Art Gallery Opens in Bantam
By Clementina Verge
“Art is defining and all encompassing,” declares Art Matuszewski, founder of amArtHouse in Bantam. “There is no civilization without it. No architects. No engineers. We can’t develop without art. It opens our imagination, connects, explains, clarifies, and inspires our human need to continue creating.”
Such inspiration now dwells at 1062 Bantam Road where contemporary art showcased against historic architecture offers striking juxtaposition that reflects Matuszewski’s unique vision.
“My dream from many years ago was to own an arts center with curated collections. When I saw this house, I knew exactly what I wanted it to become,” Matuszewski recalls about the 1755 Colonial, which during its lifespan has been a private home, a medical office (in the 1820s), and a clothing store.
Trained in restoration and dedicated to conservation, Matuszewski immersed himself in a four-year renovation and completed most of the work on his own. Honoring history, he preserved the original structure, salvaging every piece of wood possible, and refinishing original flooring and beams. While incorporating modern amenities such as heat and lighting, he protected Colonial pane-window spacing and chose historical colors, like the milk paint enveloping the wooden siding.
When amArtHouse opened in October 2021, it culminated years of passion. Born in Poland into a creative family, Matuszewski still remembers the smell of turpentine used by his grandfather, who established himself as a “phenomenal artist” during a difficult time in then-censored Warsaw. His mother continues to be a prominent textile painter in her 70s.
After emigrating alone to the United States, Matuszewski settled in New York City and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Post graduation, he owned a restoration/faux finishing studio in Manhattan for many years. Eventually, he relocated to New Preston with his wife and daughter, but restorative work continued taking him across Europe. Museums in England, Russia, and Italy. Shows including La Biennale in Paris and the Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) in Belgium—one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious fine art and antiques fairs. Such exposure and experience increased his determination to open a gallery close to home.
The current exhibition centers on Richard Pitts, an FIT professor and prominent artist of the Post War Art Movement in New York, who left a lasting mark for prioritizing the integrity of art over commercial success. As a student, Matuszewski said he did not understand the magnitude of Pitts’ work, but now, he proudly displays its impact.
Five others—Chris Kelly, Robert Messyasz, Steven Lowy, Mario Busoni, and Karen Gentile—add to the kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and mediums, including pastels, painted aluminum, stained glass, mixed media on canvas, and “atmospheric lamps” serving as functional art. Thoughtful and exhilarating, the collection is harmoniously organized, transitioning visitors from space to space, and continuing outside where large scale sculptures demand attention by day, and light the landscape by night.
In a world that often dilutes art and is driven by instant gratification, Matuszewski desires his gallery to be a comfortable place that inspires and fosters dialogue. Next year, conversations will extend outdoors, where benches and paths will be installed throughout the three-acre property.
“My goal is to focus on curating art, presenting the work of artists, and showcasing art with substance,” he notes. “This is my mission.”