Creative Arts Workshop Goes To Whackville

Allan Appel PhotoIn the art world there are group shows. Then there are group shows. Try one with 242 artists.

That’s how many kid artists — virtually all the campers in this year’s edition of the Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) summer arts camp — have contributed to the charming culminating exhibition now on display on Audubon Street through Sept. 2.

On the first floor in CAW’s main gallery space there are colorful flowers, woodland plants, bugs, forest animals, sea creatures and a lot of other bright and lurking stuff in a “reading nook” that looks very much like the witch’s abode in “Hansel and Gretel.”

On display in the shop space, as well as upstairs, the older kids have contributed sculpture, impressively fashioned clay coffee cups, jewelry, monotypes, prints, and photographs with eerie X-ray-looking botanical compositions, the results of what must have been an intriguing session on point-and-shoot photography.

The art camp, which runs in one-to-two-week program segments, focused on a wide range of media and finished up last Friday.

It’s been going on for at least 20 years, said CAW Executive Director Dan Fitzmaurice, and the children’s art department, headed by Nelli Shevelkina, has been part of CAW since its inception.

Marking the last day of camp — and to please a reporter — Fitzmaurice corralled some kids to come down to the exhibit and demonstrate “Welcome to Whackville.”

That’s the kooky installation created by Westville architect Eric Epstein and featured in this year’s Westville ArtWalk.

Laila Rivera, Eliot Lowe, Gabriela Giordano, and Benya Greenshpun came down to show a visitor their individual creations and also to demonstrate how Epstein’s assemblage of all kinds of everyday stuff designed to be used for artistic or whacky non-practical uses could produce a creative cacophony.

Rivera and Giordano both said they enjoyed making wood and papier-mâché flowers, about the height of each of the seven-year-olds.

And eight-year-old Greenshpun took the drummer’s sticks from a bin over in the central square of Whackville.

After whacking some five-gallon drum that formerly held construction supplies over in Whackville’s newest mixed-used development and adding some syncopation from doing the same to a xylophone fashioned from PVC tubes and other plumbing materials, Benya said he enjoyed life in Whackville because “you can do whatever you want” there.

He also made this distinction in response to a reporter’s boring down on the composition: “Music has tempo and melody, and noise is just making a sound.”

As the summer draws to an end and you take kids to pick up their school supplies, a stop at “Adventures In Art” might be just what the occasion calls for.

Among the adult teachers, artists, and curators — many from the New Haven public schools faculty and the CAW faculty — contributing to the show’s exhibits and installation are Katrina Goldburn, Nick Pfaff, Liz Antle-O’Donnell, Kahari Blue, and Stephanie Knipe.

Fitzmaurice also wanted to acknowledge the seven-foot dragon fly, Delilah, which hovered above the exhibition. An inspiration for the woodland expressions, it was created by campers who are now well into adulthood, he said.

The exhibition is open during CAW hours during weekdays only through Sept. 2.

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