Art Gallery Proposes Illuminated Sign Spelling Out ‘Hopeful’


The owner of an art gallery in the center New Canaan’s business district is seeking permission from town officials to install an illuminated sign.

Here’s a rendering of the proposed sign, included in the application.

The 24-inch-tall multicolored letters of the sign spelling out ‘Hopeful’ would be located 13 feet above ground on a brick wall facing South Avenue, under an application submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission by Heather Gaudio Fine Art.

To be illuminated by lightbulbs in the lettering itself, the aluminum letters form a text-based work of art, Gaudio told P&Z in an Oct. 28 email that forms part of her application for a zoning permit.

The work by artist Charlie Hewitt is “a colorful beacon and one meant to raise awareness and spirits in what has been such a challenging time for all of us,” Gaudio said in the email.

“From COVID, to unemployment, school and business closures and divisive politics, Hewitt’s ‘Hopeful’ was created by the artist to bring communities together in the common good, for our humanities sake,” she said. “As his primary gallery representative and longtime friend, my ‘hope’ as the gallery’s owner is to impart joy and unity, encouragement and strength in the town that has been so kind to small business owners like myself over the span of a decade and beyond.”

The gallery is located at 66 Elm St.

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see page 134), corner lots are allowed a second sign by permit, though “no portion shall be located more than four feet above the top of the doors or windows on the ground floor on such side of the building” and the maximum dimensions are 20 inches vertical.

In addition, “no sign illumination shall involve the use of neon or another method resulting in a similar appearance to neon,” under the Zoning Regulations. 

According to Gaudio, the timing of the application “is no coincidence.”

“Given that we will most likely not be able to celebrate with the Holiday Stroll this year and are headed into the election and winter weather, holiday season, we wanted to offer some optimism and cheer to New Canaan,” she said in the email.

P&Z is expected to take up the application at its Nov. 17 meeting.

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