Top Up-and-Coming Artists In Connecticut

July 23, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

Connecticut may be a small state geographically but if measured by her artists, she is a great and ever-expanding land of culture, grace and opportunity. Here are five of her most talented rising artists, men and women, young and young in spirit, who are helping build Connecticut’s reputation in the art world.
michaelshapcott Top Up and Coming Artists In Connecticut


Michael Shapcott
Portrait Artist

“The real hot one” is how Francis Rexford Cooley, dean of Paier College of Art in Hamden, describes this former student. “Well trained in Renaissance techniques of form and figure,” says the dean, portrait artist Michael Shapcott “gives it a bit of a contemporary twist.” His work, continues Cooley, is all about combining “realism with fantasy elements” and the result is some “really interesting stuff.”

Shapcott is “big on using social media to present himself,” and that has gained him gallery showings and a following on both coasts, adds Dean Cooley. The Connecticut native, however, has not forgotten where he came from. He has shared his use of social media to promote his art with fellow students, including the outgoing class of seniors at Paier College of Art to whom he spoke this spring. His work is best viewed at present on his website, shown above.

deadwinter Top Up and Coming Artists In Connecticut


Dave Shabet
Graphic Artist

“Dead Winter” is Dave Shabet’s new graphic novel. For anyone who appreciates darkly humorous stories with spike-helmeted biker gangs, seedy urban diners and blue-collar working men and women trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, Shabet is as good as it gets. A graduate of Cheshire High School and Southern Connecticut State (where he went after Paier), Dave now lives in Easthampton. In a recent conversation with him, Shabert commented that he’s “been working heavily in comics over the past five years. I don’t have a gallery presence in Connecticut, I print and ship my own physical books and my work is all online for the whole world to see.” Support your fellow Connecticut talent with a purchase of one of his entertaining graphic novels.

Related: Top Local Connecticut Art Programs To Support

maggegagliardi Top Up and Coming Artists In Connecticut

(credit: Magge Gagliardi)

Magge Gagliardi
Illustrator, Muralist, Designer

It is not every artist who can say their work is on view at a hospital, but when the MRI unit at Yale New Haven Hospital wanted a mural in 2008, it chose Magge Gagliardi. A hospital may not be an art gallery, but there is probably much steadier traffic through the MRI unit than most places young artists are invited to show. Gagliardi has a lovely, crisp and whimsical character-based 60’s Broadway style that has also won her commissions to do everything from the cover of playbills to scenic designs for Hartford’s Children’s Theatre productions (where she is currently the lead scenic artist).

Magge just received her MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in illustration at the University of Hartford. Her work on her book “The Amazing Imaginary Adventures of Skippy & Lou” was selected as a finalist in the Illustrated Children’s Book category for the 2012 Tassey Walden Awards. Her work will be on view this July at the Joseloff Gallery of the University of Hartford and at the Six Summit Gallery in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

peggydembicer Top Up and Coming Artists In Connecticut

(credit: Peggy Dembicer/Flickr)

Peggy Dembicer
Embroiderist, Oil Painter

Art has no age limit or restrictions, so why can’t grandmothers be up-and-coming artists? They can, and Peggy Dembicer is proof of that. Michael Yurgeles certainly believes so because he featured her among other artists in the Fabrication show at his Artwell Gallery in Torrington in June. Yurgeles, who is president of the board of directors at the not-for-profit Artwell, is both an educator and an artist in his own right (see here). Yurgeles knows, teaches and does art (especially photography and other visual arts) and he knows a good artist when he sees one. Peggy Dembicer, who has a unique style of mixing embroidery with oil painting, is one of his favorites.

bryannashgil Top Up and Coming Artists In Connecticut

(credit: Bryan Nash Gil)

Bryan Nash Gill
Sculptor in wood, paper, bronze and “found objects”

Working out of his home studio in New Hartford in Connecticut’s northwest corner, Bryan Nash Gill produces some amazing abstract art. His work has been shown twice at the New Britain Museum of American Art and is currently on view at IBM corporate headquarters in New York and at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Facility in Fairfield, California. Bryan comes highly recommended by Michael Yurgeles and has many fans in the region, as his being awarded the Goodman-Banks Artist Residency at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford attests.

RelatedConnecticut’s Top Iconic Artists

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience, most notably but not exclusively in the fields of international relations and history specifically military history. His work can be found at