October 19, 2021

Musical Masterworks New Season Launches Harmonious Transition From Arron to Lark as Artistic Director; Opening Concert in Old Lyme, Saturday

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron waves during the Zoom interview recently conducted by Suzanne Thompson for this article.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks is back with live concerts and audiences next weekend — and this 31st season of chamber music concerts is special on multiple fronts.

This season’s five concerts will be a farewell tour for cellist Edward Arron, who has served as Artistic Director for 13 years. A soloist with major orchestras and chamber musician throughout North America, Europe and Asia, Arron has garnered recognition worldwide for his elegant musicianship, impassioned performances, and creative programming. 

The Juilliard graduate was for 10 years the artistic director of the Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert, a chamber music series created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s prestigious Concerts and Lectures series.

He has been a University of Massachusetts Amherst Music Department faculty member since 2016, after serving on the faculty of New York University from 2009 to 2016. He tours and records regularly as a member of the renowned Ehnes Quarter.

Tessa Lark, who is Musical Masterworks Artistic Director-designate and will take over the role for the 2022-23 season, waves during the Zoom interview recently conducted by Suzanne Thompson for this article.

This season also is a settling-in for the series’ Artistic Director Designate, violinist Tessa Lark. This budding superstar in the classical realm, who first performed on Musical Masterworks stage almost a decade ago, will become Artistic Director with the 2022-23 season.

The 2020 GRAMMY nominee in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant and winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition also is a highly acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky.

Lark delights audiences with programming that includes Appalachian and bluegrass music that inspired composers have written for her. She also has started composing.

Edward Arron plays the cello while his wife Jeewon Park accompanies him on the piano during a previous Musical Masterworks concert. Photo credit: Musical Masterworks.

The 2021-22 season marks a return to live performances before audiences in the Meeting Room of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. While Musical Masterworks artists and fans improvised last year with a series of professionally-recorded performances by the artists in the church hall and remote viewing for patrons, there is nothing comparable to the magic of experiencing world-class performances in this consummate sanctuary for classical chamber music. 

Add to that, for the first time in 16 years of the series, a harpsichord will be on stage. No wonder the Sunday, Oct. 24 performance sold out two weeks ahead of the concert. Tickets for the Saturday, Oct. 23 performance are still available but must be ordered in advance.

Sitting down recently – via Zoom – with Arron and Lark, they expanded on what is in store for this season and beyond.

The founder and first Artistic Director of Musical Masterworks was legendary pianist Charles Wadsworth. Photo credit: Musical Masterworks.

“I was honored to be invited to be a part of this concert series,” said Arron, recalling his first Musical Masterworks appearance in 2005. Legendary classical pianist Charles Wadsworth, director of chamber music at the Spoleto Festivals in both Italy and Charleston, S.C., and founder of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, was the series’ first artistic director. 

“I learned a lot from Charles, we laughed a lot and made some great music together. It was a dream in the back of my head to run such a concert series some day.” 

Musical Masterworks brings together talented, world-class classical musicians to play an inspiring collection of works, some perhaps never presented together before, others completely new and some older. 

Wadsworth must have recognized a kindred spirit in Arron as someone with an extensive knowledge of the chamber music repertoire, who both knew and performed with many other talented musicians and also had a passion for putting together musical programs. Arron served as assistant artistic director for two years before Wadsworth retired, and took over the helm in his early thirties.

“There are several stages to the great pleasures of this job,” Arron said. “First, dreaming up the music that you would like to play and the combination of dear friends that you would like to put together to play these pieces.”

He continued, “People had to trust me, that we could give them something entertaining. I also felt I had to earn the trust of this audience to put it into proportion and to create a context of an afternoon well-spent. Charles before me did that and I enjoyed searching for that balance. It was such a nourishing part of my life, being able to dream of programs and render them.”

Arron saw similar talents and interests in Lark, who he admires for her creative programming as well as her masterful delivery. Driving from Detroit to Massachusetts in a COVID-impacted travel schedule, he had time to ponder which performer connected best with Musical Masterworks audiences. 

Publicity shot of Musical Masterworks Artistic Director-designate, violinist Tessa Lark.

“Tessa lights up the stage wherever she goes, and people fall in love with her, in addition to that, I observed that Tessa was falling in love with this place, too,” he said. Speaking directly to her (since both were on-screen simultaneously), Arron said, “Tessa, every time you returned to Musical Masterworks, you genuinely connected back with these people who you had met there and to the stage. That seemed a harmonious thing.”

Lark, who lives in New York and travels much of the time to perform — in locations as far away as The Netherlands and Australia, and including Seattle, Santa Fe and Tulsa in the US — welcomes the Old Lyme venue for its acoustics, charm and the ability for musicians and audiences to connect.

“It’s equal part intimate and grand, it is just so hard to find that combination especially for chamber music, and to get into the music nitty-gritty. Every subtlety that the group has, that has been worked out, can be appreciated by every audience member. That is such a rarity,” Lark said enthusiastically.

She added, “I love that it is bright and sunny, all of the visual aesthetics match the spirit of the place, and the sounds of the music-making, it is such a beautiful harmony of the senses.”

“It acoustically and aesthetically one of the most magical places to play,” said Arron, continuing, “Returning year after year, it’s beautiful you can see the seasons changing as you go through the concert season. In the fall, you see beautiful foliage outside, in the winter concerts you see the winterscape, then you see and hear the spring unfolding, [and then] they often open the windows for that final concert.

Arron noted, “The acoustic is really clear and warm, the audience sits in a way where you can see each other’s faces. There is a particularly special connection. The people in the audience become friends, all of these elements come together – you’re among friends, you’re playing to friends, with friends, there are a lot of elements to look forward to.”

Edward Arron describes the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme as “One of the most magical places to play.” Photo credit: Musical Masterworks.

“I just adore that a musician can be free to play what they love in that beautiful space, and because Ed has instilled so much trust, the audience will come,” explained Lark.

Arron describes his selections for the 31st season as “a bit daring and unconventional,” but still promising to be familiar and entertaining. 

The opening concert features the debut of harpsichordist Paolo Bordignon, alongside violinists Jesse Mills and Lark in a program of Baroque delights that served as the inspiration for Stravinsky’s ballet, Pulcinella.

In December, pianist Orion Weiss, violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti and violist Nicholas Cords perform a program of glorious piano quintets, from Dvorak, Shostakovich and Brahams to Rag-Gidon-Time for String Trio, composed 25 years ago by Giya Kancheli from Republic of Georgia.

In February, celebrated guitarist Colin Davin performs Bach, Schubert, plus a piece by contemporary composer Vivian Fung, a past fellow classmate of Arron’s.

In March, two Musical Masterworks veterans flutist Tara Helen O’Connor and pianist Adam Neiman play works by Haydn, Prokofiev, Zwilich and Weber, with Arron.

The final farewell program, in April, by Arron and his wife, pianist Jeewon Park with Lark and her fiancé, double bassist Michael Thurber, features Handel/Halvorsen, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Appalachia Waltz by Mark O’Connor.

Editor’s Note: For further information on the 31st season of ‘Musical Masterworks’, details of all the performances, and ticket purchase options — including for Saturday, Oct. 23 — visit this link

‘Wee Faerie Village’ Returns to Old Lyme’s Florence Griswold Museum Through Oct. 31, ‘Balloon Art Day’ Planned for Oct. 23

Visitors of all ages are in awe of the Florence Griswold Museum’s Wee Faerie Village. Photo by Sean Flynn

OLD LYME — After postponing Wee Faerie Village last year due to COVID, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme presents FOLLY WOODS: Awesome Wee Faerie Architecture Along the Artists’ Trail on the grounds of museum’s 12-acre campus from Oct. 1 through 31.

Visitors follow a map to explore 23 miniature wonders handcrafted by artists, designers, and faerie-aficionados. This annual event with its family-friendly walking trail has come to signify an enriching outing for visitors of all ages.

In past years, the Museum has greeted between 10,000 and 17,000 visitors during this family-friendly outdoor exhibition.

This year’s Wee Faerie Village is the 12th anniversary of the Museum’s annual outdoor creative installations. The theme, FOLLY WOODS is a playful, miniaturized take on ornamental buildings popular on country estates, parks, and gardens in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are often inspired by classical architecture of ancient Greece or Rome, but can borrow elements from all over the world—for example, Egypt, India, and Japan.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the artists’ whimsical creative skills as they learn about different architectural styles from across the world.

Each Wee Faerie House is unique and demands close attention to take in all the intricate details.

Special Events

As part of its Wee Faerie Village exhibition, adults and families with children can enjoy a month of faerie-themed events. These events are included in admission. Visit www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information.

Saturday, Oct. 16
11am to 4pm

Pirate Day
Free with Museum Admission
Come meet the Free Men of the Seaarrr-fully good re-enactors who bring the myths and history of pirates and privateers to life. Visiting FOLLY WOODS for one special day only. Ask questions, pose for photos, and learn something new!

Saturday, Oct. 23
11am to 3pm

Twisting the Day Away: Balloon Art by April
Meet April, the balloon twisting artist who can conjure anything from her palette of colorful balloons. Ask for a wand, a sword, or a cartoon character, and watch it appear before your very eyes. A wonderfully colorful addition to FOLLY WOODS!

Sunday, Oct. 24
Noon to 3pm

Jolly Day in FOLLY WOODS
Free with Museum Admission
Enjoy a fun and jolly day in FOLLY WOODS with Joe Howard, entertainer extraordinaire—stilt walking, magic, and comedy to delight all ages. Fun for the whole family! Rain date: Saturday, October 30.

Sunday, Oct. 31
10am to 4pm
Halloween Fun in FOLLY WOODS
Dress up as movie stars, faeries, or wizards (or anything you like!) and frolic through FOLLY WOODS. Boo-tiful fun to be had for the whole family.

Editor’s Note: For more information, visit https://florencegriswoldmuseum.org/wfv2021/

Watercolors Exhibit by Jeanne Potter of Old Lyme on View at Greenwich Art Society Through Oct. 9

Lily Pads with Reeds and Clouds on Maine Pond by Jeanne C Potter. Photo submitted.

GREENWICH/OLD LYME — A solo exhibition and sale of paintings by artist Jeanne C. Potter of Old Lyme is currently on view at the Greenwich Art Society. An Opening Reception for the show will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The exhibition will run through Oct. 9 and features 47 recent watercolors, including her most recent award winners from national juried shows.

Potter has been painting for more than 50 years and the exhibition features a variety of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. She has also been teaching watercolor for some 20 years.

Potter explains in a press release, “I have had a lifelong love of watercolors, and this show of my recent work will let me share the art and beauty of watercolor with the public.”

 Highlights of her show include a series of recent pond paintings from her travels to Maine and Witch Hole Pond in Acadia National Park where she explores the beauty of reflected clouds in water amongst lily pads and grasses.

One painting titled Lily Pads and Clouds on Maine Pond (see image above) is currently on view at the juried national 51st Nor’Easter Exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Other New England landscapes painted en plein air show the beauty of nature from Owl’s Head, Maine and Newport, RI as well as Black Point in Niantic, Conn.

 When asked how she would describe her watercolor landscapes, Potter said in the release, “Watercolor allows me as an artist a way to capture all the beauty of nature in rich and powerful color as well as delicate and translucent detail.”

In addition to landscapes, she is an award-winning still life painter and included in her solo exhibition are a series of paintings of the classic Ball jar, in both clear and blue glass. This past Spring one of the Ball jar paintings received an Award of Merit at the Providence Art Club National juried exhibition and the painting is currently on view at the Bendheim Gallery in Greenwich in its 104th Annual National Juried Greenwich Art Society exhibition.

“I also try to find the beauty in everyday objects,” says Potter in the release, commenting, “Sometimes the most familiar can become a new and interesting subject for a painting, especially when I can capture in subtle color and painterly detail their essence as in my Ball Jar paintings.”

The exhibition will also feature her portrait art and include what the artist calls her “wall of women” presenting 20 portraits of women who are friends, family and acquaintances. “So many think of portrait art as being solely the domain of oil painting,” notes Potter, adding, “But what I want to show is how dramatic and effective watercolor can be in showing the enormous variety and beauty of the human face.”

The Greenwich Art Society Gallery is located at 299 Greenwich Ave., Second Floor, Greenwich. For more information visit the Society’s website or call 203-629-1533.

Registration Open at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts for Wide Range of Continuing Education Programs

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has announced a full schedule of Continuing Education programs beginning Sept, 27. Both part-time and full-time programs and classes are available, with enrollment beginning immediately.

The part-time Continuing Education classes are open to the community throughout the year and will follow an 11-week trimester. These classes are intended for students of all ages and abilities, who will benefit from skills-based art instruction, led by professional artists.

The three- or four-hour classes will run on weekdays and Saturdays from Sept. 27 through Dec. 11, and range in cost from $500 to $850 per class.  Classes are offered in:

  • Drawing
  • Life Drawing
  • Sculpture
  • Printmaking
  • Oil Painting
  • Content and Composition
  • Figure Painting.

A course in Oil Painting will be offered as part of Lyme Academy’s Fall 2021 Continuing Education program.

The full-time ‘Requisite Program’ is a one-year portfolio preparation program designed to provide a solid, skills-based visual education to develop an individual’s portfolio and abilities under the leadership of professional artists. The program consists of five main courses including Drawing, Sculpture, Painting, Synthesis Composition and Printmaking along with access to lectures, demonstrations, and critiques from Master Artists.

The full-time curriculum classes are conducted five days per week, approximately six hours per day for 11-week trimesters, beginning Sept. 27, with the the trimester school year ending June 10, 2022. The full-time Requisite Program tuition costs total $7,350, which includes the annual tuition of $6,000 and mandatory annual studio fee of $1,350. Scholarships are available.

All classes will be led by professional artists as follows:

  • Kimberly Monson, Drawing, Life Drawing and Sculpture
  • Paul Michael, Printmaking
  • Justin Wiest, Oil Painting
  • Jon Sideriadis Content and Composition
  • Jerry Weiss, Figure Painting.

For more information and to register for any of these classes, visit www.lymeacademy.edu.

Founded in 1976 by the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts was created as an institution dedicated to a traditional, skills-based education.

Subsequent to a period as an accredited college, Lyme Academy, a non-profit educational organization, is now returning to its founding roots to offer foundational skills in the fine arts; providing a curriculum which combines rigorous studio instruction in drawing and painting with anatomy, sculpture, and the history of art.

The Academy affirms its legacy and commitment to the community of Old Lyme by providing a vibrant schedule of lectures, exhibitions, workshops, and part-time programs.

Located midway between Boston and New York, Old Lyme, Connecticut has been a site of artistic congregation for over a century, becoming the heart of the Lyme Art Colony and the Home of American Impressionism.

Learn more by visiting www.lymeacademy.edu.

Benn to Present Latest Billy Boyle Novel in Zoom Presentation Hosted This Evening by Lyme Library

LYME — On Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., Lyme Public Library will host critically-acclaimed local author Jim Benn, who will talk in a presentation via Zoom about his latest novel, Road of Bones.

This is the 16th novel in Benn’s popular World War II mystery series, in which the main character is Billy Boyle.

Road of Bones sees Boyle sent to the heart of the USSR to solve a double-murder at a critical turning point in the war.

In its description of the book, Amazon.com states, “It’s September 1944, and the US is poised to launch Operation Frantic, a shuttle bombing mission to be conducted by American aircraft based in Great Britain, southern Italy, and three Soviet airfields in the Ukraine.

Tensions are already high between the American and Russian allies when two intelligence agents—one Soviet, one American—are found dead at Poltava, one of the Ukrainian bases. Billy is brought in to investigate, and this time he’s paired, at the insistence of the Soviets, with a KGB agent who has his own political and personal agenda.

In the course of an investigation that quickly spirals out of control, Billy is aided by the Night Witches, a daring regiment of young Soviet women flying at night at very low altitudes, bombing hundreds of German installations.

It’s a turning point in the war, and allied efforts hang by a thread. Unless Billy and his KGB partner can solve the murders in an atmosphere of mutual distrust, Operation Frantic is doomed.”

Jim Benn

Road of Bones has received numerous outstanding reviews include this Starred one from Booklist: “Benn’s ability to sustain his terrific premise while adding depth to his characters makes this long-running series a must for those who love WWII crime fiction.”

Another Starred Review came from Publishers Weekly: “Exhilarating…Bolstered by vivid, scintillating descriptions of air strikes and dogfights involving the legendary all-female Soviet air force unit known as the Night Witches, Benn’s high-intensity storytelling shines.”

Kirkus Reviews had this to say,A World War II supersleuth, deprived of his usual backup, unravels a tangled web of criminality in Russia . . . Benn’s well-crafted series deepens with every installment.”

Visit this link to register for the event and receive the Zoom details. Contact Theresa Conley at  860-434-2272 with any questions.

Musical Masterworks Announces Season Starting Oct. 23 in Person; Arron Stepping Down as Artistic Director, Lark to Replace Him

Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron is stepping down at the end of the 2021-22 season. Photo by Hak-Soo Kim.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks (MM) will be back in person this fall for their 31st season with an array of professional chamber music concerts programmed by Artistic Director Edward Arron. The concerts will take place in MM’s traditional home at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Alden Rockwell Murphy, who serves as MM Board President, comments, “It will be wonderful to be back in community, where we can experience the joy of sharing this music together.”

The MM Digital Brochure provides details about the upcoming season, which is filled with performances by Masterworks veterans, as well as some exciting debut performances. The first concert will take place Saturday, Oct. 23.

This season Edward Arron’s final season as Artistic Director will be celebrated. He says in the MM brochure that he feels, in order to allow for fresh ideas for Musical Masterworks, it is time for him to step down.

Violinist Tessa Lark will replace Edward Arron as MM Artistic Director for the 2022-23 season.

Arron has chosen violinist Tessa Lark as his successor. Lark will serve as Artistic Director Designate this season; she will be performing at and co-hosting four out of the five MM concerts.

Regarding COVID-19 safety protocols in respect of the reopening, MM, together with the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, will be monitoring and adhering to CDC and CT guidance throughout the season. Musical Masterworks will be in touch via email prior to each concert to ensure that you are aware of current attendance guidelines so you can safely enjoy their performances.

Musical Masterworks commits to continue to be vigilant in making the health and safety of their musicians, audience and staff a priority as the (hopeful) return to normalcy continues.

Lyme Academy Returns to its Roots with New Programs for Serious Art Students; Exhibitions, Classes for Community

The all-new Core Program at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts focuses on foundational artistic skills in drawing, painting and sculpture in the figurative tradition.

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has officially reopened with a renewed dedication to the mission first articulated by its Founder, sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler. The Academy was created in 1976 as an institution dedicated to the traditional, skills-based art education first taught in the Renaissance academies of Europe and later at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts.

With this return to its roots, the Academy begins the academic year with the launch of a new Core Program of study for full-time students, which will commence in late September. Led by the husband and wife team of Jordan Sokol and Amaya Gurpide, who serve as Co-Artistic Directors, a dynamic new faculty of internationally-acclaimed instructors will teach students the foundational skills on which they can build a career in the fine arts.

Artistic Director and Director of Painting, Jordan Sokol (left) and newly-appointed Painting-Drawing Instructor, Hollis Dunlap — himself an alumnus of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts — working in the Southwick-Keller Studio at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

Enrollment for the 2021-2022 academic year is now open and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year.

The Academy’s Core Program is comprehensive and intense: classes are conducted five days a week, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. with weekly supplementary instruction in anatomy, sculpture, and the history of art. Landscape, still life and portraiture are included in the program, as are dedicated explorations of the properties of light and form.

Students work in custom north-lit studios, honing their technical skills through the direct observation of imported European plaster casts and live models. Intimate class sizes allow for in-studio demonstrations and individualized critiques, as well as guided museum and gallery visits. Faculty and guest lectures are regularly scheduled, many of which are open to the public.

The Core Program will run on a trimester schedule with the first (Fall) trimester beginning on Sept. 27, of this year. The cost per trimester is $3650, with scholarship opportunities available.

“We’re looking for students who want to apply themselves and work hard to grow and develop” said Sokol, himself an accomplished painter, continuing, “You’ve got to be willing to put in the thousands of hours required if you are serious about developing your talent. There are no short-cuts.”

It is anticipated that most students will study for three years, although some will pursue a shorter course of study and others longer, depending on their individual objectives and the progress they make developing their skills.

“As in the original vision for Lyme Academy, the institution will no longer confer Bachelor’s degrees. In the place of seat-time requirements for credit accumulation, students will instead focus on skill-building with an eye towards mastery, fully preparing our students for the 21st century art world,” the Academy’s Executive Director, Mora Rowe, said.

She added, “In addition to our Core Program, we are planning a full spectrum of public programming, which will include gallery openings, exhibitions, part-time classes, workshops, lectures, cultural events, and more. Our partnership with the community along with the accessibility and openness of our campus are of the highest priority.”

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts features 40,000 sq. ft. of studio and teaching space on the sprawling four-acre campus located in the heart of Old Lyme.

Two additional educational programs are currently under development. Firstly, the Academy will offer a Continuing Education program focused on students of all ages and abilities to benefit from a skills-based curriculum, with a choice of year-round study or individual classes. And secondly, a Portfolio Preparation program is also under development, which will be designed to provide a solid, skills-based visual education to develop one’s portfolio and abilities under the leadership of professional artists.

The Lyme Academy of Fine Art will host quarterly Gallery Openings beginning with the first exhibition, Memento Vivere, on Oct. 16. This invitational group exhibition will be curated by Sokol and Gurpide, and will also have the additional role of being an Inaugural Fundraiser for the Academy. The Memento Vivere exhibition, located in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery, will be open to the public from Oct. 17 through Dec. 10.

Lyme Academy is located midway between Boston and New York at 84 Lyme St. in Old Lyme, Conn. The town has been a site of artistic congregation for over a century after evolving as the heart of the Lyme Art Colony, which led to it becoming the Home of American Impressionism.

Visit this link for more information about Lyme Academy of Fine Arts or call 860.434.5232.

FloGris, PARJE Co-Host Lecture Today on ‘Murals and Monuments: The Politics of Public Art’

The history and practice of public art are the subject of a virtual lecture presented Wednesday, Sept. 1, by the FloGris Museum and PARJE.

OLD LYME — The Florence Griswold Museum is partnering with Public Art for Racial Justice Education to present a free virtual lecture titled Murals and Monuments: The Politics of Public Art at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Mary Kordak, Professor of Art History at the University of New Haven, will talk about the history of murals/monuments and how they affect cultural change. This talk touches on the current debates over monuments, how important it is to remember our history, and how public art can help re-tell narratives that were historically racially unjust.
Audience members will participate in a Question & Answer session. The intent is that attendees leave with a deeper understanding of the history and practice of public art.
This lecture is part of a series “Arts & Advocacy: Methods to Spark Positive Change Through Art” is made possible with support from Connecticut Humanities.

Organization Confronting Racial Injustice with Public Art Announces Partnership to Install Murals in Four Towns, Including Old Lyme

NEW LONDON, CT —Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) and CT Murals have today announced a partnership to enable the installation of four murals in each of four towns:- New London, Old Lyme, Norwich, and East Lyme.

This will be part of the Sister Murals Project whereby skilled and unskilled artists from different communities, races, ethnicities, and generations will work together under master Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) artists. The murals they create will bring lesser told stories to life while remembering cherished values in their respective communities.

Since its official launch in March of this year, PARJE has gained support from all around southeastern Connecticut. This includes colleges and museums, municipalities, art galleries, civic organizations, churches, and various businesses throughout the region.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education is a broad-based, interracial, non-partisan, non-sectarian group consisting of volunteers from various communities around the shoreline region. These communities include Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Essex, Deep River, Norwich and New  London. Building partnerships with surrounding communities is an additional focus of the group’s stated mission.

CT Murals has been dedicated to creating inclusive public art since 2015. The group utilizes grants as well as community support and donations to create all of its public art. Currently, CT Murals is working to install its 39 MLK Murals across the state, one for every year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

The Sister Murals will be the second official public art project of PARJE. Their first public art project is a diptych that travels between schools, museums, libraries, and faith communities to teach about the history of the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

The diptych, a two-panel painting, was created by artists Nancy Gladwell and Jasmine Oyola. The first host of the diptych was Norwich Free Academy in early July. Since then, it has been to Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Waterford, New London and Hartford.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education has also been working with one of its earliest partners, Sustainable CT, on a series of videos to document their conversations with everyone from students to elected officials regarding the role public art can play in society.

In addition to these videos PARJE has partnered with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme and the Lyman Allyn Museum of New London to produce lectures discussing race, society, and art. Jason Deeble, project manager for the East Lyme Sister Mural, hopes to keep the spirit of those lectures going and sees public art as the best chance to do it.

When discussing the Sister Murals Project, Deeble commented “Art and learning, and civic responsibility, are all kinds of major fixtures in my life and a mural project like this makes a beautiful little Venn diagram with me right in the center.”

Public Art for Racial Justice Education, along with their financial sponsor, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, will work with CT Murals to involve the community in a variety of ways.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education believes there is an opportunity to involve the community in all aspects of mural installation. Whether it be discussing the mural themes in person or on a virtual call, or students assisting the artist with installation, there are several ways to involve the community.

More important than the installation of the murals themselves, however, are the plans PARJE has made for the time after these four pieces have been completed. The group is planning to host both presentations and performances at the site of the Sister Murals.

Fulton Park, the site of the New London Sister Mural wall, is configured in such a way that the area directly in front of the wall creates a natural stage. PARJE is committed to using the broad appeal of art and education to facilitate easy opportunities for conversation in the community about the difficult subject of racial injustice.

With three full basketball courts and a skate park, Eddie Long, PARJE Co-chair and member of the New London Arts Council, believes Fulton Park could easily accommodate a large crowd or audience. In discussing the need for neglected spaces to be utilized, Long stated, “We don’t like blank spaces in New London. We like spaces to be filled with people, with art, and ideas.”

CT Murals will have a chance to help install an indoor piece as well with Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School agreeing to become the future home of the Old Lyme Sister Mural. Located beside the school’s auditorium there is potential for educational programs or events that tie into the mural’s theme of “Welcoming All.”

There will be a Call for Artists coming from PARJE in the beginning of September.

For the Sister Murals Project, an official fundraising campaign has begun this month with a page on the crowdfunding site, Patronicity. If you would like to learn more about PARJE, or donate to one of the four Sister Murals, visit racialjusticeart.org

To become involved with PARJE, email racialjusticeart@gmail.com

Follow Public Art for Racial Justice Education on social media at these links:

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release from PARJE.

‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse

‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years’ is currently being performed at The Ivoryton Playhouse.

IVORYTON – The extraordinary and life-affirming play Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years by Emily Mann (adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth) opened Aug. 12, at The Ivoryton Playhouse.

Based on the New York Times bestselling novel, Having Our Say takes us into the trail-blazing worlds of Sadie and Bessie Delany, two real-life, civil rights pioneers. Their warm, funny, and intelligent tale is a remarkable and moving portrait of two groundbreaking women, who continue to laugh, love, and embrace life after over 100 years living side-by-side.

This Tony-nominated play begins as sisters, Sadie and Bessie (103- and 101-years-old, respectively), welcome us into their Mount Vernon home while they prepare a celebratory dinner in remembrance of their father’s birthday. Along the way they take us on a remarkable journey through the last 100 years of our nation’s history.

From post-Civil War Reconstruction through the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, their sharp memories recapture the worlds of Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson.

A scene from ‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.’

Throughout their respective life journeys, Sadie and Bessie broke barriers of color and race becoming a respected dentist and a New York City schoolteacher at a time when America held high the potential for change and growth. Their extraordinary and inspiring lives are examples in courage and love that stand as monumental contributions to our nation’s heritage.

This poignant and touching family drama stars Catherine Williams* as Sadie and Hope Harley* as Bessie. And the Delany Sisters’ influence is not lost on them, evidenced by Harley commenting, “Much like their contemporary, Anna James, of the James Pharmacy here in Connecticut, they serve as role models even today.” Or as Williams states simply, “I am very humbled to play the role.”

The play is directed by Ivoryton Playhouse’s Associate Artistic Director Todd Underwood with set design by Martin Marchitto; costumes by Elizabeth Saylor; lighting by Marcus Abbott; and sound by Tate R. Burmeister.

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years runs through Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

The safety of its audience is the theater’s primary concern. Its capacity has been socially-distanced so that there are now only 140 seats in the theatre for the audience’s comfort and protection.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and avalable by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online.

Visit the Playhouse’s website for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

*Denotes member of Actors Equity

Lyme Art Association Celebrates its Centennial in True ‘Twenties’ Style

Replicating the traditions of the early part of the last century, artists associated with the Lyme Art Association set up their easels at different points along Lyme St. on Saturday, and painted local scenes. Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

OLD LYME — On Saturday, the Lyme Art Association (LAA) celebrated 100 years (and one day!) since their gallery opened with art and awards, teas and ‘The Twenties,’ and much mirth and merriment all around.

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

Some artists took their palettes to the river.

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

Artwork was created in all sizes …

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

… and colors.

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

Some was small …

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

… while others were large.

Photo by Anne Smith Brandenburg.

But concentration was high wherever the artists were working and the results were truly remarkable.

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Tea was served ‘Twenties’ style at the LAA during the afternoon, celebrating the period when the Association first opened its doors …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson

… with delicious goodies for all.

Photo by Linda Ahnert.

There were tables with flowery cloths and flowers in vases everywhere …

Photo by Linda Ahnert.

The weather was perfect, faces were smiling, and these ladies in their ‘Twenties’ tea-dresses were clearly having a lovely time.

Photo by Linda Ahnert.

This plaque reminded guests of the joyful date they were all celebrating …

Photo by Linda Ahnert.

… while this mask reminded guests of the unwelcome newcomer in our midst.

All the freshly-painted artwork was gathered on the LAA’s lawn where guests studied it intently to decide  whether to make a purchase.

There was so much wonderful work from which to choose …

… but Lyme Street resident Lynn Fairfield-Sonn knew precisely which piece she wanted to buy. It was the beautiful painting of her house depicting herself and husband Jim on the porch!

Cooley Gallery owner Jeff Cooley (right) announced the winners of the ‘Wet-Paint Contest,’ who gathered for a photo with LAA Board Chairman Harley Bartlett (left) after the presentation of awards.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) was on hand to present LAA Executive Director Laurie Pavlos with a Proclamation from the State House and Senate honoring the event.

The LAA Board Chair, Harley Bartlett (center), cheerfully shared a smile with the LAA Executive Director Laurie Pavlos (right) and Development Director Elsbeth Dowd (left.)

Local artist Jack Montmeat was awarded first prize in the Lyme Art Association’s summer exhibition A Century of Inspiration.

The early evening morphed into the Centennial Frolic with a 1920s-themed fundraiser for the Second Century Skylight Project. This delightful event celebrated the next 100 years of the LAA’s historic gallery in the spirit of their founders with fabulous ‘Twenties’ attire being the fashion theme.

And so this memorable day came to an end, but let us not forget the artists of the future, who will see the LAA through their next 100 years … and here is one of them, Gideon Halferty — the seven-year-old son of Esther and Paul — hard at work in front of his house on Lyme Street!

Lyme Art Association Celebrates 100th Anniversary TODAY with Lyme Street ‘Paint-Out’, Tea Day, ‘Centennial Frolic’

‘Tea Day’ by Edward Volkert, 1930, and printed courtesy of the family of Edward Volkert, hints at the festivities to be held on the Lyme Art Association’s ‘Centennial Day,’ Aug. 7.

OLD LYME — In 1921, after years of discussion, planning, and fundraising, the early members of the Lyme Art Association (LAA) achieved their goal: a purpose-built gallery to display their art. This year, the LAA will be marking that milestone with special exhibitions, events, and activities.

Centennial Day, Aug. 7, 2021 is 100 years (plus one day) from the opening day of the first exhibit in the Lyme Art Association Gallery. The impetus for the incorporation of Lyme Art Association back in 1914 was to plan and build a gallery perfect for the display of the works of the Lyme Impressionists, who formed the Lyme Art Colony.

The Lyme Art Association on Lyme Street is celebrating the centennial of its founding with three related events being held throughout the day on Saturday, Aug. 7, culminating in a 1920s-themed fundraising “Frolic’ from 5 to 7 p.m.

The opening of the gallery seven years later on Aug. 6, 1921, represented the culmination of years of planning, fundraising, delays, more fundraising, and construction.

The gallery’s opening was celebrated enthusiastically by the community, praised by national journals, and of course, was the pride and joy of the artists themselves and Miss Florence Griswold, who served as the first gallery manager.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, the Lyme Art Association is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the construction of the LAA gallery and the start of a continuous connection with the Old Lyme and Lyme communities with three related events:

  • Wet Paint on Lyme Street will place member artists throughout the Old Lyme village at their easels painting en plein air, thus evoking the early artists with whose presence the community was quite familiar. The artists will work at varying times during the day and then sell their paintings on the LAA lawn at 4:30 p.m. This will be an opportunity to see many LAA artists painting in their own styles.

Tea Day is a family-friendly event being held from 1 to 4 p.m., which will harken back to the LAA’s early fundraisers of tea parties held on the front lawn for the townspeople and artists. Beverages and baked goods will be sold while crafts, games, and other fun activities will be offered. Costumed historical interpreters will be on hand to share stories of the artists, who founded the LAA along with planning and building the gallery. Join today’s LAA for a contemporary take on an event from years gone by.

Lyme Art Colony Annual Frolic, 1928

  • The Centennial Frolic will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. with a 1920s-themed fundraiser (1920s attire encouraged!) for the  Second Century Skylight Project. This event will celebrate the next 100 years of the LAA’s historic gallery in the spirit of their founders.The artists of the Lyme Art Colony marked the end of every summer with a “Frolic,” which often included elaborate costuming (see photo above.)This event is open to donors to the Skylight Project (visit this page on the LAA website or call 860- 434-7802 to donate) and will include beverages and appetizers. Help save the skylights and “frolic” like the LAA founders!

A Century of Inspiration, the Lyme Art Association’s summer exhibition will explore the connections between the current Association’s artists and the original Lyme Art Colony artists.

The best work of LAA members, inspired by some of the same landscapes and subject matter that early Lyme artists painted, will be hung along with pieces by the founding artists. Displays exploring the founding, growth, and changes in the LAA will be presented, taking visitors all the way through the century that saw so much change in both the Association and the world at large.

This work titled, ‘Return of the Laurel,’ (oil) is one of the featured paintings in the new exhibit at the LAA.

Lyme Art Association Executive Director Laurie Pavlos explained, “Artists who visited Old Lyme in the early 1900s found its beauty and rural atmosphere an antidote to some of the more unpleasant changes that industrialization and urbanization were causing. They also found a wonderful camaraderie and encouragement in each other as well as their patron and landlady, Florence Griswold.”

Pavlos continued, “In many respects, as much as things have changed, they have stayed the same. Miss Florence is gone, but many Lyme Art Association artists are still inspired by the same combination of local beauty, camaraderie and encouragement, which are important aspects of our mission, along with the extensive educational opportunities we offer.”

For more information about the Skylight Campaign and/or the Frolic, visit lymeartassociation.org.

The Century of Inspiration exhibit runs from July 30 through Sept. 16. The LAA gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. and also by appointment.

Saturday’s Centennial Celebrations at Lyme Art Association Include Traditional ‘Tea Day’ … But What’s Its History?

‘Tea Day 1930’ by Edward Volkerts paints a beautiful picture of the teas held on the lawn in front of the Lyme Art Association in yesteryear. A ‘Tea Day’ forms part of the LAA’s Centennial celebrations this Saturday. Image published courtesy of the Volkerts family.

OLD LYME — On Saturday, Aug. 7, the Lyme Art Association (LAA) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of its gallery.  Several special events are planned, one of which is a tea party on the LAA lawn.  

Though the gallery itself opened in August of 1921, the history of the LAA goes even further back and is interwoven with our town library and the Florence Griswold Museum. 

To start at the very beginning—in 1899, Henry Ward Ranger, already an established painter, arrived in Old Lyme and bunked down at the boardinghouse of Florence Griswold. So smitten was Ranger with the beauty of the area and the quality of the light that he began to envision the village as an American art colony.

He wrote to his agent in New York that Lyme was a landscape waiting to be painted and told Miss Florence he would be back the next summer and bring more painters with him.  And so the artists came. 

The Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library was the original home of the Lyme Art Colony’s summer exhibition from 1902 through 1920 before the Lyme Art Association had a building of its own.

And in 1902, the artists began a summertime tradition when they held an exhibition in the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.  An article in the Hartford Courant explained that “the library and the artists have formed a sort of close corporation.” The library (which opened in 1898, the year before Ranger arrived) needed funds to buy books; the artists needed an exhibition space.

“One scheme after another was tried until it occurred to someone to ask the artists who spend their summers in town to exhibit some of their paintings” the Courant reporter wrote. Admission to the show was 50 cents and proceeds were for the benefit of the library.  Additionally, the library received a percentage of all paintings sold.  

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and the shows were a success from the start.  As the fame of the Lyme Art Colony grew, the artists started making plans to build their own gallery. Many of them settled permanently in town and, in 1914, incorporated as the Lyme Art Association. But the shows continued at the library until 1920.

It took years both to raise money and decide on the best location for the new building.  One of the options was a parcel of Miss Florence’s property which fronted on Lyme Street.  World War I also intervened — not to mention what American Art News described as a “merry war” among the artists about the design of the gallery.  

Finally, on Aug. 6, 1921, the LAA gallery was ready for its close-up and opened its doors at 90 Lyme Street next door to Miss Florence’s boardinghouse.  In its review of the opening, the New York Times praised the gallery “as an embodiment of art in harmony with its natural surroundings.” 

Miss Florence became the first gallery manager and remained so until her death in 1937.

Tea on the lawn of the LAA.

During the years of the early exhibitions at the library, the Ladies’ Library Association served tea on the lawn.  And the artists continued this tea time tradition at the new gallery.  Tea was served en plein air at the LAA on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.  The Edward Volkert painting above, which is on the poster for the centennial show, depicts one such “Tea Day.” 

A 1928 article in American Motorist also gives a vivid description—“For every July when Lyme Art Association opens the doors to its annual exhibition, the whole village and surrounding countryside awakes to a regular orgy of art and delightful social festivities.  The yellow pennants streaming from tall flagpoles at either end of the terrace, dainty tea tables gay with attractive china and lovely flowers, to say nothing of the pretty girls who serve tea and punch to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons . . . ” 

Several women, who as teenagers helped serve tea at LAA, were interviewed for an article published in The Pictorial Gazette in 1988.  They remembered the lace tablecloths and that the ladies wore “long, filmy dresses that were every pastel color imaginable.” They also recalled big, floppy hats; white gloves; and ginger and cream cheese sandwiches.

All was not perfect in this pastel paradise, however.  One of the women noted that as a 12-year-old, she was shocked at her first sight of a lady smoking which was “unheard of in this town.” 

And this coming Saturday afternoon, on the 100th anniversary of the gallery opening, the LAA will once again host a tea party.  There will be refreshments and family-friendly activities on the front lawn from 1 to 4 p.m.

Inside the gallery, the current exhibition is “A Century of Inspiration,” for which today’s artists have created works painted at many of the sites that the Old Lyme “old masters” immortalized a century ago.  And throughout the day, you can observe LAA artists up close and personal as they paint in various locations along Lyme Street.  

So much has changed in the world in the last century and we no longer live in a genteel era of outdoor tea parties. Right now, we are even living in the midst of a global pandemic. 

But some things have not changed. 

Old Lyme is still the beautiful village that Ranger first saw in 1899.  Each May and June, the mountain laurel still blooms. And 100 years after the LAA first opened, painters continue to find inspiration in the natural beauty of our town and to exhibit fine art in the gallery.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link for full details of all the events planned for the LAA’s Centennial Day.

Large Turnout for Successful ‘Community Connections’ Networking Event at Lyme Academy

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Chairman Michael Duffy addresses the guests at Wednesday’s networking event hosted by Community Connections at the Academy. All photos by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — It was a glorious afternoon on Wednesday when around 70 community members gathered on the lawns at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme for the first ‘post-COVID’ event hosted by Community Connections.

Attendees enjoyed catching up with old friends after more than a year of semi-seclusion due to the pandemic.

Local non-profit leaders and volunteers along with a number of community leaders mingled outside under a warm sun.

Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold (in red shirt) chatted with the publisher of ‘estuary’ magazine Dick Shriver. Maryam Elahi, President & CEO of Community Foundation of Eastern CT (in black and white hat), also joined the conversation.

Representatives of Lyme Academy took the opportunity to give presentations describing plans for the future of the institution. Their vision is one of a vibrant institution returning to the mission of its founder and also becoming once again an active participant in the community.

Newly-appointed Lyme Academy Artistic Director Jordan Sokol addressed the guests. The new Executive Director of the Academy, Mora Rowe, is seated to his right.

There was enthusiastic participation in the presentations …

Guests responded keenly to the presentations.

… and opportunities to tour the grounds of the Academy.

Evan Griswold and Laurie Walker assisted at the event.

Refreshments, including wine and delicious Benko Box treats from Carlson’s Landing, were served …

Pollinate Old Lyme! Co-Chair Cheryl Poirier (center) chatted with friends.

Conversations continued …

Lyme-Old Lyme’s Food Share Garden President Jim Ward (center, smiling) connected with other local volunteers.

There was lots of listening …

Long-time board member of the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Ned Perkins (in pink shirt) happily discussed the success of the library’s recent renovations.

… to a variety of speakers …

Tina Birkic (in green), who chairs Community Connections, welcomed all the guests.

… and the event was deemed a huge success by the organizers and guests alike. Tina Birkic, Community Connections Chair, concluded, ” It was a beautiful, sunny day. We were very happy so many people were able to attend and reconnect at such a lovely location.”

Old Lyme Open Space Commission member Greg Futoma chatted with other non-profit leaders.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Pollinate Old Lyme! Co-Chair and Region 18 Board of Education member Suzanne Thompson for all the photos.

‘Murder For Two’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse, Masks No Longer Required

Joe Kinosian as The Suspects and Ian Lowe at piano and as Detective Marcus. Photo by Joan Marcus.

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Playhouse has reopened its doors for a five-play season. The previously announced mask mandate has been removed as per new Actors Equity Association Union recommendations.

The opening production, Murder For Two by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian, is a blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, two performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

Murder For Two was developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May, 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two – Ian Lowe*, who was last seen in Ivoryton in The Woman in Black — plays the detective, and Joe Kinosian* plays all 13 suspects and they both play the piano.

A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with laughs.

The show is directed and choreographed by Wendy Seyb, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Saylor.

Murder For Two runs through Aug. 1. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will now be an additional performance on Saturday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

Regarding COVID-19 safety, Playhouse Operations Manager and Covid-19 Safety Manager, Steve Phelan, says “We know that our audiences will be relieved that the mask mandate has been lifted but we want to assure everyone that we will still be following stringent safety protocols including socially distanced seating, and no concessions will be sold, except water, for this first production. Audience safety, as well as their enjoyment of the show, is still our primary concern. We are hoping to be able to welcome more audience members safely in the months ahead”

The health and safety of our actors, patrons and staff remains the top priority at the Playhouse. Many improvements have been made to the Ivoryton Playhouse for audience protection including socially distanced seating, increasing the flow of outside air to 40 percent, installation of air purification units, contactless ticketing, increased cleaning, hand sanitization stations and more.

The second show in the 2021 Summer Season will be:

by Emily Mann, adapted from the book “Having Our Say”
Aug. 12 – Sept. 5
A beautiful, funny and heartfelt family drama based on the bestselling memoir of Bessie and Sadie Delany – trailblazers, activists and best friends.

More shows will be announced soon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available on June 14 by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online.

Visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Launches New Program of Study, Offers Classical Arts Education for Less Than $10K Per Year 

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, pictured above, has launched its application drive for full-time students with a reimagined core program of study, which will commence in late September. Led by the  husband and wife team of Jordan Sokol and Amaya Gurpide, a dynamic new faculty of internationally-acclaimed instructors will teach students the foundational skills on which they can  build a career in the fine arts.

“We’re looking for students who really want to apply themselves and work hard to grow and develop” said Sokol, himself an accomplished painter, adding, “You’ve got to be willing to put in the thousands of hours required, if you are serious about developing your talent. There are no short-cuts.”

Jordan Sokol (right) and Amaya Gurpide are the new Artistic Director at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

It is expected that most students will study for three years, although some will pursue a shorter course of study and others longer, depending on their individual objectives and the progress they make developing their skills.  

Building on the momentum developed from a series of community programs that have energized the campus, the Academy’s Executive Director Mora Rowe, said, “We have stunning facilities in a magical setting that combines a great history with the future of figurative and representational arts.”

Due to the reorganization that has taken place at the Academy, it will no longer confer Bachelor’s degrees. In place of seat-time requirements for credit accumulation, students will instead focus on skill-building with an eye towards mastery.

The Executive Director of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is Mora Rowe.

“As a result of this shift, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the Academy’s overhead costs and can offer a full-time course of study for under $10,000,” said Rowe. At a time when many are questioning the spiraling costs of higher education, students can now attend Lyme Academy and complete a course of study for less than the amount for a single year’s tuition when the institution conferred Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. 

Founded in 1976 by the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, the Academy was created as an institution dedicated to the traditional, skills-based education, first taught in the Renaissance academies of Europe and later at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts.

In walking away from being a degree-granting institution, Lyme Academy has returned to its roots: at its founding and for many years thereafter, students were attracted to the Academy to learn skills, not to obtain a degree.

Chandler’s legacy continues in its new curriculum, which combines rigorous studio instruction in drawing and painting with anatomy, sculpture, and the histories of art. Integrated into this instructional framework is the progressive spirit of today’s Academy and a commitment to preparing its students for the 21st century art world. 

The Academy’s Core Program is comprehensive and intense: classes are conducted five days a week, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., with weekly supplementary instruction in anatomy, sculpture, and the histories of art. Landscape, still life, and portraiture are included in the program, as are dedicated explorations of the properties of light and form.

Students work in custom north-lit studios, honing their technical skills through the direct observation of imported  European plaster casts and live models. Intimate class sizes allow for in-studio demonstrations and individualized critiques, as well as guided museum and gallery visits.

Faculty and guest lectures are regularly scheduled, many of which are open to the public.

The camaraderie that is felt by students at the Academy is mirrored by the community outside the campus grounds. Located midway between Boston and New York, Old Lyme, Conn. has been a site of artistic congregation for over a century, recognized as the birthplace of the famed Lyme Art Colony and the ‘Home of American Impressionism.’ 

Editor’s Note: Enrollment for the 2021-2022 academic year is now open; applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. For further information about enrollment and how to apply, visit this link.

For further information about the Academy and its vibrant schedule of lectures, exhibitions, workshops, and part-time programs, and how to become an ‘Arts Insider,’ visit this link.

Immerse Yourself in ‘Connecticut Waters’ on a Nautical Trip with Lyme Photographer Caryn B. Davis in her Latest Book

All photos by Caryn B. Davis and published with her permission. All photos taken from ‘Connecticut Waters.’

“The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you”

Connecticut Waters is a remarkable book.

First of all, you think it is going to be yet another ‘coffee-table book’ and start to skim the pages simply to admire the beautiful photographs.

But then you start to read the narrative and it immediately demands your attention to the extent you simply cannot put the book down.

The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you, and all you can do is to let yourself become completely — and pleasantly — immersed in them.

After that, you move to yet another level and realize that you are now not only at one with the seas, lakes, rivers, streams and shores of this oh, so special state, but along your way to that perfect point, you have absorbed a plethora of interesting facts and tidbits of fascinating information that you never knew before.

Ultimately, you feel as though you are sharing the whole experience with Davis, who conceived the book and guided the narrative. You have never met her but you are certain you know her because her deep and intimate relationship with the waters of Connecticut has suddenly become yours.

Touching variously on an vast range of engaging topics, including — but by no means limited to — lobster and other snack shacks, historic ferries, antique boats, racing yachts, nautical arts, the oyster and fishing industries, and maritime museums, the book is packed with Davis’s striking photos, which frequently span more than one page making them even more impactful.

These latter explore in creative detail the subject matter of each chapter while the narrative amplifies the history, traditions, and culture of the state’s waters and how people use them in terms of industry, education, recreation and more.

The first chapter, Races and Rendezvous, opens with the words, “Something about being on the water calls for celebration of the magnificent power of the sea …” Throughout the book, Davis captures that celebration with photos of boats of all shapes, sizes and ages at events across the state, demonstrating clearly, “… our human love for life on the water, a love that never seems to die.”

A later chapter on Islands & Lighthouses states evocatively both are, “… about beginnings and endings, about loneliness and connection. A lighthouse keeper may be the opposite of a pirate, but both know the terrible beauty of the sea.”

The photos in this chapter are particularly striking while the narrative details some of the extraordinarily courageous feats of  Connecticut lighthouse keepers. Two such examples are Charles Kenny of the Peck Ledge Light at Norwalk, who in 1921, “rowed through huge swells to save four crewmen [who had] escaped their leaking steamboat” and Bridgeport resident Catherine Moore, who “lived on Fayerweather Island nearly her entire life, tending the light and saving two dozen lives during her tenure.”

The book vacillates between chapters on ‘concrete’ subjects such as Festivals & Celebrations; Boatbuilders & Restorations; Working Watercraft, and Museums & Aquariums, and those with a more intangible air like Wood, Wind & Water; Fun in the Sun; Water, Water, Everywhere, and Coming Into Port. In each case, however, Davis combines her exceptional skill as a photographer with her in-depth knowledge of local sights, sounds, events and personalities, thus bringing the chapter fully to life.

Caryn B. Davis

It is no surprise that the photography in this book is so powerful since Davis, who lives on Rogers Lake in Lyme, Conn., is an award-winning photographer, whose career has spanned the globe taking her to over 50 countries and counting, while her images and articles have been featured in over 60 publications worldwide.

Her first commissioned photography book, A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style, gained high accolades in 15 newspapers and magazines nationwide. 

Lehman, who write the narrative, is the director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport.

He is the author or editor of 20 books and his work has been published in dozens of journals and magazines.

If you love the state of Connecticut or even if your love only extends to the waters of Connecticut, then this is a book — as they say at weddings — ‘to have and to hold.’

It will inspire you to start planning visits to many of the places Davis highlights in her photographs. It will enchant you with the fabulous photography and finally, it will engage you with its masterful management of the challenging task of interweaving superior photos with informative text on a topic, which runs freely through the veins of anyone who calls — or has called — Connecticut home.

Editor’s Notes: ‘Connecticut Waters’ was published April 2021 by Globe Pequot Press. For more information about how to order ‘Connecticut Waters’ online or purchase it in person, visit this link.
For more information about Caryn B. Davis, visit her website at this link.

For more information about Eric D. Lehman, visit his website at this link.


Celebrate a Centennial Summer in Old Lyme’s Arts District

OLD LYME — Centennial Summer 2021 is underway in Old Lyme!

The Old Lyme Arts District — a partnership of arts and cultural organizations on Lyme Street — is celebrating the Lyme Art Association’s 100th anniversary with a wonderful selection of offerings and ideas on ways to enjoy arts, music and culture on Lyme Street.

View all current listings at this link  or take a look at them under these sub-headings:

Offerings will be updated during the summer.

Hundreds Celebrate Summer Solstice With Stroll Down Lyme St. Enjoying ‘Make Music Day’

Lyme Street was filled with cheerful folk enjoying the sounds of ‘Make Music Old Lyme’ and visiting with friends they had not seen in a long time due to pandemic restrictions. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

OLD LYME — ARTICLE UPDATED, PHOTOS ADDED: The air was warm and spirits were high early on Monday evening when more than 500 people took a stroll on Lyme Street to enjoy the music of a dozen bands and solo performers, who together created Make Music Old Lyme. 

‘The Voice’ finalist Braiden Sunshine drew a large crowd in front of Center School. All photos by Alan Poirier except where otherwise indicated.

It turned into an evening of wonderful musical entertainment and also the opportunity to reconnect with friends after a very long and challenging year.

Plywood Cowboy played on the steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The celebration spanned the length of Lyme Street from the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, where Steve Dedman of Plywood Cowboy played all the way up to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts where the Old Lyme Town Band entertained on the front lawn.

The Old Lyme Town Band gave a rousing performance in front of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

A number of people brought chairs and moved from performance to performance to enjoy the evening full of folk, indie rock, Americana, and more.

Welcome to Space performed at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau as part of ‘Make Music Old Lyme.’ From left to right are Thomas Pennie, Colin Hallahan and Jess Kegley with Noah Rumm on drums. All four are members of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2019. Photo by Tracy McGlinchey.

Many residents were surprised to learn that all of the musicians donated their time and talent to support the international Make Music Day credo of free music for all.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions did brisk business selling hot dogs and hamburgers.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Club sold over 100 hamburgers and more than 100 hot dogs …

Steve Patarini and Dean Montgomery performed on the new patio of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

… and meanwhile, The Chocolate Shell generously offered a 10 percent on all purchases.

Hot Strings Café could be found in front of Patricia Spratt for the Home.

Cheryl Poirier, a lead organizer of Make Music Old Lyme, told LymeLine after the event that she felt it was, “A highly successful night  … [and] a great time was had by all!”

The Nightingale Fiddlers and Friends played in front of … where else, but Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe?!

The comments we have seen about the event on our Facebook page and here on LymeLine strongly suggest that was the universal opinion!

The Moving Target Band played in front of The Village Shops.

The event was part of an international celebration of free music for all produced by the Old Lyme Arts District in conjunction with the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition and Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe arranged the musical lineup.

The Midnight Anthem delighted crowds in front of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

This was the third year Make Music Old Lyme has been presented; it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whiskey and Aspirin and friends performed in front of The Cooley Gallery.

At the end of the two-hour event, a ‘Kazoo Parade’ led by Dan Stevens brought people to Studio 80+ Sculpture Grounds, where a final jam session involving many of the performers continued.

After a jovial musical march up Lyme Street, several of the musicians stopped a while at Gil Boro’s studio to make more music. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Make Music Old Lyme returns next year on the Summer Solstice, Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

The grand, unplanned finale at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds made for a perfect end to an amazing evening. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase’ on View Throughout Summer

‘Yes’ by Joe Gitterman is one of the featured works in this year’s Summer Sculpture Showcase.

OLD LYME — An Opening Reception for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds’ 7th Annual Summer Sculpture Showcase will be held Saturday, June 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the artwork on display … and a much-anticipated return to socialization! All are welcome.

The event will feature a live performance by Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Steve Sigel.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens will be playing with Steve Sigel during the Opening Reception.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Its mission is to create a bond between art, nature and community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts.

The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for artists to showcase their sculptures in a wonderful environment specifically designed to nurture the creative arts.  This year, the Showcase features sculptural works by 20 selected artists.

Take the opportunity to wander around Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds and see the more than 100 sculptures on display,

In an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, masks will be mandatory for all and social distancing measures will be practiced. If you have not been vaccinated, you are requested to consider not attending the event.

The health and well-being of the community is of paramount importance. It is for this reason that the event will be held exclusively outdoors, weather permitting, and no refreshments will be served this year. Guests are, however, welcome to BYO!

‘Sticky Chromosome’ is one of the sculptures juried into the Showcase.

Parking is available next door at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. Handicapped parking is available at the Sculpture Grounds.