Art class receives wisdom from area seniors

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | A Greenport art student works with local sculptor Arden Scott during a workshop at Brecknock Hall last week.

In the expansive dining room of the stone mansion that is Brecknock Hall, 18 fourth-grade students sit at plastic tables, their small hands constructing sculptures out of little but construction paper and their imaginations.

At one table, an older hand, wizened by age, reaches for a multicolored pipe cleaner and gently secures it around a rectangular piece of paper one girl has fashioned to stand upright, like a tall building.

“Now your skyscraper has some decoration,” the person with the older hands tells the student, who beams.

This was the scene last week when students from Lisa Baglivi’s art class at Greenport Elementary School visited Brecknock Hall, on the grounds of the Peconic Landing lifecare community, to create paper sculptures under the guidance of five local artists for the first-ever Brecknock Art Project, organized by Peconic Landing’s cultural arts coordinator, Dominic Antignano.

“It was all about [creating] something intercommunity and intergenerational,” said Mr. Antignano, who created the program to inspire local children through contact with established area artists. “If one or two of these 18 students gets inspired, that’s a home run.”

The artists participating in the program were Robert Strimban and Arden Scott, both of Greenport, and Peconic Landing residents Fay Moore, Doris Hock and Jean Shaw.

“I love children’s art,” said Mr. Strimban, an 89-year-old World War II veteran who worked as an illustrator for publications like the New York Times and Esquire magazine. “While they’re young they express themselves in a very individual way, more so than when they get older. A lot of children’s art is very charming. It’s very inventive. I love to see them work and I love their work.”

Ms. Baglivi’s students enjoyed working under the supervision of the celebrated artists, too.

“She has a big heart,” Nicole Gomez said of Ms. Hock, whose artwork focuses on nature. The 10-year-old from Greenport said Ms. Hock had suggested adding lots of color to her project, a house with a pipe cleaner flag.

“She told me it would look nice if I changed it a little bit, and I did,” Nicole said. “I think Long Island is a beautiful place, so there’s beautiful people here.”

Some students said they needed no external encouragement to construct their projects, crafted primarily of construction paper, pipe cleaners and glue.

“I’m just inspiring myself,” said 10-year-old Ayda Terry.

Where does she get that inspiration?

“From my head and my heart,” the Greenport girl said.

“I’m amazed at their sophistication,” said Ms. Scott, a sculptor who has lived in Greenport since 1978. She taught some of the students how to make their sculptures stand on their own. “For fourth-graders, they have one good art teacher,” she said.

“They all seemed to have their own idea of where to go,” added Ms. Shaw, who owned an art gallery in Sag Harbor.

Ms. Baglivi, who has taught K-12 art in Greenport for 10 years, said she was proud of her students.

“We can learn from each other,” she said. “I think it’s awesome.”

Each of the local artists expressed enthusiasm about participating in future art projects at Brecknock Hall.

“Oh, the children are just so outgoing and lovely,” said Ms. Moore, a painter. “I wish I could spend another week with them.”

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