Camp Nohegan

Achievable goals

Snow globes and Polaroids
Snow globes and Polaroids

How to Make a Tree Sweater and Kundalini Yoga for Creativity were a few workshops offered in the first year of Camp Nohegan. For four days, 30 artists gathered in cabins at McKinney Falls State Park, made arts and crafts, took lots of pictures of each other, and generally hung out. Hunting Sasquatch was listed as: "Midnite at Mark's Cabin (Sugar Shack). Description: I will give a short speech and then we will hunt Sasquatch in the middle of the night. To Bring: Everyone should bring a stick of their choosing (the bigger and sturdier the better!) and a flashlight. Special Note: Warning! Hunting Sasquatch in the middle of the night may be dangerous." I'm told it was fun. I visited the camp on the final afternoon, saw evidence of various art installations, and was able to witness a couple of workshops in person.

Getting the food going with his course Mastering the Grill was Aron Johnson, who was wearing a custom Camp Nohegan apron and fake eyelashes and smoking a cigar. Nearby was the class Mastering the Grillz, with Alison O'Daniel leading "a craft session on making the perfect grill with Reese's peanut butter cup wrappers, rhinestones, and sequins, and gold leaf," then directing "an out in the woods music video inspired by Nelly once everyone's grillz are perfect." Indeed, tinfoil was put in mouths, and a bit of dancing occurred. While some artists goofed for video cameras and large-format Polaroids, others engaged in a nice mix of group or solitary activities. Some artists knitted or whittled; some went swimming. Everyone was friendly, and there was a lot of sunburned eye contact. It was a cozy vibe, with a "let's play dress up" thing being encouraged but not enforced.

David Ohlerking seemed at ease out there, painting his 15-minute large-format oils with a straw hat on. And certain classes were legitimately nifty, such as Camera-less Photographs with Laura Turner, which involved making "photograms" with cyanotype material, using various natural and artificial materials and only the sun as a light source. That's more sophisticated than Girl Scouts. Bob Anderson chose to complement his class, Floating for Nonfloaters, by evenly coating the surfaces of river rocks with Sharpie squiggles. He described his idea to me as making some dysfunctional lithography stones. He succeeded in this premeditated goal.

After eating, I became engrossed with the gory make-up lesson. First some latex paint, Q-tips, and petroleum jelly came out, then folks took turns modeling and painting each other. Rachel Cook, an artist and writer, did a really detailed and exquisite cheek wound, and Hana Hillerova did a gi-normous disembowelment of Cauleen Smith. It was a little Troma moment, not fancy but amusing.

The Camp Nohegan zeitgeist seems to be "achievable goals" and companionist. Meet the campers, and see the art they made at a special Nohegan Group Show this Friday, July 14, at MASS Gallery (formerly the Fresh Up Club space adjacent to the Blue Theater), 916 Springdale.

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More by Rachel Koper
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Camp Nohegan, Aron Johnson, Alison O'Daniel, David Ohlerking, Laura Turner, Rachel Cook, Hana Hillerova, Cauleen Smith

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