Oddfellows Playhouse's Arts Explorers program completed its third fantastic year on Wednesday evening with a public exhibition of their work, including dance performance, writing and visual art. The program is a collaboration between the Playhouse and the Middletown Youth Service Bureau.
the Arts Explorers, Woodrow Wilson Middle School students, working
under the mentorship of artists Kate Rushin (Writing), Joel Teixidor
(Dance) and Renee Soares (Visual Arts), focused exclusively on visual
arts, dance, or writing, developing a performance piece, works of art
for a gallery exhibit, or a literary project that can be read or
published. Middletown High School Dragons-in-Action serve as teaching
assistants, guiding the younger students and participating in each art
form as a peer example.
The Arts Explorers began the year by
having first hand exposure to professional arts exhibitions in each area
of dance, visual art and writing visiting the Wesleyan CFA, Ezra and
Cecile Zilkha Gallery and the Hartford Public Library Art Work and
Archive. Between October and May they have been exposed to, learned
and honed skills and styles in their particular art forms.
Arts Explorers program wouldn’t exist without the help of many other
people and organizations and their commitment to keeping it going. The
program was originally funded in 2008 by an Underserved Youth Pilot
grant from the State of CT’s Commission on Culture and Tourism. As the
state money went away, organizations like the Middlesex United Way,
Middletown Youth Service Bureau, Liberty Bank Foundation, American
Savings Foundation, Fund for Greater Hartford, George A and Grace L.
Long Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Fund and Elizabeth Carse
Foundation stepped in or stepped up their support to keep this
successful program alive. We have these community organizations and
their leadership to thank for this positive program” said Oddfellows’
Executive Director Matt Pugliese.
The final project is an open
exhibition of their works, showcased in a professional style and given
the support and atmosphere of a curated art exhibit. Visual arts
include painting in acrylics and oils, multimedia mask-making, drawing,
and mixed media constructions; literary pieces ranged from poetry to
short stories, dance ranged from Africa Gum Boot to Bollywood.
important aspect of the program is job training. Students are expected
to treat the program with the same responsibility as a job, earning
money for attendance and being docked pay for each missed class. Over
the course of the program students can earn up to $200 dollars. “The
money is not the primary outcome, but instead a motivator to develop
important life skills around responsibility and work ethic” said Program
Coordinator Joanna Perricone. The sales from the final exhibition
benefit the individual artists. The students’ book sales, dance box
office earnings, and visual art receipts are part of the educational
process of working as a professional artist. The final exhibition was
well-attended by family, friends, teachers and community leaders.
About Oddfellows Playhouse:
Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. For more
than 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing
arts program. It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of
1,500 young people each year by using the arts as tools to build
self-confidence, communication skills, a sense of responsibility, and an
appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world in which we
Oddfellows’ programs are made possible by major support
from CT State Department of Education, the CT Department of Economic and
Community Development, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt
& Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middlesex County
Community Foundation, Tower Labs and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper
Foundation. Media support provided by Comcast and WESU 88.1FM.