Contemporary Art in Fairfield, Connecticut

October 22, 2021

Designers and homeowners alike discover contemporary art in a tucked-away Fairfield barn.

Text by Bob Curley    Photography by Jane Beiles

Nearly every inch of Adrienne Ruger Conzelman’s barn serves as ARC Fine Art gallery space, including the loft and beams.

A converted barn at an 1870s Fairfield farm might not be the first place you’d think to look for contemporary art, but ARC Fine Art isn’t exactly conventional, either.

Gallery owner and curator Adrienne Ruger Conzelman credits her grandfather, firearm designer and art collector William B. Ruger, with her first love: art history. With a PhD in American art from 1770 to 1970 from Williams College, Conzelman learned the business side of the art world while working for Christie’s and Sotheby’s. She founded ARC Fine Art in 2009.

Conzelman refers to the business as “a hybrid between a gallery and a consulting business.” About thirty works from artists like painter Frances Ashforth, underwater photographer Chris Leidy, and Gary Komarin, known for his large-format abstract paintings, hang in the barn, located in Conzelman’s backyard. But Conzelman is unafraid to venture further afield in her search for the perfect fit for her clients, who include interior designers as well as homeowners and collectors.

“I’ll often bring works to client homes—some of my best clients have never been to the gallery,” she says. “In other cases, people pop in and buy randomly, and I’ve never been to their house.”

Arienne Ruger Conzelman

“Some designers hold out their hands and say help me; there are others who are very hands-on,” Conzelman adds. “The best case is when designers come to me before they are done with a project—sometimes it’s hard to plan the art when there’s so much other color and pattern involved. If they reach out early on, it makes it easier in terms of finding the right light and balancing out everything else in the house.”

The past decade’s trend toward monochromatic interior design often finds Conzelman searching for works that add a pop of color, but she eschews placing purely decorative art.

“I’m interested in artists with an interesting process, an interesting perspective,” she says. “What ties my artists together is an underlying aesthetic that’s not too jarring. It’s art that people want to live with, art that’s soothing or inspiring.”