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Valley Arts Council moving into downtown Ansonia

November 10, 2018

ANSONIA — For more than 50 years, Joe Diglio cut hair in the small Main Street storefront near Stauffer Real Estate.

“Now residents are going to see another kind of art being practiced there,” said Rich DiCarlo, president of the Valley Arts Council. “I’m bringing art to a sports town.”

The storefront at 256 Main Street where regular clientele talked baseball, football and basketball for a half century as Diglio clipped away, will now be open to people looking at photographs, and learning how to sculpt and draw.

DiCarlo is bringing his Valley Arts Council gallery from downtown Derby to Ansonia’s Main Street.

“We had a 10-year run in Derby,” he said. “It was good while it lasted.”

That site is being remolded into a liquor store.

DiCarlo is hoping to play off Ansonia’s restaurant row with his Main Street Gallery of Art and Photography.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic on the weekends,” he said. “So we’re hoping to catch people going in or coming from the restaurants.”

But first, DiCarlo said, the former barbershop is in need of remodeling.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “We’re taking down old paneling, remodeling a bathroom...we’re painting the walls, putting up track lights and putting down blue carpeting.”

He said much of the work is being volunteered “by licensed contractors who sit on our board.”

DiCarlo hopes to have most of it in time for the planned Nov. 16, 7 p.m. reception for its first showing here — Artist’s Choice. The gallery is accepting up to two pieces that are wired, labeled and ready to be hung from each artist.

The display cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members, with the Council keeping 20 percent of any sale. The exhibit will be on display until January 6. Gallery display drop-offs will be Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment by emailing studiochid@sbcglobal.net or calling 203-906-4343.

DiCarlo is also working out a daily schedule based on the foot traffic. His current plan is to have the gallery open Tuesday through Sunday. He is considering opening at 3 p.m. and closing at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday., 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Those hours could change.

“I want to feed off the restaurant crowd,” he said.

“That’s a great idea,” added Sheila O’Malley, Ansonia’s economic development director. “It’s another reason for people to come downtown. It also gives local artists a place where they can display their talents.”

As for classes, DiCarlo plans to have live model drawing as well as lessons on painting and book and paper making.

“I want people to learn but also have fun doing so,” he said.

So he said he might do a display on comic book art. After all, the now defunct Charlton Comics were printed in Derby.

“I feel an area is judged by the arts — by its presence or absence,” he said. “We are filling a void. I believe a community is improved when you offer the arts.”

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