New Canaan Sculpture Group seeks members
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.”
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.