Brush With Genius

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The 19th Leonardo Challenge

Brush With Genius

Thumbnail of Brush With Genius project

Leonardo's Brush.
Consider the Lady with an Ermine, Leonardo's stunning portrait of Cecelia, the mistress of Ludovice Sforza, the Duke of Milan and Leonardo's patron. The painting brims with movement (Cecelia is captured in a half turn, her hand strokes her pet), with immediacy, and with bold brushwork. Leonardo paints in the new medium of oils. His brush records the faceted contour of her nails, the furrows of her arched fingers, the candlelight reflected in her eyes. So confident is the master that some see in the work a wistful pun: the Ermine, a cousin of the sable, produces bristles for superior brushes. We see a portrait of superior brushwork.

The 19th Leonardo Challenge Exhibition will be on view through
May 12th, Saturdays 11 – 3 and Sundays 12 – 5.

For different strokes, thank you.

Our 19th Leonardo Challenge was a delight.
What makes this event work? We think the brush answers that.

Brushstrokes are infinitely varied. The blending of familiar and new friends, of familiar and new media, of artists, artisans, engineers, poets and plumbers generates an evening of fresh discoveries. The audience, the staff, the artists, the volunteers ... so many different souls ... make this event work.
Thank you.

Swept up
How many souls? Best guesses:
103 contributing artists (of whom 7 made multiple submissions).
A record.
448 participants between 5pm (first guest) and 10pm (last farewell).
A record.

$65,082 gross revenue. A record.
$7,500 in kind contributions kept our expenses so low that 88¢ of every dollar will support programs directly.

Subtle Strokes
The Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation and IKEA underwrote a secure foundation for the event.

Many contributions - some nearly invisible - helped give the evening its character:

Darren and Hannah (his daughter/our apprentice) Clark and HB Group gave the evening fresh and clear sound.
The Hamden Police Department and the Regional Water Authority gave us much needed parking solutions.
Sally Hill's artful invitation set a tone and tempo for the event - in only 27,000 assembly operations. All volunteer.
John Morrell and the dSchool at Stanford inspired redesign of our studios: tables on wheels have transformed our spaces.
• Special clean-up assistance from the Hamden Fire Department.
• A perfect Spring evening distributed people comfortably outside and in.
• And then a long, long list of generous friends.

A tangible legacy
All evening you encountered masks that were the products of Hunter Nesbitt Spence's hands. Hunter was a Yale Rep property artist and teacher who contributed to the first 18 challenges. He died in January. He was still present last night. He trained a handful of our apprentices in depth and had an indirect influence on all of us. Great gifts are transmitted that way.

You would have no way of knowing that the elegant Rosservos (digitally driven undulating brushes) was the work of Alex Tavares, a senior Museum apprentice on his way to engineering school next year. (This is his third submission.) And then there is the brilliantly observed Brooklyn Bridge by Lauren Low. She is a first year apprentice just finishing 8th grade. Alex and Lauren joined the event because they want to be in the company of others with refined talent and ambitious vision. Apprentices join the event because they know that great gifts are shared in it.

Yes, material generosity is a critical contribution of the Leonardo Challenge. Another legacy is inspiration. Inspiration is priceless.

Another layer
Even Leonardo painted his masterpieces over earlier sketches and ideas. Over and over. We are ready to start again. We have tentatively chosen
April 24, 2014 for the 20th Leonardo Challenge.

What will the object be? We have too many ideas to have any idea yet. We will chart a new course in October. Stay tuned.

Bill Brown Sally Hill  
Director Principal Designer  

The Brush
Artists have a tempestuous affection for brushes. The Brushmakers are an ancient, resourceful and protective guild. Their technology is refined. The wrangle a whole menagerie of bristles: boar, beaver and badger, sable squirrel and skunk, for example. They tame grasses and feathers. They synthesize fibers. They program the intangible brushes of the iPad and Photoshop™. When vision flows, the artist becomes the brush. When vision stalls, the brush bears the exasperation.

Are we supposed to see the brush? Or is it to disappear in the dense amalgam that is the mystery of the artist's gift?

The Challenge
This year's Challenge is to make the brush the subject. Give the brush its own voice. Consider an artist's brush or an artisan's brush: a chef's for glazing, a groom's for currying, a sweep's for scouring chimneys. Consider the personal brushes that make you artful as you polish shoes, lather soap, or paint the contours of your nails. Choose a fine brush or a broad brush. Construct with it…or deconstruct. Camouflage it or find a fresh purpose for it. The brushes will guide you: they have a long history with transformation.

The Benefit
Leonardo da Vinci painted with unrivaled vision, explored science with modern logic and invented with pure imagination. The Leonardo Challenge celebrates one of his inventions: improvisional creativity. One hundred artists, designers and playful spirits will transform a common object – this year, the brush – with wit, whimsy and artistry.

The April 25th Benefit will revel in those artists' creativity. through their generosity and yours, the evening will support workshops and outreach for a new generation bristling with curiosity.











Sarah Afragola. <i>Brush Off</i>

Sarah Afragola. Brush Off

Sarah Afragola. <i>Artifact 409</i>

Sarah Afragola. Artifact 409

Sarah Afragola. <i>Revenge</i>

Sarah Afragola. Revenge

Louis Audette. <i>Anna's Brushes</i>

Louis Audette. Anna's Brushes

Abby Bauer. <i>Painted Brushes</i>

Abby Bauer. Painted Brushes

Ethel Berger. <i>A Short Lecture on Brush Bugs</i>

Ethel Berger. A Short Lecture on Brush Bugs

Wm Brown. <i>Hare Brush</i>

Wm Brown. Hare Brush

Wm Brown. <i>Light Brush</i>

Wm Brown. Light Brush

Daphyne Byrne. <i>Brush with Time</i>

Daphyne Byrne. Brush with Time

Susan Clinard. <i>Swept In</i> (left)<br>Jackie Heitchne. <i>Girl with a Hedgehog</i>

Susan Clinard. Swept In (left)
Jackie Heitchne. Girl with a Hedgehog

Susan Clinard. <i>The Gentle Strokes</i>

Susan Clinard. The Gentle Strokes

Susan Clinard. <i>Balancing Act</i>

Susan Clinard. Balancing Act

Susan Clinard. <i>The Coarse Brush of Memory</i>

Susan Clinard. The Coarse Brush of Memory

Susan Clinard. <i>Balancing Act</i>

Susan Clinard. Balancing Act

Susan Clinard. <i>Sacred Papyrus.</i>

Susan Clinard. Sacred Papyrus.

Susan Clinard. <i>Memoire L'Amour</i>

Susan Clinard. Memoire L'Amour

Susan Clinard. <i>Swept In</i>

Susan Clinard. Swept In

Gioia Connel. <i>The Idea</i>

Gioia Connel. The Idea

Jayne Crowley. <i>Dali's Melting Brush</i>

Jayne Crowley. Dali's Melting Brush

Joanna Danielewicz. <i>Underbrush</i>

Joanna Danielewicz. Underbrush

Jennifer Davies. <i>Shoo-fly</i>

Jennifer Davies. Shoo-fly

Dan Donaldson. <i>Mind Bender</i>

Dan Donaldson. Mind Bender

Maya Dunn. <i>Brush Oar Not?</i>

Maya Dunn. Brush Oar Not?

Mike Dunn. <i>Prime</i>

Mike Dunn. Prime

Lin Elmo. <i>With Flying Color</i>

Lin Elmo. With Flying Color

Nancy Eisenfeld. <i>Asian Brush and Scroll</i>

Nancy Eisenfeld. Asian Brush and Scroll

Polly Fiddler. <i>Do the Charleston!</i>

Polly Fiddler. Do the Charleston!

Bill Fischer. <i>Forgotten.</i>

Bill Fischer. Forgotten.

Bill Fischer. <i>Hair Brushes</i>

Bill Fischer. Hair Brushes

Joan Fitzsimmons. <i>Little Construction</i>

Joan Fitzsimmons. Little Construction

Anne Fortunato. <i>The Brush Cuts</i>

Anne Fortunato. The Brush Cuts

Brush Fringe. <i>Martha Burns</i>

Brush Fringe. Martha Burns

Nilda Gagliardi. <i>Persistence of Brushes</i>

Nilda Gagliardi. Persistence of Brushes

Rob Gagliardi. <i>With a Twist</i>

Rob Gagliardi. With a Twist

Anna Goodridge. <i>Airbrush</i>

Anna Goodridge. Airbrush

Jim Goodridge. <i>Nail Brush</i>

Jim Goodridge. Nail Brush

Jackie Heitchne. <i>Girl with a Hedgehog</i>

Jackie Heitchne. Girl with a Hedgehog

Raimund Herzog. <i>Phineas Gage the Painter</i>

Raimund Herzog. Phineas Gage the Painter

Sally Hill. <i>The Sorcerer's Apprentice</i>

Sally Hill. The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Sharon Hirsch. <i>Flowers for Hunter</i>

Sharon Hirsch. Flowers for Hunter

Delari Johnston. <i>Oeuvre.</i>

Delari Johnston. Oeuvre.

Delari Johnston. <i>Oeuvre.</i>

Delari Johnston. Oeuvre.

Delari Johnston. <i>Oeuvre.</i>

Delari Johnston. Oeuvre.

Delari Johnston. <i>Fan-cy.</i>

Delari Johnston. Fan-cy.

Delari Johnston. <i>Fan-cy.</i>

Delari Johnston. Fan-cy.

Betsy Kellem. <i>Brush with Death</i>

Betsy Kellem. Brush with Death

Mollie Keller. <i>Penicillus Pictoris</i>

Mollie Keller. Penicillus Pictoris

Steve King. <i>The Painting of Butterflies</i>

Steve King. The Painting of Butterflies

Kevin Klakovski. <i>Ceanothus Integerriumus</i>

Kevin Klakovski. Ceanothus Integerriumus

Jennifer Lacouke. <i>Toothbrush Mosaic</i>

Jennifer Lacouke. Toothbrush Mosaic

Robin Ladouceur. <i>The Sweeping Crane</i>

Robin Ladouceur. The Sweeping Crane

Ann Lehman. <i>Brush Fire</i>

Ann Lehman. Brush Fire

Martha Lewis. <i>Rapunzel</i>

Martha Lewis. Rapunzel

Linda Lindroth. <i>Jeep Pan Brush</i>

Linda Lindroth. Jeep Pan Brush

Beth Lovell. <i>Cave Painting of a Dog I</i>

Beth Lovell. Cave Painting of a Dog I

Beth Lovell. <i>Cave Painting of a Dog II</i>

Beth Lovell. Cave Painting of a Dog II

Lauren Low. <i>Brooklyn Bridge</i>

Lauren Low. Brooklyn Bridge

Gretchen Lytle. <i>Brush Cut Hat</i>

Gretchen Lytle. Brush Cut Hat

Kiara Matos. <i>120 Brush Strokes</i>

Kiara Matos. 120 Brush Strokes

Kiara Matos. <i>Off Centered</i>

Kiara Matos. Off Centered

S. McGregor. <i>Earbrushed</i>

S. McGregor. Earbrushed

Mark McCarthy. <i>Hare with Brush</i>

Mark McCarthy. Hare with Brush

Janet McClure. <i>A Brush with Pinot Grigio</i>

Janet McClure. A Brush with Pinot Grigio

Melanie Meyer. <i>Untitled I & II</i>

Melanie Meyer. Untitled I & II

Jane Miller. <i>Palette.</i>

Jane Miller. Palette.

Jane Miller. <i>3 Brushes</i>

Jane Miller. 3 Brushes

David Moulten. <i>Vermeer's Menagerie</i>

David Moulten. Vermeer's Menagerie

Keith Murray. <i>Airbrush</i>

Keith Murray. Airbrush

Tim Newton. <i>Digital Brush</i>

Tim Newton. Digital Brush

Diane Nighswander. <i>Brushes I & II</i>

Diane Nighswander. Brushes I & II

Diane Nighswander. <i>Brushes I & II</i>

Diane Nighswander. Brushes I & II

Tim Nighswander. <i>Chim-Chiminey Lamp</i>

Tim Nighswander. Chim-Chiminey Lamp

Tim Nighswander. <i>The Dude</i>

Tim Nighswander. The Dude

Tim Nighswander. <i>The Postman</i>

Tim Nighswander. The Postman

Tim Nighswander. <i>The Professor</i>

Tim Nighswander. The Professor

William O'Connell. <i>Brushes-Garden Variety</i>

William O'Connell. Brushes-Garden Variety

Lisbeth O'Connor. <i>Brush Hog.</i>

Lisbeth O'Connor. Brush Hog.

Nicholas Orsini. <i>Memento Mori</i>

Nicholas Orsini. Memento Mori

Ellen Papciak-Rose. <i>Death with Brush - Obviously</i>

Ellen Papciak-Rose. Death with Brush - Obviously

Sandy Rhodes. <i>A Brush with Death</i>

Sandy Rhodes. A Brush with Death

Judy Rosenthal. <i>Brush Strokes Notecards</i>

Judy Rosenthal. Brush Strokes Notecards

Judy Rosenthal. <i>Rainbow Paintbrushes</i>

Judy Rosenthal. Rainbow Paintbrushes

Judy Rosenthal. <i>Homage to Hunter Nesbitt Spence</i>

Judy Rosenthal. Homage to Hunter Nesbitt Spence

udy Rosenthal. <i>Detail: Homage to Hunter Nesbitt Spence</i>

udy Rosenthal. Detail: Homage to Hunter Nesbitt Spence

Sylvie Rosenthal. <i>Artist's Tools</i>

Sylvie Rosenthal. Artist's Tools

Martha Savage. <i>Time Card</i>

Martha Savage. Time Card

Enid Sherry. <i>Year of the Snake</i>

Enid Sherry. Year of the Snake

Mark Simon. <i>Don't Forget to Brush</i>

Mark Simon. Don't Forget to Brush

Small Kitchen, Big Taste. <i>Palette Cookies</i>

Small Kitchen, Big Taste. Palette Cookies

Sarah & Nellie Sorenson. <i>Brush and Palette.</i>

Sarah & Nellie Sorenson. Brush and Palette.

Hunter Nesbitt Spence. <i>Hunter's Fountain</i>

Hunter Nesbitt Spence. Hunter's Fountain

Gregory Spiggle. <i>Hairless Brush</i>

Gregory Spiggle. Hairless Brush

Sarah Pemberton Strong. <i>The Voice of the Artist's Brush</i>

Sarah Pemberton Strong. The Voice of the Artist's Brush

Susan Tabachnick. <i>In Repose</i>

Susan Tabachnick. In Repose

Alex Tavares. <i>Rosserboss</i>

Alex Tavares. Rosserboss

Sarah Thomas. <i>Brushscape</i>

Sarah Thomas. Brushscape

David Thompson. <i>Brushless Byzantium</i>

David Thompson. Brushless Byzantium

Karissa Van Tassel. <i>The Magic Within</i>

Karissa Van Tassel. The Magic Within

Dan Velazquez. <i>Mensch Argere Dich Nicht</i>

Dan Velazquez. Mensch Argere Dich Nicht

Shannon Velazquez. <i>Genius</i>

Shannon Velazquez. Genius

Mara Lara-Whelpley. <i>Brush with Technology</i>

Mara Lara-Whelpley. Brush with Technology

Holly Whiting. <i>The Painter</i>

Holly Whiting. The Painter

Mary Wolff. <i>Untitled</i>

Mary Wolff. Untitled

Joy Wulke. <i>A Cut Above</i>

Joy Wulke. A Cut Above

Kiran Zaman. <i>Brush Batik</i>

Kiran Zaman. Brush Batik

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Place Setting

Place Setting

Men's Room Sign

Men's Room Sign

Ladies' Room Sign

Ladies' Room Sign

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Leonardo Challenge entries

Big Green Truck Pizza and Crew

Big Green Truck Pizza and Crew

Doug Coffin of Big Green Truck Pizza

Doug Coffin of Big Green Truck Pizza

Vladimir Shpitalnik

Vladimir Shpitalnik

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