Houses, apartments, businesses, schools, places of worship. Like all cities, Hartford’s built environment—its physical structures and shape—has changed over time for many different reasons. As the population grows and changes, different voices influence the city’s identity, and new building materials and resources become available (or disappear). This year, with a series of onsite and offsite exhibits, the Connecticut Historical Society is exploring the history of Hartford’s modern cityscape, as well as the city’s urban spaces today. One of these exhibits is Hartford Seen: Photographs by Pablo Delano.
Pablo Delano is Professor of Fine Arts at Trinity College. He began his project of photographing Hartford’s built environment in 2008. In precise detail and stunning color, his images capture Hartford’s public and private buildings, street scenes, houses, and storefronts—moments in time that reflect the ongoing dreams and realities of the people who live and work here.
The exhibit includes 126 photographs, organized into groups of similar building types and uses. These groupings create a striking visual impact with a clear theme: as people move in and out, as businesses grow and fade, the city’s buildings reflect change, ingenuity, and adaptation. An old factory is converted to apartments. A synagogue becomes a Baptist church. A house is now a storefront, or a barbershop, or someone else’s home many years later.
“One of the things I find fascinating is the resourcefulness of people in adapting buildings to new uses,” says Delano. “The physical adaptations of the buildings become almost like layering. One of the things that painters do is they layer colors, one on top of the other, and they build a rich surface. You see that in the buildings of Hartford. In addition to being a layer of physical materials, it's a layering of history.” Don’t miss this art show layered with stories of the past and present. Hartford Seen is on view through March 14, 2015.