Chamber Insurance Trust Sponsors Art Awards for 12th Year - Monday, 08 December 2008 17:02

Amy Barry was so moved by the music and the mission of Tina Lee Hadari’s Music Haven that right after cookies and coffee she embraced her and offered the support of her small family foundation.

The two violinists, violist, and the cellist of Music Haven (Ms. Hadari is one of the violinists) bring the experience of a professional string quartet to struggling New Haven neighborhoods. In its third year of operation, Music Haven was one of five award winners celebrated Friday afternoon at the 28th annual Greater New Haven Arts Council Awards lunch festively convened at the Lawn Club.

The event recognized groundbreaking artists and arts organizations who continue to sustain New Haven as the “capital” of the state’s artistic life. Raising “capital” to keep that happening was also a theme on the minds of the 240 celebrants.

“Look about this room,” said Sally Glick, whose Coordinated Financial Resources/Chamber Insurance Trust for the 12th year was the main sponsor of the awards, “and you will see that in New Haven the arts have not succumbed to being a casualty of the economy. Thanks to you, they are alive and well. But make no mistake. We have to work to keep it this way.”

In the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Jack Lardis, another of the award winners, had a dream of ash and destruction. “I woke up and wrote the dream down and turned on the TV,” he said, after he accepted his award at the luncheon, “and it had happened: the attack on the Twin Towers. I’m an artist and I searched for a metaphor, a symbol to explore what had happened, and to get beyond it.”

What the metal sculptor came up with was Oil Drum Art, which creates exhibitions all based on the 55-gallon oil drum. So far 22 exhibitions and 27,000 viewers, and artists of all disciplines are invited to explore themes such as environment, war, petro-dependency, as well as oil as the source of the industrial revolution and our current comforts. In his acceptance speech, Lardis said the organization, born in New Haven, is about to go regional with an April 2 exhibition at Bradley Airport. “Imagine,” he said, “years from now if we go international and invite China and Sudan to send their oil drum artists to us. What a conversation through the arts that will be.”

Others recognized included visual artist and teacher Johanna Bresnick, who thanked her husband for letting her turn their two-car garage for four years into a gallery where her students could show their work. “We are small but we have grand ambitions,’ she said. James Bundy, the director of the Yale Repertory Theater, was praised for his work with his students and with invigorating theater life in New Haven. He was secretly nominated by his staff. The award, he said, was a delightful surprise.The jury-selected awards this year attracted 59 nominees, suggested by Arts Council members as well as the public.

With humor and candor, Bundy said that due to the support of Yale, his theater, unlike the other far more struggling arts organizations, does not have to worry about money. “One day I said to my boss, Rick Levin, ‘You know how fortunate we are. I probably have the only theater in American where I don’t have to sell one ticket, and the theater would still be there.’ Rick eyed me soberly and replied, ‘Yes, the theater would still be there.’”

 The role of the arts as economic helpmate to the city was not foremost on the mind of Cynthia Clair, executive director of the council, or Downtown Alderwoman Bitsie Clark, a former director and leading arts proponent. “How different is this year’s ceremony?” Clair asked rhetorically. “Our attendance, about 240, is the same as in previous years. “But… there is so much doom and gloom out there, that there is a yearning for joy and hope, and that’s what the arts really, fundamentally, bring. This is always a celebratory event, but especially so this year. The arts are there to give that hope, to bring us together, to lift our vision.”

Yale Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand presented his award to Elm City architectural historian and guide-book writer extraordinaire, Colin Caplan, shown with his parents Francine and Bob. Morand brought the event to a close by wryly looking at his iPhone and saying: “I’ve checked the market and, yes, it’s down again. But there’s nothing down about this room, or our spirits. What other town our size could fill up this room? Have 59 award nominees? Have a play of the caliber of A Civil War Christmas at the Long Wharf and have a theater of that caliber getting ready to move to a new downtown location? Have a new Art and Architecture Building just open at Yale? Yes, our capital and our capital in New Haven for the arts is up, and we can continue to draw on that in the years ahead.”Ruth Lord, among whose other achievements was helping to found the Long Wharf Theater, received the 2008 Newton Schenck III Award for being a life-long champion of Elm City arts.


Source: New Haven Independent

by Paul Bass | December 7, 2008 10:47 AM

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