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Hartford's Parkville Shows Off Artsy Vibe With Big Block Party

Daniela Altimari
Contact Reporterdnaltimari@courant.com

New York has Williamsburg, Los Angeles has Silver Lake — and Hartford has Parkville. The up-and-coming neighborhood wedged between I-84 and the West Hartford border is filled with spacious former factory buildings that have beckoned a burgeoning creative class.

On Saturday, the neighborhood showcased its artsy vibe.

“A surge of artists and young entrepreneurs are bringing a beautiful energy, and we want to show people this is where it’s at,’’ said Andrea Cortez, a co-founder of the Tainted Inc. beauty collective and the brainchild behind the end-of-summer festival.

The block party opened Saturday morning with a free outdoor yoga class on a shady patch of grass outside Real Art Ways on Arbor Street and continued into the night with food trucks, music and a fire-dancing demonstration.

The yoga class drew Gina White from Litchfield. “I had to come out and see it,’’ she said of the block party. “And it was free, which is always good.”

Afterward, White, 39, sipped a strawberry lemon cooler she bought from Let’s Start From Scratch caterers and browsed the vintage offerings at a Bohemian tag sale inside an old typewriter factory. Among the items for sale were classic concert T-shirts, old fur coats, ’60s-era board games and a pair of vinyl boots with 6-inch heels. White was on the hunt for a mirrored ring.

Ann McAdams, who is 56 and lives in Windsor, said she liked the eclectic flavor of the event, though she added, “I'm not quite sure if we’re Bohemian enough.’’

Organizers hope the block party will become an annual event.

“We want to bring the community together,” said Alyssa Haley, another Tainted Ink co-founder. “We want to let people know that Parkville is alive.’’

The potential relocation of Real Art Ways, a cinema and art gallery that serves as one of Arbor Street’s anchors, won’t derail Parkville’s momentum, Cortez said. Real Art Ways is considering a move to a space on Bartholomew Street, less than a half mile down the road.

“We’re happy for Real Art Ways,” Cortez said. “It’s time … and they’re staying in Parkville.’’

Plus, she added, the art theater’s departure from Arbor Street frees up space for another creative endeavor to establish itself. Already, the brick factories that populate the neighborhood are home to photography and video studios, a tattoo parlor, a modeling agency and a yoga studio.

“There's been a major push to get artists and creatives to create a hub in this part of Hartford,’’ said Joey Batts, a teacher who helped organize the block party. “Every major city has an arts district, so it’s nice to see Hartford develop one.”


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