MERIDEN — In the midst of the pandemic, the Artists Colony, a pop up gallery that was on Colony Street, had to close its doors.
As a pop up gallery, the Artists Colony was only going to run for a certain amount of time, according to Apollo Maldonado, a local artist that helped open the business.
“This whole project, the whole Artists Colony, was meant to be a pop up,” Maldonado said. “... It was kind of like an experiment. We were seeing how the arts were going to affect Meriden by having an artist in residence and having an artist there to help with all of that. Time was actually coming up already. We had already agreed that we were going to run this for a certain amount of time.”
Maldonado collaborated with the Meriden Economics Development Corporation, the Making Meriden Business Center and Silver City Properties to open up the Artists Colony in 2018.
“Let’s create a collective of artists...and involve the arts into the whole downtown,” Maldonado said. “So we came up with the name the ‘Artists Colony.’ I went ahead and created the logo and it allowed me to not only run the Artists Colony and help with creating art again and working on murals and meeting with the artists involved with everything, but it allowed me to run my business out of there.”
Even though the Artists Colony had to close its doors, Maldonado says that the “Artists Colony is not dead.”
“We’re still going to be running the Artists Colony once everything starts to get back to normal and we are able to start doing large events,” Maldonado said. “I’m definitely going to be reaching out to other artists .. We kind of took a hiatus right now until everything is normal.”
Some artists who were a part of the Artists Colony are still working on their art amid the pandemic.
“Well I work for a nonprofit during the day and I have been lucky enough to work from home,” said Austin Collins, a local artist that focuses on geometric inks, sculpture and digital art. “… I have actually been able to use that time to work on art and share art with people from my community.”
For others, working on their art during the pandemic is hard. As a face and body painter, Wanda Carrero has not painted recently.
“I hate to blame it on COVID-19, but I think COVID-19 is really changing (our) lives,” Carrero said. “Even as far as me, I haven’t painted this whole season because of it. That to me, makes me feel that I’m not being artistic and I can’t express that part of my creativity.”
Joshua Paiz, a local artist that focuses on visual art, has been able to continue his on-the-side work as a freelance artist. He was disheartened to hear the space at 5 Colony St. had closed.
“It’s very unfortunate because things were starting to come together with the whole art culture there that they were trying to bring back,” Paiz said. “They were getting bigger named artists...With everything happening, it was very sad to hear.”
After the office closed, Maldonado has raised his spirits by continuing his work on projects for his business, All Sketched Out LLC. This includes his digital paint nights and visual art classes. In August, these projects are going to resume.
“It is actually going to be mobile,” Maldonado said. “I actually built a device that provides me free energy to actually run a digital paint night wherever I want. I’m not really talking too much about it because I am actually creating a YouTube series on my YouTube channel .. it is going to be on a bus.”
Once things normalize, Maldonado said people can continue to support artists by getting involved in events.
“I am looking to do an event based on the art that was created during this pandemic,” Maldonado said. “I would like to see what people were creating during this time … Seeing how the pandemic affected artists. How it affected their style and how that affected their art. That’s an event that I am looking to create pretty soon once everything starts to get back to normal.”
To learn more about All Sketched Out LLC, go to its Facebook page or Instagram page, @all.sketched.out.
Collins and Paiz promote their art on their Instagram pages, @austincollinsart and @jpaizstudios. Carrero showcases her face and body paint on her Facebook page, Empress Carrero Face Painting.