The Gummy Bear Project

$315 of $800 goal

Raised by 12 people in 25 months

The Gummy Bear Project: A Sweet Celebration of Downtown Riverhead via Gummy Bear Photography

A public art project for the Town of Riverhead, presented by 2016 JumpstART artist Elizabeth Wagner in collaboration with East End Arts

Elizabeth Wagner
Instagram: Candyland.Photography



Welcome to the Gummy Bear Project! 
My name is Elizabeth Wagner and I’m a multi-awarded photographer from Riverhead, NY. I’m one of 15 artists selected by East End Arts to design and implement a public art project for the Town of Riverhead as part of the 2016 JumpstART program, led by Executive Director Patricia Snyder. 

I’ll be transforming my hometown into a living candy art studio in the Gummy Bear Project - a celebration of downtown Riverhead’s "sweet spots" via gummy bear photography. Downtown's iconic businesses, attractions, and events will take center stage in a colorful photography exhibit and interactive art installation showcasing it's rebirth as a vibrant thriving community.

Sample photo 1: Creating chalk art at East End Arts' Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival

The Gummy Bear Project will debut at Sonoma Grill East (300 E. Main St. in Riverhead) on Thursday, August 11, 2016, during Alive on 25 and East End Arts evening of FREE public art. The installation is composed of an outdoor photography exhibit and interactive candy photo booth held inside a repurposed bank vault. This is a must-see event, fun for the young and young at heart! 

I'm fundraising in order to complete my project, as East End Arts recently announced that it will not be matching JumpstART donations this year.  This means I'll be entirely responsible for covering 100% of the project costs. I hope to raise enough money on GoFundMe to be able to bring this project to life. Please help me help my community by sharing this page and donating to the Gummy Bear Project today! 


How You Can Help

Donate today! My number one need is funding. No amount is too small and every dollar gets me a little closer to my goal. I hope you'll consider helping me make Riverhead a better place to live, work, and play!

What Your Support Provides

Your generous donations will cover costs of printing, installation, and promotional materials.

Other Ways to Help
Share, share, share! 

If you can’t donate, that’s okay! You can still make a huge impact by spreading the word about the Gummy Bear Project.  

The more people we can reach, the more successful my fundraising efforts will be. Please donate, share, and help spread the word about this project today!


A Creative Placemaking Project
The Gummy Bear Project is a creative placemaking public art installation intended to spur economic activity in downtown Riverhead, which has been undergoing revitalization for over a decade. It is part of East End Arts JumpstART series, an ongoing effort to revitalize downtown via cultural tourism and the arts. 

A Public Art Collaboration
I created this piece under the guidance of Executive Director Patricia Snyder and JumpstART mentors Caitlyn Shea and Jessica Valentin, as well as in collaboration with my fellow JumpstART artists, guest community leaders, local businesses, East End Arts, and the Town of Riverhead. I'm so excited to get started after months of preparation!

A Project Close to My Heart
I grew up only a few minutes from downtown and I've been closely following the revitalization efforts my whole life. Downtown Riverhead's revitalization was even the subject of my grad school thesis! 

This piece combines my love for this community with my love of photography as I use gummy bears to capture the tenaciously optimistic spirit of progress that has characterized downtown Riverhead’s incredible transformation over the past few years.
I’m thrilled to be donating my skills as an artist, urban planner, and creative entrepreneur as I engage the public in this celebration of our community. 


Celebrating Downtown's "Sweet Spots"
Downtown Riverhead's "sweet spots" will take center stage in a colorful installation of gummy bear photography featuring downtown businesses, attractions, and events.

I'll be staging and photographing several gummy bear pictures in iconic scenes throughout downtown in order to highlight it's most impactful revitalization initiatives. I'll feature such locations as the Suffolk Theater, the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center, the Peconic Riverfront Boardwalk, and many more! 

Riverhead's newest (and most delicious) residents may be small, but they’ll pack a powerful message: downtown Riverhead is open for business as an exciting place to live, work, and play!

Sample photo 2: the bears creating chalk art at East End Arts' Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival

Purpose of the Project
I'm featuring downtown’s diverse and unique amenities to showcase the rebirth of a "revitalized Riverhead."

I hope to inspire tourists and residents alike to view the town in a new light and spur economic activity by encouraging people to visit the locations depicted in the photos.

I will encourage my audience to explore downtown's sweet spots for themselves, and as they visit the locations depicted in my art, downtown will reveal itself as the family-friendly vibrant community that we’ve all been working to create.

The collection will debut in a two-part event at Sonoma Grill East (300 E.Main St. in Riverhead). 

The Pop-Up Exhibit
Sonoma Grill East will host an outdoor pop-up gallery of 10-15 poster-sized gummy bear photos running along it's fence on East Main Street. Photos will feature gummy bears living it up in their natural habitat of historic downtown Riverhead as they explore downtown's iconic businesses, attractions, and events.

The Candy Photo Booth
I'll invite the public to make the leap from audience to artist in the interactive candy photo booth, which will be held downstairs in Sonoma's private party room inside a repurposed bank vault!

People of all ages will explore the tastes, textures, and colors of candy art as they create their own gummy bear photography using props, gummies, various candies, and multiple lighting & background options. They'll also be able to take photos with sweet photo booth props, a giant 5lb gummy bear, a 4ft blow-up gummy bear, and gummy anatomy model!

The Gummy Bear Project will debut at Sonoma Grill East (300 E. Main St. in Riverhead) during Alive on 25 (5pm - 9pm) on Thursday, August 11, 2016. 

Alive on 25
In a historic move, East End Arts has scheduled this year’s JumpstART unveiling date to coordinate with Riverhead's inaugural Alive on 25 summer festival! Expect a monumental turnout as Alive on 25 is co-developed and cross marketed with Patchogue’s wildly successful Alive After Five, which averages 10,000 visitors per night. It is also tied to East End Tourism Alliance’s “Taste the Towns” campaign.

Evening of FREE Public Art
The Gummy Bear Project will debut in conjunction with 15 other projects in the JumpstART series during East End Arts evening of free public art. Both JumpstART and Alive on 25 are entirely FREE to attend!

Mark your calendars, you won't want to miss this exciting event!

Click for directions to Sonoma Grill East in Google Maps


A Brief History 
Riverhead is located on the East End of Long Island, about an hour and a half from New York City. The town is uniquely positioned as a veritable gold mine of historic, cultural, economic, social, and environmental resources.

Downtown fell on hard times when the Long Island Expressway diverted traffic away from the area and big-box retailers popped up on the other side of town. Since that time, the Town of Riverhead has been diligently working with government, private investors and community leaders to reinstate the area as the urban hub of Eastern Long Island.

A Hotspot On-the-Rise
The town has come such a long way in recent years, reinventing itself as an up-and-coming hotspot of cultural tourism on Eastern Long Island – a must-see destination for visitors to the East End, the Hamptons, and Long Island Wine Country. It is continuously proving to be a family-friendly place to live, work, and play.

Revitalization Success Stories 
A number of projects have laid the groundwork for this, including:

·       Vital infrastructural improvements
·       Renovation of greenways (Grangebel (Burns) Park)
·       Creation of walkable space (Peconic Riverfront)
·       Development of the arts & culture district
·       Cultural tourism initiatives (Long Island Aquarium)
·       Historic preservation (Suffolk Theater)
·       Community development initiatives (Community Garden)
·       Public & nonprofit activities (Mosaic Festival, 4th of July Celebration)

The Gummy Bear Project will feature several of these projects as well as other iconic scenes, local businesses, and community events throughout downtown Riverhead. 


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East End Arts: A Community Resource
East End Arts is a multi-award winning 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts organization serving the five East End towns of Long Island, NY since 1972. It provides professional development and resources for both emerging and established artists through workshops, cultural arts forums and access to resources through social media and the web serving over 6,000 individuals.

JumpstART: An Innovative Public Art Project
This year marks the 3rd installment of JumpstART, Each JumpstART artist is required to design, propose, fund, publicize, and implement a public art project for the Town of Riverhead over the course of an intensive 6 month intensive professional development program led by East End Arts Executive Director Patricia Snyder.

As a creative placemaking endeavor, the JumpstART series aims to harness downtown Riverhead's creative energy to act as a powerful catalyst for economic and cultural revitalization. It capitalizes on the power of collaboration - uniting artists, various levels of government, civic groups, private business and non-profit entities to create projects which strategically shape the community. 

Past JumpstART Projects (2014 & 2015) 





Riverhead native Elizabeth Wagner is a self-taught fine art photographer and multidisciplinary artist exploring the world’s most colorful people, places, and candy through digital media, sculpture, and upcycled art.

Wagner's portfolio features sweets, landscapes, wildlife, and abstractions shot throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. She is a recipient of several fine art competition ribbons and regularly exhibits and volunteers with local arts organizations.

Her work has been published by over 100 media outlets worldwide including Comedy Central, ABC, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and Country Living.

Wagner holds a M.P.A. in Urban Planning & Public Information Management from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at SUNY Albany, B.A. in Economics from Stony Brook University, Certificate in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Amsterdam, and Certificate in Foreign Language & Culture from St. Petersburg State University in Russia.

See more at
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With only 3 days to my debut I wanted to take a break from crafting giant candies to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me this summer! It's been a whirlwind of activity with the Northforker/Times Review features, Green Project Runway show, Butterfly Garden, Featured Artist exhibit, JumpstART classes, and now the Gummy Bear Project debut. I can't thank you all enough for the overwhelming support you've shown me through all of this, it’s been a truly once in a lifetime experience and I couldn’t have done it without your help.

Even though I didn't meet my fundraising goal, the show must go on! With your generous contributions, private donations, and help from local businesses, I’ll be displaying about 12 photo features in the gummy gallery. The candy art studio will be largely funded out-of-pocket, but luckily I’m a DIY expert with a great support network and extremely motivated to make the best of this awesome opportunity.

After countless hours of hard work and long nights I’m so excited to present the Gummy Bear Project to the community this Thursday! Bring your family and friends down to Sonoma Grill East for a FREE family-friendly celebration of downtown Riverhead’s sweet spots in the candy art studio, where you can create your own candy art, take sweet gummy photos, pose with a 4ft gummy bear, fill up at the candy bar, and so much more!

Should anyone feel inspired to make a last minute contribution, GoFundMe will accept donations through Thursday.
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This week's Sweetstakes post is a little late - it's been a hectic week around here - but better late than never!

Congratulations Hilda Franco, you won an 8x10 customized gummy photo in this week's Gummy Bear Project Sweetstakes!

Announcing prize #4 (August 4th – 11th): your choice of any 16x20 laminated print from the Gummy Bear Project debut!

Check out my GoFundMe updates for more info – 1 Sweetstakes entry per $5 donation + tons of awesome sponsor rewards. Like, share, and donate for your chance to win!
+ Read More
Congratulations Char Halsey, you won an autographed 8x10 Gummy Bear Project print in this week’s Sweetstakes!

Announcing prize #3 (July 28th – August 4th): an 8x10 customized gummy bear photo!

I'll create a one-of-a-kind gummy photo depicting the concept of your choice. You chose the scene, activity, and bear colors. An adorably personalized gift for any occasion!

Commissioned works are also available for a $50 donation.

Check out my GoFundMe updates for more info – 1 Sweetstakes entry per $5 donation + tons of awesome sponsor rewards. Like, share, and donate for your chance to win!
+ Read More
Congratulations Linda Prentiss, you won any 8x10 print of your choice in this week’s Gummy Bear Project “Sweetstakes”!

Announcing Prize #2 (July 21st – 28th): your choice of any autographed (8x10) print from the Gummy Bear Project! The first photo in the series is pictured here and the rest will debut August 11th.

Check out my GoFundMe updates for more info – you get 1 entry per $5 in donations + tons of awesome sponsor rewards!

Like, share, and donate for your chance to win!
+ Read More
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$315 of $800 goal

Raised by 12 people in 25 months
Created July 6, 2016
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