Marcos Torno has been in the business of fostering the arts for some time, but this year, this member of the Old Greenwich Merchants Association and his fellow retailers are working to connect even more people with the arts.
"We decided to create more space for the artists, so they can try and sell their art work," said Torno, who has run his custom framing and photography restoration shop, Images of Old Greenwich, on Sound Beach Avenue for 20 years. It also serves as a gallery for exhibiting artists.
This new initiative is a series of art fairs that bring artists and their art to the business district of Old Greenwich. In May, photography was featured. This month's fair, which will run Saturday, June 23, to Sunday, June 24, puts the focus on oil and acrylics. The next art fair -- mixed media and watercolors -- will run July 28 to 29.
The hope is to eventually fill the sidewalks along Sound Beach Avenue and Arcadia Road with art every month, to not only bring attention to the artists, but to also bring more foot traffic to the shops and other retail destinations.
"Visitors will get a chance to meet the artists, too," Torno said.
The fairs are a collaborative effort between the business association and the Art Society of Old Greenwich. Those wishing to participate must be society members, or they can join at the time of submission (annual dues are $30). In addition, the fee to show in the art fair is $50, of which $20 is donated to the art society. There is no commission on the sale of the artwork, according to organizers.
"It's gotten us a lot of new members, and that's terrific," said Old Greenwich resident and artist Barbara Stretton, who is co-president of the Art Society of Old Greenwich.
"We've worked with Marcos a lot in the past," said Stretton, who joined about 30 years ago.
In February, the society awarded Torno with its volunteer of the year, for his enduring help and support of the society. He also judged the group's March show at the Byram Shubert Library.
The Art Society of Old Greenwich's membership stands at about 400 professional and amateur painters, sculptors and photographers, who are drawn from across Fairfield County, as well as Westchester County, N.Y., according to John Tatge, a 30-year-plus member. Some members are situated a bit farther out, too, such as those living in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Florida.
Torno is hoping interest in the art fair program takes off. Right now, there are spaces available for the June and July fairs.
"We are starting small, but we have gotten some really great feedback," Torno said.
It will be a new way to lead in to one of the bigger events of the year for the society, the annual sidewalk art show, which takes place on Sept. 8 and 9, when hundreds of pieces of art will be on display and available for purchase.
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If you go
The Old Greenwich Merchants Association and the Art Society of Old Greenwich Arts Fair 2012, featuring oil and acrylics will take place along Sound Beach Avenue and Arcadia Road in Old Greenwich from Saturday, June 23, to Sunday, June 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Art society membership is required ($30 annual dues), as well as a $50 registration fee ($20 of which is donated to the art society). To become a member, call 203-637-5845. For information on the fair, call 203-344-1707.