I Can’t Stop Crowing About This Place! CAW! CAW!
New Haven (Google Maps location)
December 5, 2010
I don’t really remember how this place got lost in the hundreds of places I’ve visited and tens of thousands of pictures I’ve taken. But it did. Actually, that’s not true. It got “lost” because I never really considered it for my museum list.
And I still don’t, really, but here you are, reading about my random visit to it before taking in a Yale hockey game. I took these terrible pictures that day and sort of became enamored with the place – and even heard someone else there get admonished for taking pictures as well. I’m glad I’m well-trained in the art of taking pictures undetected. In the time since I visited and now, however, I’ve learned a bit more about the thriving New Haven arts scene and have decided to give the CAW its due.
Since I’m not in the business of pretending to know what this place is all about, I’ll let them do it:
Creative Arts Workshop is a nonprofit regional center for education in the visual arts that has served the Greater New Haven area since 1961. Located in the heart of the award-winning Audubon Arts District, the Workshop offers a wide range of classes in the visual arts in its own three-story building with fully equipped studios and an active exhibition schedule in its well known Hilles Gallery. More than 3,000 adults and young people enroll annually in the over 300 courses offered by Creative Arts Workshop, while thousands of visitors enjoy the exhibitions in both galleries throughout the year.
Creative Arts Workshop makes the arts available to all who want to participate. CAW is supported by its membership, tuition fees, arts-related fundraising events and sponsors. Additional funding is received from corporate and individual contributors as well as from grants for special projects from both public funds and charitable foundations.
Well, there you go. As best as I can gather, this rather large building (I explored every nook and cranny I legally could) houses all these workshops for whomever wants to attend them. There were all sorts of locked doors wherein various types of media were taught and explored. Each hallway contains a different “gallery” of sorts, with different works hung all over the place. It is definitely a fun place to explore. I was able to view the Creative Works Gallery but not the “well known Hilles Gallery.” (The definition of “well known” is well known to be a loose one.)
2020 Update: They claim three galleries here, including the Hilles. There’s also the Tiny Gallery located within the lighted display ‘totem’ outside Creative Arts Workshop. The gallery explores the concept of public art, on a very small scale. We’ll call that one visited, but I’ll return to the Hilles someday.
1. Creative Works Gallery
The Creative Works is a finely designed exhibition space that rotates smaller shows of works by CAW faculty, students and local artists. As with the larger gallery, most artworks are for sale and proceeds benefit the artist and help cover the operational costs of the Workshop. There is always something new to see.
Creative Arts Workshop is an educational and cultural resource center devoted to fostering creativity through participation in, appreciation of and leadership in the visual arts in the Greater New Haven area. Creative Arts affirms its commitment to making its programs available to a broad and diverse population.
There were a ton of things for sale during my visit – as will be the case for anyone anytime you visit. Much of it was stuff I’d never want, but somewhat surprisingly, I found myself thinking about making a few purchases. There was some really, really cool stuff here! I could be totally wrong here, but it seems like most of the stuff for sale here was made by artists who work with CAW. Or live in the area. Or have some relationship anyway.
One thing I saw here I must note: There was a Ted Esselstyn original wood bench. I had noted some of his work with museums prior to this, but this was my first exposure to his unique woodworking. He has created a niche business using old and “historic” trees in Connecticut to make functional works of art. The trees are the ones that must be cut for various reasons – or the ones that fall naturally. I love them. Esselstyn has been commissioned to build all sorts of things at various libraries and children’s museums around the state. I mulled buying the rather expensive bench… but then remembered I had a hockey game to get to.
Think of this first half of this page as sort of a background teaser for when I visit the world renowned and very well known Hilles Gallery. Before that, let’s learn a little more about CAW, from CAW.
Creative Arts Workshop was founded in 1961 as a learning center for beginning and professional artists alike. From the outset, CAW had a dual commitment to excellence in visual arts education and service to the Greater New Haven community.
In 1972, due to an ever-increasing demand for classes, and with generous support from the New Haven Community, Creative Arts Workshop constructed its own permanent building on Audubon Street. The Workshop is now part of the Audubon Arts District, 1992 recipient of a Connecticut Arts Award for “extraordinary achievements”.
Today, CAW offers a wide range of classes in fine arts and crafts in its own three-story building with fully equipped studio facilities. Over 2,000 adults and 1,000 young people now enroll annually in the 300 + courses offered by the school. Classes are open to students of all ages and levels of experience. For advanced students and professional artists working in the community, the Workshop provides specialized, intensive workshops and studio access. Over fifty professional artists serve as instructors, encouraging student commitment to the highest standards. Classes are kept small to ensure that individual attention can be given to everyone. The Workshop is committed to keeping tuition fees as low as possible and to providing tuition assistance to those in financial need.
I’m very excited to return more than a decade later to finish out this gallery.