Artist's gift to Game Loft more than a change of scenery
Belfast — Belfast artist Eric Leppanen wanted to give back to the Game Loft, and with a lot of his own work to share, the answer came easily to him.
Leppanen's young son Zepherin is one of the many local youths who visit the Game Loft each week to play games and catch up with friends who have common interests.
One day, Leppanen said, he decided the walls at his son's favorite after-school hang-out place needed a splash of color. Being very pleased with the experience his son has had at the Game Loft, Leppanen decided to offer up some of his work, and to change out the art on display every few months to "keep it fresh."
Leppanen, who uses all recycled and re-purposed materials as his medium, said he felt it was a shame to keep storing some of his pieces at his home when they could be on display, perhaps inspiring others to create their own works.
"Anywhere I can show it, share it and spur creativity," said Leppanen, who was at the Game Loft Friday afternoon, Jan. 17, to officially kick off the display of two of his works.
One piece, situated near the entrance, covers much of the wall above the couch and consists of a series of old paint cans secured together in neat, consistent lines, cans that still carry remnants of the colors each held before the contents were used up.
The second piece, which is on display in the upper level gaming room, is one that Leppanen said began with an old sliding door that once held an old painting that Leppanen did a while back. Using a combination of spray foam and spray paints in colors like red, black and silver, the new work brings an element of color and texture to a wall that was once all brick.
Ariel Levangie, outreach coordinator for The Game Loft, said Leppanen's idea has been well received. The idea of displaying original art, she said, is very fitting in a place where youths play games that require skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and of course, creativity.
"Our kids here are super creative, and a lot of them think outside of the box," Levangie said.
"It's a great thing to expose young people to original art," added Game Loft co-founder Pat Estabrook.
Another unique aspect of the art display is that unlike at a museum or an art gallery, Leppanen encourages all to not only view his work, but to reach out and touch it.
"I encourage people to go ahead and touch," he said. "I feel like it adds their energy to the piece."
Game Loft regular Cameron Johnson, along with fellow gamers Morgan Suderley, Skyler Bean and Zepherin Leppanen, took an up-close and personal look at the large work in the upper level game room, reaching out to touch the textures created by the foam and paint combination. One youth said he saw Spiderman in the image, while another clearly spotted a seahorse.
Johnson said he welcomed the addition of the art.
"It definitely adds some color to the place," he said. "It's going to add a lot of character to the loft."
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Tanya has been a general news reporter in Waldo County since 1997.
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