FINE ANTIQUES AND DECORATIONS FROM THE 16TH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT
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Denyse Schmidt at the Arnold Bernhard Center Gallery, University of Bridgeport October 21 - December 3, 2010 Join us for a Holiday Boutique, December 1 Gallery hours: 9:30-5:00 Mon-Thurs, 10:30-5:00 Fri, 12:30-4:00 Sat Arnold Bernhard Center Gallery, University of Bridgeport 84 Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport CT For more information about this exhibition and related programming: 203.576.4696 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about the artist: www.dsquilts.com
A brasserie in France is a place where people meet for lunch, dinner or even just catch up with a friend over a glass of wine and a snack. It is more casual with daily specials and tapas. Our menu is affordable to ensure that we will not only be a place for special occasions, but for every day dining as well.
5 2 S A N F O R D S T R E E T, F A I R F I E L D
W W W . T H E B R A S S E R I E C T. C O M
contents//september-october standard fare:
art really matters discovering the hill-stead museum
theater: greenbrier ghost by william squier
contributors some words from a talented few
bellarmine museum a new venue at fairfield university
what’s it worth? evaluating your houeshold treasures
goodspeed: michael price the man behind the curtain
short fiction: the lives we lead by stephen rhodes
events/gatherings venü launch party pg. 20 it’s a hit! pg. 21 fcbuzz in bridgeport pg. 22 2010 key to the cure pg. 23
christine ohlman oh bee-hive
artist profile nina bentley
fair use what is permitted in unauthorized use of copyrighted material
travel + leisure the art of adventure
arts infusion by william squier
Issue: July/August 2010, Art Really Matters
Ansco Shur Shot, 32” x 32”, Oil on canvas
The image of Robert Cottingham’s “Ansco Shur Shot” (shown on page 33) purchased for the Connecticut Artists Collection was incorrect. The correct image is shown left. For more information about the Connecticut Artists Collection, visit the CCT website at www.cultureandtourism.org
visual center of horizontal format
ESCHER LANDSCAPES MINDSCAPES rare original works through december 29, 2010 open 7days print and pdf catalog available www.ArtistsMarket.com/Escher/Catalog.pdf
Escher works ÂŠ The M.C. Escher Company, B.V. Baarn, The Netherlands
founder’s letter This is VENÜ MAGAZINE Issue #3. We are especially excited to introduce this issue. Through our staff’s unyielding efforts, we present to you some amazing stories from our group of talented contributors. I’m finding the process of creating and designing each issue, along with the Venü brand, has been mind-expanding. The benefit of publishing a high-style periodical versus a one-off art book is that it’s continuous - every issue brings us more amazing contributors and compelling stories. We tend to forget the past, don’t know what the future holds, but each issue keeps us alive in the moment. Enjoy.
J. Michael Woodside
contributors Matthew Sturtevant - Antiques Matthew Sturtevant is a Christie’s trained appraiser specializing in American, English and European furniture, decorative arts, sculpture and Fine Art from the 16th century the present, and is a generalist in appraising household goods. Matthew has lectured extensively for Christie’s, George Washington University, and The Appraisers Association of America and taught appraisal courses at NYU appraisal studies for certification process. Matthew contributes evaluations for VENÜ in his column, “What’s it Worth.” Please forward your images and correspondence to email@example.com for consideration to be included in the column. Sheryle Levine AND Alan Neigher - Attorneys Sheryle Levine and Alan Neigher are with the law firm of Byelas and Neigher in Westport. Attorney Levine is a graduate of Brandeis University and Brooklyn Law School. Attorney Neigher is a graduate of Colby College and Boston College Law School. Attorney Neigher was a member of the Connecticut Film Commission and a founding board member and president of the Fairfield Theatre Company. Attorneys Levine and Neigher specialize in media, entertainment and intellectual property law. They represent news organizations, film and television producers, performers and artists, as well as people and entities involved in every aspect of the news, media and entertainment industries. Their informative column for VENÜ readers discusses, “Fair Use,” what is permitted in unauthorized use of copyrighted material. William Squier - Theater William Squier is EMMY Award winner who has written for television, film and the stage. He is a frequent contributor to Stamford Plus Magazine and the Tribune’s Fairfield County Weekly, where he often covers the theater scene in Connecticut. In this issue, he takes a look at local development of new musicals by following the path taken by Norwalk-based songwriter Clay Zambo’s latest work.
Katherine Griswold - Goodspeed, Michael PRice Katherine Griswold is the Education Assistant at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut. She is a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in Music. Katherine’s article discusses the renowned Goodspeed Musicals through an interview with Executive Director, Michael Price.
STEPHEN RHODES - WRITER Stephen Rhodes is a Westport novelist whose work was selected for the “2008 Best American Mystery Stories.” (Rhodes’ story is about a life-changing confrontation a Greenwich Wall Streeter has with a rival financier at a white-glove cocktail party that marks the downward spiral of his once-privileged life. Stephen’s critically acclaimed financial thriller, THE VELOCITY OF MONEY (HarperCollins), predicted the recent “flash-crash” stock market meltdown. A 15-year veteran of Wall Street, his work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Noir, and dozens of other publications.
Alex Defelice - WRITER Alex co-owns a production company and record label based in New Haven, HMG Recordings. The company releases a variety of blues music, roots/americana, gospel, etc. available in stores and digitally on the web. He has also been a freelance writer for nearly twenty years. Alex interviewed Christine Ohlman for VENÜ.
Womens sportswear, outerwear, eveningwear, jewelry, handbags, shoes, accessories, unique gifts
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Untitled, by Janno, Australia. Acrylic/Mixed-Media on Canvas, 48" x 72"
VINTAGE AND NEW, ECLECTIC AND INSPIRED, FURNITURE, ACCENTS, ART, JEWELRY FROM THE MARKETS OF ARGENTINA AND FRANCE
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diane birdsall gallery
10 Lyme Street, Old Lyme CT 06371 860 434 3209 dianebirdsallgallery.com
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PETER L. ARGUIMBAU
Four Gallery Showrooms Originals, Fine Art & Prints Oil Painting & Frame Restoration Custom Framing
576 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 203-655-6633
www.gearygallery.com “Eleonora”, 32" x 38", Oil on Board
3 September/October_CT Edition
founder, creative director: J. Michael Woodside
executive director: Tracey Thomas
senior editor: Ellen Ullman
senior arts editor: Philip Eliasoph
Venü Media Company
art, design & production: Venü Media Company
Alex Defelice, Katherine Griswold, Martha Milcarek, Alan Neigher, Ryan Odinak, Amy Orzel, Stephen Rhodes, William Squier, Matthew Sturtevant
contributing photographers: Amy Orzel
on the cover:
Heroic Perseus, after decapitating the grotesque head of Medusa, comes to the rescue of fair Andromeda. In Paolo de Matteis’ painting (circa 1710), depicting a fierce sea monster (a prototype for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws?), Greek mythology is wildly imagined and re-interpreted. From the Samuel H. Kress Collection, via Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum, now part of Fairfield University’s permanent collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
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The small print: No responsibility can be taken for the quality and accuracy of the reproductions, as this is dependent upon the artwork and material supplied. No responsibility can be taken for typographical errors. The publishers reserve the right to refuse and edit material as presented. All prices and specifications to advertise are subject to change without notice. The opinions in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Copyright VENÜ MAGAZINE. All rights reserved. The name VENÜ MAGAZINE is copyright protected. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without written consent from the publisher. VENÜ MAGAZINE does not accept responsibility for unsolicited material. This is a bimonthly publication and we encourage the public, galleries, artists, designers, photographers, writers (calling all creatives) to submit photos, features, drawings, etc., but we assume no responsibility for failure to publish submissions.
Parrot Tulips, GicleĂŠ on Canvas or Paper
J U L I E S AT I N O V E R FLORALS . ABSTRACTS . PORTRAITS
Heidi Lewis Colemanâ€™s new collection of giclee prints merges contemporary still life images with the artists uniquely abstracted backgrounds. The results are fresh and engaging... and better yet, entirely affordable.
Matthew Sturtevant, Resident Expert
What’s it Worth?
We welcome photographs of your items with the possibility that they may be considered for publication in our “What’s it Worth” column. Submit all email correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be advised that estimates are based on images and cannot be used for any appraisal purposes.
A Japanese Mixed Metal Bronze Vase, Late 19th/Early 20th Century 14 3/4” Height These are also called Meiji period vases in reference to the ruling house of Japan at the time of their creation. The quality of bronze work is always high so much so that the animals and plants that are applied to the vase appear to be very life like except that they are usually finished in silver and gold. In this instance the eyes of the eagle are gold and two chicks in silver like their mother appear out of the nest in the stump of a tree. They are usually signed on the bottom or the side although most of the makers remain anonymous as in this case the maker is unknown. The patina, which is the term used to describe the coloration of the bronze, has turned green as a result of chemical cleaning. This will ultimately effect the evaluation as with all bronzes, the original finish is always desired except in the cases where the bronze was intended to turn as in outdoor bronzes. But even in it’s current state this is still a very collectable item.
Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000
A Central Frieze Panel of a 16th Century English Blanket Chest This may just look like an old slab of carved wood, and that’s because that’s exactly what it is. It is the central frieze panel of a 16th century English blanket chest. Sometimes referred to as a marriage or dowry chest mainly because it was given to a couple as a wedding gift primarily to store the most valuable items in a household. Clothing blankets and sometimes fitted with an inner box for money, jewelry and precious objects or documents. These chests were the family banks of the time and larger households had one similar to what this once was part of. This one was formidable made of two-inch thick hardened oak fastened together with half-inch thick dowels. The cut out at the top is for a heavy iron lock and has traces of the rust stains that could only be created by time. This can be firmly dated to the 16th century because of this and several other factors. The timber is old growth oak. It’s very heavy and dense with lots of thick rays running against the grain and lots of worming. The light relief carving uses symbols common with the House of Tudor incorporating what is referred to as the “Tudor rose” a rose within a rose. The war of the roses was fought between the House of York symbolized by the red rose and the house of Lancaster symbolized by the white rose during the 15th century. Henry Tudor (Lancastrian) won but married Elizabeth of York the surviving Yorkist claimant and incorporated a rose within a rose to symbolize the unity of the two families. As such the Tudor rose can be found on many pieces dating from the late 15th century to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. Dimensions 26” Height 10 ¾” Width 2” deep
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500
LEICA M-5 Camera Cameras can sometimes be collectable. This is a 1973 Leica M-5 rangefinder serial # 1287311. Initially panned by critics because of its large size it has become a cult classic. It’s unique ability to measure light from behind the lens offered exacting exposure of film. This particular camera has two lenses in the lot; a Summaron 1:2, 35mm and a Summicron 1:2, 50mm, which adds to the value by almost half. Please keep in mind that condition of any mechanical instrument weighs heavily in evaluation. For instance if the light meter has been damaged on this particular model it is very near impossible to replace and would reduce the value significantly. This camera has slight body wear and is perfect mechanical condition.
Auction Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500 18
1) A fine three leaf Stamped Jansen Louis XVI Style dining table, bronze mounted. 2) A Rare and Unique Stamped Jansen Solid Rosewood Breakfront with Rosewood Interior. 3) Finest set of Twelve Stamped Jansen Louis XV Style Dining Chairs, covered in a French Silk Lampas by Verel de Belval Fabric.
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481 Canal Street, Stamford, CT 203.274.5130 GreenwichLiving.1st dibs.com - GreenwichLivingAntiques.com ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
>> Department: EVENTS + GATHERINGS >> DEPARTMENT: EVENTS + GATHERINGS
LAUNCH PARTY, JUNE 10, 2010 - THOMAS J. WALSH GALLERY Photos: Bob Buchanan REGINA A. QUICK CENTER, FAIRFIELD UNIVERSITY and Keith Styrcula
>> Department: EVENTS + GATHERINGS
Left: Team photo of the Bridgeport Colored Stars. Below, Portrait of James O’Rourke. Both photographs are on loan from the Bridgeport History Center of the Bridgeport Public Library.
It’s a hit! A Hometown View of Our National Pastime, Brings the Diversity, Drama and Excitement of Connecticut Baseball History to Life at The Fairfield Museum and History Center
he colorful and diverse history of baseball in Bridgeport, Fairfield and other Connecticut communities comes to life everyday at The Fairfield Museum and History Center with It’s a Hit! A Hometown View of Our National Pastime, one of our boldest exhibitions so far, according to Museum Curator, Adrienne Saint-Pierre. It’s a Hit!, which is being made possible through a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council and the generous sponsorship of GE, The Bank of Fairfield, Bridgeport Bluefish, WSHU Radio and Fairfield University, will be open through
January 2, 2011 and is accompanied by a range of educational and community programs. “Baseball is firmly embedded in American life and history, even in our everyday language, and discovering how passion for the game became so widespread after the Civil War is fascinating,” said SaintPierre. “We want visitors to discover and understand the evolution of the game and see how this region contributed to baseball’s rich history, built a sense of community and still does today with pro ball and area natives who have played in the major leagues.” It’s a Hit! features live radio clips, crowd sounds, photographs, early equipment, uniforms and other memorabilia from the collections of fans and players around Connecticut, as well as the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Library of Congress and the Bridgeport Bluefish. Saint-Pierre pointed out that one section of the exhibition, The Dugout, focuses on a number of individual players. One of those players, Rufus Baker, was an African-
American who graduated from Fairfield, Conn’ecticut’s. Roger Ludlowe High School in 1938 and then went on to play for the Bridgeport Colored Stars, where he was spotted by the New York Black Yankees and signed as their shortstop. “Rufus’ story as a member of a Negro National League team is one that we should remember,” said Saint-Pierre.“ It’s a close-to-home example of the prejudice that African-American players faced, being on segregated teams with lower pay and subjected to occasional threats when they travelled around the country. Today, there is a street in Bridgeport near The Bridgeport Bluefish stadium named in honor of Baker, thanks to the efforts of Craig Kelly, a former president of the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the NAACP. The Museum has also initiated an ambitious schedule of baseball-related programs over the next five months, according to Christine Jewell, director of education and programs. One of those programs with local author, Don Harrison, Bridgeport -area journalist and author of Connecticut Baseball: The Best of the Nutmeg State, included vignettes from Don’s lifetime of writing about Connecticut’s corner of the game,” Jewell said. “Don talked about “ Orator” James Henry O’Rourke, one of the fathers of early baseball; Bobby Valentine, Walt Dropo, Spec Shea, Charles Nagy, Jimmy Piersall, Rico Brogna and Billy Gardner among others. “Our series will also include other Connecticut authors like Mike Bielawa, who wrote Bridgeport Baseball; Dana Brand, August 26, who wrote Mets Fan and The Last Days of Shea; Frank Deford, November 16, who wrote several baseball books including The Old Ball Game, and other authors.” “Many of our programs will focus on the game itself and how it evolved,” she said. “For instance, we’ll be doing a community picnic and Town Ball game, complete with rounders, soaking, and one-out, all-out, on Wednesday, August 18th. Our huge, annual fall festival on September 12, will also feature a vintage baseball game and there will be a large Wiffle ball game in October. And we are planning even more events.” For more information and complete program schedule for It’s a Hit! A Hometown View of Our National Pastime, visit the museum’s website at www.fairfieldhs.org.
About Fairfield Museum and History Center The Fairfield Museum and History Center was established in 2007 by the Fairfield Historical Society. The 13,000 square-foot museum presents engaging exhibition galleries, a special collection library and reading room, a family education center, an 80-seat theater overlooking Fairfield’s Town Green and a delightful museum shop. The Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the history of Fairfield, Connecticut and surrounding regions for present and future generations. The Museum provides educational programs to schools in and around Fairfield County, and helps to enrich the cultural and social life of the area. The Museum has quickly become an integral part of Fairfield. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or access the web site at www.fairfieldhs.org.
>> Department: EVENTS + GATHERINGS
FCBuzz In BRIDGEPORT Plenty of Artists make it Funky and Fun by RYAN ODINAK
Photo by Helen Klisser During
Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County
here is plenty of FCBuzz these days in Bridgeport! As the largest of the three coastal Fairfield County arts and cultural hubs, the city is bursting with activity. The energy of a thriving artist community working and living in the city is helping drive activity which includes an outdoor festival, impromptu events on McLevy Green, a public art competition and plenty of exhibits and music presented by local artists.
A recent exhibit at the Housatonic Museum of Art titled Flower (Em)Power, featured artists from a nationwide, open-juried competition with guest curator Terri C. Smith. The competition, designed to breathe new life into the flower as an artistic symbol or subject, provided an opportunity for emerging and under-recognized artists to have their work exhibited in a significant venue. Awards included a solo exhibit (First Prize) at the Museum. The reception for the exhibit also served as a welcome for Ken Kahn, the new executive director of the recently formed Bridgeport Arts and Cultural Council. Kahn, of Hartford, has a national reputation for successfully developing and expanding arts organizations including the Greater Hartford Arts Council where he worked for fifteen years. His new office is in a storefront in the magnificent Victorian arcade on Main Street in downtown Recognizing how the arts can help build the local economy, Bridgeport’s Office of Planning & Economic Development hosted the first annual Bridgeport Arts Festival over the summer. The Arts Fest—a one day gathering of artists, artisans, craft makers, musicians and performers—featured one of Connecticut’s premiere homegrown bands—
Top: Reception for Flower Power exhibit. Left: Artist Gus Moran with his painting Leaves of Grass. Right: Ken Kahn, executive director, of the newly formed Bridgeport Arts and Cultural Council.
Photo by Gwyneth Fearnhead
Photo by Caryn S. Kaufman
St. Bernadette. Led by Bridgeport based producer and guitarist Keith Saunders and femme fatale vocalist Meredith DiMenna. “Bridgeport has always been home to a thriving arts community,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “This festival provides our artists and artisans an opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience, while giving visitors an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon in our revitalized downtown – seeing great art, listening to music and sampling our diverse restaurant fare.” Developer MainState Ventures is sponsoring an Annual Art Competition. Gus Moran, a Bridgeport native is the second in a series of six finalists selected
in this inaugural competition. He had his mural sized painting displayed on Broad Street. “I chose to make a painting of the American 19th Century poet Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass was my inspiration,” stated Moran. “Whitman believed that art had the power to unite the government and the people... that poetry, visual arts, and music were the essential ingredients that all people could relate to and that would help to put a fragmented country on the right track. This competition is providing that forum for Bridgeport artists to share our work with the masses who travel in and out of Connecticut’s largest city,” Moran stated. City Lights Gallery and The Gallery at Black Rock provide exhibits throughout the year that feature local talent as well as artists from across CT. Each has a knack for coming up with themes that capture the imagination and are the catalyst for artists creating new work. Read’s Artspace and the American Fabrics building both provide studios for visual and performing artists and small creative businesses and are incubators of creativity.
To find out what’s happening in Bridgeport and the other cities and towns of Fairfield County visit www.FCBuzz.org presented by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. This arts and culture resource offers ticket and event information for music, theatre, visual arts, history, lectures, literature, kids and families, classes, workshops, social events and much more. For more information contact the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County by emailing info@CulturalAllianceFC.org, or calling 203-256-2329 or visiting our Web site at www.CulturalAllianceFC.org. 22
Uma Thurman, Photo by Fabrizio Ferri
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE GREENWICH TEAMS UP WITH CANCERCARE OF CONNECTICUT FOR THE KEY TO THE CURE CHARITY SHOPPING WEEKEND
To help raise both money and awareness for women’s cancers, Saks Fifth Avenue Greenwich will partner with CancerCare of Connecticut and host the 2010 Key To The Cure, a charity shopping weekend taking
place Thursday, October 21 through Sunday, October 24. Saks Greenwich will donate 2% of sales Thursday to Sunday, October 21 to 24 to CancerCare of Connecticut. Saks will also offer a limited-edition Key To The Cure T-shirt designed by Donna Karan, available beginning Friday, October 1 and retailing for $35 in Saks stores, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and on saks.com. 100% of the purchase price of each shirt sold will be donated to local charity partners. Actress Uma Thurman is the 2010 Ambassador for Saks Fifth Avenue’s Key To The Cure. In support of this program, Ms. Thurman will appear in a national public service announcement (PSA) wearing the Donna Karan limited-edition T-shirt. The Key To The Cure PSA will appear in major fashion and lifestyle magazines in September and October. Saks Fifth Avenue initiated its charity shopping weekend in 1999. Since then, the company has donated over $33 million to women’s cancer research and treatment organizations throughout the United States. Organizations benefiting from these funds include: The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund, Cleveland Clinic, Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Nevada Cancer Institute and many others.
FALL FASHION SHOW@ All proceeds to benefit the Fairfield Theatre Company
Friday, Sept. 24th 7:30pm For tickets vist: www.fairﬁeldtheatre.org or call 203.259.1036 Jennifer Butler: 1326 Post Road, Fairﬁeld www.jenniferbutler.com 203.256.5768
>> ART REALLY MATTERS: Discovering The Hill-Stead
Alfred Atmore Pope and Ada Brooks Pope on West Lawn, c. 1902. Gertrude Käsebier, Photographer
Discovering The Hill-Stead an “Exquisite palace of peace, and light and harmony” --Henry James, The American Scene, 1907
by Robert A.M. Stern
Much More Than A Comfortable Country House
Hill-Stead is much more than a comfortable country house. It is an act of personal reinvention for its principal designer, Theodate Pope, the headstrong daughter of Alfred Atmore and Ada Brooks Pope, prosperous and prominent Clevelanders whose origins only one generation before lay in hardscrabble farming in New England. Christened Effie, at an early age she renamed herself Theodate, meaning “gift of God,” which was the name of her maternal grandmother from Maine. But a change of name was not enough for the imperious and ambitious Effie. Sent east to Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, she was so inspired by the New England landscape and the local culture that by age sixteen she was drawing up plans for her dream house in Connecticut. After graduation came the customary Grand Tour of Europe with her parents and subsequent presentation to high society back in Cleveland. That was a disaster, and as soon as she was able to, Theodate engineered her escape back from Cleveland to Farmington in order to realize her architectural dream, buying and restoring in the manner of the early-nineteenth-century two Connecticut colonial farmhouses on forty-two acres of land. But ambitious Theodate found that the renovation had not satiated her need to create. She then decided that the only way to sufficiently utilize her artistic talents, idealistic nature, and determination was to become a professional architect, despite the fact that architecture was at that time a profession virtually closed to women. Barred from admission to all-male Princeton, she enlisted private tutors. What then transpired is pretty amazing. Theodate persuaded her parents to move East, not to New York City as many rich Midwesterners like the Fricks, Carnegies, Phippses—not to mention Cleveland’s leading family, the Rockefellers—were doing, but to rural Farmington. It was a brilliant strategy to launch her professional career while realizing her cultural agenda. With the promise of a commission for a big house to incorporate her parents’ art collection—Impressionist paintings purchased by the Popes in Europe—Theodate, then entering her thirties, was able to enlist the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to produce professional drawings of her ideas for a country house. Looking back it is also amazing how similar in temperament Theodate was to another imperious self-inventor, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom she shared a birth year. Wright also hated the Midwest and was able to escape it – in his case only by jettisoning wife and six children and fleeing to Italy with a lover. More importantly, he too was intent on creating the quintessential American house. Like Wright, Theodate rejected the European palace model popular in the late nineteenth century, which for her reeked of the new money and pretensions she had detested since childhood. While Wright’s commanding talent propelled him toward abstraction and innovation, Theodate’s more modest gifts led her toward an architecture of representation and narration. Italy or no, Wright remained a provincial—a man of the prairie which he loathed but couldn’t escape. Theodate was cosmopolitan but longed to be provincial—to be rooted in her beloved corner of Connecticut. While Wright was mythologizing the prairie, but on his own artistic terms, Theodate was embracing New England vernacular, not seeking to reinvent it, but to explore its nuances.
Theodate deeply believed that historical allusion could give meaning to the present. In rewriting her past she cast her parents in the role of New England gentry, just as she had once reformulated herself from Effie to Theodate. The design for Hill-Stead did not slavishly copy its model—which interestingly joined a New England prototype with that of Mount Vernon, Virginia home to George Washington and designed by its principal resident. Repeating only the essential feature, the two-story porch, Theodate based the rest of the design on an idealized version of the New England farmhouse on a 250-acre working farm. At first glance the house may seem just another in a long series of houses modeled after the first president’s—houses that include McKim, Mead and White’s James Breese House (1898), Southampton, New York, which significantly began as a farmhouse, as well as Robert J. Collier’s house of 1914 by John Russell Pope (no relation) at Wickatunk, New Jersey, and extending to the 1930s to reach some sort of apotheosis as home office to David O. Selznick, producer of the film Gone With the Wind (1939), and the various Howard Johnson restaurants that were built in New England in the 1930s and 1940s. But closer inspection reveals Hill-Stead’s lively syncopation of façade elements, especially the colonnade played off against an antiphonal of bay windows. Inside, the Georgian regularity of Washington’s house is abandoned in favor of a sophisticated spatial arrangement relating to McKim, Mead and White’s Shingle Style work of the 1880s, with bold criss-crossing diagonal vistas leading the eye to the carefully placed paintings that are never permitted to be rearranged or to travel. Hill-Stead, to a remarkable degree, is both monumental and informal—no trivial accomplishment. It is a farmhouse and a mansion. Most of all, it is quintessentially an American house. After completing Hill-Stead, Theodate went on to a career as a licensed architect, rebuilding Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace in Manhattan, designing houses and the buildings of Westover School for girls and Avon Old Farms, a school for boys which she founded and imbued with her own educational theories. Alfred and Ada Pope finished their years at Hill-Stead and then Theodate, who married diplomat John Wallace Riddle in 1916, carried on there until her death thirty years later. The house was opened as a museum in 1947; since then, for many of its visitors, Hill-Stead has been less important as a work of architecture than as a collection of pictures. Even Philip Johnson, one of America’s most important architects of the post-World War II era, failed to see its value for a very long time. Johnson, another self-inventing Clevelander, was an occasional visitor to his “Aunt Effie’s” house. Philip Johnson’s mother, Louise, was Theodate’s first cousin. But to the young Johnson, in the 1920s and 1930s when he was a passionate Modernist singularly committed to the International Style, the house was not even to be considered as a work of architecture. Moreover, it was just “a collection of bad pictures. It was very unfashionable [then] ... to like the collection of art at Hill-Stead. Haystacks, by then... had become postcards.” Today, with a more inclusive, “post-modern” approach, Hill-Stead is once again to be appreciated as architecture—indeed as among the most representative examples of the American architecture of 100 years ago.
>> ART REALLY MATTERS: Discovering The Hill-Stead
5 1) Fishing Boats at Sea, 1868, Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926) Oil on canvas, 37 ½ x 50 ¾ inches. 2) Dancers in Pink, c. 1876, Edgar Hillaire Degas (French, 1834-1917) Oil on canvas, 23 ¼ x 29 inches. 3) The Blue Wave, Biarritz, 1862, James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903) Oil on canvas, 25 ¾ x 35 inches. 4) The Tub, 1886, Edgar Hillaire Degas (French, 1834-1917) Pastel on paper, 27 ½ x271/2 inches. 5) The Guitar Player, Edouard Manet (French, 1832-1883) Oil on canvas, 25 x 31 ½ inches. Right: Curator Cindy Cormier examines Monet’s Graintsacks after the installation of new picture light, Fall 2009.
A Little Known Treasure Hidden in Farmington, Connecticut
by Philp Eliasoph
Interview: Cindy Cormier Catching up with Hill-Stead’s Chief Curator, Cynthia Cormier, VENÜ’s Senior Arts Editor Philip Eliasoph probed into the endless tasks and duties filling her hectic daily schedule. Sharing her story, Cormier highlights the challenges and pleasures of caring for some of the world’s premier Impressionist paintings in the context of a relaxed, country home. Curating this major museum collection in an historic residential estate is her special talent.
What do you consider the most important qualifications to be a curator? What do you rely upon most in your skill set? I think to be a curator you must have a deep understanding of the history of art, and you must always be looking at great art to develop your eye. I spend lots of my free time visiting other museums to do just that. At Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, the art collection is largely from the 19th century but there are important objects from as far back at the 6th century B.C. If you can place the Pope family’s art collection within a broader time period, you can understand it better and ultimately better share it with museum visitors. In addition, the collection at Hill-Stead was amassed by Alfred Atmore Pope, his wife Ada, and their daughter Theodate, so Hill-Stead’s curator needs to wrap her mind around why and how they collected what they did and explore the ways their collecting tastes were similar to and different from others collectors in the era. Knowing about the family’s interests helps me share the collection with visitors. To do this I read family letters and diary entries that discuss what they bought and why. For a broader understanding of the family I also investigate aspects of American history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including industrialization, urbanization, education, immigration, and women’s studies. A curator needs to be inquisitive and enjoy learning. The other qualification you need as a curator is to have an appreciation for the value of original works of art. This is paramount, as I need to make sure that the collection is secure, the environment is safe, and the lighting is appropriate. You must always consider the safety of
the object in its setting because ultimately your job as a curator is to ensure that nothing is damaged and that the collections remain intact for the enjoyment of future generations. What pathway did it take for you to arrive at your position? I’ve always loved art and I started my college career thinking that I might be an art major, but I quickly realized I didn’t have the talent so I got a business degree instead, in health-systems management and computers. Upon graduation, I immediately got a good job. I found the project work to be gratifying but not all that intellectually stimulating. I didn’t want to read about business happenings and computers in my time off. So I went back to graduate school where I learned you could study art history. Who knew there was such a thing? At UMass Amherst, all of my classmates were as interested in the history of art and in visiting museums as I was. Who knew you
Left: Sara Handing a Toy to the Baby, Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926) Oil on canvas, 33 x 27 inches
could make a career working in museum? My kids make fun of me because I’m so interested in art; they say that as adults they plan to never visit another museum again. I only hope that one day they too find their passion. As a graduate student I did an internship at Wadsworth Atheneum and was hired as curator of a small historic house-museum in Holyoke, Massachusetts, called Wisteriahust Museum. These were my formative experiences—one at a large art museum with a vast and important art collection, and one at a small historic house that was once home to a wealthy industrialist and his family. Then I landed a terrific job in the education department at the Wadsworth Atheneum. As a museum educator, I developed my passion for the visitor experience and personally took thousands of people, young and old, around the museum. I spent eight years at the Wadsworth Atheneum and I’ve been at HSM for 12 years. HSM is an incredible historic site with buildings, grounds, architecture, and interior design filled with world-class art. We have what I think is the perfect mix of everything, and with a smaller staff—as both curator and educator—I have more diverse responsibilities and get to learn about art and so much more. At Hill-Stead I find it interesting to think about living with great works of art as the Pope family did. In an art museum it’s more about what the exhibition curator wants you to know, but at Hill-Stead it’s a family story. You can imagine yourself curled up on a sofa with your favorite novel in front of a painting by Claude Monet. It’s a complete immersion in the world of art—in many ways connecting to something from the past. They had their art all around them, both inside their house and outside it, in their garden, and around the estate. You can really feel it when you walk around the site. Now that I’m a homeowner, everything I’ve learned at Hill-Stead—be it art history, garden and landscape design, architecture, geology, botany, or natural history— all of that knowledge I take home to curate my living room or design my garden. It is really fun to take that experience home with me. What are the most significant changes you have seen in your 12 years at Hill-Stead? I have seen the museum become a greater force in the Greater Hartford cultural community. I’m also convinced more people know that we are here, but there are still many more people to connect with. To build our audience, we routinely partner with area arts and cultural organizations to raise the awareness of the wonderful attractions we have. We have a website, a nature blog, and monthly programs for outdoor enthusiasts that take people onto our 152-acre estate, including a popular poetry and music festival and a farmer’s market. While there has always been a group of local people passionate for HS, today our base of support has grown. This is critical for us if we want to remain both financially solvent and relevant. The museum has also seen a greater professionalism on staff—from facilities maintenance and security to collection record keeping and fundraising. We have a director of finance, institutional advancement, and communication along with a garden manager, a naturalist, and a newly hired director of marketing and brand management to help us think more broadly about who we are and how we might build our base of support and sustain our museum The museum is not only a place to see great pictures, it’s a place to stroll alone or with
friends, reconnect with nature, be inspired to paint or write a poem, see birds, and hear frogs. It’s a great location in historic Farmington, which is a really wonderful destination in and of itself. Lastly, the staff at HS has come of age technologically. We are inventorying the collection, computerizing our records, and digitizing images. We still have plenty on old-fashioned cards but we’re looking to use computer systems to organize our collection. We hire professional staff, so it’s not all volunteers, although we certainly rely quite a bit on intern and volunteer support. In the old days a retired couple ran the museum. Nowadays most directors here have advanced degrees and HS is accredited through the American Association of Museums. We have high standards and we stick to them for collections care, collections acquisition, and meeting the needs of our audience. What are your special challenges in overseeing these interrelated parts of the puzzle? HS has a unique set of features. First and foremost, the site is still very much as it was 110 years ago when the family first moved in. I have had the good fortune to travel a bit and I know firsthand that there are very few other sites in the world as intact and unchanged as HS. Hill-Stead was designed as a rural retreat or escape from a busy, urban lifestyle. It was an active dairy and orchard, punctuated by miles of stonewalls and ornamental gardens. It was also a comfortable home to live in and entertain guests; for some it was a place to work. The evidence of these past functions is quite evident. Encroachment hasn’t really hit this part of Farmington yet. There are no strip malls, and yet we are very close to Interstate 84 yet the setting hasn’t changed very much and the collection is largely intact. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches as at HS we not only have four great paintings by Claude Monet and three by Edgar Degas and James M, Whistler and two by Manet. In addition we have the family’s silverware, napkins, and even their monogrammed towels. So one can get a real sense of how people lived; it’s authentic. The challenge for me is that it’s hard to come to a fuller understanding of the site in a single visit, yet many people feel that one visit is all they need. The first time through you’re taking it all in, and it can be overwhelming. In order to fully appreciate the experience it’s worth multiple visits. Every visit will be as wonderful as the next and you’ll leave with a richer sense of the place. What can you tell us about the activities you perform that would go completely unnoticed by the casual visitor? Even my family finds it hard to understand what we do on Mondays, when the museum is closed, or before 10 AM when the first visitors arrive for tours. I think that the public perception is that people who work at museums wait for the visitors to come down the driveway and give them a tour. While I really enjoy showing visitors around the house and grounds, there is a lot of work that goes behind the scenes, from the mundane, such as cleaning and vacuuming, to the more interesting, such as researching an object in the collection and consulting with experts. Most recently, we decided that it was time to upgrade the light features above the paintings. The fixtures we replaced had been installed in the early 1950s when the museum first opened, and we
>> FEATURE: Discovering The Hill-Stead
Left: Edgar Hillaire Degas Jockeys hangs perfectly over the fireplace in the Dining Room, 2005. Photo by Jerry L. Thompson.
wanted to install bright, cooler lights that illuminate the paintings better. For this project, we had to first find a good supplier for the picture lights. Then we had to put together a budget and raise the money for them. We got 15 of our best friends to donate the money to buy the fixtures and then installed them. A small project like this took months of preparations in terms of the research, fundraising, and installation, but the benefits will last for years. We operate on a very limited budget so once you decide on a project you have to raise all the money to make it happen, and sometimes you never finish the project because the money doesn’t materialize. We’ve been trying to raise the funds for new carpeting for several years now but sill have a long way to go. There’s cleaning that happens on Monday. People are always asking who dusts and who vacuums. All this happens on Mondays. It’s also the day to upgrade the mechanical systems, such as heating and air condition and fire detection and suppression. Just like at your home, there’s always something that needs fixing, painting, or oiling. There’s a lot of caring for the home. How has the museum been affected by the economic downturn? The economic downturn has certainly been difficult for the not-forprofit cultural communities. We have always lived on a very, very tight budget and we have a small endowment. Unlike large art museums, we don’t actively collect and so we don’t have the expenditures of adding to our collection, nor do we host big exhibitions. It’s really our public programs that keep the public coming back to HS. Take our farmers market. In hosting this, we partner with more than 15 local farmers who come here once a week and set up tables. They bring quite a few people onto our property to experience the beauty and to support HS by making people more aware of this beautiful place.
frames, and the scale of the rooms is both grand and intimate. For many people it stimulates memories of a fancy dinner they went to or silverware their grandmother had or the carpeting in a hotel they stayed at. People find a connection to it and often feel privileged to be in such a beautiful place. I learn quite a bit from the people I take around as they share what they’ve learned about different things or about their experiences. It really is a great place for exchange of ideas and knowledge. What sorts of activities are going on this Fall? Leaf peeping is in high gear and it’s the perfect time to visit Farmington, a quintessential New England town. George Washington called Farmington the village of beautiful homes and the description remains true today. Coming up the hill from the village and down the driveway to Hill-Stead you travel down a maple-tree-lined driveway ablaze with yellows and oranges. In fact there are more maple trees on the property than any other kind of tree and it’s the maple tree that gives New England its distinct fall foliage. We have a fall Hay Day with hayrides, scarecrow making, and trail walks so you can celebrate the season. The Sunken Garden has something in bloom throughout September. HS has it all: woodlands, meadows, beautiful architecture, and gardens. It’s not just a walk in the woods, it’s not just a fine arts museum—it really will appeal to more people in your family than just a hike or just an art museum. I love hiking and I love art museums, but if you’re trying to appeal to many people HS really does have it all, or more to offer than a strictly art museum.
We have to continue to find a way to remain vital so people will want to visit our site and continue to support us. The farmer’s market has done that, as has the annual poetry and music festival. There’s a whole group of literati that come all summer long to listen to music and poetry in our Sunken Garden. In presenting the festival we partner with local and national poets, which is really a blessing. It’s a great way to support and bring bigger visibility, public interest, and public support. I am very fortunate to come to work here every day, and it is a privilege. But the responsibility of making sure we have the resources to keep this place up requires a lot support from friends and members who love you, care about your mission, and want to make a donation to help keep this going here. Can you share some of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had? First I would like to say that to be able to walk through HS all by myself as the curator, where there is no one else in the house, when the light is coming through the window illuminating Monet’s Grainstacks, White Frost Effect, is magical. You gain an immense appreciation for the beauty of such a picture. Every time you see it it’s different, every day it’s different.
Photo by Erin Gleeson Studio, NYC
Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D. is Professor of Art History at Fairfield University. He teaches a spectrum of classes on Italian Renaissance, and American art. Among his favorite courses is the “Museum Studies” class - calling it a “museum without walls” experience, he has introduced generations of undergraduate and lifelong learning students to the special and Photo bycollections Erin Gleeson Studio, NYC paintings at Connecticut’s museums and history sites. This interview derives from his “unsurpassed pleasure whenever I drive students through the stone gates of the Hill-Stead up a winding lane in Farmington -- we always come away refreshed in the knowledge that Art Really Matters.”
My real passion, however, is giving tours. Once a person steps across the threshold and into the dining room he or she is transported: The china sparkles on the table, paintings are illuminated by their gilt
>> ARTIST PROFILE: Nina BentlEy
Conceptualizing Nina Nina Bentley is most notably a conceptual artist and a wordsmith to boot. Her works include ingenious wordplay and clever double entendres. For Bentley, concept always takes precedence over aesthetic concerns, but her work ends up being beautifully evocative. Bentley’s tongue-in-cheek humor can be seen in her one-person exhibition, Taste of Your Own Medicine, which will be at Fairfield Arts Council from September 10, 2010, through October 16, 2010. In it, Bentley pokes fun at the medical profession and examines the complexity we experience navigating through today’s world of medicine. One of her satirical pieces, The Good Doctors, is replete with antique surgical instruments used by an itinerant doctor. It was first shown at the New Britain Museum of American Art in 2001 and has won several awards. Where does this tongue-in-cheek humor come from? It appears that everything that touches Nina in her daily life becomes fodder for her artwork. Old apothecary bottles with titles such as Cream of Criticism create cavalier diatribes against our medically enhanced world, including a hanging doctor’s bag entitled Cold Comfort. Today, Bentley lives in a traditional New England-type farmhouse in Westport, Conn. Born in Brooklyn, 32
by Laura G. Einstein
NY, and raised in Great Neck, NY, she attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she studied fine art and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in history. She has lived much of her adult life in Bologna, Frankfurt, London, Zurich, Santiago, and Caracas, and to look at her Facebook page, you can sense that she is as at ease with
travel as she is with humor. Bentley is a sports fanatic, enjoying tennis and rowing on the Saugatuck River. She has exhibited extensively in Europe and the U.S., most recently in a six-person curated show called Identity at the Central Connecticut State University. Bentley was the featured artist for Barneys New York in a show called Art Meets Fashion in 2004 and was a New/Now Artist at the New Britain Museum of American Art in 2001, where her large sculpture A Corporate Wife Service Award Bracelet is in the permanent collection. It is the compelling combination of her life as the wife of a world-travelling corporate executive and resident of Fairfield County’s Gold Coast that Bentley draws on for her subject matter. Perhaps it is her own comfort level in having raised three successful children and her delight in her grandchildren as well as an active travel schedule that allows Bentley to both comment upon and embrace the life that she so thoughtfully examines. Currently, she has two pieces of street sculpture—Picatsso and Catson Pollock—on display in downtown Stamford, part of that city’s summer exhibit called Reigning Cats and Dogs. Catson Pollock holds pride of place next to the Stamford town sign in the heart of the city. Her work is not to be missed.
Written by: Sheryle Levine and Alan Neigher Byelas & Neigher, Westport
Although “fair use” is used by everybody in the arts, almost nobody agrees on what is actually is. Artists, producers, teachers, journalists, and comedy writers, to name a few, are all affected by the elusive concept of “fair use” under copyright law. The concept is elusive because its applicability is fact-driven and highly subjective.
what is permitted in unauthorized use of copyrighted material Whether a use is “fair” will affect a wide variety of users. Teachers and librarians deal with frequent copying of articles and portions of books, documentary producers decide whether to use a 10-second clip from a ‘40s hit film, and corporate techies consider whether to digitize copyrighted work in computer format solely for internal corporate use. The answer to the fair-use question is consistent, and that answer is maybe. Copyright—like patents, trademarks, and exclusive licenses—is a form of monopoly. The Supreme Court has told us that copyright monopoly is not designed to provide a “special private benefit,” but rather a means to “motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward.” After this “limited period of exclusive control has expired,” the public is allowed access to the products of the creator’s “genius.” We know that the artist’s “genius” is protected until the work goes into the public domain (generally, when the copyright term expires). We also know that the exclusive “period of control” is not absolute, that there are uses that may be made of protected material, considering four very different factors. It is not clear, however, whether all four factors—or some of them—must be met. The Copyright Act itself provides (§107) several “safe harbors” of fair use exceptors: “...criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching [including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship or research] is not infringement of copyright.” These examples are illustrative but not exhaustive. Parody, use of web pages as evidence in court proceedings, and use in comparative advertising have all been deemed fair use under their factual settings. The problem is difficult because satisfying one of the four factors will generally not be sufficient to allow a fair use defense if the other factors are not met. FACTOR ONE: Is the use commercial or non-commercial? This does not depend on whether money changed hands. The critical question is whether the user will profit from exploitation without paying the customary price. As an example, one church’s copying and distributing 30,000 copies of another church’s spiritual text was not a fair use, since the user profited by using the text to attract new (tithing) members. The same would apply to a company using copyrighted material as part of a promotional campaign. Here, however, the lines blur—where the use is “transformative” (adds something new, such as expression or meaning) it may be deemed a fair use
against an instance where the use is “for the same basic purpose as the original.” FACTOR TWO: Fact or fiction? Fair use is more likely to be found when it is of a factual basis, as opposed to fictional or creative work. For example, fair use is more likely to apply to computer programs and journalism than to popular songs or novels. A word of caution: Unpublished works—however factual and utilitarian—are less likely to receive fair use protection in light of judicial recognition of an “author’s right to control the first public appearance of his undisseminated expression...” FACTOR THREE: How much of the work can be copied? Using all, or substantially all, of someone else’s work will generally preclude fair use. However, use of even a tiny percentage of the protected work may disqualify a fair-use defense. The classic example is shown in Harper & Row v. The Nation, when the defendant magazine published a 300-word portion of former President Gerald Ford’s memoir of more than 200,000 words. The passage, however, involved the long-awaited “heart” of the manuscript—Ford’s description of his pardon of Nixon. The magazine was accordingly denied a fair-use defense. In short, a lot of copying may still fall within the fairuse safe harbor, while a relatively small use of the qualitative essence of the work may mean trouble for the user. FACTOR FOUR: Impact on market or value of the copied work. This is arguably the most critical of the four in determining fair use. Whether the unauthorized use had an effect on the market for the original work is a tougher question. If the use is commercial, market harm is presumed; the defendant must now rebut that presumption. Where no harm is presumed, the test is the potential market for the copyrighted work would be harmed. Such harm might extend to potential licensing revenues or losses of other markets. Actionable harm will not be found from criticism, parody, or satire, even if there is a negative reaction, since critical comment is not “market” harm. In sum, the user of copyrighted expression seeking the safe harbor of fair use needs to carefully consider the elusive variables of the four factors before concluding that such use is “fair.”
Sholeh Janati ORIGINAL WORKS
“JELLYFISH,” 36” X 36” ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE/ /MAGAZINE
GHOSTLY When Norwalk-based songwriter A Clay Zambo sits down to write a NEW MUSICAL musical theater song, he does so with a very specific goal in mind. “I kick around until I find a good idea and then I follow it as far as it’ll go,”Zambo explains. “If it leads down a blind alley, I start over. More often than not it takes me to something that I can put into rehearsal. While it’s just an idea, it’s nothing.” Three Local Theaters Bring Greenbrier Ghost to Life
nyone involved in the creation of musicals will tell you that writing the show is often the easy part. Finding performance opportunities that allow the authors to rehearse and refine their work is a far more challenging part of the process. Fortunately for Zambo, his writing partner Susan Murray, and their new musical mystery Greenbrier Ghost, three Connecticut theaters have been eager to offer support to their developing work. Through concert-style performances at Curtain Call, Inc., in Stamford, the Wilton Playshop, and, most recently, a fully staged production at the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich, Greenbrier Ghost has been blessed with an out-of-town tryout that many a Broadway-bound mega-musical would envy (and could probably use!). “Our show is based in West Virginia, but it couldn’t be more a child of Connecticut,” laughs Murray. “We’ve been so fortunate that a lot of great theaters have helped us out.” Trekking to the Nutmeg State to work on a new musical is nothing new. Classics like Man of La Mancha and Annie began at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford hosts an annual National Music Theater Conference that has helped turn such recent tuners as In The Heights and Avenue Q into 36
Broadway hits. Even smaller professional venues, like the Downtown Cabaret Theater in Bridgeport, have had a hand in introducing American audiences to Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat prior to their New York productions. What’s unique about the path that Greenbrier Ghost has taken is that it led to theaters that aren’t generally known for staging new material. But, with subscription audiences growing tired of the umpteenth revival of My Fair Lady, semi-professional and amateur venues have begun to gamble on presenting unfamiliar works. This has resulted in grassroots opportunities that local musical theater writers, like Zambo, would have had a hard time finding a decade ago. Greenbrier Ghost began as a one-act that was written for young actors to perform in a summertime educational program in Manhattan. Next, it was a featured selection at the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop in Los Angeles, where Zambo had the benefit of a critique by musical theater luminary Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked). “He said that I needed more doubt in the story,” Zambo reveals. Zambo refined the show’s score by presenting it, one song at a time, to his fellow writers in the BMI Lehman
Photo by John Martin
Photo by John Martin
Top: Clay Zambo and Susan Murray take a break during rehearsals at Curtain Call. Below: Zambo, Murray, and Lou Ursone in a script discussion at Curtain Call.
Written by William Squier
Photo by Ruth Tefft
Left: Haley Pearl as the musical’s title character at the Spirit of Broadway Theater. Right: Jamie Lauren Morano, Jacquie Yeung, and Carolyn Fisher gossip about the town’s suddenly widowed blacksmith.
Photo by Ruth Tefft
Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York. That’s where Murray became involved. It’s surprising, in a way, that their paths hadn’t crossed sooner, given that each was headed into musical theater from early on. Zambo grew up in McKeesport, Penn., across the street from a community theater where he was often found accompanying other young performers on the piano. He says that he taught himself to compose for the stage by collaborating with writers that he’d never met. “My parents bought me Lehman Engel’s book Their Words Were Music,” he explains. “I swear, I slept with it under my pillow. The 22nd chapter
had lyrics by students from Lehman’s workshop, like Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic) and Allen Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast). I set every one of Menken’s lyrics. And those were the songs I used to audition for college.” Meanwhile, Murray was growing up several hundred miles east in Mahwah, N.J. Like Zambo, she got her start at a community theater. “I was pretty much on track to become an actress from the beginning,” she says. That led to the study of acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and then stints as a standup comedian and a member of an improv troupe. “Improv lead
me to writing,” says Murray. “If I was making up characters and plays on the spot, I thought that I might as well sit down to write instead of doing it on my feet.” Both writers successfully auditioned for the BMI Workshop, eventually winding up together in an openended advanced class during which Murray became acquainted with Greenbrier Ghost. Zambo’s musical draws on a historical incident from 1800’s Appalachia where the testimony of a ghost was used to convict an accused killer. “Clay would describe a girl who was murdered in 1879 and the part where she came to her mother,” Murray remembers. “I would ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
Photo by Ruth Tefft
John Marion and Kristin Lattin struggle with the loss of their daughter at the Spirit of Broadway Theater.
think, how is he going to make this work? Then he would sit down, play a beautiful song, and I would get chills.” A mutual friend, writer Beth Falcone, was having dinner with Zambo one evening when he expressed the need for a book writer (the person responsible for a musical’s dialogue scenes). Zambo was hoping to find someone who could bring out the comedy in his story’s characters. “As soon as he said ‘comedy,’” Murray recalls, “Beth said, ‘Duh! Sue Murray!’ That’s how she tells the story, with the ‘duh!’” Murray signed on enthusiastically. Around that time, Greenbrier Ghost came to the attention of Curtain Call’s executive director, Lou Ursone. “From the first time I read the book and listened to the music, I thought this show had the greatest chance of success on many counts,” says Ursone. “Who doesn’t like a good ghost story?” The musical was slated for a December 2007 concert reading in the Stamford-based theater’s Musical Mondays series. The series brings professional actors from the New York stage to Connecticut on their days off to perform hour-long, script-in-hand versions of promising musicals. 38
“From the first time I read the book and listened to the music, I thought this show had the greatest chance of success on many counts,” says Ursone. “Who doesn’t like a good ghost story?” Murray and Zambo had begun tinkering with the script, but the December deadline gave them the push they needed to complete a new first act. “Seeing it come to life on our stage confirmed my original thought that this show would indeed have legs,” says Ursone. “Our patrons loved it and were involved in pretty animated conversations about the material at the post-show reception with the authors and performers.” For the creative team, the Musical Mondays presentation accomplished several important things. Aside from motivating them to sit down and write, it confirmed to Zambo that Murray would be able to pare away the sense of self-importance that he feared was creeping into the script. The revelation for Murray was that her instincts about the show’s prospects
were correct. “Nobody was saying, ‘My god! Shine up the Pulitzer!’” she jokes. “But they were saying, ‘You’ve got something here.’ The validation was huge.” Perhaps the happiest outcome of the Stamford reading was pairing the writers with director Brett Bernardini, who also happens to be the artistic director of the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich. “Greenbrier Ghost wasn’t a show that I was familiar with,” Bernardini admits. “But I’m always searching for promising new musicals. The reading gave me the opportunity to see its potential. And I came away thinking that it would be a good fit for my theater.” Over the next year and a half, Greenbrier Ghost was performed as a reading by the musical theater
Above: Tom Souhrada and Victoria Huston-Elem rehearse Act One for the musical’s first performance before an audience at Curtain Call. Above right: Huston-Elem appears in her mother’s dream, played by Mary-Pat Green. Below: Mallory Cunningham and Gail Yudain compete for Souhrada’s attention.
department of Western Kentucky University and chosen as a finalist for ASCAP’s Jerry Bock Award (a prize bestowed by the composer of Fiddler on the Roof). In addition, the writers were offered a master class with Tom Jones (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!). Then, a concert staging of the piece was scheduled to open the Wilton Playshop’s 2009/2010 season. Cast with local non-professionals, the twonight event was intended as a fundraiser for the rest of the Playshop’s productions. Murray and Zambo saw it as an excuse to fully commit to the rewriting process. “The most fun was that I could get there for rehearsals,” says Murray, a Manhattanite. For Zambo, the drive to the theater took all of about 15 minutes, so he was able to take an active role in shaping the performances. According to Playshop president Zelie Pforzheimer, the audience enjoyed the musical but was quick to offer suggestions for improvement. “There was a little puzzlement with the plot,” she says. “And they felt there were some superfluous things.” “Something can look so right on the page, but when it’s on stage you realize that it’s not necessary,” Murray
agrees. “We had a funny scene that introduced a pair of lawyers and everybody loved it. So we did a recall of it at the end of the trial. But, at that point, it felt like the audience was ready to go home. They had overstayed their welcome.” Between the time Greenbrier Ghost finished performances in Wilton and went into production in Norwich, the script was honored by the Academy for New Musical Theater in Los Angeles with first prize in its Search for New Musicals. Winning the award meant that the show would receive another reading, this time with elaborate staging, costumes, and a borrowed set. “The Wilton experience drove the whole rewrite for California. We wouldn’t have known what to change,” says Murray. Work on the musical began at the Spirit of Broadway Theater (SBT) in mid-June. For the past 10 years, SBT has premiered an average of three original works per season on its intimate, black box stage. So Brett Bernardini has his formula down cold for putting up a new musical. The theater is notable for its short, intense rehearsal periods, sometimes as brief as 10 days, before the first public per-
formance. The musicals are presented for a run of five weeks, and the writers are allowed to make changes up until the last matinee. “The rehearsal process leads to a finished product,” Bernardini explains. “But we encourage the writers to use the performances to refine their show. Our actors are used to doing that kind of work and, frankly, they look forward to it.” When this story went to press, the run at SBT was a little past the halfway mark. But the creative team was already thinking about the next step. “We’ve lived with this script for a while now, so we’re excited to see what we end up with after SBT and really make the push to get it to other people,” says Murray. “These past few months have been an incredible experience,” Zambo adds. “All about getting it in focus. Whether Greenbrier Ghost finds a home in New York or elsewhere around the country, it’ll be a show we’re proud of.” One that got its start in Connecticut.
A selection of fall events… 2010-2011 Arts & Minds Season at Fairfield University
COME CURIOUS. LEAVE INSPIRED. September 15, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– David Brooks – Open Visions Forum
October 1, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Doug Varone and Dancers
“An Evening with David Brooks,” author and Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.
The program includes the premiere of a new repertory dance, “Chapters from a Broken Novel,” set to a commissioned score by David van Tiegheim.
September 22, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Eric Burns – Open Visions Forum Media critic and journalist, formerly of NBC News and Fox News Watch. September 23-December 5 –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery -- “Seeing Things,” a solo exhibition of the work of Joel Carreiro. The artist’s view is a close reading and transformation of cultural objects from the past.
October 2, 8 p.m. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Richard Marx and Matt Scannell “An Acoustic Performance” by Grammy® winner and singer/songwriter Richard Marx, joined by singer/songwriter/producer Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon.
October 9, 1 p.m. Encore, 6 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The Met: Live in HD- Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” – New Production A groundbreaking new “Ring” for the Met: Maestro James Levine and director Robert Lepage. Bryn Terfel sings the leading role of Wotan for the first time with the company. October 12, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Alula Tzadik – 9th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days Jewish Ethiopian songwriter and performer whose music is an expression of the many strands of his life speaks on “From Ethiopia to America: The Music and Message of Alula.”
September 24, 8 p.m., September 25, 3 & 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– “Live Radio Dramas” — Private Eye Mysteries Vintage radio programs performed live with sound effects and live music. September 25, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Orin Grossman “The Romantic Piano: The Music of Chopin and Albéniz.” Fairfield University’s resident professor of music performs an evening of Chopin ballades in celebration of the composer’s 200th anniversary and selections from Albéniz’s “Iberia.”
October 14, 2 p.m –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– National Theatre of London Live in HD- Complicite’s “A Disappearing Number” Multi-award-winning play performed live from London’s Plymouth Theatre and presented in an HD broadcast by the National Theatre of the UK. October 15, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Christopher O’Riley A prestigious artist, pianist and national media personality who has re-defined the possibilities of classical music — “Out of My Hands.”
October 29, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Buika, Spanish singer Buika is the daughter of political refugees from the African nation of Equatorial Guinea who grew up in a gypsy neighborhood on the Spanish island of Mallorca. A unique blend of flamenco, jazz, soul and blues.
November 13, 1 p.m., Encore, 6 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Met Opera Live in HD - Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”
October 30, 2 & 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– They Might Be Giants
November 14, 1 & 3 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– “Berenstain Bears, Family Matters: The Musical”
2009 Grammy®-winning Brooklyn, NY band that has created innovative work for young people. Family show at 2 p.m.; Evening show for 14 years and older. Doors open half-hour prior to show.
Anna Netrebko opposite Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, and John Del Carlo in the title role. Music Director James Levine conducts.
(Pre K-3) Matt Murphy Productions joins with Theatreworks/USA to present a fun-filled musical that weaves together three of Stan and Jan Berenstain’s most popular books.
November 2-December 17 –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The Bellarmine Museum of Art
November 19, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Martha Graham Dance Company
“Gifts from Athens: New Plaster Casts from The Acropolis Museum”
The oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America.
November 5, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Jim Breuer - comedian
November 21, 2 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Hot Club of San Francisco, “Silent Surrealism”
The comic’s consistent wit and creativity combines with his hilarious physical expressions. November 6, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company
The band plays the gypsy jazz music of Django Reinhardt, violinist Stephane Grappelli and the original Hot Club de France, all to accompany a series of four black and white films from the 1930s.
“Bayanihan: A National Treasure” presents the company that was formed to pursue and preserve ethnic rights, tribal folklore, and regional folkways, and to collect indigenous art.
Boris Gudunov Opera October 17, 1 & 3 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– “Charlotte’s Web” Theatreworks/USA (Grades K-5) Based on the loving story by E.B. White, a play by Joseph Robinette with music by Jeffrey Lunden celebrates the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a little gray spider named Charlotte. October 20, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Liz Cheney and Dee Dee Myers – Open Visions Forum, “View from the Right and the Left.” Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Richard Cheney, is an attorney and co-founder of “Keep America Safe.” Myers, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, is a political analyst and commentator and a contributing editor of Vanity Fair
November 8, 8 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Jared Cohen – Open Visions Forum Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture Author of “Children of Jihad” shares his personal perspective on trends in the Islamic world based on his travels and interviews with terrorists in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestinian camps. November 12, 8 p.m. ––––––––––––––––––––––––– Allen Toussaint, Nicholas Payton, Joe Krown Trio “New Orleans Nights” — Toussaint is heralded as a seminal influence on the music of New Orleans. Payton is a composer, bandleader and talented trumpet wizard. The Joe Krown Trio has Krown on piano and Hammond B-3 organ, Walter Wolfman Washington on guitar and vocals and Russell Batiste, Jr. on drums.
October 23, Noon, Encore, 6 p.m. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Met Live in HD- Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” – New Production René Pape in one of the greatest bass roles in a production by renowned theater and opera director Peter Stein in his Met debut.
Ticket packages are on sale now. Visit www.fairfield.edu/arts or call the Regina A. Quick Center Box Office at Fairfield University for details: 203.254.4010. Doug Varone and Dancers
>> Department: TRAVEL + LEISURE
the art of adventure D ISCO V E R IES
INS P I R E D
by Amy Orzel
T R AV E L E R
Left: Inside the Notre-Dame Basilica. Above: Carlitto Dalceggio’s “L’Euphorie des Sages” transformed a bare brick wall into a colorful homage to neighborhood artists.
The highlight of travel columnist Amy Orzel’s most recent trip to Montreal was stumbling upon the fascinating archaeological exhibit in the crypt below Notre Dame de Bon Secours chapel. When she’s not exploring and photographing her discoveries, Amy writes from her home in Manhattan.
From Gothic to Graffiti in Montreal At times Montreal and her lovely neighbor, Quebec City, are touted as places that let a traveler “escape” to Paris without ever needing to get a French stamp on her passport. And bien sûr, you can dig into a juicy plate of steak frîtes… be lulled by the melody of French spoken by local passerby… and wander cobblestone avenues in Vieux Montreal, just as you would in the City of Light. But don’t miss the chance to discover Montreal’s own edgy, independent, and oftentimes exuberant personality. Nowhere is it reflected more clearly than in the city’s art and architecture. A first glance at the dignified Gothic Revival façade of the NotreDame Basilica, on Rue St. Sulpice, gives no indication of the surprise inside. Far from somber, the interior of the cathedral is like the heart of a brilliant sapphire, with a soaring, star-flecked ceiling and glittering gold-leaf details. Thank the church’s Curé, Victor Rousselot, for helping to transform the Basilica in the
late 1800s. Rousselot was deeply moved after a visit to Paris’ jewel-box chapel, Saint-Chapelle. Inspired, he proposed a cathedral makeover to Quebec’s distinguished architect Victor Bourgeau. Bourgeau happily acquiesced, transforming the cathedral into a breathtaking place. In keeping with the church’s joyous design, it hosts a dazzling soundand-light show of Montreal’s history, regularly holds symphony concerts for the public, and attracts hundreds of couples for their nuptials every year. (Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion was married here in a fittingly extravagant ceremony in 1994.) Nearby, the old shipping warehouses from Montreal’s merchant past have been transformed into lofty art galleries. Cobblestone-lined Rue St. Paul has dozens of spaces devoted to the interests of the serious art lover, with canvases leaning towards the contemporary and abstract. At Galerie 2000, landscapes by Montreal native Pierre-Paul Aird cele-
VENÜ’s regular travel column brings you lifestyles, destinations, and off-the-beaten path inspirations from around the globe. 42
>> Department: TRAVEL + LEISURE
brate the dramatic beauty of the nearby Laurentians, a pristine mountain range speckled with quaint villages. Hardy European seafarers settled this island in the Saint Lawrence River,
Case in point: the Palais des Congrés, Montreal’s downtown convention hall. A 2002 facelift transformed its original dark, neo-Brutalist (yes, you read that right) façade into an irresistible kaleidoscope. On a sunny day, the multi-story lobby glows with a rainbow of jewel tones. On the other side of town, the Mile End neighborhood (think Montreal’s Williamsburg) speaks to the quirky and artistic vibe that gives the city so much of its energy today. Around tree-lined Square Saint Louis, sedate Victorian homes have been updated with shocking coats of lavender, tomato red, azure, and chartreuse paint. Nearby, contemporary artists continue the tradition of creating exuberant public spaces that began with the renovation of the Notre-Dame Basilica over a century ago. In 2006 a local non-profit, called MU, began recruiting professional artists to revitalize drab buildings. Now, dozens of enormous wall murals that can barely be called graffiti stretch across expanses of exposed brick throughout Montreal.
As with most urban adventures, a discovery of the city’s artistic soul is best made over a few days of wandering… and the fact that Montreal has thrived through the centuries despite long winters attests to the indomitable spirit of its original residents. Today, that spirit is still evident in the laid-back, friendly, and quietly proud vibe you’ll pick up from the locals, who have much to enjoy in their modern city: a cosmopolitan culture, a thriving creative class, and lovingly-preserved history that’s respectfully updated to keep up with the times.
“L’Euphorie des Sages” (“The Euphoria of the Sages”) on Rue de Bouillon, celebrates the city’s creative renaissance with a swirling, psychedelic homage to the many artists who live nearby. As with most urban adventures, a discovery of the city’s artistic soul is best made over a few days of wandering… with one’s eyes wide open for the inevitable surprises and delights that follow from being willing to occasionally aban-
don the guidebook’s itinerary. If Beverly Sills is right and “art is the signature of civilization,” Montreal has signed the page with an exuberant, hopeful panache that cannot fail to inspire and energize any visitor. Stay: Hotel Nelligan, 106 St Paul West. A clubby boutique hotel occupying two historic buildings in Vieux Montreal. Dine: L’Express, 3927 Rue St-Denis. Montreal’s celebrated French bistro. Linger: Café Popolo, 4873 Boul. St-Laurent. Mile End’s independent coffeehouse, frequented by local artists and musicians. Try some of its vegetarian offerings and stay for live music.
Above and left: Soaking up Mile End’s hip vibe. Top left: Inside Montreal’s renovated convention hall. Top right: A graffiti wall mural on Rue Duluth.
An Inspiring New Venue at Fairfield University For years, it has been just a basement: a space for furniture that had outlasted its usefulness or was in need of repair; a haven for filing cabinets filled with documents that one day might be useful; a storage spot for party chairs hauled upstairs for special occasions. And, many years ago, children romped in the basement and tested their skills in the bowling alley that had been constructed. But all that is changing in October, when the new Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University opens its doors.
ore than five years in the planning, the Museum, a key component of an initiative to enhance the teaching of art history and the humanities at Fairfield, is situated on the lower level of the University’s signature building on campus, Bellarmine Hall. This grand residence was designed for Walter B. Lashar, a Bridgeport industrialist. Originally called “Hearthstone Hall”, a nod to its 13 original fireplaces, the majestic structure features an eclectic range of period styles including Tudor, Gothic, Adamesque and Chinoserie. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) purchased the home from the town of Fairfield in 1942, and
renamed it Bellarmine Hall, in honor of St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., (1542-1621) cardinal and patron saint of the University. It was first used as a residence for Fairfield’s Jesuit community. It now houses the offices of the President, the facilitator of Mission and Identity, and the staffs of the divisions of Advancement, and Marketing and Communications. The total project cost for the Bellarmine Museum is $5.7 million, including renovation and funds to endow staff positions, curriculum development and community outreach programming. The museum was designed by Jim Childress, FAIA, and Stephen Holmes, AIA, of Centerbrook Architects,
by Martha F. Milcarek and Planners of Centerbrook, Connecticut, designers of the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Krieble Gallery of the Florence Griswold Museum, and the Fairfield Museum and History Center among others. Commenting on the project, Childress says it was a joy to work within such a beautiful building. “The thick concrete walls in the catacomb-like basement of the original mansion conveyed a sense of mystery. When you step through the small basement door from the first floor lobby, you discover a place of refuge away from the world,” he notes. “The gallery form we designed was inspired by an almost complete cruciform plan that we discovered in the basement.” He adds that the substantial change in elevation from the basement hall to the main gallery allowed for the design of large stairs reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence. “So we transformed the stairs into a special entry to the galleries, and we exposed some of the original concrete arches leading to a side gallery. We also used modern materials and textures sympathetic to the original Bellarmine Hall and The Cloisters (the Medieval branch of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art),” says Childress. The Bellarmine contains three principal galleries, and will display a rich and varied collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art objects. The Museum’s central gallery is known as The Frank and Clara Meditz Gallery, named in honor of the parents of the lead donor to the Bellarmine, John Meditz ’70, a Fairfield trustee and Vice Chairman of Horizon Asset Management Inc. in New York. The Gallery, which evokes an early Christian basilica in plan, will showcase ten paintings from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods – works that were gifted to the University by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation via Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum. In one smaller side gallery and in a central corridor, a large selection of historic plaster casts after important works from ancient Greece and Rome, including eight casts that were recently donated to the University by the Acropolis Museum in Athens, will be displayed. In a second side gallery, the Museum will showcase a range of non-Western art objects, including pre-Columbian vessels, 19th –century Southeast Asian sculptures and African masks. Through a unique partnership with the Metropolitan ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
1) Martin van Meytens (attrib.), Portrait of a Boy, c. 1725-30*. 2) Basilio Lasinio, Rustic Scene, c. 1780*. 3) Niccolò dell’Abate (circle of), Portrait of a Lady, c. 1550*. 4) Socratis Mavrommatis, Victorious Athlete from Sounion (photograph), 2005. 5) Niccolò di Segna (circle of), St. Andrew, mid-1400s. 6) Paolo de Matteis, Andromeda and Perseus, c. 1710*. 7) Lombard School, Madonna and Child, c. 1485-1490*. 8) Socratis Mavrommatis, The Parthenon, North frieze, detail of male figure 3, block 2 (photograph), 1982. Gifted by the Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece. 9) Anonymous, Head of Buddha, southeast Asian, 17th-19th century. 10) Bellarmine Hall, 1920, Fairfield University. 11) Priamo della Quercia, Judgment Scene, early 1440s*. 12) Anonymous, Standing Female Figure, Indian, 19th-20th century.
*Samuel H. Kress Collection via the Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT.
Museum of Art/The Cloisters Museum, the Bellarmine is also fortunate enough to be receiving twenty Celtic and Medieval objects on loans of various periods. Fairfield’s President, Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J, explains that the Museum’s impact will be felt campus-wide and beyond. “The arts share a central role in Fairfield’s core curriculum and in the aesthetic experience of all our students who seek out the nearly 500-year-old tradition of a Jesuit education steeped in the liberal arts. The Bellarmine will serve as a home for our growing art collection, and provide an invaluable resource of works of art available for study on campus. Additionally, the local community and the wider regional community will have opportunities to come learn, explore, and enjoy through special exhibitions, tours, lectures and workshops.” Jill Deupi, J.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of art history in Fairfield’s Department of Visual and Performing arts and director of the Bellarmine Museum, says: “There is no doubt that the Bellarmine Museum will substantially enhance the art history program and what it has to offer. My colleagues and I already use many of the objects slated for the museum with great regularity and success. The process of hands-on learning will only be facilitated when these works are all gathered together in one central location—a location that will also feature a multi-media, smART classroom onsite.” As Father von Arx suggests, the museum is intended as a resource for all individuals on campus, as well as, indeed, the wider community. Deupi, for example, envisions temporary exhibitions, curated by unexpected departments on campus – such as nursing or sociology – in the Bellarmine, thus allowing faculty, students and casual visitors alike to
engage with and benefit from the museum’s collections through novel approaches unique to a given discipline. Deupi says Fairfield alumni, supporters and members of the surrounding communities will also be welcomed in the galleries during the Bellarmine’s opening hours (M-F, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. while the University is in session). They will equally be afforded a growing range of learning opportunities, including tours, lectures and workshops, as the museum’s programming develops and expands. To that end, Deupi is working with an intern to develop activities and events for younger children and their parents, as well as high school students, in which they may experience the art first-hand and, in some instances, be afforded the opportunity for longer-term, targeted learning. The Bellarmine will join an already successful venue for art on campus, the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, housed in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Walsh Gallery Director Diana Mille, Ph.D., said, “I can think of no better venue to preserve the integrity of Fairfield University’s new, permanent and on-loan collections. As a highly visible symbol on campus, The Bellarmine Museum of Art will carry forward – with dignity and commitment – many aspects of Fairfield’s mission and will serve as a complement to the Walsh Gallery’s focus on Modern and Contemporary art. “I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Deupi in co-hosting a variety of temporary exhibitions that will maximize our individual resources to present a broader perspective of art, enhanced educational materials and accompanying lectures,” Mille said. The Museum will also be a valuable resource, complementing Fairfield’s nationally recognized study-abroad
program at the Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy, where students from a multitude of universities interact in an academic environment almost entirely devoted to the humanities. The Florence program offers courses in art history and museum studies, subjects whose teachings can be put into practice by returning students through the Bellarmine’s internship program. The Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University is truly a collaborative venture. First came the vision from faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, then buy-in from administrators who understood its fit within the University’s mission and strategic plan. Next, up stepped Meditz, a dedicated alumnus, a lover of history and art, and a self-confessed frustrated architect, who provided $2.5 million to jumpstart the project. The National Endowment for the Humanities has also provided generous support through its award of a $500,000 four-to-one challenge grant. Other donors include The Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Charles and Mabel P. Jost Foundation. The University is currently seeking additional support for the project. For additional information on the project’s funding and support, please contact Stephanie Frost, Vice President for Advancement at 203-254-4030. The University community will celebrate the opening in early October with a dedication ceremony and a series of special receptions for Museum donors, the University community, educators and museum professionals. Doors will open to the public on Monday, October 25. For more information on the Bellarmine, visit www.fairfield.edu/arts.
Written by Katherine Griswold Photos by Diane Sobolewski
The Man Behind the Curtain Crossing over the 98-year-old swing bridge into the quaint town of East Haddam, Connecticut, there is no doubt you’ve entered Goodspeed Territory.
ust on the other side of the bridge, a majestic white building called the Goodspeed Opera House sits perched on the banks of the Connecticut River. The Opera House is home to the famed Goodspeed Musicals, whose stage comes alive eight times a week with some of the most beloved characters from musical theatre history, but the Opera House itself has a lot of character, too. William Goodspeed built it in 1876 to provide a venue to satisfy his love of theatre. It opened on October 24, 1877, with the comedy Charles II and the farces Box and Cox and Turn Him Out. After Goodspeed’s death, the building ceased to serve as a theatre and was converted into a militia base during World War I. Later, it was a general store, and then a storage depot for the State of Connecticut Highway Department. In 1959, Goodspeed Musicals began restoring the building, bringing it back to its theatrical roots. Four years later, Michael Price, self-described as “a know-it-all kid fresh from Yale,” came to Goodspeed as part of a triumvirate to help transform the newly restored landmark into a vital theatre. “I lasted only six months and they sent me packing,” says Price, but he didn’t stay away for long. In 1968, he was appointed Goodspeed’s executive director—a post he has now held for an incredible 42 years. Goodspeed’s longevity and success in an industry that is becoming a casualty of these tough economic times has a lot to do with the man behind the curtain, Michael Price. At the beginning of Price’s career, he and his family started having dinner with the cast, crew, and board members between shows on Saturdays. “We all ate together, laughed together, enjoyed spending down time together. It was like a big family gathering each weekend.” But Price’s job was not just fun with family and friends. In the early years, Goodspeed’s staff was so small that he was involved in everything. “There was a time when I thought I was the only
Photo courtesy of Goodspeed Musicals
Top: Michael Price and Leonard Bernstein after
one; I did it all. I even drove the truck to the dump! What’s energizing is realizing that I was only part of the whole picture. All the designers, musical directors, and so many others have worked with me to bring Goodspeed the many years of success and joy.” Today, Price’s management philosophy is about collaboration, delegation, and letting go of the reigns. He sums up this philosophy with a simple statement. “Instead of being a chieftain I must be a supporter.” Since Price made the shift, the strength of the institution has been fortified, creativity has flourished, and Price himself has “had a fantastic experience seeing my colleagues grow.” Under the auspices of Price, Goodspeed has received two Special Tony Awards: one in 1980 for outstanding contribution to the American musical, and another in 1995 for distinguished achievement in regional theater. It has gained worldwide recogni-
a performance at the Goodspeed Opera House. Bottom: Michael Price speaking at the Goodspeed Gala honoring Jerry Herman.
tion for giving birth to three of Broadway’s longest running musicals—Annie, Man of La Mancha, and Shenandoah—and for sending 19 other shows to Broadway as well as to theatres throughout the country. Every April through December at the Opera House’s main stage, Goodspeed Musicals showcases three beautifully renewed and skillfully crafted “revisitings” of classic musicals. Price prefers to shy away from the word “revival.” As he explains, “A revival often indicates taking the musical right out of the box and putting it on stage. We’re not in the business of museum pieces. We’re in the business of living breathing performers and audiences.” Because many of the musicals Goodspeed revisits were written more than 50 years ago, they did not take, for example, amplification into account. Not only have today’s performers adjusted their vocal chords to the fairly new technology, but audience members have also adjusted their ears to the enhanced sound, which is now commonplace in theatre. Sound technology is just one of the many elements that Goodspeed reexamines upon mounting a production. Every component of Goodspeed’s homegrown productions is built from the ground up, right on the East Haddam campus. Long before a production is ready for the stage, each musical is given new musical arrangements, orchestrations, and, when necessary, dance arrangements. Goodspeed’s music department spends close to a year working on each score in addition to the five weeks it spends rehearsing with the orchestra and cast. The process continues with the craftsmanship of Goodspeed’s scenic artists and designers, who have the awe-inspiring ability to transform the Opera House’s miniature 21' x 29' stage into gloriously lush and spacious environments. “We take great pride in our technicians and our creative team; there isn’t anything our shops can’t do,” says Price. Four-and-a-half weeks before opening night, the actors and directors invade Goodspeed’s campus and begin the rehearsal process which, combined with several weeks of previews, comprises a developmental period unparalleled in regional theatre. “While most theatres are doing one-set productions with two or three actors, we’re dealing with all the complexities of a musical,” explains Price. “Our productions have multiple actors—sometimes 20 on stage at once—with a bigger crew, more sets, and a seven- to ninepiece pit. The musical is such a complicated project, we want to give it every opportunity for all the various parts to come together.” Perhaps it is Goodspeed’s careful consideration of each production’s evolution that has helped garner vast critical acclaim, and if
“Our productions have multiple actors–sometimes 20 on stage at once–with a bigger crew, more sets, and a seven-to nine-piece pit. The musical is such a complicated project, we want to give it every opportunity for all the various parts to come together.” ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
the past is any indication of the future, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, playing September 24 through November 28 at the Opera House, is a production to not be missed. How to Succeed is a hilarious musical satire that explores 1960’s Big Business through the eyes of young J. Pierpont Finch, who will stop at nothing to reach the top of the World Wide Wickets ladder and attain professional greatness. It’s a goal that is probably not unfamiliar to Price, who says of the piece, “It is a very well-made musical so what we’ll bring to it is a freshness.” While the Opera House’s productions focus on breathing new life into seldom-produced musicals of the past, Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre aims to give first breaths to new and original musical works. The 200-seat stage located in Chester, Conn., was founded in 1984 with the specific mission to develop new musicals and support both established and emerging writers. The Norma Terris acts as an insulated environment in which no critics are allowed. This lets the authors freely work on their material throughout the seven-week rehearsal and performance period, using the audience to gauge their progress. Goodspeed’s unique formula seems to be working because during the past 26 years, nine Norma Terris productions have been transferred off-Broadway and five have been produced on Broadway. This Fall (October 21–November 14), Goodspeed will produce the very first musical version of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach at The Norma Terris Theatre. James will feature an exciting Top Left: The cast of High Button Shoes at the Goodspeed Opera House. Center: The cast of All Shook Up at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre. Bottom: The cast of Goodspeed’s 42nd Street. Top Right: The cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Goodspeed Opera House.
collaboration with the world-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre that, with its sensational choreography and physical abilities, will create the insect characters as well as shadow representations of many of the characters. “With such an extraordinary creative team, James and the Giant Peach embraces a unique concept of connecting physical theater traditions with the golden age of musicals. The result will be a theatrical journey like nothing you’ve ever experienced before,” says Price, who is serving as producer. Goodspeed’s résumé is an outstanding measure of the theatre’s achievements, but perhaps even more indicative of its success is the unwavering commitment to its original mission: preserving, presenting, and developing musical theatre for audiences of today and tomorrow. Goodspeed certainly preserves, presents, and develops in its two venues, but the challenge comes when grappling with the ever-growing disparity between current and future audiences. That part of the mission is not easy to fulfill in a culture in which regional theatres seem to hang in the balance of two schools of thought
that often butt heads: cater to the interests of an aging subscriber base or cultivate new audiences in order to sustain the viability of the theatre industry itself. As Price points out, “Goodspeed operates as a retail store. The customer is always right.” And, judging by its many sold-out performances, the customer wants to see Goodspeed put its mark on well-known and beloved favorites like Annie Get Your Gun and Camelot. It is because of the success of these types of shows that Goodspeed is also able to produce new projects like James and the Giant Peach, which help to instill a love of theatre in new audiences. Undoubtedly, the future holds nothing but continued success for Goodspeed Musicals. “I think we’re in great shape,” says Price. “We’re rock-solid financially, we have a great artistic team, the best production shops, and a loyal audience.” Even after 42 years, Price says, “It is truly a joy to come to work every day. It’s challenging and exiting, and I love working with the staff right down to the interns and ushers.” Price is an icon in an industry where so much knowledge about theatrical practices of the past is not being continued or even verbally passed on to contemporary practitioners. His expertise and undying passion are a truly invaluable source, not only to the Goodspeed itself, but to the theatre world as a whole.
Take the hour-long scenic drive from Fairfield County into Goodspeed Territory. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying runs Sept. 24 – Nov. 28 at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. James and the Giant Peach runs Oct. 21 – Nov. 14 at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. Call the Goodspeed Box Office at 860.873.8668 or visit goodspeed.org. ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
>> WRITTEN WORD: SHORT FICTION
Honeywell directs us to the open-air patio overlooking an exquisitely manicured backyard of Kentucky blue-grass — an emerald carpet, gleaming under a full moon. Predictably, Susan and I wordlessly peel off in different directions. I’m cool with that. The blast of communal energy from the party lifts my spirits...
I have a secret.
kay, you might think this is sick, but I’m in a tell-all mode. So, here goes: My BlackBerry has been programmed to tally up the number of days my wife Susan and I have gone without having sex. The device informs me we’re at 78 sex-free days. And counting. Wait. There’s more. I’ve recently discovered that my wife is also surreptitiously keeping track of this ignoble hitless streak. She pencils tickmarks into the kitchen calendar. By her count, we’ve been on the sex wagon for 77 days straight. Look, I own up to it: the demise of our relationship is mostly my fault. A fourteen year career on Wall Street wears away at your soul, like water against limestone. It pushes you to a place where you don’t recognize who you are, or how you got here. Everyone around you becomes a stranger, including — no, especially — your own wife. Working 16-hour days in those glistening glass towers in Manhattan, engaging in mortal combat with some of the planet’s brightest and most power-obsessed bastards who want to steal the business you’ve built up over the years — it hardens you. Still, it takes two to tango. Truth is, our infertility problems have weighed heavily on us. In our choreographed attempts to conceive, following the clinical manner in which the doctors instructed us to copulate to the letter, we’ve spent the last thirty-six months not so much making love, as conducting laboratory experiments. It’s taken its toll. I’m convinced Susan no longer loves me. I suspect she’s in love with at least one, maybe two others in the Greenwich vicinity. I lay awake nights wondering if it’s Adam, the wacky New Age martial arts expert at her yoga center on Boston Post Road, the kid with bad teeth who teaches her Tai Bo and promises to launch her on a spiritual journey to discover her inner self? Or is it Dr. Lauren, the collagen-lipped lesbian physician who wears no undergarments when she prescribes migraine treatments at Norwalk Hospital? Could be both, or neither. Maybe it’s just one of those rough patches that couples’ therapists always blather about. Something we’re supposed to traverse together, until the next phase of our lifelong partnership. Alas, the appearance of Peter I. Tortola in the Citibank monthly statement suggests otherwise. This Friday night, I find my wife in the small, childless bedroom called the Quiet Room. My wife is strikingly pretty, even as the chiseled angles of her face are softening with time. Just now, though, she’s an unsettling sight in the darkened room. Susan has an ice-pack swirled over her face. On the bureau next to the trundle bed, a spent Epi-Pen and migraine medication ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
>> WRITTEN WORD: SHORT FICTION arranged in a neat row. Susan — God help her — is in full-blown “aura mode with bursts of colors” phase. With her head tilted back and her arms along the armrests of the recliner, she appears to be clamped in an electric chair. “Susan, you all right?” “Migraine,” she murmurs tonelessly. “Need anything?” “Solitude.” Though she can’t see me, I nod in the darkness. I realize how my Friday night will play out, and it ain’t a pretty picture. But I can’t hold back. “Susan?” I say delicately. “We need to talk. Only when you’re up for it.” She barks irritably, “Just tell me, Mark.” I sigh. “A canceled check came in. Made out to Peter Tortola.” Susan has no immediate response to this. I push it, gently. “We need to talk about your intentions, Susan. I need to know what that check means.” All is silence. I’m aware of my own labored breathing. Who’s this Peter I. Tortola? you may ask. He’s Greenwich’s most nefarious pit bull, a vulture, a shark, the lowest of snakes — a highpowered, $625-an-hour divorce attorney who specializes in going after Wall Street husbands, with the tenacity and teeth of a moray eel. “Susan, we can talk about this later if — “ “You heartless bastard!” Her voice soars to a blood-chilling volume. I am paralyzed by her fury. “You sadistic son-of-a-bitch. You torture me when I’m in this condition? What’s the matter with you? Get the hell away from me.” I dutifully comply. No doubt that after this exchange, we will be more than a little unfashionably late to the Honeywells’ dinner party.
Wealth whispers. For generations past, this was an unspoken code in Greenwich, the humility of old money. After all, darling, living in this town, how shall we say? Res ipsa loquitur. But the relentless tsunami of urban barbarians descending upon the Connecticut Gold Coast with fat Wall Street bonuses killed off any vestige of subtlety in this town. Now Greenwich is just another brand name to accumulate. The tree-lined McMansions roll past as Susan and I wordlessly wind our way along Round Hill Road. Nearly 8:30 and we’ve not said a word since our chat in the Quiet Room. Perhaps our conversations are inexorably headed for the same fate as our sex life. Finito. My Aston-Martin approaches the Honeywell’s seven-bedroom mansion at Twelve Larkspur Lane. Rich Honeywell is yet another Greenwich hedge fund asshole, one of those Wall Street guys with marginal talent and a nine-figure chunk of someone-else’sfamily-money behind him. A once-in-a-lifetime fluke — a federal deregulation of investment restrictions on pension plans — made him obscenely wealthy, and has kept an endless convoy of Brinks trucks dumping pallet-loads of money on the doorstep of his Steamboat Road office. Naturally, Rich’s house is an eat-your-heart-out monument to the disproportionate extent of his newfound wealth: a dramatic, custard-yellow contemporary with Hudson Valley stone veneer set on five acres of what was once fertile onion farm. It’s fully equipped with all the usual accoutrements: four-car garage, tennis court, and an Olympic-sized pool. Two bright yellow backhoes in the front yard suggest further expansion is imminent. 54
The Belgian-bricked driveway is jammed with probably $3 million worth of luxury automobiles. I wedge the convertible into a space between a Porsche Cayenne and a yellow Hummer with personalized plates: 183 IQ. I turn off the car. The ensuing silence is deafening. I crave a talk, a clearing of the air between us. Perhaps naïvely, I hope to turn this around before passing the point-of-noreturn, and the path of mutually-assured destruction. I clear my throat — and get no further. “I want out, Mark. I’m done with this.” Susan delivers this statement in a flat, lifeless tone, as she might say, Looks like rain. She opens the vanity mirror to check her makeup. “I want 60 percent of everything, and the house as well. You keep the cars and the retirement accounts. The papers’ll be filed next week.” She snaps the mirror closed and exits the convertible. And just like that, my marriage begins its slow-motion spiral to the first circle of hell.
We approach the front door wordlessly, assembling the convincing facsimile of a happy and centered Greenwich couple with no marital woes. Rich Honeywell opens the door, dressed in a pair of black Ted Baker slacks, a charcoal Armani shirt and Donald Pliner loafers. “It’s the Barstons!” Honeywell says theatrically, as he hugs Susan (a bit too warmly for my comfort). “Word up, Barston? You get lost on the way?” This offhand dig is a passive-aggressive reminder that we’re the last to arrive, but it’s the unintended irony that makes me blink. Yeah, I got lost on the way, all right. “Jennifer’s been asking all night, ‘where’re the Barstons, where’re the Barstons?’ She’ll be psyched you’re finally here.” Rich says breezily, shepherding us through the palatial yet antiseptic interior of his McMansion-in-progress. Like many Greenwich homes, the furnishings and accoutrements bear the fingerprints of a particular interior designer specializing in a bland, WASP-y décor coveted by new-money clients with no sense of style of their own. She’s booked up for six months in advance. “Jen, say hello to the Barstons.” Jennifer Honeywell curtails her lecture to the waiter on how to serve the platter of jumbo Gulf shrimp to shriek in exaggerated delight. “The Barstons!” I remember hearing something about her new antidepressant and all comes clear. We apologize for being late. I kiss Jennifer, Jennifer and Susan kiss, and Rich exploits the pleasantries to try scoring a kiss on the lips with Susan (which she successfully evades). Jennifer’s new body has been honed and shaped by untold hours of spinning classes and Pilates into a rock-hard leanness that teeters on the verge of masculinity. The excessive athleticism has introduced an asexual coarseness to her face. Too bad; she used to be among the most attractive of my friends’ wives. Rich makes a sweeping gesture toward the French doors. “The bartender’s got a bottle of Grey Goose with your name on it, kimosabe.” “Let’s have at it.” Honeywell directs us to the open-air patio overlooking an exquisitely manicured backyard of Kentucky blue-grass — an emerald carpet, gleaming under a full moon. Predictably, Susan and I wordlessly peel off in different directions. I’m cool with that. The blast of communal energy from the party lifts my spirits. At the bar, a pimply faced Greenwich High School kid gives me my signature double shot of Grey Goose on the rocks. Duly fortified, I meld into an amoeba of acquaintances. They interrupt
their discourse about Robert Trent Jones golf courses to slap my back, shake my hand and high-five me. “I was just saying,” Ford Spilsbury gets me up to speed, “that the Lido course on Long Beach is pure eighteen-hole nirvana. The 16th hole is the ultimate par 5. There’s an eagle opportunity if you can survive the double-water carry.” The five of them — Spilsbury, Foster, Brightman, O’Clair and Cantwell — are clubhouse friends. Like me, all Wall Street jerks. Bankers and brokers and traders and lawyers. The Ivy League degrees on this patio cost millions in tuition dollars — worth every penny. The diplomas our parents bought for us are a license to steal. Collectively, we siphon off a disproportionate chunk of the country’s GNP, and trundle it north to our trophy wives in Greenwich. We buy expensive cars and homes and boats and pools, and go on obscenely expensive vacations, all of which is meant to inform everyone just how much we’re taking out of the American economy for ourselves. Our nine-year-olds are infected with this zombie-like consumerism, and are as tragically conversant with the iconic symbolism of Tiffany and BMW and Prada as their parents. We confuse wealth with class; we think they are synonymous, when they most assuredly are not. Inevitably, we will pass the former on to our children, but not the latter. This is the way of my world. I gaze up at the moon in the star-studded sky and heave a sigh. Maybe my spirits aren’t so lifted after all. My glass is empty. I break away from the group for a refill.
There comes a point at every white-glove suburban dinner party where the night segues into morning, booze is consumed in disturbingly large quantities, and finally, the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in. It’s an invisible line where most of the guests transmogrify into... well, perhaps the scientific term drunken assholes describes it most succinctly. Here at the Honeywell’s sumptuous manse, the catered meal of Chicken Kiev has been fully devoured long ago, the alcohol consumption has slipped seamlessly from social lubricant to unchecked excess, and casual cocktail conversation has morphed from banter into blather. Time to collect Susan, thread our way to the door with a climactic flurry of handclasps, high-fives and air-kisses (as well as heaps of superlatives to our gracious hosts for their hospitality). Given our noticeably late arrival, I’m not about to be among the first cluster of departing guests. Killing time, I score another double-vodka from the pockmark-skinned bartender. It occurs
to me that I haven’t seen Susan for hours. As I scan the voluble, intoxicated partygoers on the deck, I realize she’s nowhere to be found. Another fortifying swallow of Grey Goose gives me the illusion that perhaps there’s a chance to work things out with Susan. Maybe a romantic dinner date in the city tomorrow night — reservations at the new David Burke restaurant. Give her a free pass to rant about my endless failings as a partner, a husband and a workaholic. That’s her favorite sport, purging her frustrations about my shortcomings. Maybe that would forestall our imminent trip to Splitsville. Abruptly, I hear nature’s call. On the way, I encounter Marcy Brightman. “Marcy — have you seen Susan?” “An hour ago, she was outside with Leslie and Elise,” Marcy looks me up and down with unconcealed suburbanite horniness. “You look really buff, Mark. You been working out lately?” Yikes, no bid. “If you see her, tell her I’m looking for her.” I brush past her and arrive at the downstairs bathroom. I’m bummed to see a line of three people ahead of me. Despising lines the way I do, I make my way surreptitiously to the other side of the house seeking an alternative.
Two renovations ago, the more restrained Honeywells had us over to their place for a more intimate dinner party, commemorating the watermark of the first $100 million of Rich’s hedge fund and the concurrent expansion of their home. From the obligatory house tour, I vaguely recall a bathroom upstairs. Now, I peek around furtively, making certain no one thinks I’m sneaking upstairs to snoop for anti-depressant prescriptions, home-made porn and/or the kinky sex toys of the congenial hosts downstairs. Upstairs, I hang a right and stumble toward the bathroom door. As I reach for the knob, a muffled moan from within causes me to freeze. Dude, I think. That was a sex sound! A thrill surges through me. Could it be? Two guests have conspired to break away from the party, brazenly locking themselves away in a distant bathroom, and are — at this very moment — entangled in some illicit, secret tryst! Outrageous! Shocking! Obscene! It’s... suburban sex! The woman’s muffled cry of pleasure comes through the thin composite wood of the bathroom door. There is certified fornication happening inside this very room! I ease closer, pressing an ear toward the surface of the door. Yes, I’m a shameless voyeur, at least in an auditory sense. For my effort, I’m rewarded with an admixture of a soundtrack of real-life intercourse: the rustle-whisper of clothes being urgently peeled off for skin-to-skin contact; the guttural utterances of the guy as he is overtaken by sexual desire. A pornographic picture forms in my mind’s eye: this guy (someone I know!) has his partner (someone else I know!) up on the sink, her party dress hiked up over her hips, her legs wrapped around him as he pumps away to bring her to climax quietly before the illicit tryst is discovered. I’m excited, yes, Scout’s honor, I admit it — not only because I’ve been carnally deprived by a sexually-disinterested Susan for so long, but, man, this is live sex happening merely six feet away from where I’m standing. Raw, suburban sex! Who can it be? — I attempt to visualize some satisfyingly erotic faces and bodies belonging to the people downstairs to go with the raw coupling behind this door, but there’s not exactly a Brangelina caliber of possibilities at this party — then the heated, rhythmic breaths of the woman picks up. She’s on the verge of coming now, he’s grunting monosyllabically, trying to hold himself back until she comes first, and the slapping (continued on page 65) ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez guitarist Cliff Goodwin on stage at the Mohegan Sun.
If you were to do a Google search on the term“Beehive Queen,” Christine Ohlman’s name would come up first with some YouTube videos, photos, and reviews—well ahead of anything to do with nature, the Queen Bee, and the making of honey. WRITTEN BY ALEX DEFELICE ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
Photo by Tom Horan
he singer/songwriter/guitarist and bandleader of Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez, Ohlman is also the featured vocalist in the Saturday Night Live Band. She’s been sporting her trademark beehive hairdo (a tribute to Ronnie Spector) for many years, so much that it’s become a staple of her stunning live performances. She and her band—Michael Colbath on bass, Larry Donahue on drums, and Cliff Goodwin on guitar—have just come off the road and released The Deep End, their sixth CD and second on HMG Records. The Deep End is a textbook lesson in classic soul, blues, roots/Americana, and rock & roll. Co-produced by Ohlman and longtime John Mellencamp guitarist Andy York at executive producer Vic Steffens’ Horizon Studios in West Haven, CT (as well as at studios in Nashville, NYC, and Woodstock, NY), the album spotlights gutsy and gritty performances from a slew of guests including Ian Hunter on the rockin’ “There Ain’t No Cure,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Dion on the soulful Southern “Cry Baby Cry,” and Marshall Crenshaw on the Motown classic “What’s the Matter With You Baby?” Other guests include Levon Helm, G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, Catherine Russell, and The Asbury Juke Horns. “They are all friends of mine, so I fashioned songs for them,” says Ohlman. “Dion loved ‘Cry Baby Cry’ when I first sent it to him years ago. I wrote ‘There Ain’t No Cure’ with Ian in mind. The Deep End was a bittersweet journey for so many reasons. Rosanne Cash asked me if I’d written a lot of sad songs for this 58
CD and I told her I hadn’t. The record is about love and the courage to fall into it, although there is a bittersweet song called ‘The Gone of You’ that is on the album twice—there’s both a full-studio version and Andy York’s evocative demo.” A Time for Healing For Ohlman, the years leading up to the release of both The Deep End and 2008 career retrospective Re-Hive were filled with some emotional hardships. Her longtime mate Doc Cavalier, who had produced four of her albums, passed away. “His death necessitated a hiatus for me,” says Ohlman, “and then in 2006 our long-time guitarist Eric Fletcher died suddenly.” After her break to regroup, Ohlman took up the task of compiling Re-Hive, containing the best songs from the previous four albums (Radio Queen, Strip, The Hard Way, and Wicked Time), plus some unreleased gems. This record marked her return to the battlefield of recording and playing rock ’n’roll in gin mills, juke joints, concert halls, and finer establishments everywhere. Re-Hive also set up the marketing efforts and publicity for the release of The Deep End. Musical Roots “My parents were musically inclined,” says Ohlman. “There was always a lot of music around the house between me and my brother Vic Steffens, who owns Horizon Music Group in West Haven, where we recorded most of the tracks to The Deep End.
Photo by Russell Sanders
On stage at the Mohegan Sun during an All-Star concert, 2009. Far left, Christine performing with Rebel Montez and Los Lobos at the Hamden Summer Concert Series, 2008.
Wherever you may go on a dark lonely night, if you see a beehive glowing in the distance make sure you follow it.
Vic and I started a band when we were in high school in Cheshire and our parents were always supportive, driving us around and letting us rehearse in the basement and keep the PA there. “A producer named Bob Shad who was involved in jazz heard about us and we wondered, ‘Who is this guy?’” she continues. “It turns out he was legendary—he’d done field recordings of Ray Charles before Ray had developed his routine, back when he was still known as Ray Charles Robinson. Bob was also the first to sign a young girl from Texas called Janis Joplin with her band Big Brother & the Holding Company, and their first album was on his label, Mainstream, along with Ted Nugent’s first album with the Amboy Dukes. “Shad got me to try and sing ‘Ball & Chain’ by Big Mama Thornton for his label. Come to find out, Joplin was jumping from Mainstream to Columbia and he wanted me to record ‘Ball & Chain’ before she did. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, although he tried. We ended up with a single in the Top 100, though. That band evolved into the Scratch Band, which G.E. Smith joined. G.E. then went on to join Hall & Oates. We played incessantly around the Northeast during the late ’70s and ’80s.” Ohlman’s musical relationship with G.E. Smith has gone on for years. In the liner notes to The Deep End she calls it “the musical conversation without end.” It was this musical conversation, and some good timing, that led to Ohlman ending up as a member of the Saturday Night Live Band. As she explains, “The phone rang one day; G.E. calling to ask me to do a gig with the SNL Band on Long Island. They wrote charts for the music and we rehearsed for two days. We then played a warm-up night at Stephen’s Talkhouse in Amagansett. Up 60
Photo by Tom Horan
Photo by Carl Vernlund Photo by James Smith
Photo by Tom Horan
Above, Ohlman and Levon Helm during a session at Helm’s Woodstock, NY studio for The Deep End. Right, The Beehive Queen on stage at Hartford’s Black-Eyed Sally’s. Facing page, a soulful moment during the 2010 Daffodil Festival.
to this point, no one had told me what the real gig was. The next day turned out to be Lorne Michael’s [the producer of Saturday Night Live] wedding. Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks were wandering around.” The following week was the kickoff of the 1991-92 SNL season. Midweek, G.E. called. “He said, ‘Guess what? We got up to the bandstand on the show and Lorne asked, ‘Where’s the girl from the wedding? She was great. Get her down here.’” “So from that week on in 1991,” Ohlman says, laughing, “I’ve been in and haven’t left. The band has remained remarkably stable.” Some of her best memories from the show include the time Paul McCartney came out at dress rehearsal, which is done in the late afternoon. “He did a five song mini-set for the audience that was there for rehearsal. Chris Farley and I waltzed around to ‘Hey Jude.’” She sang with Al Green at the 25th anniversary show, and later that night—at the Top of the Rock—she, Steven Tyler, John Goodman, and Dan Ackroyd broke out into a Blues Brothers-type version of ‘Mustang Sally.’ The Icing on the Cake It’s not just Ohlman’s solo career or her lengthy stint on SNL that have kept her going. It’s also the amount of session work, creative songwriting, and guest appearances on other people’s albums. She was graced with the invitation to play Bob Dylan’s 30th anniversary bash (known as “Bob Fest”), presented by Columbia Records at Madison Square Garden. Ohlman and Sheryl Crow served as the primary backup singers for the three-hour-plus extravaganza. “A week later, Rebel Montez and I opened for Dylan in Springfield and he thought G.E. was with me. I told him it was
my band,” says Ohlman. “His entire road crew was shocked because he never talks to anyone on the road and they were impressed that he wanted to chat with me about Bob Fest! “I also recently performed at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on behalf of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation. They provide health care to NOLA’s huge community of musicians, singers, songwriters, and their families. Dr. John, who just moved back to New Orleans, is also involved.” While Ohlman is busy making touring plans with Rebel Montez and basking in all the accolades she is receiving for The Deep End, she is also gearing up for another season of SNL and no doubt more session and charity work. She has plans for a new album in the works. “It’s tentatively called The Grown-Up Thing and it’ll have more of a soul and gospel focus than The Deep End.” So the next time you see a beehive glowing in the distance, make sure you follow it. Just like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, when you come to that glowing beehive you’ll have found some of the best music, some of the greatest songs, and a person with a soulful, rich voice that keeps that beehive humming along. Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez’s fall touring schedule will include The Warner Theater, Café Nine, The Turning Point, The Fairfield Theatre Company, The Wolf Den at The Mohegan Sun, and Black Eyed Sally’s. For further information and the full calendar, including a list of Ohlman’s solo and charity concert appearances, check out www.christineohlman.net. ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
Written by William Squier
After the workshops at the SCA, the kids who participated went to a performance of the Big Apple Circus.
Photo by John Martin
The Stamford Center for the Arts (SCA) kicked off its Summer Arts Infusion Education Program in July with three circus-arts workshops for area children while the Big Apple Circus was performing in Stamford’s Mill River Park. Circus coaches Gina Allison and Barrett Felker met with about fifty kids, ages 9 to 12, from the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford and ROSCCO, an educational enhancement program for children from the city’s public schools. In the second floor lobby of the SCA’s Palace Theater, Allison and Felker led the kids through lessons in juggling,
plate spinning and manipulating a Chinese yo-yo. Stamford’s First Lady, Maureen Pavia, was the host for the day. Mrs. Pavia was joined at the event by its’ corporate sponsors, the law firm of Robinson & Cole and Patriot National Bank, and the Arts Infusion Program’s additional sponsors, First County Bank, Purdue Pharma and RFR Realty. Mrs. Pavia taught dance in Stamford for twenty years, so she’s seen first hand how the lives of young people can be positively influenced by early exposure to the arts. “People don’t lose that passion,” she emphasized. “They want to stay ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
a part of it. Where else would these children have to opportunity to work hands-on with circus performers? This is a big event and I’m sure they’ll never forget it.” For the SCA’s corporate partners, the workshops brought together many of the initiatives that they are eager to support. “It’s the mix of things we’re interested in,” said Steven Elbaum, Partner, Robinson & Cole. “It represents community service in serving the Boys & Girl’s Club, but also a commitment to the arts in the areas where we have offices, whether it’s the Bushnell or Hartford Stage or the SCA.” Merle Spiegel of Purdue Pharma agreed. “It’s perfect when the arts and education come together,” she said. “And they often do.” The SCA’s Education Coordinator, Carol Bryan, reported that the Arts Infusion Program would also include July workshops with award-winning puppeteer, Jim West. And the Lumina String Quartet would be in residence at the theater in August with a two-week Music Institute for Talented Young Artists. The young musicians would give public performances on the afternoons of Sunday, August 8 and 15. And one lucky participant would win a $2,000 scholarship for further training. But, ultimately, all of the kids involved in the Arts Infusion Program will benefit. “There’s nothing like live theater to spark the imagination of children,” said Bryan. “It really enriches their lives.” Maureen Pavia with “Grandma” from the Big Apple Circus.
Photo by Bill Winn
Barrett Felker demonstrates the Chinese Yo-Yo to children from the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford and ROSCCO during the circus arts workshop held at The Palace Theatre
Photo by Bill Winn
Samantha from Stamford’s ROSCCO program masters plate spinning at the Big Apple Circus’ Gina Allison looks on.
Photo by William Squier
Maureen Pavia with the Arts Infusion sponsors. From left to right, Steve Elbaum, Robinson & Cole LLC; Diana Lenkowsky and Merle Spiegel, Purdue Pharma; First Lady of Stamford, Maureen Pavia; Margaret Carlson, RFR Realty; John Kantzas, Patriot National Bank.
Photo by Bill Winn
>> WRITTEN WORD: SHORT FICTION (The Lives We lead - continued from page 55)
of his thighs against hers now resounds with abandon, and they are moaning together as if they no longer care if they’re caught in flagrante delicto — and I’m mesmerized by the sheer rawness of the final strokes of this sexual encounter — and then, suddenly, she is gasping in short breaths, muffling her cries as she spasms, perhaps with his hand over her mouth, and that is enough to send her partner over the edge — he is now groaning in his own grinding pleasure as they both climax together. Whoa. What comes next is a blur; I’m way too intoxicated, too transfixed by this animalistic coupling to have the good sense to slip away undetected. From within, there are heated whispers, something about “getting back down-stairs” followed by the swish of clothes being pulled back into place. Just then, just as good sense belatedly prevails and it occurs to me that I should tiptoe back downstairs myself, grab Susan and get home, just in that instant, it no longer becomes necessary to find Susan, because the bathroom door swings open and the intoxicated, disheveled, post-orgasmic woman who emerges with a smirking, disheveled, post-orgasmic Rich Honeywell is none other than the one I’m looking for. My wife. Susan.
In a few seconds before I pounce upon Honeywell in a white-hot fury, he gawks at me in wide-eyed surprise and tries to “dude” me. He sputters, “Aw, man — dude, dude, wait — let’s — just don’t — “ I barrel into him full-force as Susan shrieks in horrified monosyllables. Honeywell is no match for me; I have a ten-pound weight advantage over him and he hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years. As I drive my fist full-force into his solar-plexus, I feel the wind being knocked from his lungs. He pushes back in futile resistance, hoarsely shouting “Dude, dude!” in a lame attempt to forestall his comeuppance. I am smashing my white-knuckled fists into any and all vulnerable areas of his pink flabby flesh, occasionally scoring a satisfying blow to his jaw. Without realizing it, I am propelling him backward into the bathroom. I’m vaguely aware of Susan desperately trying to pull me off of Rich, her bemoaning pleas to stopit, just stop it, but I easily tear away from her impotent grasp and go about my business of beating Rich to a pulp. In the next moment, he loses his footing and his resistance crumbles. We crash through the huge glass door of the brand-new steam shower. Upon impact, the plate glass immediately explodes into shards on the pink granite floor of the shower stall. At that moment, I land the best punch so far, a fleshy slap against Rich Honeywell’s cheekbone. He teeters backward into the faucet, setting off the shower. Steam immediately envelops us. The fog does nothing to inhibit me as I pummel Rich repeatedly with the goal of wrecking his smirking face. Susan screaming: “Oh god! Stop it! Please! Just stop it!” I snarl between gulping in lungfuls of air. “This is what it comes to, dude? This is what it comes to? You and her? You and her? How long, asshole, how long? How long?” Honeywell whimpers something unintelligible through his burst and bleeding lips, then holds his hands up, a gesture of surrender that takes the fight out of me. When he finally speaks, it’s the humiliated voice of a beaten man. “No more, man. No more.” With that, it’s over. I stare balefully at him, lowering my fists. My breathing is labored, my hands are bleeding and every ounce of my body is trembling with a cocktail of adrenaline, testosterone and booze.
I step over Honeywell’s prone form, through the gaping hole in the shower door frame. Susan is hugging herself, weeping inconsolably. I stare unblinkingly at her: I no longer know this woman. She is a stranger to me. Unemotionally, I step outside the upstairs bathroom, leaving behind a scene of chaos I created. Gripping the banister uncertainly, I stumble down the stairs into a group of people I know well. “Holy hell, Mark, what happened?” “He’s got blood on his shirt!” “Where’s Susan? She okay?” “Anybody see Rich?” I gaze blankly at them, feeling a swelling wave of revulsion. At them. At Rich. At Susan. At myself. At this whole artificial mirage we know as Greenwich. Wordlessly, I push my way through my friends, acquaintances and neighbors, upending someone’s drink, causing a commotion in my wake. I blast my way out of the party, heading out the back door. I step off the deck and wobble around yet another yellow Earthmover in search of my car. I manage to unlock the door, gun the engine, and with a defiant squeal of tire rubber against Larkspur Lane, I make my escape. But wait. Escape — yeah, wishful thinking. There is no escape. Not from this fishbowl. Before each other, we wrap ourselves in an aura of effortlessness, expert at concealing the fears that haunt us at 3:00 AM: the TMJ-inducing toll our careers take on our stomachs and our mental health; the slow-motion decay of our marriages; the warning signs that our children might not end up at an Ivy League university after all; the velocity at which our spending is outpacing our income. We hide behind the breezy accomplishment of breaking 80 on the course at the Stanwich Club, pretending everything is right in the world when we come to know that the pursuit of this life is a cancer to the soul. Tomorrow, the Greenwich gossip circuit will go into hyperdrive about what went down at the Honeywell’s party. For now I don’t care. I care only about some form of escape. I stomp on the accelerator and feel the cool summer breeze whipping against my face. I luxuriate in the illusion of freedom for these few, glorious moments. That is, until I become aware of the unnerving, flickering strobe lights of the Greenwich Police squad car closing in behind my Aston Martin. They say wealth whispers. The lives we lead never do. ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE
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Published on Jul 29, 2010
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