About a month ago I met Veronika Kruta for the first time. It felt like we had to have known each other for a bit longer, since we had been emailing back and forth 5 days a week for about 4 months since I started my work here at Gateway City Arts, not to mention she had designed the poster for my first album release here a year prior- our art had met before we did. Immediately upon meeting face to face I was taken by her booming heartfelt laugh and the air of ease and motivation that seemed to follow her. The drive was something I expected, over my time here I had gotten used to her fast paced updates to whatever we needed done on the graphics side of things- she was actually simultaneously traveling, teaching, and performing internationally during that whole time; and before we were able to shake hands I already had a huge amount of respect for her work ethic and creative pulse.
Veronika has been instrumental in the way Gateway City Arts has been presented since its conception. She designed the logo, the website, and ultimately how GCA came to be branded very early on. I recently sat down with her to talk about what she aimed to create in the illustration of how GCA came to be perceived through that lense. Veronika shared how Vitek and Lori, GCA’s co-directors, envisioned their business’s presentation and how her artistic family also was extremely influential in her career and passions.
“I went to art school, and I didn’t exactly study graphic design but I took a lot of computer arts classes. When I finished school, a lot of friends started to ask me if I knew how to make a logo for their businesses or if I could help out with graphics for their projects. At that time I had a lot of friends who were also just finishing up school and who needed help sort of figuring out what they were going to do for their business. So, I started messing around with that. My mom is actually a graphic designer, so I always had her around to ask about that. She helped me a lot, especially with the business end of things…”
When it came to the logo and colors used for GCA, the reasoning was simple and genuine, they felt it was important to represent the history of the mills and the industrial roots of this building and community that they were building Gateway City Arts within.
“It wasn’t entirely my vision, of course, it was very much Lori and Vitek ‘s vision as well. We were looking for something that would reflect the industrial feel that you get when you walk into this building. Something that would be modern and that would feel contemporary. We all felt solid in that orange color that has been consistent in all of our branding. I think it spoke the most to what we were trying to achieve"
Gateway City Arts continues to value and prioritize its relationship to Holyoke and this city’s history. Embodying the city’s past within its build seems like a perfect choice, one that made so much sense when hearing the reason behind it all.
“I think the concept has kind of been merging the old with the new- respecting the old but inviting the new- that contrast and coexistence of the two. Which is very Holyoke. There is this revitalization that has been going on, but there was a time when Holyoke was really thriving. That’s kind of the vision”
Veronika still designs all of our graphics and posters for Gateway City Arts, however, she has recently moved to San Francisco to further her other passions and careers. In addition to Argentine Tango and Design, Veronika is a teacher, DJ, and an event host.
“When I started thinking about doing Tango professionally, I at that time was also trying to do other forms of artwork and then I basically decided to dedicate more of my creative time into tango…A lot of the basic principals of art or design still apply, it is an art form. Definitely overlaps, a lot of what I’ve learned in art school has helped me with the dancing… “
“I actually started Tango in high school with my neighbor. My family moved into this apartment building and our downstairs neighbor was a tango teacher. He is still in the area. He invited me to his class and I thought it was really cool and when I moved away to art school I kept going with it, and then half way through art school I was like ‘oh shoot, maybe I should be dedicating my life to dance. What am I doing with visual arts, maybe I want to be a dancer.’ But, you know. I was at Mass Art and I was also taking a lot of classes on event planning at that time. So, I started organizing Tango events at that time to get credit. Which oddly enough, has now become a big part of what I’m doing professionally.”
Veronika has spent time developing these seemingly different and contrasting crafts and skill sets, all that have been vital in the growth of Gateway City Arts as well as in structuring her own businesses. For years Veronika held many of her classes here at GCA, she has hosted Tango Festivals and Tours here at GCA as well as beyond. This September she returns back to Massachusetts from her new home in San Francisco to host “La Buena Onda Tango Immersion,” 3 days of non-stop tango here at GCA.
“In the past three years I have been spending a lot of time training in Argentina-
where Tango dancing is from and where there is a lot of Tango professionals. So I have been going there for a couple of months and then every time I come
back here I will organize something intense for a few months- we’ll have weekly classes or two-week programs which include classes and private lessons as well as additional events… Two years in a row now we have had a Tango festival that attracts people from all over the country. We get about 150 people that are here for the whole weekend taking workshops and there are invited artists. We have live music, a band from Argentina came last year and will be back this year.“
In addition to her frequent travels for training, Veronika hosted her first tour group in Argentina this year. The group had the chance to take lessons from Veronika’s teachers, take lessons on Spanish and Tango lyrics, and fully submerge themselves into the Tango culture.
“It is kind of everybody’s dream, to go to Argentina. It’s like the mecca of Tango. It’s like the pilgrimage every Tango dancer has to make.”
“One of the cool things is to observe the culture of Tango there. It’s sort of a social thing and it’s always in some sort of restaurant or bar or someplace where people can just come relax and drink. That isn’t very common here in the states, it’s usually in a dance studio or it feels like you are going to an evening social. Part of why I am excited to have this stuff happen here at GCA, especially now that we have the Bistro, is that it’s got that vibe. You can just go to the bar and eat good food and relax. That brings more of the culture of Tango from Argentina to Holyoke and I think that’s really special. I think we are really lucky to have this venue to be able to do it in.”
Veronika is one of many GCA team members who in addition to their careers as part of this great business are also artists in their own rights. That was something for me that coming into this space I immediately loved and trusted about it.
“What I think is really cool is that usually when you’re an artist, you have some other form of job. Some kind of ‘day job’ or something. I think it’s cool that a lot of people can have a job that is part of GCA, maybe it is a more administrative position or maybe it is in The Bistro so they’re involved in the whole aspect of it, but they’re also running their events or making their art here. It’s all connected. So it’s not just like having this thing you do for half of your day that is totally separate from their artwork, one serves the other.”
Veronika will be back at GCA in September for “La Buena Onda Tango Immersion” happening September 14-16. To learn more about her and this event, visit her website.
To learn more about Gateway City Arts and all of the diverse events and activities happening here, visit gatewaycityarts.com.