Cultured Studios Opens Shades of Melanin in New London

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NEW LONDON — Artist Kern Bruce began painting a mural at the pop-up show, “Shades of Melanin,” at Cultured Studios Friday night.  “Over time the mural is going to grow and I’m going to be incorporating people that are in the gallery tonight writing different messages about what they’re grateful for and people that they’ve lost,” he said. “So, it’s a living, breathing testimony of life, purpose and perseverance despite the odds.  Bruce, 38, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, said he wanted to make a piece in honor of Black history month and Women’s history month, which were

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Susan Lisbin at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — “I’m interested in relationships, how we relate to each other, whether it’s standoffish or tensioned,” said artist Susan Lisbin, whose solo exhibition,” The Human Side, opened Thursday at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center.  Her pieces — oil paintings and clay sculpture — explore organic and anthropomorphic forms that reflect a sense of experimentation, tenderness and humor.  The show has been curated with “pairings” of her paintings and sculpture that relate visually — but her work as a painter particularly stands out.  Beginning with “Overload,” a painting depicting a figure on its side atop a pile

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Spot-On Cooking at The Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic

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MYSTIC — The kitchen was in a groove on a recent Thursday night turning out dish after dish — small and large, across a tightly-woven menu — spot-on. Roast chicken, potatoes, salt, jus, baby lettuce. Roasted maitake mushroom, cashew cream, spicy oil, garlic and ginger chips. A crudo of Stonington scallops. Smoked clam dip and Old Bay chips. It’s the sort of spare, unassuming cooking that reflects confidence in quality ingredients and technique – “convivial cooking,” as the chef David Standridge explained it to me — not cold. The other night he brought his family to eat – and along

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Candied Violets from the Lawn

It’s Spring, it’s Jackie, it’s Venus in a rage, it’s Carême and croquembouche,Crème Violette. Flower-filled cravats of dissolute color, Huysman and Proust in Parma, in lust.It’s Napoleon and Josephine, violets in your hair, violets, violets everywhere. Grab your snips and head out to the lawn — Viola Sororia with freckles or without — as many as you like or have the ambition to dandify. They take far less time than you might imagine. Hang yourself a horizontal wire, and have on hand one beaten egg white, superfine sugar — you can blitz your caster in a cuisinart if you haven’t

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Painter Richard McDonough in New London

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NEW LONDON — Grids, patterns and the color pink are a few of the themes that artist Richard McDonough explores in his solo show, “Two Turloughs,” at the Catherine Fosnot Gallery.  McDonough, who is 25 and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a painter who likes to construct objects, whether as sculpture or as surfaces to paint on — and to him, they are on a continuum.   Near the window of the first gallery is his tall, skinny, house-like sculpture, “Choir House and Choir Singers,” with a prominent wooden grid visible on the back surface. Around a corner, “Boys Toys,” a

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Sculptor Robert Rohm in Providence

PROVIDENCE — Rebar was a delicate drawing tool in the hands of sculptor Robert Rohm, whose show “Down to Earth: Robert Rohm Sculpture, 1963-2013” is running through April 25 at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence.  At the beginning of the show are Rohm’s large pieces based on the figure — oversized hands, a shoulder, a series of arms, a torso, a leg — all forms in mid-gesture, bending, moving, cradling, reaching.  Rohm gave each piece “skin” by covering the flexed and shaped rebar with steel mesh and then layering encaustic, a pigmented hot wax, over areas of the mesh.

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Middle Haddam Couple Tailors One-of-a-Kind Safaris in Africa

MIDDLE HADDAM — “It’s almost like you’re on a different planet. The fact that the animals are in charge, you’re a guest there and you realize that pretty quickly. This is their habitat. This is their world, and you’re visiting,” said Pierre Faber, co-owner of Classic Africa, a safari company that custom designs trips to southern and eastern Africa.  “That’s a very different feeling from what you’re accustomed to if you’ve grown up in the developed world so it’s a very powerful experience,” he said. “People fall in love with it. A lot of our clients are very well traveled

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Lyme-area Bakery Turns Out Superlative Focaccia, Sourdough Bread

For quick dinners, lazy weekends, and lunches, at $8 I’m not sure there is a better buy in the lower Connecticut River Valley than the focaccia turned out by Triangle House Bakery. I frankly have to reach back to memories of the bread from Arthur Ave. in the Bronx to recall the last time I’ve enjoyed focaccia this much. Delivered warm to Old Lyme and the immediate area, topped with parsley, shallot, and fontina, served with a simple salad, it’s what you should be having tonight. I expect Jamie Jackson, who opened Triangle House just weeks ago, to be entirely

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The Cooley Gallery at 35

OLD LYME — “At any given time, I think we’re probably thought of as being a gallery of Old Lyme impressionists, but our tastes are far broader than that,” said Jeff Cooley, who co-owns the Cooley Gallery with his wife, Betsey Cooley. The couple began by renting the front room of 25 Lyme Street in 1986 and slowly leased more space at the back of the building and upstairs. When the property went on the market in 1989, the Cooleys bought it.  “When we moved here, it became clear pretty quickly that by virtue of being in Old Lyme, people

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Irish Soda Bread… the Quickest of Quick Breads (and One of the Best)

Irish soda bread, like most recipes attributed by Americans to Ireland, has lean bones — in this case just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. It’s a quick bread of the sort that became popular in the mid-19th century in America with the commercial availability baking soda and when half of all immigrants to the United States came from Ireland, many fleeing the potato famines that cost the lives of perhaps a million people. And like most things American, this austerity is supplemented with modest luxury, here dried fruit and caraway. The dough comes together in a less than 10

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A Better Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day

About a dozen days ago I stood across the counter from owner Paul Kozey at Walt’s Food Market in Old Saybrook and asked for a whole flat-cut brisket — the relatively lean portion with the familiar boxy shape separated from the odd-shaped point. Walt’s is a mid-century throwback, a familiar sort of small grocery on the Main Street with the meat counter in the back and groceries up front. A steady traffic of locals buys sandwiches, maybe the best in the area, roasts and prepared food. Kozey stepped into the back and brought out a few choices — none of

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A New England Grain Renaissance

“There is a world of difference between fresh and commercial flour,” said Andy D’Appollonio, the owner of Still River Farm in Coventry. A difference that can best be described with one word, according to D’Appollonio, taste.  “It’s more robust,” D’Appollonio, who started growing wheat on his farm six years ago. “The bread is brown, crusty with large air holes, it’s a big difference.”  D’Appollonio is part of a grain renaissance in New England. Small, grain farms like his have popped up across the Northeast, especially in Maine.  “Bakers want it fresh,” D’Appollonio said. “When you buy local you can ensure

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Angel Food Cake — Putting Flour to the Test

Angel food cake – a simple confection of whipped, sweetened, and stabilized egg whites – is one of the easiest sweets to make at home. Perfect served plain with tea, with a coulis or fresh fruit and whipped cream after supper. Happily, for the season it also a Lenten cake, one of few the cakes baked without the use of any fats — neither oil, or butter, or egg yolk. On Thursday, we baked two cakes to taste test a packet of cloth-bolted White Lammas cake flour that had been ground and mailed to us the prior Tuesday. The flour,

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Brian Keith Stephens Opens “Almost True Tales,” at the Lyman Allyn

NEW LONDON — “Animals in fables are kind of a bridge to humans. Symbolically, the animals take on human characteristics, that’s what I was trying to get at,” said painter Brian Keith Stephens, whose show, “Almost True Tales” at the Lyman Allyn Museum incorporates animals in mythology, folklore and culture.  Cheetahs, elephants, lions, wolves, buffalo, deer, foxes, sheep, hares, whales, flamingoes, swans, tortoises, frogs, and many more — Stephens, 47, is known for his large-scale paintings of creatures in nature. In this show of about 18 works, he ties his fascination with the wild kingdom to fables that he said

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Stonington Fellow Kirstin Valdez Quade to Read from Her Novel ‘The Five Wounds’

STONINGTON — Kirstin Valdez Quade wasn’t planning to write a novel but a few characters from her short stories wouldn’t let her go.  One of her short stories, “The Five Wounds,” was published in the New Yorker in 2009 and was included in her collection of short stories, “Night at the Fiestas,” in 2014. “My editor emailed me and asked if I’d ever considered turning [the story] into a novel and my immediate thought was absolutely not and I think I wrote something back saying thank you so much for the idea but no, I’m working on short stories,” she

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New Ownership, Plans for a Farmstand, at Provider Farm

SALEM — Now in her 10th year at Provider Farm, assistant manager Hannah Tripp will take over as owner and operator on March 1 when longtime farmers Max and Kerry Taylor move to Brookfield Farm in Amherst, Mass.  “I actually started here as a volunteer in their very first season when I was 19 and they hired me pretty quickly because they really needed help and I just fell in love with it. I loved everything about how challenging it was and being outside and getting to grow amazing food for people in my community,” said Tripp, who grew up

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Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Hires Leadership, Plans to Welcome New Class in Fall

OLD LYME — After nearly two years of uncertainty, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has structured a new plan reflective of the founder’s mission and hired personnel in anticipation of reopening with as many as 20 full-time students in September.  “We thought, what an opportunity this could be to actually help contribute whatever we can to bring back what Elizabeth Gordon Chandler’s original mission for the school was,” said Jordan Sokol, a painter, and the new artistic director for the school, whose first day was Monday. His wife, artist Amaya Gurpide, will serve as the director of drawing at

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Mystic Seaport Announces Project on Slavery, and the Displacement of Native Nations

MYSTIC — “From where I sit, unless we begin to tell these stories about who and what we are as a nation, then how do we confront the present if we do not fully grapple with the past,” said Anthony Bogues, director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University.  The center has begun a collaborative project with Mystic Seaport Museum and Williams College on “Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty and Freedom,” which will examine the connections between the dispossession of Native American land, the slavery and subjugation of African Americans and indigenous

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New York-Style Cheesecake

We’ve been making versions of this New York-style cheesecake for about 20 years, sometimes substituting cream, or crème fraîche or sour cream for mascarpone, sometimes whole eggs and extra eggs, sometimes adding praline powder to batter, or substituting ginger snaps for graham crackers. All of which is to say that the batter-making is quite forgiving and open to invention — but the manner of baking is not. The magic of this recipe is in the burst of heat, followed by the long and slow cook, which gives the cake a uniform texture from center to edge that rarely cracks. The

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New London Library Aims at Best for Postwar Art

NEW LONDON — Off the atrium of Harris Place is a room dominated by a long, low wooden table set with reading lamps. A few shelves of art books and one or two display cases containing art catalogues and ephemera dot the periphery. On the back wall, a large painting, “Calagrande” by Michael Goldberg, sets the mood.  The reading room, at 165 State St., serves as an unassuming portal to the Visual Art Library, a collection of more than 70,000 contemporary art books, catalogues, magazines and media assembled by George Waterman III, a contemporary art collector who became fascinated with

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An Immigrant from Enfield Aims to Start the Netflix of Celebrations in Berlin… Germany

“Our vision is to become the starting point for celebrations … think of what Netflix is to entertainment,” explained Rachel Wright, CEO and founder of Celbretti, a so-called “lean startup” looking to penetrate the Berlin market for the first time this summer. From there Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich. “As we get going into the spring and summer, I am optimistic that with the rollout of the vaccine, here in Germany, people will be able to celebrate again and we are working to prepare for that.” It’s a quintessential American story – a 34-year-old immigrant quits a corporate job and starts a

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Stonington’s James Merrill House Hosts Dialogue on James Baldwin

STONINGTON — “The whole question of who Baldwin was writing for and about, and who can write for and about him, is an ongoing one,” Nicholas Boggs said. “He lived such a profoundly interracial life … so writing and thinking about Baldwin is a good space to have a dialogue for everyone, always, about race.”  Boggs, the December-January writer-in-residence at James Merrill House, is at work on a biography of Baldwin (1924-1987), the African American civil rights activist, novelist, essayist, and playwright.  “I was led to this project by the experience of recovering and co-editing a new edition of his

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A Conversation with Kate Wesch, the New Rector of St. John’s Episcopal in Essex

Reverend Kate Wesch is joining St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex at the end of this month. Wesch is currently rector of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Seattle, and will move to Connecticut with her husband, mother, daughter and son. In conversation with the Connecticut Examiner, Wesch shares what made her fall in love with Essex and how she hopes to build community amid a pandemic. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  How did you come across the role at St. John’s in Essex?   We have not spent much time in Connecticut at all, but

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Martin asks ‘Who are You?’ in New Britain Retrospective

NEW BRITAIN — “We’ve all had experience with drawing as kids with pencils and pens and markers and that was my first introduction to the line,” said artist Shantell Martin. “I think the difference with myself is that I never stopped that introduction. I’ve always enjoyed the simplicity of the line.” Martin, 40, has focused on the line and its possibilities for more than 20 years, creating a body of work that spans from small drawings to wall-size murals, as well as video performances and commercial collaborations with high-end brands.  Her first career retrospective is on display at the New

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7 Sparkling Wines with Personality for the New Year

You know the feeling when you’ve happened upon a bottle of something momentarily extraordinary, and it seems like you’re the only one to even notice? All around you, laughter and conversation, which is really the point of most evenings after all, not the wine, and you wish you could stop everyone and everything so they would pay attention to what they are drinking. But you don’t, because they won’t. And besides what’s the fun in that? And then the moment (and the wine) is gone. That’s the loneliness of crowds — or at least a wine drinkers’ version of it

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David Griswold Writes a Life Story…

OLD LYME — In the 50s and 60s, David H. W. Griswold grew up assuming his life would follow a specific path laid out by generations of his aristocratic family.  “For Griswolds, you went to prep school, and most of them went to Choate, some went to Loomis and Taft. But there was no question where you went to college — you went to Yale, everybody went to Yale, that was that was never discussed,” said Griswold, 70. “You get a good job that paid well, Money was never discussed but it was assumed. And you live in the right

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Gennaro Ends Six-year Run at Goodspeed with Eyes For What’s Next

EAST HADDAM — Michael Gennaro closed out a six-year run as executive director of the Goodspeed Opera House, with a season of outdoor musical acts and a dark stage, rethinking how the 57-year-old regional theater will reach audiences.  “I think one of the things we’ve learned is that it’s possible for us to do additional or complementary programming outdoors, even when we’re able to get back into the theater,” said Gennaro, 70, who announced a year ago that he will retire on Dec. 31. The theater was forced to cancel its regular season due to the pandemic.  “This may give

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Immersive Pop-Up Dining at Hartford’s Goodwin Hotel

HARTFORD — Theater and indoor restaurant dining have, for many, been casualties of the pandemic. With a long winter ahead, Chef Tyler Anderson of Hartford’s historic Goodwin Hotel is hoping to provide a respite. “We have a hotel that’s slow because of COVID and a restaurant that’s slow for the same reason,” Anderson said. “I’ve seen other hotel restaurants turn guest rooms into private dining rooms as a way for people to have a COVID-safe meal indoors. We just wanted to take it to the next level.”  Starting on January 8, guests can visit the Goodwin for an immersive mystery

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Christmas Candy Near and Far

Just 10 days and an entire box arrived, carefully wrapped, from Le Bonbon au Palais in Paris. The smell was impossibly good as I opened the package to reveal cellophane-wrapped Christmas candies, poppy-scented Coquelicot de Nemours, sugared Perles du midi, fairy-green coins of barley sugar and anise from Vichy, stripe-wrappered trifles from Valenciennes in violet, rose, lemon — it was magical. Aggies, alleys, oilies, commies and catseyes – every marble you might have played or pocketed at one time, however modest, had a secret history of sorts passed down imperfectly, child to child, a pecking order calculus of use, pleasure,

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Artist Playing Cards to Raise Money for the Hygienic

NEW LONDON — Hygienic Art Galleries has elevated games of pandemic-induced solitaire into an art form with their latest fundraiser, a deck of playing cards featuring paintings and sketches by local artists.  “It’s nice for people to have an entire art show in their pocket,” said Troy Zaushny, an artist in residence at the Hygienic who contributed artwork to the project. Executive Director Bess Gaby said she got the idea from a similar project she’d worked on with another nonprofit, but the idea took on a new significance with the pandemic — pieces of art that could also be used

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