Who knew Darien had its own museum of stunning contemporary art?
For two weeks only, now through May 28, the art wing of the Darien High School is displaying paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics and collages created by 500 art students over the current academic year.
The art wing walls are a surprising cacophony of color and creativity, the corridors bubbling with the energy and ferment of young ideas.
The show is a grand opportunity to see the student artists at work in their formative years before they rock the international art world, as many seem destined to do.
Honors Art Seniors Recognized
Dana Larsen, chairman of the art department, set aside an area nearest the art department's four studios for seven selected Honors Art seniors to display their favorite works from their years at DHS. A preview for parents and the public took place on Wednesday evening.
Honors Art senior Charly Malpass cheerfully explained how a class assignment about primitive cave art inspired her to create a haunting painting she calls "Eyes" using sticks and stones but no modern art tools.
It's an unforgettable picture.
"My ideas are explosive and sometimes accidental," Malpass wrote in the bio accompanying her impressive figurative paintings.
"I always find myself stopping and looking at my surroundings, and how I could apply them to show the rest of the world," she writes. "It makes my head hurt, really, but I can't stop. Malpass will continue her art studies in the fall at the San Francisco Art Institute.
From DHS to College Art Studies
For many of the young artists, it was like their first gallery opening.
Not so for Anna Rae Anderson, whose portrait of a friend, "Katie," won first place last fall at the Stamford Art Association.
Anderson, who will continue her art education at Salve Regina College in Rhode Island this fall, explained that the paintings she selected from her ouevre reflect how she herself has changed from the freshman who created a portrait of a lovely pink iris to the "dark artist I've become, very dark, very emotional."
She's especially proud of a self-portrait she believes conveys powerfully, in mostly black and white, her "fighter" personality.
Honors Art senior Joe Maccarone was surrounded by friends awed by his art.
A self-portrait in black and red has three images superimposed upon each other in oil, creating an eye-catching effect.
"The theme is separation of mind and soul," he related.
Another has what he calls a "fantastical creature" with green reptilian scales, ram horns and a blue serpent coiling out of its toothy jaw.
Growing up, Maccarone wrote in his bio, "I loved to tell stories . . . I would tell my stories through art."
Another self-portrait has Maccarone's likeness with antlers growing out of the head, tiny blobs of many colors of paint at the top of the painting dripping downward toward many outstretched hands.
It's an allegory of how he creates art from what is available in his imagination, he said.
Maccarone, who's heading to the Maryland Institute College of Art, credited painting instructor Bob Sorenson as being "very inspirational and open and accepting" of his artistic visions.
Honors Art senior Kelsey Davis recently astonished her mother, Patty Meagher, with an animated painting called "Mom."
It portrays a vibrant, expressive face that Meagher had no trouble recognizing as her own.
"I was in complete shock and flattered," Meagher said as she posed in front of the picture with Davis and her own mother, Marty Meagher.
"It's not the likeness, it's the sense of joy that brought tears," she said.
"To my eye, she captured how I feel about her," she added.
The accomplished Davis, who is soon to study at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, has already spent a summer painting at Syracuse University's highly regarded art program.
Chris Trigaux, also an Honors Art senior, will attend Syracuse University majoring in art photography.
He's taken full advantage of the DHS photography courses and dark room suite, which Larsen said is so popular that it's booked every period of the day.
Trigaux was discussing his assemblage of five black-and-white photographs called "Insomnia," all shot in the middle of the night, with Darien photographer Ben Larrabee and his wife, Trudie, for whom he interned last summer.
Larrabee was suggesting Trigaux scan his film photographs and print them as digital images and then compare the results.
Trigaux said he planned to do so as one of many explorations as he develops his artistic techniques.
DHS Arts Festival May 26
DHS's art department is also hosting an Arts Festival in the school's courtyard on May 26, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with entertainment by the cast of "Fiddler on the Roof," the jazz band, the Tudor Singers and others.
There will also be opportunities for students who may not yet have tapped into their artistic muses to try their hand at a potter's wheel or to work on a communal mural.