They’re Not Booing, They’re Saying “Looooooos!”
The story of how I was able to see the Gallery at the Loos Center is the story of the Gallery at the Loos Center. Not that the Loos Center and its art gallery aren’t fine and respected venues in the Quiet Corner… but really, that’s not the story.
This story starts with my son, Calvin. Calvin likes soccer and he’s pretty good at it. (Cynical dad: he better be for all the thousands of dollars and hours and miles on my car that I’ve spent on this endeavor for the better part of a decade now. Realistic Dad: We’ve seen dozens of kids who are “better” than him, several on his own team. But let’s let Proud Dad have his moment here.)
Calvin is twelve as I write this and is in seventh grade. He is rostered on a very good team and plays in a very good league. He also trains with other programs throughout the year to, as they say, “get touches.” One must “get touches” (on a ball) as much as possible if one wants to remain at the top of one’s game.
Long story short, Calvin (and some friends) were invited to attend a “Prospect Day” event at Woodstock Academy. This is a recruiting event for, hands down, the top high school soccer program in Connecticut and very likely the whole of New England. Now, our public high school is one of the top five public soccer high schools – and top 10 academic high schools – in the state and of course Calvin will go to Hall High. It’s free (*cough* West Hartford taxes *cough*) and five minutes from home.
But what the heck. It’s neat to be invited to get a look at the program at Woodstock. How excited was Calvin? This excited:
Fully committed, this kid.
And so, my not-even-a-teenager and I went up to Woodstock. Despite my text above, the campus tour was first and as the guy rambled on about the century-plus history of the prep school, my ear perked up when he mentioned that we’d be checking out the Loos Center. Now, I was planning on doing my best to get into the art gallery no matter what, as it’s not open too often and, well, Woodstock is an hour from home.
But now? It sounded like I’d be getting in as a natural part of my day. Awesome.
The gallery is in the same building as the 1,000 seat theater. Originally built in 1967 on the campus of the all-girls Catholic Annhurst College, the venue was to bring arts to the Quiet Corner of Connecticut – an area that otherwise was left without ease of access. Through the years, the facility slowly became less public-focused; used for a period of time as a training facility and then later by a different independent school as their campus meeting space. In 2017, the venue was purchased by The Woodstock Academy with a revitalized vision for what the facility could present. As a result, the Center for the Arts was created to fulfill the vision of years past; giving back to the local community by bringing accessible visual and performing arts to the area.
It’s a nice theater and is really, pretty much “it” in this part of the state.
The Gallery at Loos Center for the Arts hosts four to five exhibits annually. Exhibits feature local, regional, and national professional artists in addition to one student showcase each year. Works range from photography to pyrography, and everything in between. Sculptures, oil paintings, and wood works are often found throughout shows.
The name, by the way, is pronounced like “loose” and is in honor of a guy named August “Gus” Loos. His wife Joan donated a ton of money to “secure arts opportunities for thousands of students and community members for years to come.” The whole joint is essentially brand new inside thanks to the Loos’s.
After a chat in the theater, we were taken to the gallery for about five minutes. And that, my friends, is why and how you’re reading this page. The exhibit was “Then & Now,” an alumni show. It exhibited 20 artists who attended Woodstock Academy.
(Calvin is probably nearly as good at art as he is at soccer, so it’s mildly interesting that the two pursuits are kind of colliding on this page.)
The coolest thing about this show was that the selected artists had work shown from their time as students as well as a current piece or two. I’m not going to list their names or even discuss their work, as I don’t really think that matters. I picked up the 16-page Show Guide with all the artists’ explanations of their work. I’ve read it and the only thing that stood out to me is that so many of these folks are professional artists and teachers today.
So there I was, in this quite-small gallery, taking pictures among hardcore soccer families who couldn’t care less about any of this artsy stuff. I got some looks. I’m sure the boys rostered on the prep school team who joined us were confused at best – which is fine, since I was confused why we were even here, as the kids were all from Guatemala, France, Jamaica, and Portugal, not suburban Connecticut.
But hey, nother Connecticut museum checked off.
The tour continued into the boarding student dorms and the fetid locker room. All the soccer boys board here, but not every student does. No one says “soccer” here either; they play “football.” The soccer boys are here for soccer and only attend class in the mornings and train every afternoon, year round. Woodstock’s top teams don’t play in a league, so they are immune to any NEPSAC rules regarding training. (Their coach, Owen Finberg, dominated New England prep school soccer at South Kent School for years, but the rules surrounding recruiting and training forced him to move here to do things differently.)
Every one of these kids has the opportunity to play soccer in college while getting a good prep school education. It’s an entirely different world than any I’ve ever known, that’s for sure.
On to the pitch and after an hour of training, they scrimmaged for another hour. My little boy held his own with the young men and received accolades from the coaching staff. (To be fair, of course he did because that’s how these things go. They want you to want them.)
We had dinner with the team in the cafeteria and these kids eat well for sure. No, we didn’t have burgers, but Calvin was happy with the bottomless pasta and fresh fruit for sure. We sat for a half-hour talk by the coach, received an informational packet, and hit the road.
Calvin had to rest up, for he had a game on Long Island the next day. Sigh. I love it, but… sigh. (They won.)