Monday, April 14, 2014


If you were searching for the true definition of a Renaissance Man, look no further than that master of many virtues, Leonardo da Vinci.  He wore more hats the Dr Seuss's Bartholomew Cubbins as he was prolific and accomplished in almost too many disciplines to mention.  An Italian born in 1452, he was known for his prowess as a mathematician, a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, engineer, anatomist, botanist, geologist, cartographer, musician and writer.  No wonder that he was the inspiration twenty years ago for the unique fundraiser held every April by Hamden's Eli Whitney Museum.

Leonardo was renown for his artistic genius and he would have been pleased and proud to be the namesake for the 20th Annual Leonardo Challenge.  100 artists from all parts of the country are invited to create a novel entry using the material of the moment. In past years, the unusual artistic medium has been items as diverse as ice cream sticks, playing cards, keys, mirrors, rulers, pencils, well, you get the idea.

This year's vehicle of choice is knots.  If you're a Boy Scout, a sailor, a rock or mountain climber, a boater, a macrame artist, an arborist, a fistherman or even a surgeon, you are probably familiar with this useful device.  A knot can be utilitarian or decorative.  Needless to say, the invited artists are busy getting their loops, bends and hitches ready, to produce a mobile, a picture, an item of clothing, a toy, a piece of jewelry or furniture, the possibilities are endless.  Who knew there are knots called monkey's fist, butterfly, anchor bend, figure eight, constrictor, or cow, clove or barrel hitch?

On Thursday, April 24, all entries will be on display at the Eli Whitney Museum, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The gala fundraiser, entitled "Knot What You Imagined," includes enticing food and drink choices from the Big Green Truck Pizza, The Wine Group fine wines, Caseus, Whole G Breads, Small Kitchen, Big Taste, Koffee & Thimble Islands Brewery.

For tickets ($60, plus special category contributions), call the Eli Whitney Museum at 203-777-1833 or online at All the proceeds will provide workshops and scholarships for students to explore new worlds.

For Sally Hill, Associate Director of the Museum, the Leonardo Challenge provides an avenue of creativity which she adores traveling.  As in past years, a lamp is on her artistic list, "As always, I'm making a lamp. I don't know when it started but light has long been an obsession and at some point I started making lamps for the Challenge. After I've 'solved' (or tried to) the Challenge with my invitation, then I start to think about my lamp. It's always
a – challenge – to come up with something fitting."

Apply your imagination and sense of whimsey and adventure to this latest challenge.  The creations will be on display until May 11, free and open to the public.  They are guaranteed to be Knot-What-You-Imagine.

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