Dee Dee Colabella might be a superhero. Her power? Turning visions into reality \u2014 fast. That\u2019s the story behind how the Ridgefield Pride Arts Center came into existence. \u201cI had this vision of this place that would help people get ready for arts school but also help them find a career in the arts,\u201d said Colabella, who\u2019s lived in Ridgefield since 2004. \u201cContinuing education, private and semi-private work spaces, studio space to display and hang your work in, and a gallery storefront to sell it \u2014 I thought why not tie it all into one space?\u201d Colabella will offer all of that and more to both to her resident artists and RPAC members. The business opened at 424R Main Street above 850 Degrees Wood Fired Restaurant on July 13, and she has already filled four of the six private resident artist spaces as well as eight of the 15 semi-private paces available. \u201cEverything has just clicked into place,\u201d she said. \u201cIt\u2019s cosmic. ... This is exactly what I envisioned.\u201d Next up is the opening of Ridgefield Pride Art Gallery in the fall at 410 Main Street \u2014 the former William Raveis storefront. \u201cWe believe that an arts education should be about giving artists an opportunity to sell their work,\u201d Colabella said. \u201cThe right education teaches them how to make this a career, not just fine tune skills. We researched ways to get into galleries and we found it\u2019s very difficult. It\u2019s all about timing. That\u2019s why we wanted to create a gallery to showcase artists\u2019 work. It\u2019s a huge benefit to have a gallery to show your work in, and that\u2019s what they get with us.\u201d Not done yet It\u2019s hard to imagine Colabella was planning to open RPAC while simultaneously graduating from Western Connecticut State University with a master\u2019s in fine arts this spring but that\u2019s just how things worked out for her and her business partner Greg Mursko. \u201cI got my MFA in the mail and it was this magical moment but then I just laid it down on my kitchen counter and realized it was just a paper,\u201d said Mursko, who graduated with Colabella from West Conn this spring. \u201cAnd that\u2019s because there\u2019s a lot more to an arts education after your done in the classroom.\u201d Mursko, who like Colabella has a background in graphic design, said he\u2019s looking forward to giving others an education in the fine arts. \u201cA lot of people come out of arts school and they don\u2019t know how to get a job in the industry or don\u2019t know how to sell their work,\u201d he said. Colabella is using the market inefficiency to her advantage. \u201cA lot of art programs around here are not designed to teach the business side, which is an essential piece to any arts education,\u201d she said. \u201cThese programs are all about focusing on skills. What we have is a space that offers both development and business.\u201d Wide range Mursko, who lives in Watertown, is excited to work with a large swath of creative people. \u201cI love being around people who love art,\u201d he said. \u201cAnd that\u2019s all that we have here \u2014 it\u2019s like a little oasis. ... \u201cThe most gratifying part of all of this is being able to do everything from helping a student prepare his or her portfolio for art school to offering a space that enables creators to establish their brand and become their own businesses,\u201d he added. \u201cSome of the people who come in can\u2019t believe we\u2019re going to have a physical gallery storefront and a digital gallery storefront where they can sell prints online and make additional money. I keep hearing, \u2018you\u2019re really going to have both?\u2019 Yes, we are.\u201d Right person, right time Bewilderment is a familiar refrain \u2014 both from prospective RPAC members and its ownership team. And that\u2019s because the physical manifestation of Colabella\u2019s dreams happened so rapidly. \u201cI had the idea for coming into the MFA program but it wasn\u2019t until last September \u2014 September 2018 \u2014where we really began talks about what the space would really have to look like for it to be school, a place to work, and a gallery,\u201d she said. She said the vacancy above 850 on Main Street became available in January this year, and she heard about it from First Selectman Rudy Marconi when attending a meeting for Ms. President US. \u201cThis has been so quick,\u201d she said. \u201cYes, I\u2019ve been talking about it dating back a few years \u2014 2016 or 2017, but the first time we really put anything on paper was September 2018.\u201d \u201cIt really was just an idea we had talked about,\u201d Mursko added. \u201cI didn\u2019t think it was actually going to happen.\u201d Like with any new venture, the location was everything. \u201cGetting the space here \u2014 and the gallery space on Main Street \u2014 was very key,\u201d Colabella said. \u201cThat\u2019s when I began to see it all come together.\u201d One offhand comment to a friend and a chance encounter with the town\u2019s top official was all Colabella needed to work her magic. \u201cIt was quite serendipitous,\u201d she recalled. \u201cI had mentioned to my friend Liz [Fleuette, the founder of Ms. President US] about trying to find a space. All I said was that I was trying in downtown Ridgefield. Next thing I know, Rudy is telling me Urstadt Biddle has this vacant property off Main Street above 850. I was talking to the right person at the right time in the right place ... The whole thing has been that way.\u201d Both Colabella and Mursko agreed to seize the opportunity presented to them. \u201cIt started going quicker than either of us originally thought,\u201d he said. \u201cIt really kicked into turbo gear in the second semester.\u201d Art on the walls The two graphic designers worked nonstop from the first week of April through the first week of July to renovate the space in time for Ridgefield Pride Art Center\u2019s grand opening on July 13. \u201cEvery nut and bolt in this place has been tightened by one of these two,\u201d said Brooke Heinen, RPAC\u2019s CFO. \u201cIt\u2019s incredible to see art on the walls finally,\u201d added Colabella. \u201cIt\u2019s the greatest feeling of all.\u201d But has RPAC arrived too late to Ridgefield\u2019s booming art scene? Colabella thinks the timing couldn\u2019t be more ideal \u2014 and it\u2019s hard to blame her considering her recent streak of good fortune getting the business together. \u201cI would actually love to see more galleries open up in town,\u201d she said. \u201cIt\u2019ll only benefit our artists. Because when new galleries open up, it brings in the collectors, the brokers and the curators from all over. It\u2019s better exposure for everyone. We welcome any sort of competition because that means people are really beginning to come to Ridgefield to look at art and to buy art and to take our art community more seriously. I think it\u2019s the next evolution of our town and its art scene, honestly.\u201d She believes RPAC could become a leader in bringing buyers to town. \u201cWe have the Aldrich but I don\u2019t think we\u2019re building off it enough,\u201d she said. \u201c ... We have a huge art community here but a lot of it goes outward \u2014 to New York City and elsewhere. What we need is to bring it back in.\u201d Heinen is confident that Colabella can make it happen. \u201cShe had a vision and that vision came to life,\u201d Heinen said. \u201cNot a lot of people can say that.\u201d For more information about the private and semi-private rooms available at RPAC, call 203-273-7455, or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Ridgefield Pride Art Center is located at 424R Main Street.