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Roaring '20s gala to mark Silvermine School of Art's 90 years

To celebrate its School of Art's 90th anniversary, the Silvermine Arts Center is hosting a special Roaring '20s-themed gala fundraiser Saturday, May 3, to honor 10 faculty members who have taught at the school for more than 20 years.

The faculty members are Thomas Brenner, Kirill Doron, Charles DeLong, Ingbet Gruttner, Claire Watson Garcia, Christine Goldbach, Shizue Pleasanton, Martha Bloom, Jak Kovatch and David Dunlop.

Because the school was founded in 1924, the gala committee chose a 1920s speakeasy theme. The gala will feature dinner catered by Elizabeth King, owner and head chef for King's Carriage House on East 82nd Street in Manhattan; music of The Smoke Rings, a resident band at Manhattan's Standard Hotel; gaming tables for fun, with no money or prizes changing hands; and live and silent auctions.

The live auction will include vacation trips to France and the Bahamas and a Philadelphia art tour, including a private tour of the Barnes Foundation with a stay at the Four Seasons. Silent auction items will include art tours, photo sessions, kayaking, area restaurants and a children's birthday party at Silvermine.

Attire will be in the spirit and style of the Roaring '20s, or creative black-tie. Proceeds will benefit Silvermine's educational, scholarship and outreach programs.

The history of Silvermine, 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, began in the early 1900s as a colony of artists settled in the Silvermine area, lured by the picturesque countryside. The artists gathered around sculptor Solon Borglum, who was to become the founding father of the Silvermine Guild and whose barn was the meeting place where the artists, the so-called Knockers Club came to socialize, exchange ideas and critique each other's work.

By 1920, the Silvermine exhibitions were attracting hundreds of viewers who came from New York by train and from the surrounding countryside by horse and buggy or car. After Borglum's sudden death in 1922, the group realized that it needed to organize and began to plan for the future as the Silvermine Guild of Artists. The group formally incorporated in 1924 as a nonprofit educational organization with a mission to "foster art appreciation, education and the cultural growth of the community," and founded the Silvermine School of Art.

The School of Art now offers more than 300 courses a year in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, photography, digital imaging, jewelry, silversmithing, fiber, mixed media, creative writing and special studies. There are programs for children ages 2 to 17, among them after-school, weekend and summer camps, and four-semester courses.

In 1992, Art Partners, an outreach education program, was launched in Stamford. Since then, Silvermine has been providing free and subsidized professional teaching artists to collaborate with classroom teachers in Stamford and Norwalk schools. Today, the program extends to five elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school.

The School of Art issues more than 60 scholarships a year to children and adults who could otherwise not afford to attend classes. The Holiday Sale and the Art Materials and Equipment Tag Sale are conducted each year to raise funds for the scholarships. The tag sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Guests of the gala at the $500 ticket level or patron level at $1,000 will arrive at 6 p.m. for cocktails and an exclusive seated dinner in the galleries, before joining the dancing and gaming in the school. Guests at the $250 ticket level will arrive for dinner at 7 p.m., entering directly to the school studios.

For information or tickets, call 203-966-9700, ext. 22, or visit www.silvermineart.org.

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