Poulin has a kind and sincere approach to finance. The Gifting of Art
“Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you. Thinking of you this holiday season!” –T.A. BarronJeffery Lilly founder / publisher
kit with detailed marketing information.
Rona Mann - Greater Connecticut firstname.lastname@example.org - 401-539-7762
..and here we are. Welcome to our December installment of Ink Magazine. For us, 2022 is a wrap, but we also recognize the importance of slowing down during the holidays. No matter what your faith, the holiday season is about hope and sharing. The end of the year can be a great time for reﬂec tion. To honor the things in life you hold dear and even to begin making a plan for next year. Tweaking around the margins and ﬁnding new ways to achieve whatever it is you would like to see come to pass in the coming year. The challenge it seems is to remain “up for the challenge,” and to share that hope with those around you. Now going into our eighteenth year, every issue of this magazine still and always has been dedicated to dedication We search out people, places, and things in our Connecticut community to share with that same community. In this issue, we raise a toast to Paul Poulin of Poulin Wealth Management and his concepts of building wealth and for teaching people exactly what that means in a sincere way. Next, giving art as a gift is awesome. It just is. We present to you some great options for picking out a gift of art to share with someone that can bring a smile to their face for decades. There is only one “Starman” in Connecticut that we are aware of, his name is Christopher, and you can ﬁnd him on page thirty of this issue. In honor of his beloved mother, he has taken to spreading light for all of us in a very lovely way. Also featured this month, artist Mark Sarba. He is a highly accomplished painter whose work is jaw-dropping. I can attest to that, having stood in front of his work at Lyme Art Association. His paintings are truly inspiring. Lastly, we have another inspired work, only this time it comes to you in three dimensions. Picture an old, dilapidated corn crib. Now picture disassembling it and standing it back up in a new environment to live out its next phase of life. A Chapel dedicated to his mother. So this entire issue is dedicated to you moms! On the Cover: “Chester Center 2021” / Photo Kim Tyler Photography
HEAR WEALLTTH RTTS
HYBy John and Kate T Toolmie
TThe definition of true wealth is a philosoph conundrum that is secretly debated amongs y, , wealth is an in and subjective opinion that is often kept pri
human beings. Individually
eligion at the pub. W
among the tier of today’s money driven society own-self or by another
To o Americans the subject is as taboo as talki politics or r Weealth can be measured by a myriad of standards including earning an education, amassing cash, finding fame, growing a family thrill of experience, or discovering nirvana and peace. Th subject of money engenders a judgment, either from one’s r, , where their financial health places y. . How doe one avoid this materialistic footfall many currently identi with? An ancient proverb reads; the heart string is connec to the purse string. Humans can’t help but worry about th bills. A significant portion of the anxiety pandemic for ma Americans is not knowing how to manage their investme y, , and assets.
eternal subject of how much money will bring security
Is there such a thing as monetary happiness? Appar y, , science says ‘yes’. Our emotions and amount of material c can coincide in harmony according to a study conducted Purdue University in 2021. The investigation broached th y, , co
satisfaction, and contentment to an average adult in mode day America. Data and research revealed that the average individual Nutmegger desired one hundred and five thou dollars of income a year to bring about a sense of “happin y, , data shared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Stati concluded that the average salary for an adult in the curre Connecticut workforce earned well below the happy hun grand, coming in it at around sixty-eight thousand last ye Connecticut is not alone. This elusive monetary “happine will never be realized for most retirees across America. Fr sea to shining sea, pensioners continue to leave the workf with less than seventy thousand dollars. Yooung families
Shical st nternal ivate. ing e y, , the e s s them es fy cted he any ents, capital by he omfort, ern e usand ness”. stics ent dred ear. ess” rom force
struggle to save for a down payment on a home. Currently, pressure is on parents to send their children off to college as the cost of higher learning skyrockets. The insecurity and inability to find comfort in a nest egg and experience the relief of being debt free is a dream that will remain unreachable even in this land of opportunity. Money brings both elation and anxiety in equal measure. However, money is a tool and when used properly in the knowledgeable and caring hands of the right financial experts is a wise move. A financial adviser worth their salt will bring security and results to families navigating the complexities of their finances. But where to start?
One of Connecticut’s finest options is Poulin Wealth Management Group based in the quaint charm of Glastonbury. Founder, Paul Poulin, started his professional career as a mortgage broker. He quickly realized that helping folks finance a new home was a huge step, but in Paul’s mind there was so much more to do to help families achieve a lifetime of continued success if their economic well-being is managed with care. With his desire to assist his community, Paul left the mortgage business and pursued a career in aiding families and guiding them with an expertise in managing a familial finance, both inside and outside the home. “I wanted to do more because I found when people were making the big purchase of a home, they needed to take into account starting a family, insurance costs, the impact on their retirement a mortgage could pose, kids going to college, weddings and of course security and peace of mind.” Paul says, “So I started having all these great conversations with families but not being able to do anything beyond a simple mortgage.” Today Paul and his team have built a unique model that centers equally on monetary fortune as well as peace of mind for his families. “All of our clients know that I am available twenty-four seven.” Paul says, “If I am not meeting with another family, I am available for any one of my other families. Each person who has entrusted me with their money has my personal cell.” Paul laughs about giving his number to those he serves, “Some think I joke around. But, if one of our families calls me in the middle of the
night because triple AAA hasn’t shown up yet, I’m going to go get them. Caring for folks goes well beyond the financial aspect of our relationship.” There is integrity in his voice. His eyes speak with compassion. His all-about-the-business brow is raised to welcome questions or challenges to his sincerity. This fellow is genuine. He truly cares about his clients and their well-being. And he has weathered the recent turmoil of the past two years with his families. They trust him and he has not taken their trust for granted as he continues to navigate the instability of today’s market while reassuring and advising those under his care.
“I wanted to do more because I found when people were making the big purchase of a home, they needed to take into account starting a family, insurance costs, the impact on their retirement a mortgage could pose, kids going to college, weddings and of course security and peace of mind.”
Paul is fastidiously particular about many aspects of his paradigm approach to wealth management. Like most leaders, he requires trusted teammates to bring his vision to reality. Jane Ellen succeeded in being Paul’s choice to manage his office, his schedule, client interactions and ensure he is where is needed. Paul knew right away that Jane cared and caring for his families has always been the guiding core value behind his business model. Jane is all about family. She cares for her Elderly father in her Colchester home and has raised a brilliant and a delightfully incorrigible teenage son. Paul saw these values in Jane and knew she would apply her heart and determination to always do the right thing. “She’s the boss,” Chuckles Paul speaking of his metaphorical right hand, “I
never have to worry about anything I ask of her. It always gets done and then some.” Jane is sitting across the table from Paul. A chuff of agreement is what one would expect from his cheeky comment, but her countenance is all business. “I have to have his back.” Jane says between sips of her beverage, “Who else is going to take care of him. He is a very particular man, you know. He’s always got a lot on his mind. He doesn’t like mistakes. He doesn’t like to be surprised by an oversight. It’s my job to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about anything but being there for our families.”
The need for a second opinion, an unobjective pair of eyes, another expert and peer to balance out his decisions is what Paul knows he will always require. With such an important responsibility entrusted in Paul, he needed his own advisor. His intention, direction and decision making must always be
“Who else is going to take care of him. He is a very particular man, you know. He’s always got a lot on his mind. He doesn’t like mistakes. He doesn’t like to be surprised by an oversight. It’s my job to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about anything but being there for our families.”Jane and Auden at Graduation
open for discussion and peer review by another certified expert. Kathleen Ringler, Vice President of Poulin Wealth Management, has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. As a financial advisor, Kathleen works closely with clients to understand their current financial situations and aspirations for the future. By developing personalized investment strategies and adjusting them as needed, she helps clients reach financial independence which is very rewarding to her. Kathleen is passionate about socially responsible impact investing for clients who desire a personal connection with their investments. She promotes it for clients who want to invest their money in companies that can help accelerate a positive social change and helps create a portfolio families will be proud to call their own not only in their lifetime but for generations to come.
At the table, Kathleen has remained silent in her thoughts. Having “Money, for a lot of families is a tough topic to talk about. It is ironic how important money is to a household, but the subject is avoided at home by so many couples!” Kathleen says and continues, “I love it when a couple reveals their goals to me for the very first time. The topic brings a sensitivity to a marriage that is uncanny. It is one of my greatest pleasures to help a couple who truly love one another, to guide them through, to get things into the open, reassure them and in a way, carry that burden for them.” Paul nods in agreement and cements the thought with, “It’s tough to talk about in the house. Yes. But when you start bringing it down to a more comfortable level it’s easier for families.” Paul says and Pauses. He clears his throat and leans inward, “My new families and I are not talking much about money during our initial meeting, because it’s not the most important thing.” Paul looks at his team and chooses his next word carefully, “I think that’s the part of my job I love. He laughs, “I talk to a married couple that have been married for 30 years, discussing retirement dreams as one says, ‘Oh my God we’ve been spending so much time up in Maine all these years on the beautiful coast and can’t wait to get up there for retirement’ as the other spouse is surprised saying, ‘I thought we were moving to Florida!’ The trio chuckles with eyes locked in their private in-the-know moment. Paul gains composure and finishes with, “Kathleen and I in some cases are the first persons having these important conversations.”
If you would like to have a conversation with the Poulin team, call Jane at 860-395-7305 to inquire.
“Money, for a lot of families is a tough topic to talk about. It is ironic how important money is to a household, but the subject is avoided at home by so many couples!”Paul Driving Boat
“It is one of my greatest pleasures to help a couple who truly love one another, to guide them through, to get things into the open, reassure them and in a way, carry that burden for them.”
Consider giving the gift of art this holiday season and bringing joy to your loved ones and friends all year long. Artwork often becomes a conversation piece because of its beauty and/or history about the artist’s background, work – or both.
The six well-lit, welcoming galleries/shops featured welcome browsers of all ages and offer a glimpse into the art world with varied price ranges. All will ship artwork and offer gift
and/or classes. Some even of certificates and/or gift cards towards artwork fffer the option of pur in fs are also happy lita ecips “dr owsing or supply om their loved ones.
T Red al Arts Center
, “Roses, W der mystery Y
r, , and resin. Their fine art includes alcohol-ink abstracts, mixed media (collage) and paintings created with oil and watercolors. Books by local authors include Rose Yooung’s popular mur y, Wiine & Murder: In the City of Steeples,” which takes place in and around New London.
The Red House Cultural Arts Center’s curr w, , “The Heart of the Artist” runs through March 15, 2023, on Thursdays
House Cultur he them with wish lists fr op hints” while br ients “ to facilitate givers when their potential r chasing works online. Staf thousands,” said Barry sand
dlfldidldd sometimes contributes), dyed-silk scarves, lection of pottery (to which Potter Kim For turned wooden bowls, jewelry boxes, a col Other unique items include table r
atedb d, Norwich, and New don, T Arts Center is ed at Kim d feature original works by over onne e you will discover ed ar 0. an y. er un unners, ed w on of d metimes dlfld
at $30. and $40. while other pieces range into the matted art for as low as $25. and prints that start 50 Connecticut artists. “Her and Kim For located at 22 Darling Rd. in Salem. Owners Barry London, The Red House Cultural SituatedbetweenHartfor
and Fridays from Noon urdays and Sundays fro “This ‘theme-less’ show to choose the work to sh piece is accompanied by the artist about the insp It gives the viewer a gli of the artist,’” Barry said buying art: “If it brings have it in your life.”
, however how
A Holiday Open House Sat., Dec. 3rd with vario strating in the center’s w and live music and refre offered between 5 and 8
n to 5 PM and Satom 10AM to 6 PM. w allows the artist w, r, , each y a description from piration for the piece. mpse into ‘the heart d. His advice about y, , you should illbhld
For more information, go to s 860-608-6526, or email barry
ousartistsdemon e will be held on workshop all day eshments being PM. reedhouse.com, call reedhouse.com.
Named i philanth Arts’ (LA Chaunce Lyym ey Stillman Gallery at 84 L AF opist, and L Y
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well as blacksmithing items such as adorned meat turners for grilling, hooks, bottle openers, andcharcuterie sets.
day on will run throgS y, , Feb fr 0 ibiti Co-A ectors a J case e luding s, and s. Prices begin at $600.
needle-felted tapestries, and welded art; as tion of jewelry
hotcakes every year
r, , Barry adds to the assortment with popular trays with antique handles, candle holders, and picture frames, created from reclaimed wood he gathers from old barns, houses, and historic buildings. “Beautifully-lined mittens made from old sweaters also sell like r,,” Barry added y, , the center features a huge collecy, , including all kinds of earrings made with beads, recycled bronze, sterling
Kip Lockhart ($125) is featured r in Salem. Above right: r Miller Photos by Barry Ford
tings, drawings, photographs, and working in various media, including national selection of figurative dan Sokol, will showc e and Jor Amaya Artistic Dir hibition, which was curated
AMto4PM. om10 ough Satur alled grisaille (literally Sokol said. “T turated intensity of our T oday So
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’ use of a monochrome si s pre-Renaisen an oil y, , “grayness”) dth opean art To y, , and despite the Teechnicol ence, artists have continued this choosing to explore their realit in er that extracts its essence, sets up tract paradigms for contemplation,
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Sokol said artwork makes an excellent and unique choice for a gift. “Not only are you supporting artists, but in the case of works purchased from the y, , proceedsaresupporting
proceeds are supporting Lyme Academy students through our scholarship program.” Half of all proceeds go toward this program.
re e information, go to lymeacademy.edu, email info@ lymeacademy.edu, or call 860-434 5232.
Curiosities opened in July 4-
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. She said, “this old world shop on ,” said Manager Camer y, fineartmaterialsandcuriositiesmakes efully curated collection o played and car qualities of a stor
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artists' work and has a collection of histor enday’s is also highlighting local
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ical prints from Ecole de Beaux Arts. Addiy, , it features a collection of antique items inspired by The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, England (the first public museum to house a cabinet of curiosities), which ranges from taxidery, , architectural salvage, vintage, and an-is located on Lyme Academy of Fine Arts’ campus enday’ de Ger ’s s Fine Art Materials and Curiosities in Old Lyme. Photo Courtesy of Caryn B. Davis
tiques, to orig from nature, s
“Provenance, is important a ing of the arti The more you and the perio can connect a De Gerenday to fit any bud and Rhodia p stocking-stuf antiques up t f
, the origin of a work and its history
ginal artwork, African masks, objects shells, and bones, Paynter said. y, , and gives you a greater understandist and what influenced their work. u learn about an artist, their work, od it was produced, the more you and have a greater understanding.”
y's has a wide selection of gift items dget: from $1. shells, $2. art rulers pocket dot notebooks, and $4. fffers to one-of-a-kind paintings and to $2,500.
“YYoou should who you love of the studen school,” Payn
buy what you love and buy from e,” thereby “supporting the journey nt as well as the master and their nter said.
de Gerenday’s Fine Art Materials and Trree Light ning at 5PM.
"Holiday Enchantment and T
re e information, go to lymeacademy.edu, call860 434 8725
Lyyme Art Association
d Curiosities will host its annual ting" event on Sat, Dec. 10 beginemail email@example.com, or uilt in 19 yme it galleries ar a yme
Designed by renowned architect, Cha Art Association’s four spacious, sky-li St. in Old Lyme. w, , "Deck 1st and features almost 200 artists' wo $250. and $1,000.
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“Part of the fun is developing a sense work, learning about their style, their history behind particular pieces. Man tiththfhh ny of our artists come to the op ound, and of course the of your favorite artist's bod
ym Art Colony roots th ough en to p omote which includ s, said El the heir homes and businesses.
receptions that we have for each show public. This is a great time to meet the what is on our walls!”
Dowd said buying art is a wonderful y, , which is part of the heritage o vibrancy to the region.
rtist's y of backgr d of cou tscometotheo ening w, , which are free and open to the e artists and talk with them about
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Susan Powell Fine Art
eception will be held on Friday
Nestled in Madison’s picturesque downtown at 679 Boston Post Rd. is Susan Powell Fine Art – known for Realism artists and a variety of exhibitions that change every four to six weeks. This year’s much anticipated Holiday Show will feature 80 oils and pastels by 25 award-winning artists and run from December 2, 2022 through January 28, 2023. Gallery hours ar Tuuesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM and anytime by appointment. An opening r y, , December 2 from 5 to 8 PM.
offers exciting choices for everyone," said gallery owner Susan Powell.
ory Giarrano, T lett, Zufar Bikbov
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, Katie Swatland, y, ehan, Jeanne eston, Deborah ek, Larry Pr Anne McGr , David Dunlop, V Rosier Smith, Kyle Stuckey ev much joy much ever
artist was thinking adds to the experience of ,” Powell said. “Knowing what the , it’s lasting, and it just brings so it for
Landscapes, marines, seascapes, still lifes, florals, figurative, and New Yoork City scenes will be displayed. Artists include Kathy Anderson, Del-Bourree Bach, Harley Bartv, Viincent Toom Hughes, e y, , Leonard Mizer est Quinn-Munson, Dennis Shee y K and Geor Vaan Hook. Popular choices for everyone range between $1,000. and $12,000. esagoodg r r, y, ll said. “Kn th viewing art.”
"This is one of our most popular shows and She said people bring their own emotional r
metime eminds them k as crea
ated. e the piece wa knowwher of certain places, so they don’t always want to sponses to art, which sometimes r ppg many dif
sible, going to museums and determining what ent kinds of examples of art as pos e buying art, Powell suggests looking at as
Befor well sug fffer nds of ex e, museu styles you like, such as impressionism or realism. The more you like, the more confident you will feel in your response to things, she said.
people can’t make a decision right away
eir own eeart.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or .susanpowellfin e information, go to www
Powell added even if people don’t know a lot about art, many people will have an immediate reaction to it, while other and have to look longer. re ww.susanpowe rt@gmail call 203-318-0616. ee Bach’ s “W
T Thhis page: Anne McGrory’s “Meek and Mild,” pastel with 12k white gold leaf, 12x 9 inches. Kelly Birkenruth’ Wrrapped in Laughs,” oil, 9x12 inches. Del-Bourr ’s s “A Good Dig,” Acrylic, 6x12 inches, all featured at Susan Powell Fine Art gallery in Madison.
eak, is Cindy Stevens Fine jacent to the Indian River and acr Situated in Clinton’s quaint downtow
theme featuring her own work (dubb holiday season, owner Cindy Steven omoting the idea of giving the gift t
An op Dec. 1 from Weeek Noon Sund Clinto be op stores after w and C able f snow with w “Han
$150. to $900. is “Paintings bed by her ns’ Decemb t of color this
Pr th n, owner Cin ng ow 9-year r, , Maddie), fr t.” Pric om $ ings a htful meth r t bir y, , allery on Sat.,
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of a id. atthega 10 from Noon to 6 PM and Sund Noon to 4 PM. Refreshments w kly hours ar Tuuesday through F n to 6 PM, Satur y, , 11 AM to 5 y, , Noon to 4 PM. During the “ y, , Dec. 4, th pen from 1 to 6 PM, along with m s. Santa will arrive by firetruck which there will be a tree lighti Christmas caroling. Santa will al for free photos and there will be Toown Hall will feature wreaths and KIDZ Konnection nsel and Gretel” at 1 PM.
advice about buying art is buy are excited about or that gives y ng. Don't worry about matching is crazy world, we all need to lo that makes us happy or helps u Go with your heart,” Stevens sai
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al,” Stevens said etc.). It is one of a kind usually or
re e information, go to cindystevensfine StevensFineArt@gmail.com, or call 86
which is als tion, favorite
y Stevens Fine Art also offers oth as mugs featuring Stevens’ pain s, tie-dyed tote bags and note ca hasing gift certificates in Decemb percent discount. They can be us ork, “Kids Art Classes” and “Pai
ns said her gallery is unique, be welcomed in to create art. “I love ng excited about art. I try to mak o kids and adults alike - either be ng at art, or bringing art home.”
wn ar ad fr offee 0 East Main St. color this mber gs scenes. pecially if it's he person e lso y, , Dec. 11 will be served. Friday from PM and Christmas in he gallery will many other at 4:45 PM, ng ceremony lso be avail e a bouncy a craft fair will perform something you a good g your couch. ook at some us feel peace id. her gift ideas ntings, orna ards. Those ber will receive sed toward int Nights.” ecause children e seeing kids ke art accessi e creating art, ” eart.com, email 0-304-1666.
"Peaceful Pinks,” oil, 9x12 inches. "T Bottom: Trruthfu at Cindy Stevens Fine Art gallery. Cindy Stevens e gallery in Clinton.
omCof eaa day
ul,” oil, 6x8 inches. Both exterior view of shop
When Christopher Owens was six years old and growing up
in West Hartford there were only four things he truly cared
about: fire trucks, sailboats, lighthouses, and pizza. Pretty normal stuff for a young boy just discovering the joys of the wide world before him.
But Christopher also looked up at the sky frequently and was mesmerized by the galaxy and all those bright stars flashing in the Milky Way. He wasn’t a student of astronomy, still he realized at that early age that stars connected us all, that people could look at the same stars at which he was gazing and see something different in them. However, the one thing he knew everyone had in common, “Stars make us happy.”
Owens, now 55, easily recalls those days and those feelings because, although 49 years and a lot of his life has gone by since then, the magnetism that pulls him to the stars and the feelings they evoke have not changed one iota.
Truth is, Owens has a talent for being able to look at something and envision something more...much, much more. Like The Company 77 fire truck he saw that was for sale some years ago. The little boy in him rose to the surface almost immediately, coveting and imagining ownership of the bright red vehicle. Ah, but Christopher Owens wasn’t just going to plunk down the cash and put it in his garage, he saw something else.
At this time, he owned a very popular pizza restaurant in Mystic, Pizzetta, still in operation today, now owned by his brother, Tim. Christopher stared and stared at that fire truck for a long time, dreaming a dream until suddenly, the dream collided with an image. A new journey was about to begin. Christopher envisioned a mobile pizza-making machine, not a food truck, but a fire truck that made and delivered pizza. His imagination ran wild, his talent powering him into fully dismantling and then rebuilding Company 77’s fire truck. In addition to building a full pizza kitchen, he added a sound system, video monitor, photo booth, keg hookups, and a water canon mounted on the roof to delight and cool off kids on a hot day. Knowing the importance of green energy, he made sure he was equipped with a bio-diesel- fueled engine, a solar-powered electrical system, and a biodegradable waste system. With all that now in place, just where would one head with a mobile pizza-making fire truck that espouses green energy? California of course!
Chris had always loved Orange County, so he started there and was an immediate hit with the locals, both adults and kids alike. That’s when he headed for the stars... Hollywood! For six years, Owens and his fire truck were a staple feeding the likes of Brad Pitt, Mark Harmon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Hamm, and casts and crews of various TV shows such as Glee, American Horror Story, How I Met Your Mother, and Modern Family. “I loved it. I got to know some of the actors well, and they loved my product. Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) used to sit on the end of my truck eating pizza and chatting, all the while wearing his ad agency suit, a costume that cost thousands.” Christopher Owens was now on top of the world, making a lot of money, having fun, realizing dreams, making people happy. Then, the stars realigned.
Owens’ mother, Patricia who lived back in Connecticut, was beginning to show signs of dementia and called her son saying, “I’m scared and lonely.” That was all Chris needed to hear. He had always had a close and loving relationship with his mother, and he was determined that she would not face this journey alone.
However, on his way back across the country, his Range Rover caught fire, and “within six minutes it was destroyed. I managed to get out with my two dogs and one briefcase, but I lost everything else.” He also lost his business in California, had to retire the fire truck due to new California emissions laws, and eventually had to face bankruptcy. But Christopher Owens was, and is, never defeated. “When I’m sad, I always make beautiful things,” so as a tribute to his mother who was now living with him, he fashioned wooden stars, wrapped them in LED lights, and lit up the house for her. He also created stars for Stars Across Stowe which eventually led to 240 handmade illuminated stars on display in the Vermont ski town.
Those stars in turn led in 2019 to Light Up the Night sponsored by the Chester Historical Society in Christopher’s newly adopted and much-loved town of Chester. Originally hung strictly for the holiday season, no one wanted the 180 wooden lit stars to come down, and until Covid hit, they were kept as a beacon for the downtown area for several months thereafter. Similar installations have since been displayed n Madison and repeated in Chester.
Selling pizza to TV stars in Hollywood was not Christopher’s only star turn. His artistry and skill led him to refurbishing lighthouses, one of which was in the Bahamas. There, he subsequently met Jimmy Buffet who wound up referencing him in his 2004 novel, A Salty Piece of Land.” He penned in part, “I was introduced to a fellow who was down restoring the light. His name was Chris Owens, the locals anointed him Lighthouse Mon.”
Rhode Islanders credit Owens with the reopening of Rose Lighthouse in Newport. In 1991, Owens heard a public service announcement on a Nantucket radio station: “Would you like to live in a lighthouse?” and he sprung to attention. Here was something that both promised adventure and spoke to his artistic side in spades.
Shuttered for a number of years and in total disrepair, the lighthouse was now a liability until Owens got there. He lived in the lighthouse for the better part of a year as its caretaker, refurbished it, and after an absence of 20 years, the lights were lit once again in the beacon off Newport.
Perhaps Owens’ largest and most ambitious installation is about to occur in the shared parks and streets of downtown Westerly, RI/Pawcatuck, Ct. Christopher met his creative match when he met the ebullient,
whirlwind of a Chamber President, Lisa Konicki. Konicki, known for wild, crazy, enormous, impossible-sounding undertakings that somehow always come together, was responsible for the internationally acclaimed Lobster Trap Tree erected in 2021 in the center of Stonington Borough. The success was so great that its fame went viral and appeared in media worldwide. The Tree is being reprised this holiday season and will be rekindled Thanksgiving weekend. But now Lisa wanted to add something for Westerly’s holidays as well. One look at Owens’ work in Chester, and she knew exactly what she wanted. On December 9th Starry Lights will be ignited as a two-state art installation featuring the work of artists from both Connecticut and Rhode Island and headlined by Christopher Owens who will have four or five spectacular creations on display including a “Star Tunnel” 15 feet high and 40 feet long that people can walk through, take photos, or perhaps create their family holiday card. “Lisa pushes me creatively,” Owens said, anticipating not only the tunnel but a floating island as stars will hang over the pond in Westerly’s Wilcox Park moving in and out with the motion of the wind. Chris is also creating a star swing so passersby can be “swingin’” on a star as they marvel at heavenly bodies hanging from the trees all across downtown Westerly providing a twinkling light trail that will extend across the state line merging into downtown Pawcatuck and Donohue Park.
People who do remarkable things are often said to have “hung the moon.” Here then, is a man who hangs the stars, happily constructing one after another, giving them life with the help of LED lighting and vitality from the warmth of his smile. He loves what he does. He loves to make beautiful things. As for what to call him, you can’t pigeonhole or label this guy. He’s a builder, an artist, a dreamer, an architect, a lover, a pizza maker, and a fixer all wrapped up in one man they call “Christopher,” “Chris,” “StarMan;” or in the warmer climes of the Bahamas, ”Star Mon.” He happily answers to any and all.
In addition to making hundreds of stars and lighting up many worlds and many spirits, Christopher has taken to crafting lighthouses, using as their base the metal buckets used in taping trees to extract maple syrup. Who knows what he’ll do next? One thing, however, remains constant - on a clear night somewhere on the shoreline there will always be that little boy who really never grew up. A Peter Pan-like character who loves fire trucks and lighthouses and looking up in awe at the stars in happiness and wonder, with just a little bit of tomato sauce forever dribbling down his chin.
Want to buy some stars to decorate your own space?
Stop by the Studio Star Factory 39 Main Street in Deep River on weekends: The Space Gallery in Chester, or The Audubon Shop in Madison. Visit: www.chestercottagect. com (860) 287-5796
The wild, deep, stormy
I have heard Marek say this many times. He does not paint pretty scenes or meandering sailboats or whimsical dunes or n ostalgic beaches. He paints the ocean. He knows the ocean. y, , vast, unforgiving ocean.
ee years. Polish Navy for thr , he was sent into the r, g and while still a teenager
ound, he , while at port and walking ar y,
eturn.” will not r , you y, Yoou at his palm. for this?”, he asked. She took his hand and looked that he had in his pocket. “What will you tell me ed her a common token fffer met a fortune teller in a park. He had no money for such things but of
Marek Sarba began his journey in Poland. He loved to draw when he was young, but formal training, museums, libraries, and art books were not available to him. When he was old enough, he studied the trade of electronics, dd blihilliShjh , trying to convince himself not to y, “Does that mean I will die at sea?” he said
believe such silliness. She just shrugged and said she did not know.
After a minute or two she said, “Y will go to the sea many times, but one day anxiously knew boats, the pay was much better ships - salvage tugs. He had a family now etty good salary
y, , he took a job at a shipyard, and because of his electronic skills, he earned a pr y, , but he wanted to work on w, , he r, , and one could see the world. He applied for these jobs but knew that they were rarely hired from the shipyards. So Marek took a job on the train, apprenticing to be an engineer.
After the Navy
Art was always in his future. He had won the
e important than a birthday Day
y admiration of his wife, Barbara, with a drawing that impressed her. In 1967, she gave him his first basic paint set as a gift for “Naming y,,” a special holiday for a Polish person, mor y. Barbara had an ulterior motive, however. She wanted artwork for their walls, but they had no means to buy it. So, she gave Marek the paint set to inspire him to produce work to decorate their house. He made his first attempts at painting with this basic set and began experimenting at creating art.
for work on salvage tugs. Finally
body of his work today
After being an apprentice on the train, he became fully licensed as a head engineer and successfully did that for a year. While there, building on his skills, he was still applying y, , the chance came to work on the ocean. The job he had been applying for finally came through and eventually led to the paintings we see in the y.
Marek continued to make his living ports, bringing goods to various co and the United States.
ope, Canada, untries in Eur g on the ocean seeing many .T
ou g ek got a job in T
th p j l
Before one of these trips, Marek an sold their house, liquidated everyth to the US with their then 10 and 12 stay in the US and not return to Pol families for fear of putting them in the pain of having to say goodbye, being forced to go back to Poland t where Mar Taampa at scientist, found work in her field, a ters in school.
olled their daugh nd they enr d while Barbara, a a shipyar hey quickly moved to Florida Tooavoid ever haps for per dy and causing them jeopar land. They had not told their -old daughters, sought to -year hing, and, on a “vacation trip” d Barbara made a plan. They
During the six years they lived in F exhibiting in shows, honing his craf on the ocean. They wanted to move looking at Connecticut with its mus ships. Mystic Seaport was seeking a Russell Jinishian at Mystic Seaport w maritime painters for their galleries ki1987M kldh
ek was painting, lorida Mar
ut us d h g o He would store up the experiences o skies, rescuing battered sea vessels, fires, and even ships cut in half by th horizons, dripping red sunsets, and sleep at night in his lower cabin, tru inverted triangle to avoid falling out of bed. sting those at the helm in an olling foam, and trying to r ciless sea, seeing endless he mer ghost ships, ships with raging on the wild ocean and stormy af Fl
ft, painting his experiences e north and were specifically seums, good schools, and artists so Marek contacted who was looking to acquire s. After sending slides of his lfiMi work, in 1987 Marek was told there was a place for it at Mystic Seaport.
small house in Old S
The family moved t to Connecticut, found a Saybrook that needed
ing, yet they had an thatmadeherunab , Barb y, acquiring his Unite engines while paint ek was building Mar ed b & Johnson. Hir New Jersey for jobs emodel while Barb r ek be work, and Mar Unfortunately both a gourmet cof
One dayy, , while serving coffee and doing his usual maintenance, Marek observed
by Pratt and Whitney
egan to rebuild and bara commuted to s at Pfizer and Johnson y, , g and repairing jet ting on the side and d States citizenship. bara had a back injury bletocontinuecommut n idea.
ee shop and gallery
ek pointed the way the gallery
at a painting silently
with gourmet cof
classic decor eat cof
y a building to use for y. own building with nton’s historic district came the M Sarba Cafe e and baked goods rek Sarba Gallery of ing gr fffee, food, r, , the gallery aintings and restored building attracted a diverse customer base. Marek and Barbara served, cooked, brewed, cleaned, and maintained the building themselves, and Marek retired from Pratt and Whitney a short time later.
anoldermanenterthecoffffee shop, one whom he had not seen before. The man asked if it were okay to go upstairs to view y, , and Mar y. After a while, Marek decided to go up to the gallery and observed the man gazing y, , coffee in hand. Not wishing to interrupt him, Marek went back down to the coffee shop. Much more time y, , and Marek realized the man was still up there, so he again went up to the y. . The man was still standing in the same place, looking at the same painting, titled “PQ” a portrait of the HMS Bluebell from WWII, with the faint view of a convoy in the distance. Marek said to him, “Excuse me, sir. Yoou have been looking at this paint ing for a very long time. Can I answer any questions for you?”
The man answered, still facing the painting, “This was my ship, there is where my cabin was, right there, “and he pointed to a place w. . In their short, emotional conversation, Marek discovered that the man was a WWII Navy veteran and had seen the HMS Bluebell
under the water washing over the bow
sunk. All the men aboard were lost leaving r. . The man quietly left, and Marek never saw him again.
just one survivor
1980s the discovery of The T T
depart on wha last mission. It at was fatefully to become its t was hit by a torpedo and buildingattracteda with its dramatic pa ugs, and c beautiful r Art upstairs. Featuri downstairsandMar fffee ed it. It be estor and r “good bones” in Clin un-do They found a r fffe The plan was to buy
The dramatic, tragic human/ocean story of Tiitanic had always fascinated Marek. In the Tiitanicwreckage was made public. Since the 1967 gift of the paint set from his wife, Marek had been painting stories of his experiences at sea. Stories of rescues and survival and loss. Human stories. “I paint what I know.” Paintings of huge ocean waves and mirroring stormy skies from the view of being onboard ships, tiny and fragile in comparison to the massive ocean. So when he saw the footage on television of the wreckage of the Titanic, images immediately connected with his imagination of it. He knew he would w, , but how to paint the convergence of so many losses and so much sadness?
have to paint it somehow
He began to construct the armature in his mind and do the research. There would come to be 57 souls explored. 57 portraits. All
t accep that c e his r , w, fault The C now
ence by going down with the ship. 47
uld be representative of the others who e lost, their images lovingly depicted and r stories told with the ornate backdrop he central stairway sitting on the ky ocean floor where it had come to A boy from steerage looking for his ents. The husband and wife of Macy’s lth who r ff f the ship onto oats, choosing to stay together instead. band that played until the end to keep passengers calm. The chosen title of the e, And the Band Played On. it is look Band Com
efused to get of
wou were their of th murk rest. pare weal lifeb The b the p piece bidiththhi pted the blame and gave himself a death
sente amazing that it took only that long! king at it with its complexity and detail d Played On took several months, but And the ge painting, mpletion of the lar Left pa Above age: The Fifth Day e: The Requiem, The Flare
After compl edition prin Society in M exhibitions, has been sho was on July whereMare
where Marek gave a fascinating lecture that may be viewed on Lyme Art’s website and on Marek Sarba’s Facebook page.
leting it, Marek made 1,912 limited nts which wer Titanic Massachusetts throughhisgallery, , and the internet. The original painting own many times, the last of which 14th at the Lyme Art Association kgaveafascinatinglecturethatmay
y e sold by the T
of wealth and distinc back to England. But mournful red sky hig the body language of the somber mission its viewing.
been in L
It is whimsical and day Evening P Satur emind the painting r
One of my favorite paintings of Marek’s is Full Lyyme Art Association’s p to Shore, and won The People’s tors to the gallery often said that ded them of a Norman Rockwell Post illustration/painting. d paints the relaxed pose of a ngine room on a big working e important gauges indicating ride. A time when the “man put his feet up and read the hile.
Viisit Awwar Choice Marine Exhibit, Ship Ahead which has be A d.V T
How do these story paintings begin? First, they are conceived and diligently researched. Marek buys and prepares his own grounds. He paints on board with layers of sanded gesso to create a very smooth surface for his intricately detailed work. He also constructs or rebuilds many of his own frames.
newspaper for a w at the switch” can p a smooth and safe ship, with all of the ewmate in the en cr
As he continues with his work at the age of 77, Marek has decided that it is now time for And The Band Played On to be put up for sale. It is available through The Russell Jinishian Gallery in Stonington. The three paintings mentioned here are all currently in the collection of the artist.
Marek’s work is far from over. The fortune teller was right. He did not go back to the sea. But he will keep telling stories of the sea with his brushes and compassionate nature.
ng that grabbed me when I saw uiem. It paints the story of the kay-Bennet, the first and only Tiitanic after the sinking, too ept for people on the lifeboats). ving bodies, they laid them on ere common passengers or cr w, , andreleased back to the sea. If stinguished, they were buried alifax, Nova Scotia. If they were
eatdetail.Y e told in gr stories of these historic ships ar s extensive Facebook page wher PleaseseeMarekSarba’ ew
e too with questions, and he will answer message him ther
est in his heart the way many of these ships ar
esting, cradled on the ocean floor r
ction, they were brought t the way the setting sun in a ghlights the white body bag, f the people holdingit,and n and tragedy are all felt in at a cemetery in Ha e dis e mor they wer eblesseda they wer the deck. If they we etriev asked with r Ta escue (exce late for r ship that came to th cable ship, CS Mack it, is titled The Requ mournful paintin A
re ’s reethe re re Yooucan re r. These stories r re e re r, , and he wants their stories to be known.
Happy holidays, everyone. The bonﬁres are crackling, the curl-upon-a-couch novels are begging to be read, and your social calendar is Capital F Full with dinner parties, family activities, and special events rip and raring for your arrival. All things considered, it feels good to be encompassed in festiveness.
With new experiences come new feelings, those of which are often mixed with excitement, joy, and…you knew I was going to say it…stress.
From your immediate family to media news anchors, everyone loves to talk about how stressful the holidays can be — but I think most holiday stress can be avoided if we follow one simple rule: lead with what we want versus what other people want.
And I mean this in the sincerest of ways. It’s easy to get caught up in the push and pull from what everyone else expects of us, so much so
that we end up ignoring what we wanted out of the holiday season, leaving us feeling worn out, defeated, and moreover, disappointed.
As any wellness guru will tell you, you can’t give happiness to others unless you’re happy yourself.
Whether you tra-la-la your way into the holiday season or saunter by with your head down, you really can make the most of this time of year by embracing the moments that make it special, with people who know how to celebrate right. (lightening up along the way never hurt anyone, either, wink wink).
That said, here are a few tips to enjoy the holiday season so you (and everyone in your circle) can have a jolly old time.
Listen to your body
The holidays are synonymous with weight gain, excess fatigue, increased feelings of stress and anxiety, and let’s not forget to mention, sickness.
Take care of yourself by listening to what your body is telling you. If you’re feeling run down from back-to-back parties, give yourself a minute before racing off to the next one. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you’re late or even why you don’t show up at all. Compromising your health (and happiness for that matter) is never smart.
The same goes for food pressure (which is a whole other topic). If you’re full from dinner and Aunt Patsy is forcing you to try her homemade pie, politely decline and tell her you’ll try some tomorrow. Again, you don’t owe anyone justiﬁcation on the decisions you’re making and why.
Tip #2: Stick with your usual daily routine as much as possible
Humans are hardwired for routine. We thrive on it, which explains why toddlers are such monsters when they don’t take their afternoon nap. Routine = critical.
Obviously, you’re not going to be able to stick to your at-home routine verbatim. However, you can keep your mind and body in its typical rhythm by going to bed at the same time as you normally do, waking up around the same time, and sticking to your morning exercise routine.
While your father-in-law might not have your beloved Peloton, that doesn’t mean you can’t replace your spin class with a HIIT workout or trip to the local gym. The point is not to let yourself fall off the wagon just because you’re not in your normal environment.
Tip #3: Be careful not to overschedule
Next to overspending, overscheduling is one of the biggest culprits robbing you of holiday bliss, especially if you have kids.
This ties in perfectly with the No People Pleasing rule because it’s just not possible to appease everyone’s expectations. Keep in mind you are one person who can be in one place at one time, period.
You can do your best to accommodate extended family’s schedules and gatherings, but if something doesn’t work out (something is deﬁnitely not going to work out), don’t beat yourself up about it — and deﬁnitely don’t let someone make you feel guilty that your schedule doesn’t align with theirs. Remember, you can’t give happiness unless you are happy ﬁrst.
Tip #4: Enjoy the time you have with friends and family
Seems like a no-brainer, but we get so easily wrapped up in the hoopla of buying gifts and perfecting the garnish that we forget why we’re doing all of it in the ﬁrst place.
Take a second to soak in the present moment, whether it’s Christmas morning watching your nieces and nephews tear open presents, or a Tuesday dinner spent with friends you haven’t seen in years, look around and appreciate the people and get-togethers that make your life meaningful.
Because as we all know, nothing lasts forever. Being grateful for everything good in our lives is the entire point of this time of year, so don’t let it get sucked up by the pressure to impress your in-laws or buy the coolest gift.
Have an incredible, laughter-ﬁlled, and stylish holiday season, everyone. I will see you in 2023!
To keep up with Ashley, you can follow her on Instagram @ashleyalt_ or sign up for her newsletter by heading to https://ashleyalt.substack.com/
Fingers crossed, but I think just bought the Isaac Hobbe Mansionthisincredible23
I es 3 Man room up in be ou projec begin I just destru histor more New B – third merca legacy with a
nsion...this incredible 23 m property – circa 1819 –n Eastport, Maine. I must t of my mind to take on another ct, but I can’t wait to dig in and n the restoration of this treasure. had to... it was on the brink of Waait until I tell you about the y....Let’scircle back to this; there’s a personal project predating this one.
architecture. It doesn’t hurt to have combined g magnetism for lost treasures, and tireless tenac
Britain, CT native James Pollowitz d-generation heir to a Nutmeg antile empire, carries on his family y as a patron saint of the arts a passion for preserving period gifts of a discriminating eye, a y. It ultimately pays off!
Over the years, James has unearthed some ama
everything you can think of that is beautiful and precious – in the most unlikely places. This true north has landed him headfirst into some of the most challenging projects most mortals would have run like hell from. But good intention rewards him, it’s as if the universe knows the passion is about stewardship.
Scrolling through Craigslist years ago, Pollowitz stumbled on a ramshackle Gothic corncrib, circa 1850-1875. It was clearly once a stunner with superb bones, but in a current state of epic disrepair. Knowing this was a steal with a scant $1500 price tag, James snagged it – but with the owner ’s mandate: haul it off the Champlain Vaalley property within a month, or the deal was off. Yuup...he did it.
azing finds in improbable places –Y V
Racin tth essentially a pile of puzzle pieces that was moved to W
to the meet probl dism left: e Lodg and o beaut while on th
ng against the clock, James located a contractor who was up e challenge: dismantle the structure as sanely as possible and the deadline. The contractor succeeded but created a new lem... and potentially a big one. In the shuffle, much of the mantled corncrib was never labelled by the contractor. What w Wiindwa ge – James’ winter residence, a sprawling property in Orwell, one of his five historied homes throughout New England. Thi tiful mess of an erector set, lay untouched for the next 3-4 yea e James sought out a team of intrepid craftsmen, willing to ta he meticulous restoration.
d was ard T, , is ars, ake 55
During the Pandemic, Covid 19 abruptly took the life of James’ vibrant and beloved mother Georgie, who he was extremely close to. Grief-stricken, he wanted to find a tribute worthy of her memory — a permanent statement commemorating his mother’s love of history, architecture, and period gardens; all the collective attributes she instilled in her son. The purpose for that Gothic corncrib suddenly made perfect sense; a plan evolved and gradually materialized. The $1500 folly was reimagined and resurrected into the permanent memorial James called Chapel in the Field.
Consistent with all of James Pollowitz’s initiatives, extensive time, effort, and historical research preceded actual construction on the project. It was critical to bring in the right craftsman to execute the work with an attention to the owner’s detailed vision. Enter 80-year-old Jimmy Hayes, whose Yankee ingenuity and skill, James credits with the astonishing outcome. Whenever Chapel in the Field is discussed, Pollowitz praises Haynes endlessly, “I was so blessed to find Jimmy...He worked tirelessly to get it right, using authentic materials such as antique barn board and square nails.”
There were engineering feats pulled off during the process. When Hayes realized that the roofline went up an additional level, he engineered the precision adjustments to realign the entire structure. Ultimately, the slate roofed cupola was constructed in place, rejoined in four sections, and installed. The
original weathervane was found in the process; was sent out to a blacksmith for restoration then returned to cap off the roofline.
James conducted exhaustive research to authenticate the architectural provenance of the corncrib; approximating the year built between 1850-1875 and commissioned by a gentleman farmer. It’s a stellar example of Gothic architecture thought to be by Andrew Jackson Downing – the era’s Gothic guru – incorporating elements rivaling structures owned by the Vanderbilts. The siting of the corncrib in the lower field below Windward Lodge’s perch was a strategic plan to replicate the original drama of cast light and shadow. James oriented the Chapel mirroring the same compass points as it originally sat in Whitehall, VT.
Notably, the complex installation of a highly detailed stainedglass window — purchased years ago with Georgie at a Bristol, VT tag sale years prior — is a poignant focal point and punctuation for the Chapel. The window carries uncanny meaning: a winged bull in the center symbolizing wisdom and strength stands guard; additional images of St. Luke who is
known as both the Patron Saint of Physicians, Artists, and Farmers. The sun strikes the window at the perfect time, making it a beacon, and illuminating the chapel in color, and light.
Surveying the view down the long hill from Windward Lodge, James noted the stark contrast of Chapel in the Field; realizing it required context to connect it with the rest of the property. He needed further direction once again, to complete the vision. He sought expert guidance from landscape designer and garden writer Judith Irvin, who deftly choreographed a masterplan. Together with James, the British born designer laid out a complete project and the entire property was woven together.
Sitework was a necessity to carve out the story and render it authentic. Regrading was required from the top of the hill down to the Chapel; stonework and walls designed and constructed, and Gothic plants and indigenous specimens carefully selected – all assembled to strike a balance of simplicity and formality as visitors came upon the drama of the landscape. There was a fountain added for interest and an intricate labyrinth constructed for visitors to wander through, get lost in, and reflect on loved ones who passed during the pandemic.
In the beginning, there were the naysayers. “Why bother?” “Too far gone, it will never stand again...a waste of money, you will never find a carpenter who can do it?”
James reflects, “...and yet here it stands, radiant, exquisitely restored. Little did I know that my garden folly would take on profound meaning. It’s now a family chapel dedicated to my dear mother who died of Covid early in the pandemic.” He goes on, “My heart is forever broken, but I feel close to my mom here.”
The view shifts with the seasons, and James decorates the interior to bring the outside in. It is magical during the holidays: a period sleigh is a theatrical and gasp worthy, with the interior filled with antique ornaments, a creche and Christmas tree plus ample greenery...the past and present come together in this exceptional gift box. Georgie is smiling...
Remember James’ excitement about the Isaac Hobbes Mansion in Eastport Maine; yes...he purchased it. The 23 room circa 1819 stunner was built by Isaac Hobbes – a tanner who – by coincidence or kismet, also owned a mercantile company. The mansion has verifiable ties to the Underground Railroad, connections to piracy, during a period when there was a lingering allegiance to the British Crown. James has already jumped into this one with both feet, providing daily updates and video tours on the project’s private Facebook page, “Hobbes Mansion Restoration.” Work has begun on this vast project – likely his most ambitious to date – and there are daily discoveries in this sprawling manse. The Hobbes Mansion will become James’ summer residence, with plans to offer space to the Eastport for special events. I’ll be reporting back to INK readers next year with updates on this restoration. Congratulations once again, James!
The CheesemongerBy Paul Partica, The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook
The World’s Best Cheese, Gruyere
E very year there’s a competition called the World’s Cheese Awards and their mission is to find the World’s Best Cheese. This year the event was held in Newport, Wales. According to CNN there were 4434 cheeses entered from 42 countries. The winner was determined by 250 international judges. Some of you might remember previous years winners such as Roque River Blue from Oregon, or Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy.
This year’s winner is a cheese made in Switzerland called Gruyere, but not just any Gruyere. The winner is made by a cheese maker by the name of Urs Leuenberger . The name of the dairy is Vorderfultigen. The cheese was aged at an Affineur named Gourmino. This is important because Urs’s Leuenberger cheese won the award and it is the only Gruyere that can claim to be the World’s Best Cheese. The age on this winner is over twenty months. It’s a small production farm with limited quantity.
The fun fact about this cheese is that there’s only two retail stores in the United States that carry the cheese. The first store is Darien Cheese & Fine Foods in Darien Connecticut, and you guessed it, The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook in Centerbrook Connecticut. I guess I should tell the story.
Ken and Tori Skovron, owners of Darien Cheese, have been running the store since 1986. Ken and I go back almost 50 years working in the specialty food business. We both started in the Greenwich Cheese Shop, our initiation to specialty cheese. If you’re ever in the area of Darien be sure to stop and see the store, tell them we sent you.
Along the way Ken got involved with direct importing from Europe. I learned to appreciate this knowledge and I often would buy many of the cheeses he would import. Recently he told me about this terriﬁc Gruyere he had been buying. He said it was small production but really nice. So, I purchased a couple wheels of this Gruyere from him and my customers have really loved it. This is not the end of the story. A few days back Ken called me with the news that this gruyere had won “World’s Best Cheese”.
I’m not going to tell you not to try and ﬁnd this cheese but the odds are against you. At the time this story was written we were down to less than half a wheel. The fact that there is a very limited supply of this cheese available only makes matters worse. The most common age of Gruyere cheese sold is usually less than a year old. Leuenberger’s Gruyere is just so full of ﬂavor. It has notes of herbs and fruits with a pleasant sharpness and a wonderful aroma. You will also ﬁnd crystallization in the cheese often found in aged goudas and properly aged cheddar. The sharpness and crystals are your ﬁrst indication that you might have found the winner.
In all fairness to other Gruyeres, there are many other superb Gruyeres to be found, and many would hold a second place to this year’s World’s Best Cheese. Unfortunately, Gruyeres don’t come with a recognizable made date to help you determine age.
Beware of price. The supply will be small and the demand great so I would expect the price to grow accordingly. Roque River Blue was selling for seventy-ﬁve dollars a pound, if you could ﬁnd it. With that being said, I would only buy this cheese from a cheese monger you know. Those of you who know Gruyere will notice immediately the difference. This is the ﬁrst time I can remember sampling a cheese for two days where everyone who tasted the cheese bought a piece.
I feel the need to mention a few of my thoughts about usage. Gruyere is such a versatile cheese. It’s great on French onion soup, cheese fondue, potatoes Au Gratin, Quiche Lorraine, all kinds of recipes and I even use it when making Raclette. Even though the cheese would be wonderful with all of these treats, I feel the best purpose would be to eat it all by itself with that perfect bottle of wine you’ve been saving. One taste and I’m sure you will agree. Good hunting and be sure to try before you buy.
By the way, the wine was pretty good too.
Paul Partica, The Cheese Shop www.CheeseCt.com
...and the Judges have spoken.