A Passion for Creativity

A Passion for Creativity

Gathering of the Vibes is known to have exceptionally talented artisans sell their hand-crafted goods each year. The array of vendors selling jewelry, paintings, clothing, and memorabilia are based out of states stretching up New England and out westward nationally.

While their specific skills and talents are a much appreciated attribution to the festival every year, one must ask themselves what the creative scene in Connecticut is all about.

The young talent Connecticut offers is undeniable. With well over 20 colleges and universities throughout the state, there is a wealth of creative minds that go through programs that have helped build their talents and exhibit their work.

Shelton native, Shawn Lasse started drawing with markers as soon as he could hold one.

Shawn Lasse at Gallery 305K in Bridgeport

Shawn Lasse at Gallery 305K in Bridgeport

“I was around five-years old when it was already clear that all I wanted to do was draw. My favorite part about being creative is the raw freedom of it; the expression of subconscious movements all coming together in the end for an amazing result,” the 26 year-old said.

Lasse creates his artwork using Sharpies, highlighters, and micro pens, and has recently exhibited his collection at the Connecticut Fauxchella Indie Music and Arts Festival which took place mid-April.

“I want my art to be out there for the masses. I want to start getting more shows in line.”

When it comes to exhibitions, Connecticut artist, Cara De Angelis has gotten it down. The New York Academy of Art graduate has seen her works both nationally and internationally — France to be exact.

De Angelis in the studio

“My first foray into the magic of oil paint was when I was 8 years-old and I got a paint-by-number kit with pretty pictures of horses that I got to fill in with already mixed ‘oil’ paints,” the 26 year-old Norwalk resident said. “I remember feeling like it was an eternity before they finally dried days later, with finger smudges on them from me testing to see if they were dry, and carrying them around to show everyone. I think that may have been when this obsession started.”

De Angelis uses two major themes in her works, the Tragic and the Infantile, which she embodies with the use of roadkill.

“Connecticut has obviously deeply inspired me and formed who I am. It definitely has a lot of roadkill to offer, and driving around CT — and all of America — I’m consistently fascinated with how the domestic and wild are clashing and colliding on our roadways all the time. Roads are one of those strange places that draw both wildlife and the extremely domesticated, and one of the few ways in which they still sometimes meet. Albeit with fatal outcomes.”

Big Bird with Roadkill by Cara De Angelis

Big Bird with Roadkill by Cara De Angelis

At different ends of the artistic spectrum, both Lasse and De Angelis express themselves through the unbiased canvas, allowing them to tell a story that defines their passion.

Altiplano may not call Connecticut their home, but a Vibes vendor since the 2001 Red Hook venue in New York, the homegrown Vermont company will be back at Seaside this July.

Altiplano owners Shari and John with their children

Owners John von Wodtke and Shari Zarin say it was their first visit to the South American country that inspired them to start a shop.

“Our first visits to Guatemala were magical, and the incentive to start our business was in finding the means to return! We made some very special connections with the people here, and found the Mayan people, culture and craft very inspiring. The traditional textiles are world class, which made it very natural to work with them,” said Zarin.

Altiplano sells handmade jewelry, ceramics, shoulder bags and totes, hand-carved woods, recycled mouth blown glass pieces, and more, all inspired by their travels.

Huipile Patzun Passport Bag by Altiplano

Huipile Patzun Passport Bag by Altiplano

“Back in those days, John and I would tour with the Grateful Dead when we were in the country. At the time, I crafted my own beadwork to sell, and we found the textiles of Guatemala to be a perfect compliment,” Zarin explained. “These days, we work with hundreds of artisans [in Guatemala] who make our Altiplano collection.”

Keeping in step with the theme, the Altiplano owner’s inspiration for creating comes from the sheer pleasure of the craft.

“I find great enjoyment in working with my hands, and in creating and reflecting beauty. My creations are particularly meaningful, because they support so many wonderful and dedicated people. My design work is done in a very intensive and retreat-like format.”

These inspiring works are a testament to the need to create as a release; as a passion and as a way to tell a story.

The Connecticut art scene is quickly expanding with youth-organized exhibits seen at venues such as Gallery 305K, and schools like the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and the Paier College of Art in Hamden. With the abundance of universities, museums, artisans and exhibits in New York City, mixed with the rural beauty of Connecticut, inspiration will continue to dwell in the hands and minds of individuals from all generations who continually strive to share their love of all art forms.

“It is so important for people to stay creative because it is one thing that deep down, I believe humans need,“ Lasse ended. “That is why I feel the music and art scene go so well together, they are both pushing the same thing- love of what really matters in life.”

You can find out more by heading over to their websites, Altiplano.com, CaraDeAngelis.com, and Facebook.com/Shawn.Lasse



—Sarah Mastroni