From Brooklyn to Bridgeport. URSA is an experiential art gallery located in the historic Arcade Mall in Bridgeport, Connecticut. URSA is founded by Bridgeport-based artist Cris Dam and is conceived in collaboration with architect Dustin Malstrom.
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Both Dam and Malstrom got their start in NYC in the late 1990s, building successful businesses within the art and design world at a time when New York was more accessible—a time when Brooklyn was still raw. The same spirit that New York embodied back then can be found today in Bridgeport. It’s a city with untapped potential: an emerging art community, beautiful urban architecture, and a downtown composed primarily of independent businesses (there’s not a Starbucks in sight). And it’s in this spirit—of immeasurable possibilities—that Dam and Malstrom joined forces to realize URSA.
The plan was to open late spring/early summer of 2020. But, as with many businesses, URSA had to make tough decisions during the pandemic and pivot this year. The result, a new business model with two components: Ursa Gallery, which honors the original concept of an art space, and Reimagined by Ursa (coming 2021), which features modern furniture and design. While times are tough for everyone, and any new business is risky, Dam and Malstrom remain optimistic about the future of art within this community.
It’s human nature to seek a certain level of comfort and stability, but oftentimes that can be stifling. We need to step outside of our comfort zone every now and then—because sometimes we’ll get thrown out.
—Dam and Malstrom