Spartan Gallery: Doors open to Milford High students’ art

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Ben Finocchiaro, a senior from Milford, is headed for the engineering program at Manchester Community College but was among the volunteers pleased to show a steady crowd of gallery visitors this robot, a complex gizmo built by fellow senior Tyler Russin that is capable of manipulating a Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle toy launched in Budapest in 1944 that won world-wide fame.

An exhibit of dozens of finely crafted student artworks in many mediums greeted visitors to the recent opening of The Gallery of Student Work, a newly renovated space that formerly was the long unused school store at Milford High School & Applied Technology Center. Today, the empty space is reincarnated as a gallery worthy of five stars.

The paneled, painted expanse now is bright with professional illumination spotlighting dozens of paintings, photographs and ceramics rendered by students. The pottery, woodwork and framed graphic art designs, along with many other handcrafted wares are on exhibit.

A new video system and overhead screen enables visitors to see the intricate processes that contribute to the completion of some of the students’ works. The transformation is credited to the craftsmanship of volunteers whose many hours of work morphed the empty enclave off the school’s main hallway into an enticing destination for fellow students, teachers, alumni and other art lovers.

Don Jalbert, director of Milford High School’s Applied Technology Center, said the gallery is an important asset to the school and a testament to the dedication of those who labored to “make it happen.”

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Leigh Robinson, an art teacher at Milford High, displays a highly detailed tea set crafted by Katie Lorden, a talented student in the advanced pottery program who designed the vessel to resemble a plump pumpkin, rendered from clay and fired with colorful underglazes.

“The quality of work our students produce is deserving of a space where they can demonstrate their art and give us an opportunity to celebrate it,” said Jalbert. “This accomplishment is very important to the Milford school community and others.”

Students learning engineering, manufacturing and video production, along with precision machining, computer science and business technologies found outlets for their imaginations in projects that seemed destined for display in The Gallery of Student Work. Art department programs added an impetus to complete other works for the opening, held in conjunction with the school’s open house in February.

A 3-foot, three-dimensional build made of wooden components by ATC students at an event held in the autumn drew its share of the inquisitive at the gallery opening. The teens were tasked back then with making a project from a slew of wooden struts, cogs and lengths of pine, along with pieces of rope and bits of other materials. The exercise, designed to bulwark their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, art and math – STEAM – was successful beyond conjure.

“This gallery is a showplace for all students in all endeavors of academics and career education,” Jalbert said. “We’re emphasizing that any student can be in here and show their work, whether done in school or at home.”

A group of students whose excellence has won them membership in the National Art Honor Society acted as docents on the night of the gallery opening. Art teachers Leigh Robinson and Jean Travelyn, who also is an adviser to the National Art Honor Society, commended the volunteers and accepted many a kudo on behalf of the art students whose works were displayed there.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Nicole Jutras, a senior from Milford, shares a look at a creatively carved tea set she made in a pottery class that is a part of the art department, a place where she finds the freedom to experiment with designs that include cut-out sections that incorporate a sense of negative space into her artwork.

Brad Craven, principal for 37 years of Milford High School & Applied Technology Center, greeted scores of visitors that night and took a turn at serving cookies and other sweets produced by students of the ATC’s culinary arts program. Miniature chocolate whoopie pies and coconut cupcakes were crowd favorites.

The culinary arts program is the support for the school’s on-site restaurant, Windows on West,

open to the public with service from student restaurateurs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with seatings from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

“We’re thrilled at the range of programs offered here,” said Craven. “We’re truly comprehensive in scope with academic proficiency, the arts and technology.”

Jalbert and Craven concurred that the opening of The Gallery of Student Work was a labor of love that blended numerous academic disciplines with a big dollop of imagination and gallons of elbow grease.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Jean Travelyn, an art teacher and adviser to the National Art Honor Society at Milford High, pauses to admire an exhibit of photography that includes award-winning entries by Colin Giles and Mitchell Hemmer, seniors whose photographs have won acclaim in the Scholastic Art Awards of New Hampshire, a regional affiliate of the nationally renowned Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Salutes as the gallery’s “boots on the ground” went to Steve Claire, assistant principal, for an extensive retrofitting of the gallery’s walls, display racks and other accoutrements. Jon Tegar, the ATC’s video production teacher, was cited for implementing an abundance of “tech stuff” that included televisions, speakers and music equipment.

Senior Ben Finocchiaro, a senior headed for an engineering curriculum at Manchester Community College, showed the umpteenth visitor around the gallery as the evening drew to a close and alluded to the effort that culminated in the grand opening of The Gallery of Student Work.

“There’s a solution to any problem,” Finocchiaro said. “There’s a solution you can throw at it.”

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Milford High School & Applied Technology Center art student extraordinaire Ana Barlow rendered this gallery exhibition submission, a watercolor of two babies with hair made of double crowns of fabric hydrangea petals in pastel colors that add a touch of whimsy to the collection on view at the Gallery of Student Work.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON A set of three low-fired clay bowls displayed in The Gallery of Student Work, newly opened at Milford High School, were crafted by student Hazen Soucy to feature braided patterns that add a dramatic flair to the matte finish that was achieved with applied underglazes in the school’s advanced pottery classes.