Saturday, April 23, 2011

Leonardo Challenge : A Reflective Event

As far as luminaries go, Leonardo da Vinci was a true Renaissance man excelling in the fields of science and the arts, an inventor, botanist, cartographer, engineer, anatomist, mathematician, architect, aviation pioneer, geologist, painter, sculptor, writer and musician.  He envisioned such marvels as the helicopter, military tank, calculator, solar power, submarine and parachute as well as being hailed as one of the greatest painters of his time, having created works such as the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and the Vitruvian Man.

Why wouldn’t the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden name its unique fundraiser for this talented man, in tribute to his achievements?  For the seventeenth year, the Leonardo Challenge will take place on Thursday, April 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden with “fine food, festive spirits and resplendent imagination” available in abundance.

Each year an object is selected as the theme for the amazing artistic creations that are made.  In past years, ice cream spoons, checkers, pencils, playing cards, keys and rulers and tape measures have been used to spark the imagination.  This time it will be “Reflected Creativity” with mirrors being the material of choice.  The mystery of the mirror with its reflective surfaces will be the current challenge for the one hundred artists who have been invited to participate from all across the country.

According to Sally Hill, the museum’s associate director, artists are encouraged to go wild with each year’s new material.  The funds raised at this year’s April 28th gala dinner will provide scholarships for children who otherwise could not afford the year-round and summer camp programs the museum sponsors.  The entries will be bid on by silent auction and will be on display until Sunday, May 22.

Ms. Hill, who always contributes a lamp and a second entry, said this year’s material “has a quality we haven’t had before, reflections and reflecting, and I anticipate an interesting range of solutions.  My lamp is reminiscent of Don Quixote and may be called “Knight of the Mirrors” and could be very whimsical or tacky.  Contributions will range from concrete to abstract and mirrors will allow a lot of freedom.  Every year it is exciting to see how artists tackle the topic in such diverse and creative ways.”

For tickets ($55), call the museum at 203-777-1833 or online at  Museum hours are Sunday noon-5 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday, open Wednesday-Friday noon – 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Let your imagination fly as Leonardo da Vinci continues to cast his creative spirit centuries into the future. 

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