Bennington School students come together with the Vermont Arts Exchange to create various classic video game-themed art pieces. The art pieces were
Bennington School students come together with the Vermont Arts Exchange to create various classic video game-themed art pieces. The art pieces were showcased at the Gamer’s Grotto on Main Street in Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner)

BENNINGTON -- Gamer's Grotto unveiled some new art work on the game floor on Wednesday, thanks to the hard work of a group of Bennington School students.

"They reached out to us," said store owner Keith Carey, noting that many of the girls from the class came into the store regularly. The students worked with Kristen Blaker and Matthew Perry of the Vermont Arts Exchange to turn their idea of video game-themed art for the game floor into a reality.

The creative process took about three months, said Blaker, and almost all of the work was done at the VAE. "The girls have really been a part of the whole process," said Blaker, "It was really exciting to see them take charge of this project."

She said she had witnessed the girls' teamwork and conflict resolution skills increase dramatically while working together on the project. Most of the artwork was created through group effort, she said.

Entitled "Retro Gamers," each piece of art resembles a TV screen featuring scenes from classic video games, including Super Mario Bros., Pokemon, Tetris, Dunk Hunt, Pac-Man, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Especially eye-catching is Mario's companion Yoshi, whose tongue literally pops right out of the canvas.

To celebrate the unveiling, Gamer's Grotto ran a "Mad Skills Retro Video Game Tournament," starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. While it wasn't actually a tournament, said Carey, participants bought tickets for $1 (or six for $5) that allowed them one play at a classic video game at one of the several TVs set up across the store's game floor.

Casey said he had made a particular effort to put out the games that the students had painted. In addition, every ticket would be entered into a raffle to win either a $25 or $15 gift card. All money raised went to helping buy supplies for the VAE and the Bennington School.

The Bennington School, located at 192 Fairview St., "specializes in providing individualized comprehensive services and treatment to children and adolescents who have experienced complex developmental trauma," according to its website. "On a rural campus in scenic and tranquil Bennington, Vermont, the school serves girls ages 10-18 and boys ages 10-14 with treatment in an integrated milieu. Our treatment program has its foundation in attachment theory and utilizes a variety of trauma-informed practices, as well as mind-body activities and adventure based learning opportunities."

Gamer's Grotto is located at 457 Main St.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB