For two nights, on April 26 and 27, the small city of Broad Brook, Connecticut came together to celebrate art, skateboarding and music as one. The K. Simon Center for the Arts held the show, “Going Places,” where hand-painted and printed skateboard decks lined a wall, New England artists showcased their work in colorful displays for visitors to purchase, and rhythmic beats reverberated throughout the second-story room. Creativity pulsed through the space.
Featured vendors included MelRose Denim (@melrose_denim on Instagram), creators of denim jackets with vintage and iconic printed images like Polaroid, Bob Marley and MTV, as well as other repurposed denim items like placemats. Positive State Apparel (@positivestate_apparel) also sold clothing with their signature Positive State name repeated row after row on t-shirts, ending with “have a nice day,” inspired from the plastic grocery bag design. Waterbury, Connecticut tattoo artists from Beauty Mark Studio also showcased their art of fantastical creatures on prints and painted on wood cuttings.
Channeling the traditional graffiti art scene, @opie1kanobe sold prints depicting a meld of bold colors and outlined traffic signals, spray cans, money signs and urban buildings together in a sort of collage, promoting the message of sobriety and stopping drug addiction. Detailed ink pen drawing prints of skateboarding animals and people, classic cars, surreal aquatic scenes and much more were presented by @inkbyolivia, an artist challenging her abilities by drawing every day to post on Instagram.
Musical artists boosted the energy in the room with their rapping and hip-hop styles. Cosmic (@cosmic860) brought originality and passion to his speedy rapping, using the stage as his playground. Musician and public speaker Jamez IV (@jamezeyevee) combined poetry and song with his powerful voice that carried through the room.
The event was organized in part by Outbreak Skateboards, a Northwest Connecticut-based company of skaters and artists with the mission of infusing creativity, culture and community into their decks. Khamp Phimvongsa also took part in the event’s planning as the creator of the arts center, a five-year restoration project of the Broad Brook Hotel which he named the K. Simon Center for the Arts after his father. He and his family fled war in Laos over 40 years ago and soon settled in the area, where he desired to construct a place where community members could connect. Offering marital arts and fine arts classes, he inspires creativity in the youngest of children to the most skilled adult artist. The center also provides an outlet for fundraising events for groups or causes like Alzheimer’s and drug addiction.
The center will host “Paint for Prevention” on May 11 from 5–8 p.m. to donate to and support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Registration for this painting social remains open at ksimonarts.com. There is no doubt that it will be as vibrant and uplifting as “Going Places,” which welcomed artists of different styles, backgrounds and stories, observing the lifestyle of skateboard culture just in time to dust off the old decks and ride into spring.
(The K. Simon Center for the Arts is located at 98 Main Street, Broad Brook, Connecticut. For more information, call Khamp at (860) 849-0766 or visit ksimonarts.com.)