By Lisa Capobianco
Local artist Mary DeCroce walked down Center Street recently with a sigh of relief and a sense of pride as she glanced at the ten windows of vacant buildings decorated with winter art, including the building that once housed Mainely Seafood.
DeCroce started the winter art project several weeks ago with three other local artists as a way to showcase the vacant buildings to prospective businesses while entertaining residents and non-residents of Southington. Sponsors for the project include United Bank, the Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) and Baron Realty Group, LLC, which have all paid for art materials.
“I am happy with the way it came out,” said DeCroce who used the old Gura Building to work on the project. “I met the deadline.”
DeCroce and her artists finished the project just in time for the 31st annual Holiday Hospitality Night. White reindeer on a blue background hung in the windows of the building directly across from Machiavellis while small Christmas trees and a Christmas village surrounded by a battery-run train made an appearance in a window of 88 Center Street. Another window displayed dozens of penguins made of used liter bottles of different sizes, all situated on cut up piles of white Styrofoam that represent ice glaciers. DeCroce said her students from an “Artistic Creations” class that she teaches at the YMCA made the penguins, which all display their own unique style.
“We are trying to create a winter wonderland feeling,” said DeCroce, who also displayed teddy bears on a sleigh and Christmas gifts made of leftover Styrofoam covered in red and green glitter wrapping paper in another window.
Local artist Katie Mackenzie, who goes by the pen name, “Katie Mack,” also felt proud of the winter art project she took part in with DeCroce. Spending three days on a polar bear made of Styrofoam and strips of white paper, Mackenzie said she feels overjoyed to see the end product.
“I am most happy when I see passing families enjoying what could have been otherwise abandoned store fronts,” said Mackenzie who also created a mural of the Japanese myth of the Koi fish on the side of the Vanity Rites Tattoo & Body Art Studio on Center Street. “Now they are full of color and life. That is what makes me more proud than anything else.”