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May/June_CT Edition


“art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes it visible.” paul klee, swiss artist, 1879 -1940

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Heidi Lewis Coleman’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.

heidilewiscoleman.com

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HEIDI


LEWIS COLEMAN

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1 May/June_CT Edition

founder, creative director: j. michael woodside

executive director: tracey thomas

senior arts editor: philip eliasoph

publisher:

venü media company

art, design & production: venü media company

copy editor: brian solomon

contributing photographers: bob buchanan

the cover: As the ancient Greek term “graphein” (to write) was transformed and updated into the street-cool IRT subway decorations of “Graffiti art”, artist John (CRASH) Matos became one of style’s iconic innovators. Transit cops once chased him off the tracks — now savvy collectors are tracking down his creations as a post-Modern master! Showcased and honored this year at Fairfield University with a full tilt retrospective covering almost 30 years, VENÜ captures an exclusive inside look from the artist’s daughter Anna, now a junior art history student.

office:

840 reef road, 2nd floor, fairfield, ct 06824 +1.203.333.7300 tel +1.203.333.7301 fax venumagazine.com

advertising sales:

advertising@venumagazine.com

editorial contribution:

editorial@venumagazine.com

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.

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Autumn Cabbage, Oil on Canvas, 40"x 36"

J U L I E S AT I N O V E R FLORALS . ABSTRACTS . PORTRAITS

www.juliesatinover.com

203.434.8655

jls@juliesatinover.com

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founders letter

Showcasing local Arts, Culture, and Style, without any contrived formality. Arts, Culture, Style... these are a few of my favorite things, and there’s a lot of “it” available in this great little state of ours, but it’s not always easy to find. That is why I created VENÜ—a Must Have, arts, culture, and style magazine highlighting Connecticut’s finest professional and emerging creative talent with stunning visuals and intriguing articles. VENÜ showcases Arts, Culture, and Style in Connecticut with outstanding contributions from leading voices in art, music, theater, fashion, and design. With its upscale image-driven content, each issue features an inspiring collection of the intriguing, the bizarre, and the finest the state has to offer. VENÜ is written for, and targeted to, the curious, the acquisitive, and those who seek the one-of-a-kind and hard-to-find. Every two months in print, and everyday online (please bear with us as we develop our web site) VENÜ offers the sophisticated consumer and devoted collector an authoritative, trustworthy, visually engaging publication featuring fine collections of art, design, photography, fashion, furnishings, hand-crafted items, events, gatherings, performances and so much more. With its emphasis on consuming, collecting, and connoisseurship, VENÜ is ultimately about telling its readers where to go in their quest for the best. With special thanks to our contributors and advertisers who provided the encouragement and enthusiasm that helped us launch the premier issue, thank you, and enjoy.

J. Michael Woodside Founder, Creative Director

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contributors JENNIFER BUTLER - Fashion Designer From her downtown Fairfield store, made-to-measure clothing designer Jennifer Butler combines beautiful fabric and fantastic fit with great design that makes your life better and easier. Working with forward-thinking photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists, Butler brings 7th Avenue style to Main Street Connecticut and her twice-yearly fashion shows at the Fairfield Theatre Company.

STEPHEN RHODES - WRITER Stephen’ short story, NO GOOD DEED is an excerpt from his forthcoming collection of short fiction, GREENWICH STORIES.  A Westport resident, he has two novels published, including THE VELOCITY OF MONEY (HarperCollins), a financial thriller which received widespread critical acclaim for foreshadowing the recent stock market meltdown.  A 15-year veteran of Wall Street, his work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Wall Street Noir, and dozens of other publications. 

ANNA MATOS - Student Anna Matos is an Art History Major and Thomas J. Walsh Gallery Intern currently in her Junior year at Fairfield University. Anna was instrumental in the selection process for her father, John “CRASH’ Matos’ art exhibit at the Walsh Gallery this year as well as writing a piece for the show, which venü magazine is proud to share with our readers along with her father’s art.

we aim to be fresh! We’re interested in hearing from those of you

that have great things to contribute; art, photography, design, illustration, literature, etc., if you’ve got it flaunt it! It’s what venü magazine is about. Do you have something to share? email us: editorial@venumagazine.com

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IMAGINE THE BELLARMINE A new museum at Fairfield University opening Fall 2010

THE NEW MUSEUM, located in Bellarmine Hall on the campus of Fairfield University, will display a rich and varied collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art objects. Included will be paintings by lesser masters of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, along with a large selection of historic plaster casts after important works from ancient Greece and Rome. The Museum will also showcase a range of non-Western art objects, including pre-Columbian vessels, 19th-century South East Asian sculptures and African masks. On loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Cloisters Museum will be a variety of Celtic and Medieval objects.

A showcase for significant art objects; a learning laboratory for school children, University students and mature learners from surrounding communities as well as scholars and art professionals; a magnificent environment for quiet reflection.

1073 North Benson Road, FairďŹ eld, Connecticut 06824 www.fairďŹ eld.edu/arts


kitschnkouture.com

photography: Scott Brinegar makeup/stylist: Leslie Homan model: Amanda Gift


ACCESSORIES BLAZERS & JACKETS DENIM DRESSES KNITS OUTERWEAR PANTS SHIRTS SKIRTS T-SHIRTS TOPS

1330 POST ROAD EAST, WESTPORT, CT 203.255.7663


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features: 32 graffiti is art John “CRASH” Matos - The Bronx Bomber

Unexpected ‘Aha!’ magic moments conclude the first class ‘road trip’ to one of Connecticut’s infinitely rewarding museums or heritage sites.

48 fiction: no good deed by Stephen Rhodes

standard fare: 6 founders letter showcasing local Arts, Culture, and Style, without any contrived formality 8 contributors some words from a talented few 18 events/gatherings 20 art really matters the Connecticut Art Trail 56 fashion Jennifer Butler 62 local talent photography by Maura Stelmaszek

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48 no good deed

“Perhaps Bruce Mazzola best captured the mind-numbing tragedy of it all. The moment he first gazed at Jake’s casket, he shook his head, muttering, “Man, it’s a bitch to die in the prime of your life.”


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Fine Antiques And Decorations From The 16th Century To The Present

indie-pendent threads The concept of custom-made clothes may seem quite unusual these days, but to many people it still makes the most sense—perfect fit meets great design, form follows function.

the bronx bomber

Starting in his teen years, John “CRASH” Matos spray-painted his first subway car. Fast-forward almost 30 years later, and he still spray paints, but now it is on a canvas, or even a Fender guitar. An exquisite pair of French 40’s Gilt Bronze and Marble Wall lights, by Bagues, Circa 1940

M.S. Antiques 19 Main Street Tarrytown, New York 10591 914.332.8122 msdecorative.com


[ ADVERTISEMENT ]

REPRESENTING ARTISTS WORKING IN MANY MEDIUMS WITH A CONCENTRATION ON THE FINE CRAFTSMANSHIP, TECHNIQUES, AND TRADITIONS, PASSED ALONG BY THE EUROPEAN MASTERS.

B

eardsley Gallery hosts several invitational exhibitions showcasing some of the finest museum-quality art in America. The New Beardsley Gallery will be celebrating its one year anniversary with the upcoming “Esprit de Femme” show in June. “The focus here is on traditional, classical art, and I am so pleased and proud to be able to show top international artist’s to the new Gallery” says one of the owners Judee Beardsley. The “Esprit De Femme” show will be held from June 1-July 2. Reception: June 12, Sat., 4-6 pm and will feature several works by Tang Wei Min with guest artists: “Glenn Harrington, Serge Marshenikov, Burt Silverman, Jon de Martin, Edward Eyth, Robert Palevitz, Camie Davis, Will St. John and more. The Gallery will also be hosting the “Objects of Art” still life show in May. This show will run from April 27- May 29. Reception: May 8, Sat., 4-6pm, and will feature several works by Kirill Doron with guest artists: “Juliette Aristides, Colleen Barry, Grace DeVito, Susan Durkee, Robert Palevitz, Catherine Puccio, Koo Schadler, Burt Silverman, Travis Schlaht, Jeremiah Patterson, Jesus Villarreal and more. In addition to the gallery, Beardsley’s has added an atelier style art school for students from beginners to advanced. The school will host workshops and classes in all mediums including, oil, egg tempera, watercolor, drawing, and sculpture. Beardsley also continues fine tradition of fine hand crafted custom frames for the all of the artwork in your home or office. Additional services we provide are consultation, private painting and sculpting commissions, art hanging and placement, frame repair, and painting restoration. We look forward to your visit to the gallery, and helping you with your artistic needs and desires with the finest quality art, framing and instruction. Please go to our website, www.beardsleyfineart.com

196 DANBURY ROAD, WILTON, CONNECTICUT 203.762.3312 Gallery Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 11am - 6pm, Thursday: 7pm - Close, Saturday: 10am - 4pm, Sunday - Monday By Appointment

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1) Tang Wei Min, “Red Line”, Oil, 32 x 67 inches. 2) Tang Wei Min, “Lucky Dawn”, Oil, 39 x 47 inches. 3) Serge Marshennikov, “Idleness”, Oil, 36 x 20 inches. 4) Kate Lehman, “Seagull”, Oil, 10 x 14 inches. 5) Travis Schlaht, “Fish”, Oil, 14 x 10 inches. 6) Kirill Doron “Ribbons”, Oil, 20 x 24 inches. 7) Serge Marshennikov, “Reverie”, Oil, 24 x 36 inches.


FEELING THE BUZZ

>> Department: EVENTS + GATHERINGS

Photo: David Bravo

Photo: David Bravo

Photo: Helen Klisser During

Find Fairfield County Buzz at FCBuzz.org What happens when you put Fairfield County movers and shakers in the hip South Norwalk restaurant Barcelona to celebrate something they all had a part in building? You create a buzz, of course! Celebs, arts and cultural leaders, mayors, the press, state representatives, artists and supporters came out to launch FCBuzz.org—the new Fairfield County Arts and Culture web site presented by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.

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ctor James Naughton was host for the party, and was joined by musicians Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, as well as Michael Ross, Managing Director of the Westport Country Playhouse, to wish success to the cultural organizations that have come together to market their programs. Gillian Anderson and Charlotte Hommel, both Cultural Alliance Board members, were the event co-chairs.

it a great tool to show all Fairfield County has to offer residents. Creativity drives innovation, and creative people look for places to live that provide a wealth of cultural activity. FCBuzz.org is a terrific showcase, as well as the go-to place to easily find things to do.

FCBuzz.org is an audience-friendly web site posting information about events taking place throughout Fairfield County. You’ll find music, theater, dance, visual arts, history, literature, lectures, kids and family events, classes and special events. It also features profiles of regional artists, job listings and directories for cultural organizations, venues and creative services.

FCBuzz.org is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the members of the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. Each of them uploads their own information and helps to market the web site. In May, a group of member organizations will kick off FCBuzz Goes Liveóa monthly event at each of their venues, which they will cross promote. The idea is to encourage people to explore events at places they may never have visited. Go to FCBuzz.org for dates and locations for FCBuzz Goes Live, as well as for great things to do any day of the week.

Although the web site is set up to connect to audiences, businesses hoping to attract top-notch employees to the region will find

“Working together makes sense economically, and we are pleased that bringing organizations together has resulted in this

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terrific collaboration” said Ryan Odinak, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance. The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County was formed less than two years ago, but is already making an impact in the region and connecting to statewide initiatives. The organization provides marketing, professional development, advocacy and cultural leadership.

For more information about the Cultural Alliance visit www.CulturalAllianceFC.org or call 203-256-2329. Top left: A meeting of the minds that created and support FCBuzz.org. Top right: From left to right, Gillian Anderson, Cultural Alliance Board Member and Development Director at WSHU; Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Musicians from the bands Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club; Ryan Odinak, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County; James Naughton, Actor and Event guest host. Bottom right: James Naughton, Actor, Speaking at FCBuzz.org Launch Party.


Matt Davies (left) and Scott Stantis (right) take a moment and laugh together after humorously presenting their differing political viewpoints to a captive audience.

LeftY

RightY

On April 1, 2010, dueling political cartoonists hosted First Thursdays: A Contemporary Cocktail Hour at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT. The good friends weighed in from both sides of the aisle: Matt Davies, the Pulitzerprize winning editorial cartoonist for The Journal News, who leans left, and Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune, who leans right, offered a hilarious evening of witty conversation and  insight into the political machine.

First Thursdays: Cocktail Party & Political Cartoonists!

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>> Department: Art Really Matters

Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D is Professor of Art History at Fairfield University where he teaches Museum Studies, American Art, and Italian Renaissance painting. He is the founder/director/moderator for the University’s popular Open VISIONS Forum, a ‘town square’ Photo: Erin Gleeson Studio, NYC

public affairs series, and he serves as a Commissioner in the Art Division, Connecticut Commission for Culture & Tourism and is an elected member to the International Association of Art Critics. He has curated exhibits, published books and catalogs on Connecticut artists Paul Cadmus, Stevan Dohanos, Robert Vickrey, Elaine Anthony, and Robert Cottingham and is currently working on a new biography of an Irish-born immigrant to New York, painter Colleen Browning. This summer he is invited to speak at the PollockKrasner Foundation Studio in East Hampton on the tensions between realist and abstract painting at mid-century.

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by Philp Eliasoph

art trail/CT “I had no clue—really, I just cannot imagine what I’ve been thinking all of these years.” If I collected a U.S. silver dollar every time I heard this confessional phrase, I would certainly now own a stack of currency in a glittering vault at Fort Knox. These ‘Oh my God’ mini-epiphanies erupt while we are climbing back into my school’s van, usually used by tennis or debate team squads. Unexpected ‘Aha!’ magic moments conclude the first class ‘road trip’ to one of Connecticut’s infinitely rewarding museums or heritage sites. Just as I am turning the ignition key and adjusting the CD volume—“Can you please turn down those scratchy Grateful Dead bootlegs, Dr .E?”—the chorus from the back three rows begins. “I am so amazed,” says Amanda, a 19-year-old junior Nutmegger. Raised somewhere in the suburban wilderness straddling the Post Road from Greenwich to Groton, she possessed tunnel vision that perceived only sprawling retail chains relentlessly exploiting shopper weaknesses. Pulling her iPod earbud from her ears and beaming with a youthful sense of self-awareness, she flashed a quizzical half smile. “This is everything opposite to the mall culture I’ve grown to dislike—there has to be more about life out there to appreciate.” “Experiencing art museums and getting into really looking at paintings was something I had always felt was for other people,” reflects Monique. Born in Haiti, she arrived in Bridgeport with her single parent mother at age 12, struggled through public high school, and earned a scholarship towards her college education expenses. Now in her senior year fulfill-

ing her nursing major requirements, this 23 year old [with a 15 month old infant, a husband in Marine corps boot camp] is the beneficiary of a liberating education. “Lots of my friends could not imagine the beautiful artworks we study – I know I am lucky.” Then there’s Charlotte, a 43-year seeker at the crossroads. She’s a back-to-college housewife from Weston with two middle-school aged teens. “It’s difficult for me to retrace my steps realizing I just never made the time or had the motivation to venture out of my backyard,” she admits. “I’m determined to explore more of the masterpieces at our fingertips around Connecticut. It’s my time to learn.” Whether gorging herself on a self-actualizing menu of pilates and zumba workouts; dabbling in her book club’s selections; or delving into the convoluted romances of the Bronte sisters, a slew of “goodness” books like Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, and Oprah’s next sizzling “must-read”, Charlotte is channeling her mother’s Aquarian Age of self-liberation as second-wind from the sixties,

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>> Department: Art Really Matters

An exquisitely hand-drawn map of colonial Connecticut as drawn by one of His Majesty’s surveyors, Moses Park, dated 1766, noting trails once used in the pre-revolutionary war era.

but giving a whole new meaning to identifying her goals in the present. “I guess during my working years, I never took advantage of the limitless cultural opportunities we have within an hour’s drive,” reflects Edwin. He’s a buttoned-down, reserved 72-year-old, recently widowed retired insurance executive from Cheshire. Enrolled in my inter-generational, “lifelong learning” experience course, “Museum Studies,” he always knew about the intrinsic value of culture. “Making a living, paying the bills and college tuitions, took priority—and I am going to do some catching up now,” he declares in a perky manner. Another 5-8 students round out the road-trip team, each anticipating stepping through the doors of unknown cultural venues. Sequenced into the cycle of semesters, I have the privilege to venture out of the classroom to Connecticut’s virtual “museum without walls” on an annual basis. Normally, my Art History students sit in front of a digital projection amidst the gloomy, dimly lit lecture hall affectionately dubbed “Darkness at Noon” by legions of wistful undergraduates. Instead of nodding off in that Stygian darkness, studying sharply focused simulations of paintings by John Trumbull, Winslow Homer, or Jasper Johns, we wander out onto Connecticut’s Art Trail: Fifteen world-class museums and historic sites. [You can get information from the Connecticut Commission for Culture & Tourism at arttrail.org, plus investigate other cultural activities at cultureandtourism.org. This geographic thread directs each art pilgrim towards engagement, enlightenment and ineffable pleasure. And rather than listen to my droning voice at the lectern, students are enriched by teams of education curators, docents and volunteers who are always willing to share their unrestrained passion and pride for their museums. It’s a win/win. Along the road, up and down Connecticut’s interstates and country lanes, my student travelers come to individual moments of aesthetic revelation. Illumination comes with Salvador Dali, Spanish, 1904-1989 Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938 Oil on Canvas, 45 x 56 5/8 inches Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1939.269

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three credits stamped onto their transcript, but it’s so much more. This is not a miraculous transformation of water into wine, but it converts consumers into believers, living up to our class motto: “Art Really Matters.” In this odyssey, we swiftly encounter basic assumptions about all those “great ideas” from dead white male patriarchs of knowledge. From the dog-eared pages of old “classic” books (too often discarded in heaps at library tag sales), these hallowed voices have somehow lost their resonance. But it’s an essential leap connecting students whose cultural icons are Snoop Dogg, Lada Gaga and Twilight’s vampire heart-throb Robert Pattinson.

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>> Department: Art Really Matters

The nation’s oldest continuously operating institution, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Horses and buggies were passing by its front door along Hartford’s Main Street in 1844 when Daniel Wadsworth pioneered the idea of a public art museum. New York’s Metropolitan Museum and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts would not open their doors until 1872 and 1876 respectively.

For those more at home dancing at an orgiastic rave, instilling the value of art chiseled into the gleaming marble columns of western civilization is a daunting challenge. The story began with Aristotle’s recognition that, as humans, we take “delight in works of imitation.” And keeping an open mind, Aristotle would have included Andy Warhol’s faux painted Brillo and DelMonte boxes. Greek philosophy explained how “mimesis” is all about taking one image and making it into something else. A good how-to instructional guide to prepare you for this road trip is Sarah Thorton’s sassy book, Seven Days in the Art World. In this hilariously written romp, she chronicles a motley network of bohemians, fashionistas, financial moguls, museum curators, vain collectors and those truly inspired artists and collectors for whom aesthetic pleasure is the only reward. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural sociology and doesn’t pull any punches. In her uber-savvy voice, she launches into her critique of the gallery-museum-artist-dealer network. From her viewpoint, the “art world is a kind of alternative religion for atheists.” Suddenly unplugged from their ubiquitously chirping social networking devices, weaned away from texting, twittering, or Googling, class members feel it’s a refreshing change of pace to visit a museum. A good place to start might be at the nation’s oldest continuously operating institution, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Horses and buggies were passing by its front door along Hartford’s Main Street in 1844 when Daniel Wadsworth pioneered the idea of a public art museum. New York’s Metropolitan Museum and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts would not open their doors until 1872 and 1876, respectively. “I’m embarrassed I never came here,” unties their tongues after our first hour of touring. Amongst its crown jewels, the Wadsworth displays the first Caravaggio painting ever purchased by a U.S. museum. This eerily lit meditation on St. Francis of Assisi experiencing a moment of ecstasy with a lovingly attentive male angel caressing his limp body, was selected in 1943 by

William Chadwick, Bathers at Griswold Beach, c. 1915 Oil on Artist Board, 4 1/8 x 18 inches, Florence Griswold Museum; Gift of the Artist, X1972.207

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the Wadsworth’s flamboyant director, “Chick” Austin. A waltz through the newly installed Hudson River School galleries in the Colt building helps one grasp why art connoisseurs arrive daily from every continent to marvel at this unique collection of American treasures. The effect is dumb-founding: How did Thomas Cole capture the aura of New England’s autumn? Where did Frederic Church learn to master atmospheric effects of sunlight and surf? What motivated Albert Bierstadt to ride on horseback on a U.S. Calvary expedition out to the Wyoming territory to sketch Native American tribes in the Rockies before the Civil

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>> Department: Art Really Matters

Always a show stopper is Frederic Church’s breathtaking view of “West Rock” at New Haven of 1849. Time stands still at this geological formation well known to rushing commuters on the Merritt Parkway today before entering its blasted tunnel. But once upon a time, Church was able to use Connecticut’s pastoral setting for a visual pun. The painting was purchased by transatlantic cable entrepreneur Cyrus W. Field.

War? Talk about authenticity—here’s the real story of the West, from an eyewitness. Knowing how many really questionable Salvador Dali works are out there (caveat emptor bargain hunters or Estate sale bloodhounds, the majority are pathetically inferior fakes), it’s wonderful to study a bona fide Surrealist work of genius. The “apparition” plays with our cognitive abilities to sort out a torrent of pears, faces and a dog in a hallucinogenic dream along the sandy beaches of Dali’s native Catalonian village of Figueres. Upstairs, Andrew Wyeth’s haunting egg tempera masterpieces capture his mother-in-law’s final breaths before eternity. Listen to the silence as she hears the wind through the curtains echoed through a chambered nautilus. Goosebumps will run up the small of your spine. Wyeth’s brushwork is unerring as poetry transits painting. With delicate restraint, he plays each modulated white and gray brushstroke like Yo Yo Ma fingering a long sonorous chord into a whisper. Enchantment continues at Old Lyme’s Florence Griswold Museum. The National Historic Landmark was the congenial boarding house of Miss Florence Griswold, who hosted America’s Impressionist painters. At Connecticut’s “frozen in time” version of Monet’s country estate at Giverny, we enter a living en plein air canvas. The idyllic setting along the marshy paradise of the Lieutenant River has become a shrine where art and nature are preserved with an exquisite intelligence. Its blossoming campus is truly “more than the sum of its parts,” according to its visionary director, Jeffrey Andersen. Ironically, the roaring traffic on nearby I-95 carries millions of casino-bound gamblers and revelers, but only a handful care to make a short detour to discover the really priceless treasures on view by Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, or William Chadwick. “De gustibus” good taste - can be taught to many Eliza Doolittles who might seem fixated on cruising Clinton Crossing Outlets or the slot machines. Another itinerary stop takes us to one of the most unlikely Meccas for fine art, the New Britain Museum of American

Frederic Edwin Church, “West Rock, New Haven (Haying near New Haven; East Rock, New Haven; East Rock, near Whitneyville; East Rock; East Rock, near New Haven)”, 1849, Oil on Canvas, 27 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches, New Britain Museum of American Art, John Butler Talcott Fund

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Art. Looping off a tangle of interstates, there are boarded up factories and empty storefronts bearing evidence of gritty economic hardships. So the contrast of this stunning, newly renovated museum is even more surprising. In 1903, the nation’s first museum dedicated entirely to American art opened here. That was a full generation before Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney even imagined her namesake museum in Manhattan. From doughty colonial portraits to modern masterworks by Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Stuart Davis, Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Motherwell (Greenwich) and Robert Cottingham (Newtown), the NBMAA guarantees incredulous responses. “Who woulda thought this even existed?” is the shared review of the backseat gang. Always a show-stopper is Frederic Church’s breathtaking view of “West Rock” at New Haven of 1849. Time

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>> Department: Art Really Matters

The Aldrich is one of the few non-collecting contemporary art museums in the United States. Founded on Ridgefield’s historic Main Street in 1964, the Museum enjoys the curatorial independence of an alternative space while maintaining the registrarial and art-handling standards of a national institution. Exhibitions feature work by emerging and mid-career artists, and education programs help adults and children to connect to today’s world through contemporary art. The Museum is located at 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877. For more information call 203.438.4519.

stands still at this geological formation well known to rushing commuters on the Merritt Parkway today. But once upon a time, Church was able to use Connecticut’s pastoral setting for a visual pun. The painting was purchased by transatlantic cable entrepreneur Cyrus W. Field (note the prominence of a haywagon in the “field”), and in a self-referential note, a non-existent “church” steeple breaks the horizon beneath the massive rock formation. To conclude this peripatetic syllabus, we usually leave The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum as our last stop. With its stately whitewashed homes and colonial era churches, leafy Ridgefield is a perfect stage set for encountering the complexities and contradictions of post-modernism. Without fail, our experiences observing the art of the “Now” are always thought-provoking and refreshing. As one of America’s premier showcases for launching the careers of next-generation artistic trendsetters, its imaginative curatorial programs robustly compete toe-to-toe with the major urban contemporary venues around the nation. For those who squint and squirm to question, “Why is that ART?”, a visit to the Aldrich is just the right elixir. “But all those bizarre, confrontational installations don’t make any sense,” is generally heard on the back to campus drive down Route 33. “Sure,” I reply, “but look how poignantly all those ambiguities mirror issues conflicting in our society.” One student shouts out—“You mean like all our wars?” while an older taxpayer says: “How did we end up with an $8 billion deficit in our state?” Another girl’s voice drops: “I can’t believe how deep in debt I will be by the time I graduate—why can’t education be supported more?” As the van pulls into the parking lot at the end of the day, with conviction our class mantra rises in unison: “Art Really Matters!”

KAWS, Companion (OriginalFake), [aka Dissected Companion], 2006 Courtesy of the artist, Produced by Medicom Toy

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VINTAGE AND NEW, ECLECTIC AND INSPIRED, FURNITURE, ACCENTS, ART, JEWELRY FROM THE MARKETS OF ARGENTINA AND FRANCE

423 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 203.431.7747 Tues-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5 www.hazelandsid.com

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“FRIENDSHIP”, Oil on Canvas, 20" x 20"

NOELLE CARR noellecarr.com ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE

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LUCY M. KRUPENYE SCULPTURE

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E.G. SIMSON Photographer, Photojournalist

Equine and Canine Portraits. Wildlife, Nature and Nautical Photography. egsimson@optonline.net

203.226.3144

www.egsimson.com ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE

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crash

from the 4 train to fenders a r e t r osp e c t i ve

by ANNA MATOS 2011, Art History Major, Department of Visual & Performing Arts, Daughter of CRASH, and Walsh Gallery Intern

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Starting in his teen years, my dad spray-painted his first subway car. Fast-forward almost 30 years later, and he still spray paints, but now it is on a canvas, or even a Fender guitar. Evolution is inevitable in art, but it’s hard to find an artist who remains true to his roots in the face of success. My dad is one such artist. “CRASH”— named after a computer glitch that happened after he turned a computer on in school—is known around the world by that name, but to me, he has always been “Dad.” As this feature is a retrospective of his artistic career, it’s also like a big photo album of my childhood. Some of my earliest memories have been of my dad taking me to his studio in the South Bronx, and being given pastels and a small canvas to entertain myself as he created monstrous works on his canvas with spray paint.

pastels, watercolors, etc. His style can’t be called one thing—realistic, figurative, collage, or abstract—it all blends into one that is uniquely his. Colors of pop art, the immediacy of expressionism, almost cubist-like segmentation—all spill onto the canvas like pieces of a puzzle for you to look at and read.

Drawing from other artists like James Rosenquist, Jasper Johns, and Robert Longo, he took graffiti from the subways and the streets and brought it to the forefront of the art world. You can call him “a street kid who got lucky,” but I have always seen my dad as someone who had a vision and went for it—regardless of where he came from or how he did it.

His art has always been evolving and changing. From the old New York City trains to his most recent ventures—the Crashocasters, his evolution, according to him, has been deliberate. Like the graffiti itself, it was constantly new, changing, and anything but slow. Stuart Pivar, founder of the New York Academy of Art, has said, “His is a lavish gift to the eyes and a statement in time and space that celebrates the movements and change of an ever-changing world.” He jumps from one thing to the next, but it is always calculated. The Crashocasters

But don’t try to pigeonhole my dad either. He has always experimented with different media and techniques. Our house and his studio are filled with spray paint of course, but also oil paints, acrylics,

“a lavish gift to the eyes and a statement in time and space that celebrates the movements and change of an ever-changing world.” – Stuart Pivar, founder of the New York Academy of Art

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are a perfect example. Spray-paint a guitar—sounds easy enough. The Crashocasters are a series of Fender guitars that my dad has painted on. It began as a joke, oddly enough, when my dad wanted to paint a guitar for Eric Clapton. Eric liked it so much, and it all snowballed from there. The name “Crashocasters” was given by Eric’s technician, Lee Dickson, and that is how his guitars have been known since.

Eventually my dad’s career had to include music. I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t playing as he painted. Most of our conversations are about music. Designing clothes and bags is also now part of his career. It just goes toshow how art is affected by and can affect other forms of expression. John Leguizamo, a famous stage and film actor from movies such as Moulin Rouge, Summer of Sam, and Ice Age as well as a school friend of my dad’s, has said, “he could have gone elsewhere; but no, he stands up for, and defends, the graffiti artist in each and every one of his works. They have the power to uplift you, awe you, and sucker-punch you.” Is that not what art is? Graffiti is the art of the people. Maybe that is the reason my dad is still so down to earth—for him, art is for the people, so why act as if you are not one of them? I have always admired my dad for that, even if I don’t tell it to him that much (he can’t afford to get a big head; no one knows that like

me). But no matter how popular his art ever gets, he is still that same teen from the South Bronx sneaking into the train yards at night to have fun. He may be in a studio now, and have as much time as he wants to create, and there may be no sirens and police chases, but there may always be that sense of danger. To me, he will always be my dad, dragging me along to his studio with pastels and a little canvas for me to draw on. But now, this is my show as much as it is his. This is the atmosphere I grew up in, and it will always be a part of me. It has shaped, in some way, who I am. I will always be my father’s daughter, sitting in the studio drawing while he painted. Only today, I am standing tall in a gallery, filled with my childhood memories. I am proud to be the daughter of CRASH, and always will be. So I welcome all of you here, and as John Leguizamo said, “I am the real victor, and all those who visit my abode (and) witness…the Power of CRASH.” Enjoy, and get ready to be in awe.

bronx bomber: crash Most people conjure up bronzed headstones with plaques out in Yankee Stadium’s centerfield when the fabled careers of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle come to mind. The legendary spirits of those pin-striped titans are eternally enshrined in that public space. But somewhere on another ‘field of dreams,’ out in a bizarre landscape where a razor-sharp boundary separates the barbed wire of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s rail yards and the venues of major international museums and galleries, John (CRASH) Matos casts his long shadow. Fairfield University was honored to pay tribute to one of the graffiti-All Stars, the Bronx Bomber of the art world: CRASH. A breakout ‘rookie season’ show for the 20-year-old artist was staged in 1981 at Real Art Ways, an alternative loft space in downtown Hartford, Conn. The next year he was invited to Fashion Moda, a collective arts space near The Hub at 147th St. at

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AFTER BROADWAY BOOGIE

Spray Paint, 72" x 72", 2009

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A New York Times photographer captures the moment as John “Crash” Matos converses with the Bridgeport High School students who collaborated with him on a mural for the exhibition. From left: Photographer Andrew Sullivan, and artists Israel “ Tony” Medina, John “Crash” Matos, Nathaniel Jefferson and Jasmine Johnson.

Photo: Jean Santopatre

2803 Third Avenue where urban blight was being transformed with a flowering of street art. CRASH really ‘swung for the fences’ in 1984 being invited to show in one of Manhattan’s hottest art venues: the Sidney Janis Gallery. Janis was the birthplace of Pop art where superstars like Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Rosenquist were shown in the landmark ‘New Realism’ show of 1962. Along the way, CRASH painted backdrops and murals for the Twyla Tharp dance group (1981), the Casino de Ibizia (1992), the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo (1994), and the new Esplanade in Singapore (2005). The transit cops, the art collectors, and the museum curators have not stopped chasing him. His newest images are as explosively fresh and dynamic as works dating to his ‘breaking in’ phase 30 years ago. Establishing a global visibility byond his Puerto Rican heritage in the barrios of the South Bronx, his ‘tagging’—nom de spray—works arein the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuninger, Rotterdam, and private galleries of Silvana and Enrico Coveri in Milan and Florence; Giovanni Agnelli, Milan, and Dakis Jannous, Athens, Greece. With more vintaging and art historical perspective, he is now taking on the aura as one of graffiti art’s living “Old Masters.” But he still rocks like a kid, stays in a cool groove, and keeps bombing away in his jeans, sweatshirt, and sneaks! “Growing up in my hood, you noticed what’s around you, and graff was the design,” he explained in The New York Times. “Graffiti” originates from the Greek word graphein (to write) and is commonly adapted from the plural of the Italian term graffito.We know that Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael included secret messages within their calligraphic flourishes. Some early influences were older kids in the neighborhood who were being “showcased” including KAZOO143, CEN2(RIP),

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SUICIDAL SEDUCTION

Spray Paint and Enamal on Canvas, 79” x 79”, 1990, Collection of Robert J. Fiore

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Bridgeport Central High School student artist Jasmine Johnson works intently on her portion of the collaborative mural that was displayed during the exhibition at Fairfield University’s Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery.

Photo: Jean Santopatre

and EASE707—this was his informal ‘art school training.’ CRASH was a child of the techno-age eponymously named after a computer breakdown. He adapted this tag because “in my first year of high school I was learning about business careers and chose computer programming as my major.” Claes Oldenburg nailed it: “You’re standing there in the station, everything is gray and gloomy and all of a sudden those graffiti trains slide in and brightens the place like a big bouquet from Latin America.” Once upon a time, after Warhol and Rosenquist pioneered the Pop explosion of the 1960s, but before Takashi Murakami and Matthew Barney exploited a hyper-visuality in the 1990s, CRASH exploded onto the scene. His language was a visual mix of blended styles and rhythms not unlike the dual-audio mixing of the ‘godfather of hip-hop’ DJ Kool Herc (who also came from the Bronx creating neighborhood dance marathons at 1520 Sedwick Avenue). “Pow” with that bubble, “top to bottom” that subway war, “freestyle” those wrap-arounds, “blast” that Krylon can and “zip those tags!” This was all the zeitgeist of a moment of America’s richly diversified cultures. A time and place now fading into memory. It was a hallucinatory, Afro-Latino-Carib-Jazzy-Blues-Acid-Rock style that made NYC subway graffiti a venerated “style” in the same distinctive manner as past movements, Cubism, Fauvism, or Abstract Expressionism. Tony and Maria lamented: “Somewhere there is a place for us,” beyond West Side Story. CRASH discovers that imaginary locus—now. What was the South Bronx like in the mid-1970s when the juvenile Matos first grabbed a bag of wide-nozzled, multi-colored spray cans? New York City was at its Dantesque nadir in the lowest circle of urban Hell. Broke, demoralized, and invaded with ubiquitous cocaine and Superfly heroin flowing in from South America and Southeast Asia, no wonder President Ford was (misquoted) in the now famous New York Daily News headline of October 30, 1975: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”

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REGAL BLUES

Spray Paint on Canvas, 72” x 72”, 1982

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The installation complete, a quiet moment before the opening reception of the John “Crash” Matos exhibition at the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery on the campus of Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut.

Photo: Jean Santopatre

The Big Apple felt abandoned, and felt rotten to the core. Who wouldn’t have fought back through art, creativity, and self-identifying tags? “Hey, Mr. Dudes out there—we are alive; the apocalypse hasn’t killed us yet; check out our street cred—Zap, Slash, Stroke—take that if you think we are invisible!” Today, CRASH has taken graffiti’s ancient language of visual expression to a new plateau. His distinctive imagery and personal style reflect that indelibly etched lyric by Simon and Garfunkel in “The Sounds of Silence.” “The words of the prophets were written on the subway walls and tenement halls.” Exciting, inventive new artworks loom on the horizon. We are joyously confident in knowing CRASH is still a vibrant force—and has no sign of being “burned.” by PHILIP ELIASOPH Professor of Art History, Department of Visual & Performing Arts

“... At first, when my daughter had mentioned the possibility of doing something at Fairfield University, I was both surprised and honored. To do something at a university or any educational institution is great in that, the artwork is looked at rather differently than in a commercial gallery setting. The honor, because it would be looked at and dissected by a varied group of people. The surprise, because to be shown at such an institution such as Fairfield U., is serious business. We are talking about bringing something born out of the streets into an intellectual setting... 2 worlds colliding. I am very grateful for the opportunity, to bring a survey of about 35 years of work, so varied, yet strong enough to tell a story”.

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– John “CRASH” Matos

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This article is reprinted from the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery Quick Center for the Arts by permission. Thomas J. Walsh Gallery Quick Center for the Arts Fairfield, CT 06824-5195 (203) 254 -4000, ext. 2969 Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, Noon - 4 p.m. www.fairfield.edu/crash


ZOE’S PLAYDAY

Spray Paint on Canvas, 56" x 68", Private Collection

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MAJOR WORKS: John “CRASH” Matos 1980 Fashion Moda, Bronx, NY; Outdoor Mural installation through a grant from the Beards Fund; Bronx Graffiti Roller Rink, Outdoor and indoor facade, Bronx, NY

1988 Outdoor Mural, CITIBANK, Castle Hill Ave., Bronx, NY

1981

Twyla Tharp Dance Troupe at the Winter Garden Theater, 8 backdrops, live paint performance, NYC; “Style Wars,” Documentary, Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver, NYC; Mural installations, Real At Ways, Hartford, CT

1992 Outdoor Mural, Casino de Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain. Body Painting performance, Martin Lawrence Modern, NYC

1982

“Messages to the Public,” sponsored by the Public Art Fund for the Spectacolor Billboard, NYC; “Wild Style,” Charlie Ahearn, acting parts, backdrops and animation, NYC; Mural Installation, Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY

1994 Outdoor Mural installation, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY

1984

“Figuration Libre,” 5/5 France U.S.A., Musee D’Art Moderne de la Villa de Paris, France, Mural installation Collaborative Mural installation, Basel Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland Mural installations, Bologna, Italy

1985

Collaborative Mural installation, ARCO’85, Madrid, Spain

1986

“Mural Installations,” Bronx Council on the Arts, Mural project, 4 sites, Bronx, NY

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1990 Outdoor Mural, Montpellier, France

1993 Performance installation, Club Atmosphere, Zottegem, Belgium

1995 Outdoor Mural, Gent, Belgium. Indoor Mural installation, Antwerp, Belgium. Indoor and Outdoor Mural installation project, “Hannover-New York Express” metro Station Sedan Strasse/Lister Meile, Hannover, Germany. Absolut Vodka Advertising design, NYC 1996

Mural Installation, “Graffiti Hall of Fame,” NYC. Design artwork, for Miami Beach Transportation Management Assoc., New electric shuttle buses “Electrowave,” for South Beach, Miami Beach, FL


EPOCA

Spray Paint and Enamel on Canvas, 34" x 72", 3 parts, 1987

1997

Mural Installation, Patterson, NJ. Directorial debut, animated video for T.D.F.’s song, “What She Wants”. Painted Mural installation, with DAZE, at Chiostro del Bramante, Rome, Italy

1998 Outdoor Mural Installation, New York City and The Bronx, NY

2004

Installation, at CARRHART, Mural installation, Kyoto, Japan

2005

Commission for LUCKY STRIKE Brand Cigarette “Collision I and II ,” with Jahan Loh,The Esplanade, Singapore

2006

Mural Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY Ecko Jamming Up Block Party, Installation, NYC

2007

Mural Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY

2008

Mural Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY

2009

Mural installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY

1999

Mural Installation, The Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY. Outdoor Mural Installation, “Graffiti Hall of Fame,” NYC. Eric Clapton and Friends, to Benefit the Crossroads Centre, T-shirt design

2000

Mural Installation, “The Timetable,” Galerie BLU, Pontiac, MI Mural Installation, “From East to West,” Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Courtesy AZ/NY Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

2001

Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY; Installation, with DAZE and Juxtaposition Arts, “Another one from the Lab,” Minneapolis, MN; Custom Automobile Installation, CPOP Gallery, Detroit, MI

To view or purchase original works, CRASH is exclusively represented in Connecticut at:

2002

Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY

Southport Galleries, 330 Pequot Avenue, Southport, CT 203.292.6142 www.southportgalleries.com

2003

Installation, with SHE ONE, the LAB101, Los Angeles, CA Installation, with Man One, SHE ONE, Venice Beach, CA Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZE, Bronx, NY

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>> Written Word: Fiction

no good deed Perhaps Bruce Mazzola best captured the mind-numbing tragedy of it all. The moment he first gazed at Jake’s casket, he shook his head, muttering, “Man, it’s a bitch to die in the prime of your life.”

A

nd ow surreal were those first moments, when they joined the swarm of mourners at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greenwich, Connecticut? The awkward silences, the masks of grief, the stiff-armed handshakes—strangers trying to make an emotional connection with one another as an extension of paying their respects: Tell me, how did you know Jake? Ryan McPhillips would later learn that family, friends and acquaintances had gathered from 19 states to mourn his college roommate’s grisly death just before Christmas Day 2009. As one of the first to hear, Ryan was utterly stunned by the news that Jake Easton had abruptly vanished from their lives. The grim tidings spread through Jake’s network on Christmas itself, causing a tsunami of unspeakable grief among the vast tribe of those who called themselves Friends of Jake. Jake’s dead? No way, man, I won’t believe it—It’s not true, it can’t be. God, please tell me it’s not true. But true it was. The mind-numbing reality washed over them with overwhelming force. Jake Easton was not coming back from the winter break. They said he died in the midst of being a good Samaritan. And hey, wasn’t that so like Jake! In hushed tones, there was some morbid buzz about how he died, why it was a closedcasket ceremony. Yet the speculative rumors were not remotely as horrible as the reality. “Jesus God,” Mazzola said. “What a horrible way to go.” “Please. I can’t take this right now, Bruce.” Ryan’s girlfriend Alyssa Davenport said. Since Ryan had broken the news, Alyssa had been all but inconsolable. “I swear to God, I can’t.” Ryan McPhillips simply gazed at Alyssa though his dark glasses, betraying no emotion. He had been watching Alyssa carefully for clues ever since he’d driven down from Boston and picked her up from her home in Westport for the Greenwich service. Bruce pushed on. “I’m sorry, Alyssa, but doesn’t this make you wonder if there is such a thing as God? I mean, if you’re a religious person—and everyone knows I’m not—but if I were, wouldn’t this be a divine message—proof positive—that no good deed goes unpunished?” “Just drop it, Bruce,” Ryan said softly. “It’s a tragedy that reflects the cosmic senselessness of random fate. Nothing more, nothing less.” “Yeah? Well, just think about it. If he didn’t stop to help that chick and her kid in the middle of the night—” Alyssa cut him off curtly. “Sometimes, Bruce, you’re so deep into that macho asshole bubble of yours, you just don’t get it. 48

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The way Jake died—the reason he died—perfectly exemplifies the kind of caring life this guy chose to lead. He died giving himself selflessly to someone in need. He’s an example to all of us, especially to you.” “You don’t really believe in that load of crap, Alyssa, do you?” But Bruce drew back when he saw Ryan’s girlfriend burst into a body-shaking seizure of gasping sobs. Mazzola shot Ryan a sidelong look, as if to say, Whoa, she’s taking this awfully hard. That was precisely the point, Ryan knew—perhaps it was the final piece of the big puzzle that had tormented him over the holidays. But for chrissakes, now was not the time, not the place. Soon it would be—and the sooner the better. “Saint Jake,” Mazzola shook his head over the horrific fate of his University of Pennsylvania roommate as they went into the church for the service. “Saint-friggin’-Jake.”

+++ And this is how Jake died...

+++ “You are feeling good, dude! That’s right—you are totally alert, wide-awake and feeling goooooood!” Jake Easton would have been the first to admit it. He felt vaguely ridiculous speaking aloud at an unnaturally loud volume—all but shouting at himself like some amped-up disc jockey, to keep himself alert for the late-night drive to his parent’s


by Stephen Rhodes

Coast—simply drove his Prius two hours south to Philadelphia to work toward his life-shaping Ivy League degree. It was a strange time for Jake’s generation. The world shimmered with possibilities and prosperity for young Greenwich elites like him; at the same time, an entire population of young soldiers would soon be washed back onto American shores, missing a limb or two and facing an unimaginable, impoverished existence of disabilities and diminished prospects. Jake pushed the concept from his mind. Onto happier thoughts: only six hours before, he had slapped shut the blue essay book on Professor Hatfield’s final exam in Medieval Philosophy. He stepped out of Logan Hall confident that he had nailed that puppy to the wall... Question 3 (30 points)  Aquinas, Augustine and Boethius all believe that God knows everything we are going to do in the future and that this divine foreknowledge is compatible with human free will. Explain and evaluate how Boethius and Augustine would criticize Aquinas' view of divine knowledge and freedom, and vice versa, and evaluate the cogency of each criticism. For Jake, a softball, straight down the middle of the plate. One semester to go, then he’d grab the sheepskin from Wharton School of Business, and be off backpacking through Europe with Ryan McPhillips for eight weeks. (At least, that had been the plan until things got complicated.) Come autumn, it was on to Columbia Law to focus on international business law. The next three years were already fully mapped out for 21-year-old Jake Easton, and it was brimming with the promise of boundless opportunity. Still, it would be good if he could somehow simplify the drama in his current life at Penn... ski house in Manchester, Vermont. Ridiculous, perhaps, but it was doing the trick. It was 1:42 a.m., and the University of Pennsylvania senior felt fully caffeinated and adrenaline-infused. He palm-thumped the steering wheel of his Toyota Prius, keeping rhythm with to the music. The midnight scenery of the New York Thruway seemed artificially vibrant, blurring past as he rocketed northbound on I-87 at 70 miles per hour. Estimated time of arrival: one hour, 45 minutes—around 3:30 a.m. Jake chugged a lukewarm mouthful of Dunkin Donuts coffee, and cranked the volume on the CD player. The disc was a homemade Christmas gift he had received just hours before leaving Philly. It was a curious, emotional mixed tape brimming with anguished songs of love, passion and confusion from someone who had become more than a friend. He could only get through 20 minutes of it before swapping it out for a 1980s Bruce Springsteen bootleg called Piece de Resistance. Sorry, I just can’t deal with this right now, he said to himself. He punched up “Badlands” and sang along to it: It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive. . . As happens on long-haul drives, Jake’s mind began to wander. The end of the decade was drawing near, he thought, and yet America was still receiving a daily tidal wave of bodybags transporting thousands of young men precisely his age. Five thousand bravehearts so far—and counting. Jake often felt guilty that Americans in the fly-over states had disproportionately signed up for the military and were shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight to the bloody death for Jake’s country’s freedoms. Meanwhile, Jake Easton—born and raised in Connecticut’s privileged Gold

+++

Twenty minutes passed. Up ahead, just past Exit 22, Jake spied the four-way flashers blipping like Morse code. Without thinking twice, he slowed as he approached the prone Volvo station wagon. The wash of his headlights revealed two people inside  a woman with her young son. A flat tire on the rear passenger side. The Volvo’s bumper sticker gleamed in his headlights like a neon sign. PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. Jake laughed aloud as if sharing a joke with a higher being. Okay, okay. I get the hint. Pulling in front of the disabled Volvo, he jabbed on his own hazard lights. He alighted from his car, and tapped on the glass of the driver’s side. The strawberry blond inside looked weepy and distressed, her mascara smeared. Jake guessed she was in her mid 30s. She warily rolled the window down, just halfway. “You guys okay?” Jake shouted above the whooshing white noise of a random, passing vehicle. She barely nodded. “How long you been waiting here?” “Almost an hour. Our cell phone’s out of battery. We were hoping... y’know, maybe a state trooper would come by.” “Do you have tools in the trunk?” “I... I don’t know.” “Let me take a look, see what I can do,” Jake said, lowering his voice soothingly. “Pop the trunk?” The Volvo had all the basics needed to get the job done—a jack, a lug wrench, and a mini-spare. Exhaling purposefully, he stripped off his down jacket in the surprisingly balmy winter night, ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE

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and pushed up the sleeves of his Penn sweatshirt. He got down to the business of jacking up the back of the car and swapping tires. Fifteen minutes, he predicted, grunting with the effort of loosening the lug nuts, and systematically dropping them into the hubcap. Fifteen minutes, then they would both be back on their separate journeys. The fair-headed boy in the back was probably about ten years old, Jake figured, although he wasn’t good at that type of guessing game. The kid was wide-awake now, gawking at him in that intent way fatherless boys watch big brothers. Jake felt a sting of compassion. Odds were, the mom was a single parent raising a kid. Divorced single mom: hard life. Jake completed the task in just over 12 minutes. He went to the back of the Volvo to wrestle the useless tire into the trunk, feeling gratified by the glow of the light sweat his good deed had brought him. Then, inexplicably, a cold sensation seized him all at once, and he reared up, wheeling around. Blinded by the unearthly brilliance closing in on him, Jake realized something seriously bad was going to happen to him. Instinctively, he knew it was his death—but in those final moments, he had no time to fear it, no time to brace himself for it. Death came to him in the form of dazzling headlights cutting toward him at an unnatural angle, accompanied by the squealing protest of rubber against the road. A flatbed truck—tangled up in the rusted muffler wrapped around its rear-axle—was careening out of control at high speed, hurtling inexorably toward the back-end of the Volvo. In Jake’s final moment of consciousness, his mind’s eye conjured up one last, random image from the jukebox of collected memories that had been his short lifethat of his final moments that afternoon with Alyssa Davenport. It had been wonderful, amazing, passionate, clandestine—the last of a series of surreptitious encounters that lately had possessed his every waking moment. Her beatific face was the last image that formed before the impact sliced Jake in half at the midsection.

+++

After they buried him in St. Mary's Cemetery, the mourners converged at Jake's parents' palatial home on Lake Avenue. It was a surprisingly lavish reception. It never ceased to amaze McPhillips how incongruously festive wakes could be, particularly after the jarring experience of burying a loved one. Conveniently, there was a self-serve bar with an impressive array of hard liquor, and Ryan went straight to it, serving himself a double shot of Absolut. Minutes later, he found himself pouring another. One by one, family members and friends gave short speeches. The consensus was that Jake was gonna be somebody famous someday  everyone said it, and said it again and again. Jake could've been a federal politician, a renowned CEO, a Supreme Court judge, a movie star. The eulogizers wept at the unfulfilled promise gone to waste. Ryan was contemplating getting up to say something. But why should he? Only because he felt a sense of obligation as Jake’s college housemate and best friend. Otherwise, the thoughts swirling in his mind at this moment were not especially pleasant, and he was in no frame of mind to properly eulogize Jake. Then, much to his surprise, Alyssa stood up, smoothed her black dress and strode up to the front of the living room. That’s when things got weird. “I’ll tell you about the Jake Easton I knew,” Alyssa said, in a voice that first warbled, then turned supremely confident. “He was an adventurer, a scholar, a romantic. Everybody’s best friend—he made not a single enemy in the world he inhabited. Remarkably 50

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talented, he could instantly draw thirty-second caricatures of his housemates on a cocktail napkin at O’Hara’s Fish House... He could play any song on the piano by ear, though he never had a single lesson... He was charitable in a big way, and built homes in impoverished neighborhoods in Camden for poor people... He biked coast-to-coast two summers ago to raise money for MS... Always dynamic, charismatic... He possessed an easy, musical laugh, an infectious smile... He always had a million girls pining for him—and yet it never went to his head... He was so generous and giving... You always felt the energy level rise when he walked into a room, and you felt it leave the instant he was gone.” She paused. “And now he truly is gone. And for those of us who knew him and loved him, that energy is never to return. Rest peacefully, Jake.” The hush over the room was deafening. It was quite clear to everyone present that Alyssa’s impassioned speech came from someone who knew Jake as more than a friend. Jake’s mother Melinda jumped up, her eyes welling with hot tears. She whispered, “Thank you so much for that,” while clasping Alyssa’s hand. Alyssa Davenport passed by Mrs. Easton silently, her eyes cast to the floor. When she wordlessly sat down next to him, McPhillips paused for only a moment before whispering. “So, Alyssa, is this your way of telling me?” She squinched her eyes in pain. “Definitely not now, Ryan.” He pressed on. “My guess is four weeks, but that’s just a guess based on the text messages Jake didn’t delete.”


It was quite clear that Alyssa’s impassioned speech was infused with the anguish of one who had been sexually and emotionally intimate with the deceased.

while he was actively, secretly fucking Ryan’s girlfriend of two years. Stealing Alyssa, hiding the Big Secret, living a lie? So now he’s holier than Mother Teresa because he got killed in some allegedly semi-heroic way? And more so because it’s Alyssa’s fault? Before Ryan could spit out an indignant response, Alyssa Davenport buried her face in her hands, and took flight from the living room with an anguished howl. Ryan remained still. He had no intention of chasing her. For a long moment, all eyes in the room were on him. Amid the awkward silence, he looked around, cleared his throat and announced: “There’s something I’d like to say about my college roommate, Jake Easton.” As he stepped up in front of more than a hundred expectant mourners gathered in the living room, he was suddenly a jumble of emotions. Was he truly going to trash Jake’s memory in front of all these people who had known him most of his life? Air the dirty laundry of the deceased? His one-time best friend on the planet? No. Ryan McPhillips deleted all the negative thoughts from his mind, and said simply and passionately: “My brother, you were a once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend, and you will never be forgotten.” As one, the mourners murmured in a chorus of approval. Ryan McPhillips was flooded with self-gratitude for the good deed he had committed in the name of someone who had once been his best friend. He had not betrayed Jake’s secret. St. Jake’s memory was still unsullied among his faithful.

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Alyssa stared straight ahead, said nothing. The text messages. The digital smoking gun. Virtual lipstick on the collar. Now he knew he’d confirmed the awful truth. “So fill in the blanks for me,” McPhillips persisted. “How long has it been going on, you and Jake?” She wheeled on him. “Show some respect. His body hasn’t been in the ground for more than an hour—” It wasn’t a denial. Bruce Mazzola slid into the chair next to Ryan and attempted to place a calming arm on his shoulder. “Easy, man. People are watching.” “I don’t fucking care.” Ryan shook off his arm. “St. Jake. St. Jake, the Bernie Madoff of best friends.” “God, Ryan,” Alyssa hissed. “What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry? We didn’t want you to get hurt. I mean, it was an awkward situation. “ “Awkward situation?” McPhillips reared back in genuine surprise. “That’s what you’d call it?” In the next moment, Alyssa broke down completely, with heaving sobs wracking her entire body. “Alyssa, you okay?” Bruce said, lamely. “I killed him,” she wailed. “It was my fault. If I hadn’t made him stay so late after his exam to be with me—he’d still be alive. He would have left hours earlier. He never would’ve come across that car and... he’d... he’d still be alive.” Ryan gazed at her with—what? Empathy? Disgust? Jake Easton turned out to be a traitorous snake who could look his bestfriend straight in the eye and shoot the shit about world politics, all

After darkness fell, the community of mourners retreated, oneby-one, back to the places from where they had come, all to begin living a life without Jake Easton. In the sleepless hours and days that followed, the community of people who knew him brought out the photo albums, the scrapbooks and the memorabilia that commemorated his short, brilliant life. Everyone returned to Penn that following week, gearing up for the final semester of senior year—everyone, that is, except Alyssa, who abruptly decided to take the semester off to study language and history in Rome. All for the best, Ryan McPhillips thought. A week into the new semester, Ryan ceremoniously gathered the rest of Jake’s housemates together, and laid out his plan for a charitable trust to be established in their friend’s name. It would provide deserving students with partial scholarships for study at U Penn. Jake’s five housemates bought into the plan immediately. With a symbolic toast of beer, each one expressed his enthusiastic resolve to see it through over the years, come hell or high water.

+++

Eventually, the community of people who once knew Jake tumbled through the classic Kubler-Ross’ stages of dealing with the death of a loved one, transitioning from denial to anger to depression... and finally, inevitably, to acceptance. Jake was dead. But they were alive. The maddening randomness of that binary line between existence and non-existence had invaded their lives, and it reminded each one of them of their own mortality, as well as the mortality of their loved ones. But with time, it was apparent, they had to carry on. Because, after all, McPhillips reflected in a moment of solitude, there’s simply no other choice, is there? ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE

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Women’s: Sportswear Outerwear Eveningwear Jewelry Handbags Shoes Accessories Unique Gifts

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420 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut Tel: 203.894.8433 Fax: 203.894.9010


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ap ad ar ver to t fu con ise s: trib kee u p u te sa live

JUDITH CARBINE FOUR GALLERY SHOWROOMS FINE ART & PRINTS OIL PAINTING & FRAME RESTORATION CUSTOM FRAMING

576 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 203-655-6633

www.gearygallery.com

“The View, Mt. Philo Road”, 16" x 20", Oil on Canvas

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>> Fashion: jennifer butler coated silk/wool/cotton jacket, saucy stretch wool shorts. over & across cashmere shirt

lime light wool dress

optic stretch dress

what the‌? jersey shirt, simple skirt

Anglin’ Poof stretch wool dress

Photography: peter baker studios, Hair: hair of fairfield, Makeup: leslie atiles www.jenniferbutler.com

indiependent threads 54

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Ultraviolet Silk Dress

unruffled wool/silk cardigan, A-Frame wool dress

Whoosh Tyvek Raincoat

Shape in a Drape shirt, Bubbly silk skirt

Bobby Macs stretch linen pants, Best Western cotton shirt Both Sides Now silk dress

unruffled wool/silk cardigan, A-Frame wool dress

Over & Across silk shirt, Ruffley bits stretch wool skirt, Obi Belt Kenobi silk belt

sucker season cotton suit happy frog raincoat

Madcap Plaidcap wool dress

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>> Fashion: jennifer butler

“What goes on here?”

That’s a question on many people’s minds when they walk into Jennifer Butler’s store on the Post Road in Fairfield. One might spot racks of clothing, a desk full of swatches and a woman on her hands and knees cutting something on the floor, then popping up and fitting someone who just walked out of the dressing room in a half-finished dress.

Bronze Age silk organza, stretch sequined tulle, stretch charmeause gown

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he concept of custom-made clothes may seem quite unusual these days, but to many people it still makes the most sense—perfect fit meets great design, form follows function. To Butler, the idea of having 7th Avenue so close to home is the norm. Butler designs, shows and even shoots all her images within a threeblock radius. Photographer Peter Baker’s Studio is around the corner, which came in handy when she showed up for a shoot with a two-foot block of solid ice and a sword as props for a collection; or when she wanted to shoot in the woods behind her house, and Baker instead brought the woods into the studio, via digital composition. Baker shot Butler’s clothing for a story three years ago, and they have been working together ever since. He introduced her to Michael Burgess of Branded Styles, who for one shoot, took Butler’s suggestion of “I’m thinking sculptural hair, like a Calder on their heads” and made it happen with wired frames that he weaved into the models’ hair. The Fairfield salon Hair, where Butler’s models are styled for her runway shows, turned her sculptural look into a rockabilly coif for one season, and a modern swept roll for this spring. Makeup artist Leslie Atiles goes beyond just asking for swatches to design a look, and gets a copy of Butler’s show song list for her inspiration. This season, when Butler said she wanted a strong look, “like an alien superhero checking out our planet”,

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Photography: peter baker studios, Hair: michael burgess of branded styles, Makeup: leslie atiles She’s Such a Stitch, wool sateen dress

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>> Fashion: jennifer butler

Happy Frog rubberized Raincoat with quilted vinyl belt

Atiles came through with flying colors—literally—using the blues and strong greens in her collection to make a fearless leader. The Fairfield Theatre Company, where Butler shows twice a year as a fundraiser for the nonprofit theater, is also in walking distance, so come show time, Butler just wheels her racks down the street to present her collections. “There’s nothing like seeing the whole vision, start to finish, raincoat to suit to evening gown to wedding dress—people leave there knowing my point,” Butler said. They also leave quite sated, since local restaurants like neighbors Café Lola, The Green House Grill, and Health in a Hurry donate food for the evening. “This season, I used lots of greens, blues, and plums—cool colors,” Butler continued. “The idea of traditional spring colors seemed wrong to me. I design from the point of view of a working woman, albeit one who spends an inordinate amount of time crouching at hemlines and handling pins. I’m not here to be dull and make basics, but I know everything must function 110 percent. I take that idea and mesh it with design. A woman may not know her raincoat was influenced by the idea of bug exoskeletons and the ominous new Massive Attack CD—she just knows she looks super cool, and is not all wet, so to speak. “I like to think of myself as a clothing designer, not a fashion designer. Fashion is disposable, but I think of what I do as a body of work that changes, but remains true to the vision: To be spot-on fresh, make your body look fantastic, and be a pleasure to wear. It should be an unconscious effort for the person in the clothes—the effort is mine. Done right, this is a functional art form, but no one ever asked if they could put their Rothko in the washer. I take the work seriously, but I keep it and myself approachable. That’s the great thing about having a working studio as your storefront. I feel very lucky to be able to execute my ideas, and have so many people let me into their lives and into their closets”.

lime light wool Jersey dress

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Photography: peter baker studios, Hair: michael burgess of branded styles, Makeup: leslie atiles A-Frame Grass Silk Dress

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in-store @ :

PARKER EAST

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Fashion has always been a very personal thing to me, and having been in the business for over 14 years I have learned that many women

have a strong idea of the style they want to embrace. It’s always been my goal to satisfy the needs of my customers. The fashion industry follows trends and often goes full circle, I’ve learned this throughout my career as a fashion designer, a stylist, and lastly as a store owner. My first rule of business here at Parker East is to create something that no one else offers. So, by doing that, I merchandise the store by color—because if you don’t wear green then why waste time searching through green if you want something blue. I also assemble outfits and cooridinate colors that perhaps you wouldn’t think of doing yourself. Isn’t that why shopping in a smaller store environment is better? I also search the marketplace for unique and beautiful items that can be added to your wardrobe and worn for years to come. What better compliment or accomplishment than to have a customer say, “ You know that outfit you put together for me a few years ago? I am still wearing it, and I still feel so great in it”! Parker East, 420 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut Tel: 203.894.8433

To submit your boutique to the In-Store @ special advertising section contact advertising@venumagazine.com

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1) Crisp white shirt to the knee, tapered at the waist for a slim look, 100% cotton by Luna Luz. Beaded, cascade pearl, necklace by Lotus. 2) White cotton tank, and a 3/4 sleeve cotton persimmon sweater by Tyler Boe of Bedford, N.Y. , Black ponte knit mandarin collar jacket by Bailey 44, a jeweled double strand necklace by Sisi Amber. 3 & 4) Local designer hand-painted silk dresses in vibrant colors, sheer sweaters (one size) by VanKlee. 5) Toulani printed silk tunic, Michael Stars creme tankand bronze overlay tunic, Christopher Blue khaki boyfriend pants. 6) Jacket by Zelda Benett. 7) Eggplant linen vest, necklace by local jewelry designer Theresa Mendoza.

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Photography: Bob Buchanan, www.bobybprod.com, Styling: Katra Showah

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>> Local TALENT: Photography

maura stelmaszek

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Life goes by in the blink of an eye... sometimes we have to simply slow down, take a deep breath and look around to appreciate all the small details in the world that surrounds us. This is when I set up my tripod and pick a lens. I would like to welcome you to my world as I see it through my viewfinder. I find peace in the beauty of landscapes and seascapes as well as finding thrill with urban and suburban life. I enjoy candids and all types of action photography. If you ask me my “style” of photography, I’d have to say it’s what I’m feeling in the moment... Photography is simply a full expression of who I am and how I feel at any given moment in time... In life, people come and go... but as they pass thru, they leave bits and pieces that create who I am and what I see... some of those same people have no clue just how profoundly they have had an impact on me and what I see. That is what I share with you here...

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>> Local TALENT: Photography

“I live in Connecticut and fully appreciate the beauty of New England and the lifestyle it has to offer. I feel fortunate to have four spectacular seasons which I invite the world to see. I enjoy sharing ideas, methods and techniques with others who enjoy this same passion.”

photographybymaura.com

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ARTS/CULTURE/STYLE//MAGAZINE

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