If you happened to be walking in downtown Stamford last month, you would’ve thought Area 51 had set up a body shop for UFOs on the ground floor of Atlantic Station.
Several artists — humans or those appeared to be so — were at work in the pop-up studio (provided by RXR Real- ty and the Cappelli Organization) camouflaging the space vehicles. These UFOs were reminiscent of the smooth metallic ones in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and other 1950s sci-fi films — unlike those dark, craggy behemoths in “Independence Day.” Along with the flying saucers, 8-foot tall rocket ships were also parked, perhaps ready for a pitched interstellar battle.
But the worry was all for naught.
Annette Einhorn, director of events and marketing with Stamford Downtown, which promotes the business district, explained that it was a friendly alien incursion and not one to fret over.
“Space Invasion,” presented by commercial real estate finance firm UC Funds, will be a summer-long public art exhibit along the streets and parks of the city’s downtown, she said.
Last year, a 30-foot tall Marilyn Monroe, captured in her iconic white halter dress from the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch,” was the center of attention. This year the idea was space invasion. “Artists brainstormed with us,” Einhorn says, and came up with a plan for three different forms of spacecraft — a crashed UFO, a UFO with a beam coming out of it and a rocket.
A call went out for artists, who submitted 250 different designs. A jury met and lasered it down to 60 pieces. It was then up to 30 business and corporate sponsors to take a look and choose the winners.
“Space Girls in the City” by Cyn Elise Sterback of Shelton is a nod to “Sex and the City” complete with little alien females clutching their hands as they ride the beam up to a big yellow New York City taxicab.
Sterback described the frenetic scene: “My little alien characters, they’ve been shopping in New York all day … and now they’re on their way back home and the taxi is coming to get them … and they’re climbing up the ladder here one by one and hanging onto each other … and this one lost her grip and she fell off and this one is ‘oh nooo’… she dropped her shopping bags! And these here are running to catch the taxi and they’re pulling their friends saying, ‘Wait, wait for us.’”
Since the artists cannot be hanging around all summer to describe their works or the thought processes that went into creating them, there will be an app, Otocast, that will serve as an audio guide to each piece and include an interview with the artist, Einhorn said.
Amrita Majumder is one of five adventurous artists who decided to take on two pieces. She took the pale white fiberglass rocket and created “Tropical Paradise,” creating a tree and covering it with colorful birds — a toucan, hummingbird and a parrot. The billowing exhaust of the rocket serves as the root.
Her other sculpture is “Stamford Got Visitors!” painting the Stamford Public Library and Landmark Square on the beam. “A big alien will be on top and small ones descending down the beam,” she said. And to give them a bit of a pop at night, she is going to use glow-in-the-dark paint.
Cindy Lau and Steve Habersang work with each other at Taylor Design on Main Street in Stamford. Both graphic designers, Habersang said, “We’re not exactly fine artists by trade.” Cindy added, “We both do illustrations.”
Habersang said, “My work tends to be more pen and ink, Cindy’s is more kind of graphic, cartoonish in style. We both love pop art.”
So when they saw the rocket, “We both saw Popsicle.”
So they created “Rocket Pop.” Or more specifically, the Bomb Pop, the tri-flavored, tri-colored frozen confection invented in 1955 and a favorite among kids on beaches nationwide.
Lau: “We both love ice cream. We both love summer. We love fun, bright colors.”
Habersang: “We just really wanted it to stand out in the environment. …It’s kind of graphic like the work we do. …I’m happy. I think it came out real nice.”
And the secret to those massive drips? “We added an epoxy clay to have them pop out a bit,” he said.
“We imagine a lot of people posing with it,” he said, with tongues fake licking.
Come Labor Day, all the artwork will be rounded up and touched up for an auction with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Veterans Park Initiative.
On June 12, Stamford Downtown will host an opening reception for “Space Invasion” in Stam- ford Downtown. This official kickoff celebration and tours for sponsors and the public will be held at the Residence Inn by Marriott Stamford Downtown. For an invitation, call 203-348-5285. For more, visit stamford-downtown.com.