GUILFORD —Future Choices, Shoreline Arts Alliance’s high school visual arts competition, has become a bona fide staple of the Connecticut Shoreline arts community.
Its 35 year run has not dulled the enthusiasm of the exhibit’s founder, Earl Grenville Killeen.
Killeen, an artist, who established the Earl Grenville Killeen Award which is awarded annually to a student exhibitor, is excited about the young talent he witnesses each year.
“I see art that I wouldn’t be able to produce even to this day. These kids are so talented, I don’t know if it’s the art teachers or what, but it’s just such a fabulous thing to take in.” Killeen laughed and added, “A lot of times they make me feel inadequate.”
Killeen won first place and three honorable mentions at the Westchester County Art Show his freshman year of high school and was awarded a scholarship to a co-educational, experimental, summer program which sparked his love for learning. “It really turned my life around” he reflects, “and I’m a person who pays back debts. I recall my grandmother once saying to me, ‘Earl, whatever you take from life make sure you return it, and if you can, return a little bit more.’ I never forgot that. I’ve always lived by that. So that’s what gave me the spur to do this.”
A renowned Connecticut-based artist, Killeen believes the students are why Future Choices has remained so important and relevant all these years.
“Young people are always courageous. And you know, I’m 71… and nobody wants to hear anything I have to say. But young people do have something to say, as is being demonstrated in the current social uprising we’re seeing all over the world. And I think it’s very important that they have an avenue through art, to speak, to reflect on what society is about and what their own lives are about. I think they need to be paid attention to,” said Killeen.
In addition to founding Future Choices, Killeen gifted Shoreline Arts Alliance $20,000 to continue funding the program. In consideration of this, Earl added “People need to support the arts, because it doesn’t get done without support. I’ve been producing, producing, producing every single day, and in three years I’ve gone through $20,000 in supplies. And that doesn’t happen unless somebody supports me by buying my art. So it’s very important to have a voice out there to support it.”