The storefront at 91 Memorial Road in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square has been transformed into a creative event space.
By Ronni Newton
Artistically-decorated Christmas trees fill the windows of the former West Elm store in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, with the vacant space brought to life as the “Winter Workshop,” where a variety of classes, events, and other activities will be held throughout the holiday season and beyond.
“Our goal is to create a community space here,” said Kate Terricciano, president of Image Marketing and the spokesperson for Blue Back Square owner Charter Realty.
Activities that had been held outdoors in Blue Back Square during the nice weather, including popular events for toddlers and their parents, will be able to be held in the Winter Workshop space throughout the winter.
The space has been launched in partnership with multiple arts organizations, including RiseUp for Arts – whose artists have already painted murals and windows in Blue Back Square. RiseUp was the first to use the space, and inaugurate it with a very successful open studio the night of West Hartford’s Holiday Stroll.
“We’re also going to be hosting Artful Soul (@artfulsoulct on Instagram), for paint-your-own wine glasses, ornament painting for kids, and other activities,” Terricciano said. Painting classes will include a chance to decorate your own vintage ceramic Christmas tree, ceramic truck, or wooden nutcracker.
Registration is required in advance for events, and the schedule (which is being updated regularly) can be found on Eventbrite.
Some upcoming activities include “Create your own Elf Garden” on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10-11 a.m.; “Toddler Snowflake Art” on Tuesday, Dec. 13, from 10-11 a.m.; and an ornament workshop for ages 21 and up on Friday, Dec. 16, from 7-9 p.m.
There is ample room inside the Winter Workshop for mingling as well as creating, and the space itself is artfully decorated, featuring six imaginative Christmas trees. RiseUp for Arts selected the artists, who transformed the 9-foot trees with a variety of themes, including several florals. There’s an “Alice in Wonderland” tree by Ashley Innocent, “The Secret Garden” by Sophia Strange, the Frida Kahlo-themed “Viva la Vida” by Julie Bergeron, “Blossoming Winter” by Sophie Groenstein, “Candy Cane Lane” by Jaii Marc Renee, and “Creative Christmas,” curated by Katherine Tolve from recycled items and student art.
The community can check out the trees on display at the Winter Workshop, and vote for their favorites on Blue Back Square’s Instagram (@BlueBackSquare) for a chance to win a $100 gift card. More information, and the link to voting, can also be found on the Blue Back Square website.
The community partnership extends to other organizations as well, like the West Hartford Gift Shop, which currently has items on display. “We love doing community partnerships,” Terricciano said, and the goal is to partner with multiple small businesses to showcase their products while the Winter Workshop is open for classes and other activities.
The space is currently “West Hartford’s version of New York holiday windows,” but will be ever-changing, Terricciano said. It will remain open once the holidays are over, with different winter-themed displays.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.