative juices flowing and encourage self-discovery. Participants work on exercises during the session and then share (or not) and comment, as they prefer. The group and atmosphere is nurturing and supportive.  Admission is free. This workshop is sponsored by City Lights & The CT Office on the Arts.

Meets the first 2 Saturdays of the month.
For more info:,

Saturday, March 7th, 6:30-8:30PM

Written and performed by Tenesi Davis and Attallah Sheppard, writing and direction by Gordon Skinner.

The latest in the newly charted territory is Gordon's first Performance Art piece "SOCIETY FUCT". It's a unique performance piece inspired by a zine he created of the same title and made in collaboration with poets Tenisi Davis and Attallah Sheppard. The result is a powerful unapologetic interpretation of visual art that combines the elements of poetry, theatre and social commentary as one body of work.   

On March 7th, after several private previews of the piece to a number of curators and select invitees, "SOCIETY FUCT" will make its public debut at City Lights Gallery, from 6:30-8:30pm. The piece will be performed one time only this night at the gallery which currently has their "Black and White" exhibition on display. City Lights Gallery is located at 37 Markle Ct in downtown Bridgeport, CT.  

This is not something you want to miss and is something that truly has to be experienced to gain a grasp of the concept. In addition to the performance, zines and audio art pieces with original collage inspired by the performance art piece will be available on this night.  
Art attribution for image: Rick Shaefer

EXHIBITION: Black & White
City Lights Gallery
On View:  1/29/15 - 3/19/2015

Feelings of outrage, polarization, frustration and horror have risen throughout the nation as a result of recent fatal shootings and implementation of force that have exacerbated the ongoing tension between police and black men. Peaceful protests manifested by people of all ethnicities demonstrate the potential for harmony and solidarity among the races and in other cases acts of violence foment the negativity that separates BLACK & WHITE.

Is this issue as simple as Black & White? What are the responsibilities of media and entertainment industries to avoid promoting negative stereotypes? Many Americans felt like real progress was made when the country elected a black man into the White House for 2 terms. Current events demonstrate that cases of ongoing injustice still occur. Yet improvements have been made. Laws have been implemented; however the legal system can be manipulated and often works on a bias against people of color. 

These concerns and events flick the switch on our latent or overt prejudices and fears causing a psychological knee-jerk reaction, perhaps prompting some to take sides depending on the personal history or level of melanin in their skin. We can’t change history but we don’t have to repeat it. Will the wounds caused by suffering, injustices, fear and hatred ever heal? This exhibit is designed to raise awareness and prompt dialogue regarding the unresolved struggle between Black& White.

City Lights is a nonprofit arts organization that serves the community through art. This exhibit is designed to encourage dialogue. Views expressed are those of the individual artists.

Fairfield and New Haven County artists include: Francesca Andre, Suzanne Benton, Will Corprew, Dave Coelho, Allan Dudek, Camille Eskell, Herm Freeman, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, Gerald Moore, Gerald Saladyga, Rick Shaefer, Gordon Skinner, Nomi Silverman, Gustavo Torres, Jahmane West. Views expressed are those of the individual artists.

BLACK & WHITE", in the news.

City Lights is located in downtown Bridgeport easily accessible from I-95, Route 8, the Post Rd and Metro North at 37 Markle Court Bridgeport  

More Info

Art atrribution: (left) Untitled by Herm Freeman
Art atrribution: (right): Unwelcome Release by Camille Eskell

The New England Ballet Company Variety Show
The Bijou Theatre

Saturday, February 28th at 7PM

The dancers of the New England Ballet Company, and several guests, will be performing a variety show featuring original dance, choreography, singing, and music. Proceeds will benefit the NEBC studio renovation project. The NEBC will soon be offering more classes and performance opportunities. Call #(203)494-9205 for details!

New Studio Grand Opening Celebration!
Don’t miss the grand opening celebration of The New England Ballet Company’s new studio located at 130 Elm Street, Bridgeport CT! The event will take place Sunday April 12th at 3pm. Catered by Trattoria ‘A Vucchella. 


More Info

The Women Gather Poetry Event 
The Housatonic Museum of Art

Thursday, March 5th, 6-9PM

EVENT DESCRIPTION: The Women Gather at Housatonic Museum of Art is hosted free of charge. These public readings by emerging and established poets is organized by Shanna T. Melton and sponsored by the Housatonic Museum of Art.  The series highlights the poetry of women and encourages writers from different aesthetic disciplines and traditions in order to broaden our community’s understanding of contemporary poetry.

This free event will be held in the Burt Chernow Galleries and the public is cordially invited to attend.

About the Poets
Jasmine Eaton a/k/a jazz-e is a spoken word artist/ poet and a native of Bridgeport, CT. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, although she likes to say that it was the streets of Atlanta inspired her to write. She explores a myriad of topics, from the psychological chains of slavery, to hip hop, to friendship, to mental illness and, of course, love.

Darlene Brandon, affectionately known as Peaches, established herself as a professional performance poet in 2002. Since then, she has recorded a spoken word CD entitled Thick Like Peaches and has traveled and performed in several cities across the United States.

Iyapiphany, also known as Mwalima Sherry, has been performing since 1998. Her poetry is a verbal snapshot of her opinions, life experiences, and commentary on the condition and progress of Black people. 

Toya, more commonly known as Decipher the poet, has been writing poetry for over ten years. She made her spoken word debut in 2008. Since then, she has performed for neosoul recording artists, comedians, radio stations, and at Women of Faith conferences

Shanna Melton is a poet, painter and an art consultant from Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Currently, she serves as the Poetry Ambassador at Housatonic Community College curating many poetry events for the Bridgeport Community. 

More Info

Night Out at The Arcade
The Arcade Mall

March 6th, 2015, 6PM-12AM

Arts, music and more. Come celebrate with some of Bridgeport's artisans!
Come to the Arcade Mall after hours for live music, beverages and snacks. Hang out with an amazing network of artists that work near the Downtown Bridgeport area, with a display of work by artists who work all over BPT and nearby towns. 

6pm Luke Scott 
7pm Christopher Cavaliere 
8pm Elle Sera
10pm Janessa LG from Control + V. Guest drummer Frank Foster Post

The Arcade Mall is located at 1001 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604. 

More Info

Lord of the Flies
The Bridgeport Theatre Company

March 19-29th, 2015

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results. Its stances on the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good earned it a spot on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels.

BTC will present two different versions of the play: one featuring an all-male cast and one featuring an all-female cast. The two versions will run in repertory. 

More Info

EXHIBITION: Forever Young....In 2015
City Lights Gallery

City Lights is extending a call to all artists of the Baby Boomer generation and to artists of all ages who have reinvented themselves due to changes in work situations, economy and any developments or realizations that have occurred during the course of one’s life journey.
Artists are welcome to submit works based on their own interpretation of this theme which may include issues about aging or the reflection of the words of the iconic song by Bob Dylan, “Forever Young.”

Content may include but is not limited to the following:  
  • Reflection on the concept of age and one’s personal evolution; how ideas and expectations of youth have been transformed by life experiences.
  • Any expression about aging: Age discrimination, the breakdown of the body and mind, the social pressures to maintain a youthful appearance and performance. 
  • Sharing life experiences or insights with others of different ages.
  • The “Sandwich Generation”, a Baby Boomer phenomena, caregivers who tend to their children and parents simultaneously. 
  • The beauty and nobility in youthful, fresh ideas and attitudes that are unspoiled by negativity and the struggles that life presents.
  • A nostalgic look back from decades ago: how the American image, zeitgeist has evolved… from Baby Boomers to Millennials. 
  • A reflection on the lyrics of the iconic song “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan
SEND SUBMISSIONS IN JPEG FORMAT, (no more than 8 images), 72 DPI, DUE BY March 3, 2015 TO:

Brief artists statement, itemized list of art submitted should include: title, size, medium, price of work, Works not for sale should include a value rather than a price. Also include artist's contact info: name, email, phone, mailing address and website if available.
Artists will be notified by March 9, 2015. Work must be ready to mount and dropped off on Thursday -Saturday March 19 -21, 2015. Exhibit opens Thursday March 26 and runs to May 1, 2015.

Art Exhibition: Rick Shaefer: Drawing the Line
Housatonic Museum of Art

On View: February 12–March 27
Exhibition Description: Working primarily in velvety black-and-white, large-format compositions and multiple-paneled pieces are where Rick Shaefer feels most at home. With his background in photography influencing his careful tonal decisions, the Connecticut-born artist often chooses charcoal on vellum to execute his striking and detailed depictions of both animal and nature. Through an elegant use of line work, Shaefer’s subjects exude texture and dimensionality in both the physical and emotional realm.

More Info

Art Exhibition: “Father Sky & Mother Earth”
The Discovery Museum & Planet

On View: February 19th-May 18th

Exhibition Description: From purple mountains to the vanishing prairie, an eclipse and blue moon, artist MIA celebrates our natural world with her oil paintings in this solo show. The exhibition features reflective landscapes rendered in a colorful, creatively-charged montage. Attendees are encouraged to wear a “pop of red” in honor of Chinese New Year 2015. Light refreshments will be provided. Suggested donation: $5.

More Info

"A huge lesson in my life has been how imperfection can be the foundation for perfect growth.  Each painting, poem and picture adds another leaf or branch, sometimes even stretches my roots, and I learn to adjust to the new form I've taken on as a result of releasing my vision. " - Shanna Melton
Praise-Shanna Melton
ARTIST STATEMENT: As a girl, my purpose for creating art was to make things around me more beautiful.  I wanted my work to be a place of refuge.  As a woman, my purpose for creating art is to make things around me more honest. I challenge myself to find beauty in places that seem to be lacking and bring attention to that beauty.

A huge lesson in my life has been how imperfection can be the foundation for perfect growth. Each painting, poem and picture adds another leaf or branch, sometimes even stretches my roots, and I learn to adjust to the new form I've taken on as a result of releasing my vision. 

Poems allow me to translate my feelings into words, place them on a page and share them in as beautiful or broken of an offering as I can manage.  As with all creative mediums, it is up to the audience to choose whether or not it is purposeful in their lives. Everything made by the creator is bent, broken and curved.  Most things made by humans are symmetrical and as close to perfect as possible.

As a reflection of both, I seek to be a combination working to fulfill my purpose of creating art that makes this world such an intriguing place.
Float & Sting - Shanna Melton
Q. How would you describe your artwork/style?

A. . It is difficult to assign one style to my work as I tend to combine a few styles into each piece.  There is a constant effort to achieve realism, surrealism tends to come into play when certain energy needs to be conveyed, abstract and folk show up all the time.  I get the vision and use all the tools I have to match it with accuracy.  Following my vision seems to demand that I use all the styles I need until I can mirror the image in my mind so others can see it clearly.
Q. What medium do you work in?

A. I mostly work with Acrylics. I have worked with oil and pastel in the past but acrylic has proven to be my favorite medium thus far. 
Q. What is your process like? 

My process is pretty organic in that I don't force the work out. I tend to submit to it as it reveals itself. I often see people who have features I want to capture in my art. Sometimes I have visions and collect the ideas until they feel complete by sketching it out until it's ready to paint. Having a vision board has also helped because I keep swatches of color, facial features, quotes and other things that ignite my creativity.  

Q. What inspires you?

A. I am inspired by my surroundings. The stories I hear, messages I receive in poetry, music, conversations and church. Beautiful human forms and all we can encompass within us. 
Q. How do you think you’ve changed or developed as an artist?

A. When I was younger I had a fear of details. I would paint the face and give them lines for eyes and the hands without any lines or shading. They were painted enough to look human and you could put yourself in their place in the painting because they were not distinct. Over many years I have pushed myself to see as many details as possible and challenged myself to include all the lines, the many colors it takes create an accurate skin tone, it has Become important that I embrace how distinct they are. I have also grown as a business woman. It's my job to protect and respect my art. To make sure they are presented with dignity and by people who respect them as I do. 

Q. Can you tell me about your writing workshops at City Lights?

A. The Writer's Group Bridgeport has been a blessing to me and it seems to be the same to the members of our group. I guide the group and give them the option of sharing so they feel comfortable getting the words out without the fear of being pressured to share right away. Our prompts have brought people into some beautifully creative spaces. I look forward to each gathering because I also leave inspired by the community we've created. We gather on the first and second Saturday's of each month from 2-4pm at McLevy Hall Downtown Bridgeport. 

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?

A. I welcome ideas and communication from members of the community. If there is poetry and art programming that you would like to see, or poets you would like to experience we should know. If you want to know more about my art or existing programs, contact me via my website at or on  Facebook  at
Shanna Melton-Our Maya Angelou Our Rainbow in the Clouds
I find that the best part of the open mic experience is the ability to be imperfect and in tune with the source of your work.

It is not a competition or a showcase where you have this high pressure to be spot on. It is a place for the beginner and the experienced to learn from the others mistakes and triumphs. The process of learning together and advising one another adds to the feeling of support in the artistic community. 
My tip for artists who are beginning to attend open mics and connect with a community would be: remain true to yourself.  Decide what you believe and stand firm in it.  Find your sound and rhythm, trust it. Your unique habits and quirks are what usually make you distinguishable so embrace them. 

Should your poem find its way into the hands of another, they have the right to interpret it based on their experience. You only get this one living chance to say it out loud, make sure your intended message is conveyed, answer any questions they may have. Use your opportunities to communicate your message and convey your gift wisely. 
We are responsible for our work and our calling to convey certain messages so we have to own it and give our best energy to it, create it and speak it with the respect that it deserves.
Our art is our legacy.
Shelter-Shanna Melton
Deva-Shanna Melton
The Writer's Group, first and second Saturday of the Month 
Saturday, March 7th and March 14th, 2-4PM

The Women Gather: A Celebration of Women Poets
Housatonic Museum of Art
Thursday, March 5th, 6-9PM
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