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Here’s the paradox: usual exchanges with mirrors are quiet and intimate. The 17th Challenge was exuberant and rich in fresh and unfamiliar faces. Sally and I have learned not to attempt to compete with the spirit of the party. You might ask: where was the speech? the call to support the Museum’ vision? It’s here in this thank you note: some reflections on what you saw Thursday night.
A sage apprentice surveyed the party Thursday night and observed: this is as wild as the wildest day in the summer! He is right on both sides of the equation. We aim to fill our workshops with joyous experiment. And you who support our work bring to the Challenge enthusiasm that mirrors that essence of the Museum.
Mirrors can be sobering. Or they can let you rediscover glimpses of magic. Every year, the Challenge channels the remarkable creativity that is and surrounds New Haven. The experience reminds us not to underestimate ourselves. (Another value we model for children.)
Of special note: Laura Paik is the Hopkins student whose poised and artful mimicry made you smile as you entered the door. You sense that she can be anyone and do anything…and will go anywhere she chooses.
OK, so maybe they aren’t closeted artists but one of the great revelations of the event is the number of dual-identity contributors. There are engineer-artists, lawyer-artists, business-owner artists and a farmer-physician-artist who remind us yet again to expect creativity everywhere.
An Image Without Its Effort
Not expense, but effort…and talent…produced the exhibition’s invitation and graphics. It started when Sally Hill tripped over a roll of silver foil a forgotten friend had dropped off long ago. The folds she derived from teaching she had done with Tina Re, the librarian of art books at SCSU. It found it’s color on the digital presses of Guilford’s Royal Printers http://royalprintingservice.net/. B-P products www.b-pproducts.com/ , Hamden’s specialty die cutters cut and scored it. Ann Altman, Joanna and Monica Danielewicz assembled them in many fervid afternoons. Simple, right?
Some things you might only confess to your mirror:
Dear Mirror, we ate 172 pizzas last night (from Doug Coffin’s remarkable Big Green Pizza Trucks www.biggreentruckpizza.com/, 18 lbs. of cheese served by former apprentice Andrew Sargent, from the fromagerie Caseus http://caseusnewhaven.com/index.php/, 12 cases of beer and wine (principal contributor, among many, Brown-Forman), 16 trays of pastries prepared by former apprentice Kiara Matos, assisted by now her apprentice Kai Ohdera, at Whole G Bakery http://wholeg.com/, followed by 15 gallons of coffee and more trays of sweets from Koffee http://www.koffeefamily.com/. A grand feast. Ignore that mirror.
We promised our friends at the CT Mirror, the new not-for-profit journal that examines the governing of our state, that we would encourage you to look into them: www.ctmirror.org/. Sign up for their on-line updates. It is an invaluable resource. It is the mirror that makes democracy work.
On our best days, we look beyond the image we see on the surface of the mirror. We ask: who we are? and why we are? This is what we will do with your dollars: $30,000 will underwrite needs-based scholarships for summer workshops. $10,000 will fund proactive scholarships: The Catherine Green Fund to encourage girls born to build; The Whitney Learners Fund to encourage hands-on thinkers who bloom more brilliantly in the workshop than in the classroom. (You met educators at the event whose work we have honored by encouraging them to nominate students.) $5000 will create summer scholarships for the children of IRIS www.irisct.org/. IRIS helps families from all over the world find a home in New Haven (The International Association of New Haven www.ianewhaven.org/ will match that commitment dollar for dollar.) $5000 will extend leadership training for apprentices (supported by the Smart Family Foundation this year) created by the charismatic Sandra Idehen, a student at Yale's SOM. $5500 will go to to our growth fund. We try to invest 10% in new designs and in opportunities now unknown. Because a legacy of invention is what you have supported tonight.
We entertained 384 guests, artists and volunteers Thursday night. A record. Many more contributed who could not attend. Bidding on the artwork was enthusiastic. The returns: a record. At $55,600, the revenue for the event bested last year’s by 10%. Twenty six of the artists who displayed work Thursday night, have contributed to 5 or more Challenges. But the quantities that describe the event are much less significant than the qualities. Our Board, our staff, our apprentices find inspiration in the evening in the talent, hard work, loyalty and generosity you express.
Special thanks again this year 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 allowed us to thank the many artists who have participated for multiple years, and whose culinary genius will thrill so many of you.
Any many thanks to Judy Sirota Rosenthal who, after doing the flower arrangements, spent the evening taking photographs of the festivities and the artwork so that we could put them up here and on our website. More to come with a preview below.
From the Board, Staff and Apprentices of the Eli Whitney Museum:
Thank you for the 17th time.
We hope to see you next year April 26th, 2012 for the 18th time.