The Pump House Gallery reopened its doors as an art space Thursday evening. The site has gone from a state of neglect to one that we can be proud of: the patio has been weeded, walls have been given a fresh coat of white paint, and the terribly faded sign over the entrance has been repainted. As part of The Week of the Parks, Bushnell Park had its grass mowed, shrubs removed from the front of the Pump House Gallery, branches trimmed, and benches repaired.
The art opening was a see-and-be-seen event for those in politics– folks from City Hall who never come out to such events were present, or their aides were. Those who go to various art events in Hartford quickly know who everyone else is, or at least recognize each other; this event brought out lots of different faces.
The People of Goodwill provided music for those perusing the art, or just relaxing on the patio. The Legacy of Hartford Parks Exhibit featured work that portrayed the parks in some way. Some of the work was truthfully underwhelming, but the gems in the mix are worth checking out. Unfortunately, the best pieces — historical photographs and prints — in the exhibit are not for sale. There is work on display by Donald Boudreaux, Robert Charles Hudson, Maurice D. Robertson, Ron Thompson, Chris Wachtelausen, and Lauren Zarambo.
One of the criticisms that I heard of the event was that it was unclear who was in charge of the gallery. It was a little chaotic — lots of people in a small space — and one had to elbow through the people grazing at the snack table just to get information sheets about the artwork. Placing a small table at the entrance would have made the information more accessible, and it would not have hurt to provide information about when the Pump House Gallery would be open again. The information that was available listed art, prices, and how to contact the artists, but nothing about the gallery itself. The Bushnell Park Foundation website has out of date information regarding this structure, though it does provide interesting historical facts, like that the Pump House was built “using stones from the bridges that were removed when the Park River was buried.” Hopefully we will see hours posted and a better web presence (beyond Facebook) for the renewed Pump House Gallery. If we want to see this last, people need to know it exists.