A Guide to Real Art Ways in Hartford Ct

Real Art Ways, located at 56 Arbor Street in Hartford, Connecticut, has built a national and international reputation for programming excellence. As an alternative multidisciplinary arts organization Real Art Ways focuses on presenting and supporting contemporary artists and their work as well as facilitating the creation of new art. The organization also works to creatively engage, build and inform audiences and communities.  

Real Art Ways was founded by a group of musicians and visual artists in 1975. Their first location was an upstairs space on Asylum Street in downtown Hartford. This space was turned into a bare bones salon where the founders worked, lived and presented contemporary artwork. After losing 3 spaces in 10 years Real Art Ways landed at its current location, a renovated ex-typewriter factory, in 1989. The organization was able to obtain a 30 year lease of the Arbor Street location, giving Real Art Ways the stability to establish itself as an integral part of the Parkville neighborhood and the community as a whole. Real Art Ways has participated in the planning of a redesign of local neighborhood gateways and the central commercial district.

Since 1995 Real Art Ways has spent $1.8 million on renovations which represents not only the organizations but also the communities commitment to maintaining the output of artistic excellence. With so many new accommodations the organization is not limited to doing just one thing. Exhibitions, movies, concerts, educational programs, readings, lectures, and spoken word are just a few of the things Real Art Ways has to offer.


The traditional visual art experience can be found in the gallery, which was refurbished in 1999. Displays in the Main Gallery and the Real Room are focused on presenting innovative contemporary works of art. On Mondays the gallery is closed but it remains open from 2 pm through 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday. On Fridays and Saturdays the gallery stays open from 2 pm until 11 pm offering a hip place to spend an afternoon or evening. The suggested donation for admission is $3.


Real Art Ways brings art out of the gallery and into the community with the Real Public project, which funds local artists fusions of artwork into the community. Four new public art projects were introduced into the Parkville and Frog Hollow neighborhoods in 2009. Matthew Rodriguez, named one of the “20 to watch” by the Austin Museum of Art, created playful faces on 77 trees in Frog Hollow’s Pope Park. The photographer Margarida Correia’s work with Portuguese members of the Hartford community has lead to the addition of street lamp banners featuring album covers of famous Fado singers as well as a billboard displaying Praia de Nazare, Portugal’s famous beach. Frog Hollow’s Pope Park saw the addition of a labyrinth constructed from clotheslines, representing the residents’ migratory voyage to the neighborhood, courtesy of Satch Hoyt. For the fourth Real Public project, Sofia Maldonado created a mural on the Pelican Tattoo building in Frog Hollow. These projects bring artwork to the community in the innovative and creative tradition of Real Art Ways.


First run, independent films began to be shown seven nights a week with the opening of the Real Art Ways Cinema in the fall of 1996. The Cinema offers the community a chance to view films that haven’t gone through the Hollywood movie industry and are difficult to find anyplace else. Admission is $9 for regular non-members, $6.25 for students with ID and seniors, $5 for Real Art Ways members and $4.50 for senior and student members. School groups can arrange film fieldtrips by calling 860-232-1006. The Real Art Ways Cinema is the only theater in the area that makes fresh popcorn with real butter every night and moviegoers can drink beer and wine inside the theater


In order to follow through on the organization’s mission to inform audiences and communities Real Arts Ways runs three educational programs that encourage participants to play, learn and grow. Film Fieldtrips is a program aimed at introducing students to new ideas through film and discussion. One of the program’s goals is to develop a greater understanding of key issues in local communities and the students’ ability to serve as leaders and advocates for positive social change. Park Art is another educational Real Art Ways program that includes live music, environmental arts, nature and technology, dance, literary arts and poetry. This program consists of seven weeks of free daily workshops in Parkville. High school students, ages 14-18, living in the capital region can apply for a limited number of arts jobs through the Neighborhood Studios program. This arts apprenticeship program has earned the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s award and culminates in a final showcase that is free to the public.


To become a member of the Real Art Ways a donation of $50 is required for individual membership and $75 for Family/Household memberships. These memberships will earn the member discounts for all Real Art Ways events and increasing benefits are listed at various levels up to the Benefactor level which requires a donation of $2500 or more.

With its diverse and innovative programs Real Art Ways is truly helping contemporary art to make strides in Hartford. Real Art Ways brings immense benefits for artists and the community, making it a great place to visit whether you are interested in supporting the arts, seeing world class contemporary art or just finding an entertaining way to spend some free time.