Surviving holiday cards evoke memories and meaning in Shelton

For Bob Boroski, the Christmas cards with original art he likes to display every holiday season have a special meaning this year.

t’s been an annual tradition at his Shelton art school to put the cards up at the end of the year, highlighting the creative talents of students of all ages.

The cards are now on display again, but upon inspection some of them may look a bit weathered — and a few are even scorched or ripped.

That’s because they survived the massive downtown fire last January that destroyed much of a city block, including the leased space where the Bob Boroski School of Art had been located for more than a decade.

Almost everything in the art studio was lost in the fire but the Christmas cards survived, as did a few pieces of Boroski’s original art and a sign that says “Giving Thanks.”

“You give some thought to what survived,” Boroski said. “You begin to realize what it’s really all about.”

The holiday cards now are on display at the art school’s new location in the White Hills shopping center on Route 110.

“Looking at them brings back a lot of memories,” said Boroski, thinking of the many students — from 6-year-olds to people in their 90s — he has taught through the years.

“And you can still smell the smoke,” he said of the cards.

Holiday scenes

Students in the fall are given the option of drawing or painting a holiday scene or image in class, although it’s not a required assignment. Those that do sometimes decide to put their artwork on printed holiday cards, and Boroski usually is a recipient of such cards.

These are the ones he displays at Christmas time, hanging from walls and windows as a way to decorate the studio space for the season.

“The quality is quite spectacular,” Boroski said. “If you take a quick look at them, you’d think they are from American Greetings or Hallmark.”

He has about 75 cards in his collection dating back as much as 15 or 20 years. He opened the art school in a church hall in 1994, then moved to downtown Shelton in 2002. After the fire, he reopened in the White Hills storefront within a few months.

Boroski also encourages his students, especially youngsters, to create a hand-painted holiday ornament. “It’s become a tradition,” he said.

He said many of the young artists give the ornament — or the Christmas drawing or painting, or the printed cards made with them — to their parents or grandparents as a gift.

“Many at first don’t think that art will be a good present, but they’ll later come up to me and tell me someone had tears in their eyes when they received it,” he said.

Boroski grew up in Shelton, graduating from Shelton High in 1972 and marrying classmate Karen Thornton. They live in Derby and have three children and four grandchildren.

He has worked as a graphic designer and art director through the years, and now does artwork for a high-end engraving company in the area.