Restaurant marks World AIDS Day with evening of art

At right: Artwork remains hidden in advance of ‘Art, Champagne and Chocolate,’ an event planned for Thursday, Dec. 1, at Bacco, a pub in the Glenbrook section of Stamford.

At first, Stamford artist Helen Zajkowski wasn’t sure what to expect. Zajkowski had come to Bacco, a Stamford restaurant, to meet with owner Maria Teresa Criscuolo and learn more about the evening of “Art, Champagne and Chocolate,” Criscuolo had planned.

By the end of that meeting, Zajkowski had decided she would be leaving one of her mixed media pieces with Criscuolo to be part of the combination art show and evening out that takes place Thursday, Dec. 1.

“I could see she was really putting her heart into it,” Zajkowski said of Criscuolo’s efforts to make art accessible to all.

“It’s a different avenue, so I thought, ‘I’m going to try it,” Zajkowski said.

When asked to describe her art, Zajkowski said she tends to work in series. (Her work, “Friendship” can be seen at right.)

“I use found objects, discarded things to make a statement,” she said. “I create visual puns.”

This 20-year resident of Stamford will be among about a dozen artists whose work will be on display at Bacco, which is located at 522 Glenbrook Road, next to the nearly 50-year-old Nick’s Pizza, which also is run by Criscuolo.

This is the third such event Criscuolo has organized at the location.

The art will be varied, she said, with paintings, photographs, sculptures, ornaments and crafts all sharing the space. The artists range in age, as well, she said, from teens to seniors. The art, which is available for purchase, will remain on display for three weeks.

Criscuolo said all of the proceeds of the purchase goes to the artists, and the evening also will be a chance to raise money for the Red Project, a global initiative to eliminate AIDS, though the purchase of drink specials. World AIDS Day is held around the world on Dec. 1 each year. According to organizers, it is a day to show support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have died.

Guests also will entertained by a jazz musician, and (while supplies last) some homemade chocolate.

Although Criscuolo is not an artist herself, she said she believes art can act as an impetus to get people to think creatively and “out-of-the-box.” It can spur inspiration and help others find their life’s passion, she said.

“That’s what art means to me,” she said, “a way for people to express themselves.”

Part of Criscuolo’s mission is also to bring art to those who might not normally seek it out. Even now, the art is already up on the walls, hidden behind plain brown paper until the big evening.

“When you expose people … you’d be amazed at what you get,” she said.

The event will run from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m., she said, adding that she hopes to hold a similar evening in the future at another one of her locations, Tappo on 51 Bank St.

For more information, call 203-324-4976.

Christina Hennessy