In the first-floor classroom of the Yale Center for British Art Saturday, four-year-old Andrew Nishida carefully drew a lion with purple, pink, aqua and blue stripes with his Crayola color pencils. The six other children in the room decorated paper doll stick puppets of Henry VIII and some of his wives with multicolored pompoms, feathers and jewels.
As one of the events of the Chapel Street Sidewalk Fair and Broadway Days, the center held “Inside/Out,” a celebration of the renovation of its fourth-floor permanent collection. In its first year, the Sidewalk Fair and Broadway Days, organized by the Chapel-College Street Merchants Association, featured live music, free giveaways and vendors, both independent and representing stores along Chapel Street and Broadway.
“We were discussing that several of these stores were having amazing anniversaries and were already organizing sales and having events, including the British Art Center, and thought we should definitely put it all together and create something bigger,” University Properties director of marketing Shana Schneider said.
This year Claire’s Corner Copia will be celebrating 30 years in business; Peter Indorf Jewelers, 33 years; Wave Gallery, 20 years; and Raggs, 21 years.
“People really into the arts … gravitate towards small business so you get a nice variety of culture,” said Denise Parri, resident artist at the Chapel Street art gallery White Space.
Of the 80 businesses within the University Properties portfolio, only five are national stores: Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, Au Bon Pain, Barnes & Noble and Origins.
“New Haven is a big-little city and it’s always had a heart for the arts and for the people who are here,” Schneider said. “I think that because of the diversity, that’s how you have opportunities for all these people and different kinds of stores and restaurants.”
The Sidewalk Fair also coincided with the grand opening of Tailor New York, which took place on Friday. Tailor New York is a chain offering a menswear-inspired women’s clothing line which already has stores in South Hampton, N.Y., South Norwalk, Conn. and Palm Beach, Fla..
“We take pin stripes and classic madras and make it fun, young and hip,” Tailor New York owner and president Richard Rosenthal said. “We get labeled preppy by being classic.”
This Tailor New York is its first flagship college store and will offer discounts to college students. Rosenthal said the store is looking to expand to the areas around Harvard, Princeton and Georgetown.
“I always wanted to go to Yale,” Rosenthal said. “I figured out the only way to get there was to open up the shop.”
Shopping at Wave’s, Carol Clay Wiske said she came to downtown New Haven specifically for the Sidewalk Fair.
“I think people from the outlying suburbs don’t tend to come down too often because it’s [they think it’s] too packed and parking is difficult,” Wiske said “But, if you open up Saturday afternoon, more people are apt to come in.”
The Center for British Art’s fourth-floor permanent collection of paintings and sculpture have not been on display since 1998 when the roof leaked. Although the center normally has tours, film screenings and storytellers, they decided to “jam pack it into one fun-filled weekend,” said Amy McDonald, the center’s public relations manager.
“Generally, the halfway point is 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m, and we already had 320 people,” she said. “We normally have a couple hundred for the entire day, but we are going to double our standard attendance.”
Nishida’s mother Amanda said it is very easy in New Haven for children to get interested in the arts. Amanda Nishida’s husband is a visiting associate professor from Japan at the Yale School of Medicine. They have also participated in the Arts and Ideas Festival in June and a series of lunchtime blues sessions, and visited the organic market.
“Culturally, there is more here than in Nagasaki,” Nishida said.