New Canaan Sculp­ture Group seeks mem­bers

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Hum­berto J. Rocha hum­berto.juarez@hearst­medi­

NEW CANAAN — The New Canaan Sculp­ture Group’s stu­dio, in the lower floor of the Car­riage Art Barn in Waveny Park, is full of art books, paint­ings, pic­tures and dozens of sculp­tures.

Sur­rounded by fo­liage and se­cluded from the traf­fic sounds of neigh­bor­ing South Av­enue, the stu­dio could dou­ble as an artis­tic monastery.

But be­ing rel­a­tively out of sight, as help­ful as it can be for the be­gin­ning or ad­vanced artist, is not ben­e­fi­cial for a group that wants to see more mem­bers join its ranks.

“We want to let peo­ple know we’re here,” Ellen Gilbert­son, a Fair­field res­i­dent who joined the group in the 1990s, said as she pointed to the New Canaan Sculp­ture Group sign that hangs over the stu­dio door. “There’s re­ally noth­ing like it’s and you only need have an in­ter­est in art to join.”

In the early af­ter­noon one day this month, there are about 10 peo­ple at the stu­dio. A cou­ple are work­ing on clay busts, etch­ing out care­ful mea­sure­ments, while oth­ers are hav­ing their lunch be­fore get­ting back to their re­spec­tive work spots.

The club’s old­est mem­ber and one of the orig­i­nals in the group that the renowned sculp­tor Stan­ley Ble­in­field founded in 1956, Lee Green­berg, 101, is still putting her hands to work.

“This is a group for any­one who is in­ter­ested in art and sculp­ture,” Green­berg, a We­ston res­i­dent, said. “We meet ev­ery Fri­day and I still do it. This group needs more peo­ple and we would love to wel­come more.”

Don Gale has been teach­ing the group for the past five years; he comes to the stu­dio ev­ery Fri­day from 11 a.m to 3 p.m.

Gale stud­ied sculp­ture and draw­ing at the Otis Art In­sti­tute in Los An­ge­les and taught at the Lyme Acad­emy Col­lege of Fine Arts, where he was chair­man of the sculp­ture de­part­ment.

“There’s a va­ri­ety of ages in the group,” Gale said. “I’ve been teach­ing for a while and art has al­ways been one of my pas­sions.”

Sergey Ey­lan­bekov, the other teacher in the group, re­cently fin­ished two bronze stat­ues of John Adams and John Han­cock in Quincy, Mass. Com­mis­sioned for work in Italy, Ey­lan­bekov is ea­gerly missed by the mem­bers of the group.

“He’ll come back to us,” Tom Volpe said. “He’s been with us for 10 years and we’ve al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated his work.”

In pre­vi­ous years, the sculp­ture group saw its num­bers hover in the mid-20s but, as some mem­bers ex­plained, peo­ple move to other places and find other ac­tiv­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly after their re­tire­ment.

“We have 13 mem­bers in the group now and we’re hop­ing to get more,” Char­lotte Birn­baum said. “It’s great that we get to come here any time of day and have our own space to our­selves.”

Volpe and Birn­baum are some of the vet­er­ans of the group, each hav­ing been in the group for at least 20 years.

Prospec­tive mem­bers can sign up with the group for a three-month trial. A $1,000 fee for six months cov­ers all the equip­ment nec­es­sary and in­cludes a key to the stu­dio, which is ac­ces­si­ble at any time dur­ing the week.

“It’s a very so­cial ac­tiv­ity. We en­joy each other’s com­pany,” Volpe said. “Peo­ple here ask for ad­vice from each other and (Gale) gives us more pro­fes­sional ad­vice, too.”

Hum­berto J. Rocha / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Lee Green­berg joined what even­tu­ally be­came the New Canaan Sculp­ture Group in 1956.

Mem­bers of the New Canaan Sculp­ture Group at work on their projects.

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