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Forty some years ago I was a Peace Corps teacher in Borneo. By local custom, we used bottle caps as counters to introduce number values. I still associate bottle caps with numbers. Here's our thank you for the 16th Leonardo Challenge in numbers.
28,820 Bottle Caps
Imagine coming in this morning to straighten up from a party that left behind 28,820 bottle caps. Those are just the ones we collected here. The full number is more staggering. Fortunately, they are (mostly) the product of inspiration and not intoxication.
For each bottle cap that made it into art work, likely 2 more were bent, tested and discarded. 28,820 is a measure of how big the work of invention is.
Special thanks: Foxon Park, Thomas Hooker Brewery, The Playwright, Eli’s on Whitney, Toad’s Place, Park Central Tavern, Temple Grill, and many more. And then some who requested anonymity.
86 Artists and Designers
On Sunday the 4th, we had 11 projects in hand. Don’t worry, Sally said, they will come through. And they did. This event works because artists believe in art. For every artist whose work you can see (until April 25th), there was another who found the bottle caps exasperating, or this Spring too hectic. What you see in the work and the spirit of the Premiere, is passionate loyalty to inventive expression which is the heart of the Museum’s work.
Our Apprentices contributed, time, money and art. They labored at grand creative challenges (6 entries) and the mundane (drilling and nailing the 1847 bottle caps that are the background to the entry graphic.) They grow with the Museum and the Challenge. Twelve of them will turn 16 in this 16th year of the Challenge. They look forward to the exquisite forms produced by the legendary Sylvia Rosenthal and the breathtaking detail in the flowers of their irascible, but beloved, Hunter Nesbitt Spence. They learn the new and the nuanced. Can you teach genius? Not sure. Can artists and artisans inspire genius? Absolutely. Just look.
That’s the distance (one way) that Ron DeMarco brought the remarkable Capital Radio dish that his technical theater design students at Emerson College had crafted in a tribute to Leonardo’s fascination with the divisions of spherical geometry. Each of the 500 bottlecaps of its construction was itself a construction. Ron has been using a format like the Challenge in his classroom for several years, with elegant results. http://www.flickr.com/photos/21546926@N06/sets/72157623821664606/. What a gracious contribution and tribute.
348 artists, guests, patrons and contributors lit up the Museum. So many people, so little time. We struggle to find words to explain the Challenge and our work. We know that, in being here, you get it. Thank you.
We made it. In a year of so much economic stress, it’s gratifying to exceed our past achievements and our goal for the year. Special thanks to the MFUNd and the many underwriters, contributors and benefactors who allowed us to succeed and sustain our commitment to broad participation through modest ticket pricing. Special thanks to Bun Lai and Miya’s Sushi whose generosity pushed the evening over the top and whose culinary genius will thrill so many of you.
150 Tee Shirts
Anvil Knitware contributed the tee shirts for the 16th Challenge. Anvil’s Track My Tee program educates consumers about sustainable and organic production from the ground up. They have supplied 150 of our cotton gin kits to educators this year.
92¢ of every dollar contributed will go into the Scholarship Fund or the Site Restoration Fund. The generous contributions of Brown Forman, Caseus, Koffee on Audubon, Trader Joes, and Connecticut'sThomas Hooker Brewery... plus the remarkable inventiveness and loyalty of Doug Coffin's Big Green Truck Pizza ... make this possible. Does anyone make your dollars go farther?
New ideas take time. Yes, our online bid system worked perfectly. A tribute to its creators Tim Alander and Krys Danielowitz. Perfectly, but not effectively. Yet. Krys and Tim sat in the Computer Room the whole night of the Challenge talking not about computer programing, but people programming…and the evolution of market formats. They promise a triumph next year. A new level of creativity to support the Challenge. Or at least thinking we are proud of.
That’s a color number. Also known as Sherwin Williams High Strung, the exotic green that Sally Hill, the Museum’s principal designer chose as the background for this year’s announcements and display. As always, it is bold, a little outrageous, and just right. She rarely puts her name on her print and screen designs. But amid all her other responsibilities, it is Sally who gives order and style and design to this annual celebration of design. But given the timing of many deliveries, the tireless help of Ann Lindbeck was more important than ever (and Ann has done it for a lot of years now.)
What are all the same but surprisingly different in colors and messages? One of our slighty obsessive apprentices reported that he had counted 278 distinct products or brands represented in the mound of bottle caps he had surveyed. As he apologized for the 45 minutes he had devoted to this research. He explained:
It’s about differences.
We are about differences.
Don’t you think people will want to know how much?
I do, I conceded. I’ll let you tell them.
From the Board, Staff and Apprentices of the Eli Whitney Museum: Thank you for the 16th time.