Princeton Magazine, February 2021

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“More Than the Voice” Paul Robeson’s Legacy of Activism

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Paul Robeson’s legacy of activism

Ripeness is all: Writing in plague time






Presidents and their canine companions through the years


Every clan has its stories. The Stocktons’ tales take us from the founding of our nation to the arts and culture of today





For the COVID-weary, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail has provided relief


Despite the pandemic, ArtYard is thriving and expanding in Frenchtown





Destined to “Transform the Art World and Society” 40






Director of the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) at The College of New Jersey 50 ON THE COVER: Paul Robeson in 1938. (Photo by Yousuf Karsh, National Archives of Canada/Wikimedia Commons)





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| FROM THE PUBLISHER All of us at Witherspoon Media Group, publishers of Town Topics and Princeton Magazine, wish you a happier new year! With all its negative and threatening events, the year 2020 can go into the record and readily forgotten books – it was not fun! We hope that you will find this issue of your magazine not only interesting but loaded with optimism and aspiration in our stories. February is Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. This annual observance is especially important to celebrate this year with all the rightful challenges represented by the Black Lives Matter movement. In that spirit, we celebrate Paul Robeson on our cover as a Black life that mattered big time! Born on Witherspoon Street, amidst Princeton’s very strong African American community, Robeson went to Rutgers on a scholarship, became an All-American football player, attended Columbia Law School, and then went to London where he became an international opera star. What follows you must read in Donald Sanborn’s article. You will not be disappointed! There is further news on performances in the article on the Hodder Fellows at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Lori Goldstein reports on five exceptional performance artists that have the luxury of one year to study where their individual artistic practices might lead them. Stay tuned! I bet most of you have a dog or two that you consider family as do my wife, Barbara, and I. They are family – we call them “the kids.” Well, it turns out there have been dogs as members of Washington’s “First Family” for years. You will enjoy Laurie Pellichero’s story on many of the dogs who have joined their owners in the White House. Maybe Trump’s loss was related to his not having a canine running mate! Now, if you are looking for places to take your canine buddies, you must read Anne Levin’s article on the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, which is a network of special trails where you will be inspired by birds, wildlife, and even foxes and deer. What a wonderful way to escape the stressful times that so many of us are experiencing. Your dogs will enjoy it even more! The College of New Jersey, under the leadership of its refreshing President Kathryn Foster, has taken the issue of students with disabilities very seriously through Meghan Sellet, director of the Accessibility Resource Center. The ARC currently assists more than 1,000 members of The College of New Jersey community in assuring that they can be fully engaged in all aspects of their college experience. Taylor Smith takes you through all aspects of Meghan’s challenges – intellectual and physical. Princeton Magazine often features articles about couples. Wendy Greenberg introduces you to Jill Kearney and Stephen McDonnell, a pair that has made a positive mark on so many communities through their intelligence, dedication, and resilience. Stephen ran Applegate Farms Organic and Natural Meats before so many of us understood what “organic” and “natural” meant to our health and our climate. After suffering a near-fatal stroke, he sold the New Jersey-based company to Hormel in 2015 for a substantial sum. In the interest of transparency, our daughter Jordan went to school with Stephen and Jill’s daughter Nora from kindergarten through high school. From joint carpooling to raising funds for Buckingham Friends School’s expansion, our paths were intertwined. That resulted in my wife Barbara and I being invited to one of the most impressive fundraising dinners we have ever attended – with a single 300-foot-long dinner table set across a meadow to raise funds for Barack Obama’s run in 2008. What a party that was!





Dear loyal Princeton Magazine readers,

Jill and Stephen have extended, more permanently, the creativity of that dinner event with Jill’s creation of ArtYard, a contemporary art gallery, theater, and artist residency center in Frenchtown. As Wendy Greenberg’s story shows, they are just getting started! Finally, take the good deeds offered by Jill and Stephen and roll back to the 1700s for a look at what the Stockton Family has meant to Princeton over the decades – even the centuries! Ilene Dube gives you an interesting introduction to one of the town’s most influential families. From a signer of the Declaration of Independence to setting slave Betsey Stockton free to become a teacher and eventually have a garden on the Princeton University campus named after her, and much more, the Stockton family has made a difference. You have probably seen the signs: Stockton Street, Boudinot Street, Morven Place. Read the article and you will understand the names and the importance of this amazing family. Back to the COVID-19 crisis – for a historical perspective on pandemics through the ages, read Stuart Mitchner’s Book Scene. And, to help avoid any of this happening to you, wear your mask! Lynn Adams Smith and I send you our best for good health. We hope you enjoy this issue.

Respectfully yours,

J. Robert Hillier, Lh.D., FAIA Publisher

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Paul Robeson’s Legacy of Activism By Donald H. Sanborn III

Publicity photo of Paul Robeson from the 1930s. (Wikimedia Commons)


n “Becoming Anti-Racist,” a June 2020 essay for the Princeton Public Library’s website, the library’s executive director, Jennifer Podolsky, quotes a remark by Princeton native Paul Robeson (18981976). “I enjoy singing to you,” Robeson told Antonio Salemme, the sculptor who created the bust of Robeson that resides in the library. “You seem to get more than the voice, the music, the words; you know what I’m thinking, what I mean, what I feel when I sing.” Singing was just one component of Robeson’s life. “People know him primarily as a singer, but Uncle Paul was more than a singer,” says Vernoca L. Michael, executive director of the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance/Paul Robeson House & Museum in Philadelphia. Michael, who refers to Robeson as “Uncle Paul” because of a friendship between their families, describes him as the “quintessential father of the civil rights movement.” She adds, “He was an actor, activist, lawyer, author, linguist, athlete, scholar, and all-American hero.” When Michael was a student at University of Pennsylvania, she provided transportation and performed other tasks for the Robesons. She remembers the courtesy with which she was greeted. “Uncle Paul would stand up, and, from the waist down, bow to me, ‘Good morning.’ Now, who was doing that, to a lowly student? That was the kind of man that he was, in terms of respecting all kinds of people.” Shirley Satterfield, president of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, and secretary of the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, agrees. “His legacy is to respect everyone, no matter who they are.” She adds, “he was a noted scholar — and ‘scholar’

comes before ‘athlete.’” Denyse Leslie, board vice president and managing director of the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, remarks that he was “an American citizen, in all the ways one should be … there wasn’t anybody else like him. He was a true Renaissance Man!” Dr. Lindsey R. Swindall, author of The Politics of Paul Robeson’s Othello and Paul Robeson: A Life of Activism and Art, observes that Robeson “could speak to issues — not just as a reformer or an activist, but as somebody who has participated in so many different endeavors in his lifetime.” BORN IN PRINCETON

Robeson was born on April 9, 1898. At that time his parents lived at the building that is now the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, at 110 Witherspoon Street. Satterfield notes that Robeson’s father, the Rev. William Drew Robeson (1844-1918), was a runaway slave who escaped from North Carolina to Pennsylvania three years after the Emancipation Proclamation. After working as a laborer, he enrolled at Lincoln University. He received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1876. While at Lincoln University he met Paul’s mother, Maria Louisa Bustill (1853-1904), a teacher. Satterfield notes that Bustill came from a prominent African American and Quaker family who lived in Philadelphia. The elder Robeson was a minister at Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church from 1880 until 1901, at which point he was dismissed “because he had been speaking out about racial injustice,” Swindall explains. The family

Paul Robeson in uniform as a member of the Rutgers University football team, the Scarlet Knights. (Wikipedia)

subsequently lived in Westfield, and later in Somerville, New Jersey. As a young boy in Princeton, Paul Robeson attended church with his father “on the corner of Quarry and Witherspoon streets,” Satterfield says. “He attended the Witherspoon Street School for Colored Children, that was on the corner of Witherspoon and MacLean streets. My grandmother, Annie VanZant Moore May, was his primary teacher.” Satterfield emphasizes that at that time Princeton “was a totally segregated and Jim Crow town.” She says that Robeson “loved his Princeton community because of the loving and caring families and friends; however, he hated the racial discrimination that he and his family faced.” The Paul Robeson House of Princeton’s board president, Ben Colbert, says, “We acquired a very important document that was found in the floorboards above the kitchen, or the floorboards of the bedroom above it. It was a bus pass that was awarded to William, Paul’s oldest brother, so that he could attend high school in Trenton. Colored students could not attend the high school in Princeton. The importance of the bus ticket to attend a high school in another town brings to light the fact that the Robesons were subject to the discriminatory laws of the time.” Michael says that Robeson “was worshipful of his father.” Satterfield agrees, “He used to hear his father’s melodious voice. I think a lot of his singing and his activism was because of the influence that his father, whom he loved dearly, had on him.” ATHLETICS

Paul Robeson’s birthplace at 110 Witherspoon Street, which is now the Paul Robeson House of Princeton. (Photo by Douglas Wallack)

A component of Robeson’s activism is linked to his athletic accomplishments, which included winning 15 varsity letters in four sports at Rutgers University — distinguishing himself in football, basketball, baseball, and track. After college he became an assistant football coach at Lincoln University, and played professionally for the Akron Indians (now the Akron Pros). FEBRUARY 2021 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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In 1943 Robeson lobbied for the integration of baseball. Swindall observes, “He came to that conversation as an athlete, and also as a performer, saying, ‘there was no segregation when I was performing Othello. We need to start breaking down these barriers.’” Leslie remarks, “He was an outstanding college athlete. Today, we have athletes stepping forward in Robeson’s footsteps and making a powerful statement. ‘If you have a platform, you must speak. You can’t be silent. You must be bold. If you’re silent, you are complicit.’ I would like people to understand the inspiring, pioneering actions of Paul Robeson. At a time when Black people were being lynched, he stood up for justice.”

EinstEin’s GuEst

Constitutional law sCholar

Leslie notes that Robeson’s 1919 Rutgers thesis, a copy of which resides at the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, “took on citizenship.” Titled “The Fourteenth Amendment, The Sleeping Giant of the American Constitution,” it describes the amendment as a “vital part of American Constitutional Law” whose “provisions must be conscientiously interpreted so that through it … the American people shall develop a higher sense of constitutional morality.” Robeson was “hired by a prestigious law firm in New York. Unfortunately, the secretaries

Paul Robeson in 1942. (Wikimedia Commons)

would not do his work, and … referred to him with [a racial epithet],” Michael says. “When the law firm offered to set him up [with] a small storefront, in Harlem,” he declined, because ”he knew that his clients would not get the same benefits of the law firm that they would get if he was in the office, with all of the resources available.”

Robeson’s acting career included appearances as the title role in Othello, in London and on Broadway (where he was the first African American to play the role with a white supporting cast), and at McCarter Theatre. He also established himself as a concert artist, performing spirituals such as “Steal Away” and “Were You There?” and other folk songs in the African American tradition. In 1935 Robeson visited Princeton to give a concert at McCarter Theatre. (As Bill Lockwood notes in McCarter Theatre Center: Celebrating 75 Years, earlier that year Robeson’s Princeton debut had taken place when he sang a benefit for the Witherspoon YMCA.) Michael says, “He could not stay in the hotels, because of segregation. But [Albert] Einstein said to him, ‘Any time that you’re in Princeton, come and stay with me.’” Leslie adds, “Einstein admired Paul Robeson. He was a Jew escaping Nazi Germany, and yet he was shocked and surprised that there was any prejudice against someone as talented and important as Paul Robeson, simply because he was Black.” In 1936 Robeson appeared in the film version of the musical Show Boat (which composer Jerome Kern and wordsmiths Oscar Hammerstein II and P.G. Wodehouse had adapted from Edna

Robeson leading Moore Shipyard workers in singing the “Star Spangled Banner” in Oakland, California, September 1942. (National Archives)

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Ferber’s novel of the same name), having been in the Broadway production four years earlier. Although “Ol’ Man River” became one of his signature songs, he was dissatisfied with his character, which Swindall observes was a “trope of the ‘subservient African American.’” Robeson altered some of Hammerstein’s lyrics for the song. For the film, this entailed cutting a racist epithet. Subsequently, for concert performances of the song, Robeson made more substantial changes, which heighten the singer’s position of strength (and consequently, that of African Americans and workers). For example, “You get a little drunk” became “you show a little grit;” and “I’m tired of living” became “I must keep fighting.” But Swindall adds that Robeson’s name was listed “with the top actors. A Black actor getting that kind of billing so prominently, in 1936, just didn’t happen.” Additionally, “He negotiated a strong salary. He used that money to work on other projects” such as “a play written by the great West Indian writer C.L.R. James, Toussaint Louverture, about the leader of the slave rebellion in Haiti. The next year (1937) he co-founded the Council on African Affairs. So having that money in his pocket gave him more flexibility … to do other kinds of work that was more politically engaged.” Robeson admired the Soviet Union; he once said that Russia was a place where he could “walk in full human dignity.“ In 1949 Robeson performed and spoke at the World Congress of Partisans of Peace, in Paris. American reporters, commentators, and politicians misinterpreted his remarks to mean that African Americans would not fight with the United States in a war against the USSR. Consequently he was called to testify

Scene from “Othello” with Paul Robeson as Othello and Uta Hagen as Desdemona, Theatre Guild Production, Broadway. (Wikimedia Commons)

before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and was subsequently blacklisted. A 2011 Smithsonian Magazine article, “What Paul Robeson Said,” describes the full extent of the repercussions, which all but destroyed his career as a performer: “Robeson’s name was stricken from the college All-America football teams. Newsreel footage of him was destroyed, recordings were erased and there was a clear effort in the media to avoid any mention of his name.” In 1950 the State Department refused to renew Robeson’s passport, in reaction to his refusal to sign an affidavit disassociating himself with the Communist Party, and pledging loyalty the United States. (His passport was not renewed until after the Supreme Court’s 1958 ruling on Kent v. Dulles, which affirmed painter Rockwell Kent’s right to travel.) With the support of American and Canadian Labor unions, Robeson performed concerts at the International Peace Arch, on the border between Washington State and British Columbia. The Paul Robeson house of PRinceTon: conTinuing a legacy of acTivism

“Freedom” newspaper, Vol. 5, No. 5, May – June 1955. Paul Robeson’s column ran on most of the newspaper’s front pages. (Wikimedia Commons)

In 2017 Town Topics (a sister publication of

Princeton Magazine) reported that a nonprofit group, the Paul Robeson House Initiative, had filed plans to renovate Robeson’s birthplace, which is at the corner of Witherspoon and Green streets. Colbert explains, “We’re doing a careful renovation; it is not a teardown. What we’re doing is restoring it to the early 18th century architectural style that it was originally, including reinstalling a front porch, which at some point in its past was removed.” Leslie notes the considerable effort made to get the town of Princeton to approve the redesign plan. She credits “Kevin Wilkes of Princeton Design Guild. He and our lawyer, Daniel Haggerty, pushed that forward in a thoughtful and capable way.” “The house was repurchased by Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in 2005,” Satterfield says. “It was purchased so that it could remain as part of our heritage, and as a beacon of history and justice in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, and the Princeton community.” Colbert says the Paul Robeson House of Princeton Board hopes to “complete the project within the next 18 to 24 months. He acknowledges, “When we began, we had no idea of the extent to which repairs would be required.” Leslie adds, “It’s also contingent on february 2021 PrINCeTON MaGaZINe

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The inauguration of the “Answering New Zealand” radio programs, aired by The Voice of America,1942. Seated from left are David Jenkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Robeson, Deems Taylor, Walter Nash, and George Palmer. (Wikimedia Commons)

how well our fundraising goes, because we are essentially paying for the work through the good graces of our donors.” “The house will continue to offer temporary housing for low income people, and those of modest means seeking to settle in Princeton. The goal is to maintain the diversity that is characteristic of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and throughout Princeton,” Colbert says. “We have had some success at this. In 2007 the Robeson House hosted an immigrant family from Eritrea. The family found employment [and] lived in the House long enough to qualify for affordable housing in Princeton.” Leslie adds that another section “will be set aside for a commemoration of Paul Robeson’s life, and will include artifacts and a gallery.” Colbert elaborates, “There are materials, like that bus pass, that will be on permanent display. We have received archival material, mostly recordings, from people who knew Paul Robeson, and who are collectors of his repertoire. We also have a wonderful collection of materials from the Witherspoon-Jackson community.” Colbert sees the Paul Robeson House of Princeton as an extension of Robeson’s legacy of activism. He believes that there is a “resurgence of interest in Paul Robeson, given the times that we are in. He and his father were pioneers in seeking to be vocal about the need for social equity, and for making people feel welcomed in a community.”

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“Paul Robeson - Actor, Artist, Athlete” by Charles Henry Alston, 1943. (Wikimedia Commons)

PDG has donated nearly $100,000 towards the cost to revitalize Paul Robeson’s birthplace. Now we seek generous donors to contribute to the remaining 1 million needed to complete the rebuilding of this historic jewel of Princeton. Please join us and donate at: Thank you – Kevin Wilkes AIA


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• Respite Care • Respite Care • Home Care* • Respite Care • Home Care* • Home Health Aide • Home Care* • Home Health Aide • Assisted Living Residence • Home Health Aide • Assisted Living Residence • Meals onLiving Wheels • Assisted Residence • Meals Wheels Home on Delivery • Meals on Wheels Delivery • Home Hospice Care** Delivery • Home Hospice Care** • Hospice Care**

Greenwood House is a nonprofit, mission-based organization rooted in cherished Jewish traditions, and an industry Greenwood House is a nonprofit, mission-based organization rooted in cherished Jewish traditions, and an industry leader in providing qualitymission-based senior healthcare in the state of New Jersey. Seniors oftraditions, all faiths are Greenwood House is ahigh nonprofit, organization rooted in cherished Jewish andwelcome. an industry leader in providing high quality senior healthcare in the state of New Jersey. Seniors of all faiths are welcome. leader in providing high quality senior healthcare in the state of New Jersey. Seniors of all faiths are welcome. Call us today (609) 718-0587 Call us today 718-0587 Or email us at(609) Call us today (609) 718-0587 Or email us at Or email us at 53 Walter Street 53 Walter Street NJ 08628 Ewing Township, 53 Walter Street NJ 08628 Ewing Township, (Off Parkway Ave/Scotch Rd Exit & I-295) Ewing Township, NJ 08628 (Off Parkway Ave/Scotch Rd Exit & I-295)

Greenwood House is a beneficiary Greenwood House is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation Greenwood House is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Princeton, Mercer, Bucks. agency of the Jewish Federation of Princeton, Mercer, Bucks. of Princeton, Mercer, Bucks. (Off Parkway Ave/Scotch Rd Exit & I-295) *Greenwood House Health Care and Homemaker Program made possible by the generosity of Shirley & Harold Silverman. *Greenwood Care Homemaker Programofmade possible byPunia. the generosity of Shirley & Harold Silverman. **GreenwoodHouse HouseHealth Hospice wasand established in memory Renee Denmark *Greenwood Care Homemaker Programofmade possible byPunia. the generosity of Shirley & Harold Silverman. **GreenwoodHouse HouseHealth Hospice wasand established in memory Renee Denmark **Greenwood House Hospice was established in memory of Renee Denmark Punia.

A New Year Brings New Hope and New Homes

The Air of a European Estate One Hour from NYC

176 Parkside Drive, Princeton

To pass through the iron gates into the stone courtyard is to be swept to another time and place. To share a meal beneath the canopy of sycamores beside the trickling fountain is simply magical. It’s hard to believe such a majestic structure started life 120 years ago as a dairy barn, one of 4 Tudor brick outbuildings on the Drumthwacket Estate. Today, clean lines and modern finishes, like custom iron staircases and a state-of-the-art Boffi kitchen, are just the right counterpoint to authentic barn doors and wood beams rising up to meet a 26-ft ceiling. The core of the house is open and dramatic with a huge fireplace anchoring one side. The kitchen, seamlessly clad in walnut, was designed with a chef’s movements in mind. A mezzanine library separates the private spaces of the top floor: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a sitting/family room. Some may choose to reserve this level as an all-encompassing owner’s suite, especially with 3 more bedrooms located in the just completed East wing, an inventive space that can be as integrated or separate as you’d like with just the swing of a door. A mudroom, 2 clever dorm-style baths, laundry room and loft make this airy wing full-service. The opposite wing serves a gym, media room and more. Don’t miss the wine cellar, al fresco Moroccan room or the workshop. With the slate roof restored and brick repointed under current ownership, there’s nothing to do, except maybe add a pool to the 2+ acre property. $3,950,000

Peaceful Views, Plentiful Space, Perfect Locale

51 Grasmere Way, Princeton

Located in a leafy enclave just off of Princeton’s most picturesque winding road, close to a selection of renowned schools, sports fields and charming Pretty Brook Tennis Club, this all brick house has no shortage of space or style. Under a brand new roof, every room is airy and generous in scale beginning with the foyer, where custom iron balusters line the wide hardwood staircase. Ahead, the dining room has French doors to an amazing stone terrace running the length of the house, complete with a builtin spa. A handsomely detailed study crowned with a barrel vaulted ceiling was added off the living room offering a perfect work-from-home situation. In the well-planned kitchen, double sinks overlook a meadow alive with the sights and sounds of nature. A sunroom adjoining the two-story family room may be the most relaxing spot to savor the surroundings. The 4/5-bedroom floor plan offers ultimate flexibility with a main level suite, an exceptionally private suite atop the back stairs and a luxurious upstairs suite with a marble-tiled bathroom. Even the finely finished basement is full of useful space. $2,185,000

Barbara Blackwell Broker Associate 4 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542

(609) 921-1050 Office (609) 915-5000 Cell For more information about properties, the market in general, or your home in particular, please give me a call.

Each Office Is Independently Owned And Operated. Subject To Errors, Omissions, Prior Sale Or Withdrawal Without Notice.


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DOgs in the White h use PresiDents anD their Canine COmPaniOns thrOugh the Years By Laurie PeLLichero


hen Joseph R. Biden Jr. moved into the White House in January as the 46th president of the United States, he not only brought his wife, Dr. Jill Biden — he also brought their two German shepherds, Champ and Major. This continues a long tradition of pets, especially dogs, in the home of the first family. Champ is no stranger to the White House, having been a fixture at Biden’s side when he was vice president during the Obama administration. Major was adopted from the Delaware Humane Society in 2018. Biden has often posted about Champ and Major on social media. Donald Trump was the first president to not have a pet while in office since Andrew Johnson in the 1860s. The New York Times reported that, at a February 2019 rally in El Paso, Texas, Trump said he didn’t have a dog because he didn’t have time and felt it would be “phony” to get one for political reasons. White House historian Jennifer B. Pickens, author of Pets at the White House: 50 Years of Presidents and Their Pets, points out that pets have played an important role in the White House not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by softening and humanizing their political images. Presidents and their dogs go all the way back to the first, George Washington, who had several hounds with clever names such as Sweet Lips, Vulcan, Captain, Tipsy, Tipler, Taster, Drunkard, and Mopsey. According to the White House Historical Society (whitehousehistory. org), top presidential dogs include one of Theodore Roosevelt’s favorites, Skip, a short legged black-and-tan mongrel terrier that was brought home from a Colorado bear hunt. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed as a Teddy Roosevelt terrier in 1999. The Roosevelt family also had a St. Bernard named Rollo; a bull terrier, Pete; and a Chesapeake Bay retriever, Sailor Boy; among many other pets including ponies, guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, a small bear, and even a one-legged rooster. The Roosevelts with Skip. (Library of Congress) february 2021 PrINCeTON MaGaZINe

| 23

George Washington etching. (

First lady Grace Coolidge and Rob Roy. (White House Collection/White House Historical Association)

The first White House dog to receive regular coverage in the news some Americans were suspicious of the gift and thought the dog might was President Warren G. Harding’s Airedale terrier, Laddie Boy. The pup, be wearing a listening device. But Pushinka eventually won everyone who was very photogenic, sat in on meetings and over, including Charlie, who became the father of her had his own cabinet chair. He also greeted official puppies. delegations and hosted the 1923 White House President Lyndon B. Johnson had beagles named Easter Egg Roll when the Hardings were away. Him and Her, Blanco, Edgar, and Freckles, but his President Calvin Coolidge owned many dogs, constant companion was Yuki, an abandoned stray including two white collies named Prudence Prim found by his daughter Luci at a Texas gas station. Yuki and Rob Roy. In Howard Chandler Christy’s official became famous for singing “duets” with Johnson for 1924 portrait of first lady Grace Coolidge, Rob Roy White House guests. is shown looking up adoringly at this mistress. While in the White House, President Richard Herbert Hoover also had many dogs, but his Nixon had Irish setter King Timahoe, along with his Belgian shepherd, King Tut, helped soften his daughters’ dogs — a yorkie named Pasha and a poodle, image during his 1928 presidential campaign after a Vicki. They were all known for their festive Christmas photo of them together was circulated to thousands portraits. Nixon’s most famous dog, Checkers, did not of voters and newspapers. The photo worked and live at the White House. Checkers became associated Hoover was elected. King Tut went on to assist the with a famous speech Nixon made as a California White House police force as a patrol dog. senator six weeks before the 1952 presidential election, The White House Historical Society notes that after he had been accused of improprieties relating to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s black Scottie, a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for Fala, was his constant companion, accompanying his political expenses. During the speech, he said that him to secret meetings or publicized war he intended to keep one gift, regardless of the outcome, conferences. Fala was the subject of two MGM a black-and-white dog named Checkers. films and helped promote a rubber collection drive When the Fords were in the White House, President during World War II by “giving up” his toys. Gerald Ford was given a golden retriever puppy named The Kennedys were certainly a pet-friendly Liberty by David Hume Kennerly, his friend and official family, with numerous pets in the White House photographer. Liberty became especially popular after including Welsh terrier Charlie, German shepherd giving birth to eight puppies while living in the White Clipper, cocker spaniel Shannon, Irish wolfhound FDR and Fala, 1940. Fala’s collar. (Wikimedia Commons) House. The White House Historical Society points out Wolf, and Pushinka, a gift from Soviet Premier that seven puppies were given to good homes and one Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka was the daughter of Strelka, the first was donated to the Leader Dogs for the Blind to become a seeing eye dog. Russian dog in space. According to the White House Historical Society,

24 |


President Lyndon B. Johnson and Yuki. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum/NARA)

President Herbert Hoover and King Tut. (Library of Congress)

President Warren G. Harding and Laddie Boy, left (Wikimendia Commons). President George H.W. Bush walks with Millie and her puppies. (National Archives, Washington, D.C.) FEBRUARY 2021 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

| 25

President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline, and John Jr. with dogs Clipper (standing), Charlie (with Caroline), Wolf (reclining), Shannon (with John Jr.), and two of Pushinka’s puppies (with Mrs. Kennedy). (Cecil Stoughton White House Photographs)

President Jimmy Carter had a springer spaniel puppy name Grits, that Oval Office, on walks on the White House grounds, and on trips to Camp was given to his daughter Amy in 1977 by her elementary school teacher. David. Socks and Buddy were both featured in a book, Dear Socks, Dear But Grits was returned to her owner a few years later, and it was rumored Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets, written by first lady Hillary Clinton, that he did not get along with Misty Malarky Ying Yang, the Carters’ and appeared as cartoons in the kids’ section of the White House website. Siamese cat. English springer spaniel Spot and Scottish terrier Barney were residents President Ronald Reagan was often photographed of the White House during the presidency of with Rex, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, while in George W. Bush. In December 2002, Barney the White House. According to the Presidential Pet became a media star after he wandered through the Museum (, conservative White House with a small camera attached to his writer and commentator William F. Buckley gave the collar and recorded a dog’s eye view of the White puppy to Reagan and his wife, Nancy, as a Christmas House Christmas decorations, which was posted gift in 1985. At the time, the Reagans did not have on the White House website. His subsequent web a dog since Lucky, their rambunctious Bouvier des cam adventures included Barney Cam, Barney Flandres, had been sent to live at their California Reloaded, and annual holiday installments. Miss ranch. Beazley, also a Scottish terrier, was given to first Millie, owned by President George H.W. Bush lady Laura Bush in 2005 as a birthday gift from and his wife, Barbara, was a best-selling author. her husband. The springer spaniel’s Millie’s Book, as “dictated” When Barack Obama was running for to Barbara Bush, earned almost $900,000 in president, it is said that he and his wife, Michelle, royalties, all of which was donated to the Barbara promised their daughters, Sasha and Malia, that Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Millie they could get a puppy if he won. The Obama also gave birth to six puppies while in the White girls got their wish when Senator Ted Kennedy House, and they were all featured with Barbara and his wife Victoria gave them Bo, a Portuguese Bush on the cover of Life magazine in May 1989 water dog, in April of 2009. Bo was joined by with the headline “Puppy Love.” One of Millie’s Sunny, also a Portuguese water dog, in 2013. pups, Ranger, stayed on in the White House. The breed is hypoallergenic and was chosen in The first pet in the Clinton White House was consideration of Malia’s allergies. Both dogs their black-and-white cat Socks, a favorite of President Kennedy and Charlie. (Wikimedia Commons) became immensely popular and were often seen photographers. Socks was joined by Buddy, a around the White House playing outside in the chocolate Labrador retriever, in 1997. As noted by the Presidential Pet snow, greeting visitors, and even appearing at a state dinner. Museum, President Bill Clinton’s spokesman Mike McCurry told reporters Champ and Major are sure to be just as big a hit. that Clinton got the dog because “it’s the president’s desire to have one loyal friend in Washington.” Buddy was often seen with Clinton in the

26 |


Buddy with the Clintons. (William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA)

Rex with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA)

Obama family pets Bo, left, and Sunny. (Wikimedia Commons)

Joe and Jill Biden’s German shepherds Major and Champ. (Joe Biden Twitter) february 2021 PrINCeTON MaGaZINe

| 27

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1028 US-22, Somerville, NJ 08876

2931 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648


Pilot the rescue dog peers out at the October sunrise at Segment 14 of the LHT.

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our strategically placed counters keep track of foot and bicycle experiencing several barriers,” she wrote. “Now it’s become a hobby and traffic along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT). In recent a creative outlet that I hope will continue to be a part of my everyday life. months, they have recorded a stunning statistic: a 205 percent Being an early riser with a penchant for an adventure, I was fortunate to jump in usage during the third quarter of 2020, compared to the discover several segments of the LHT close to my home. I walked, and same quarter a year before. walked, and walked some more. And guess what I found? So much beauty! Clearly, the 22 miles that wind through scenic I have returned to my running, but in addition to stretches of Lawrence and Hopewell townships clocking miles and times, I’ve learned to stop, have become a refuge from the COVID-19 listen to the sounds, and photograph the grace that pandemic. There are more joggers, walkers, surrounds me.” cyclists, families, photographers, birdwatchers, The idea for the Lawrence Hopewell Trail grew wildlife observers, and naturalists making use of out of a commitment on the part of Bristol Myers the trail than any other time in its 18-year history. Squibb (BMS) to get people outside and improve “We get emails from people saying the the quality of life for those living in the two trail makes such a difference in their lives right townships and throughout Mercer County. now,” said Eleanor V. Horne, co-president of the “We were looking for ways to give back to nonprofit that oversees the LHT. “They tell us that the community,” said Becky Taylor, who is cogetting on the trail makes them feel normal in this president with Horne. Taylor was with BMS; crazy time. They need to have that experience in Horne with Educational Testing Services (ETS), nature, to have that feeling that all’s right with the which soon joined the effort. “We wanted to say we world.” appreciate being corporate residents,” Taylor said. Evan Kaplowitz discovered the LHT after LHT Trail is wonderful for cyclists. (Courtesy of “We had this idea of a biking and walking trail. moving to the area from Philadelphia three years What if we got together with government and nonago. His property, he was happy to learn, is right next to a section of the government entities and had a group project where we all worked on the trail. “I work from home in corporate finance. I’m crunching numbers all same thing, making it something tangible that people could enjoy?” day,” he said. “So sneaking away for an hour in the afternoon, and seeing Dennis Davidson, who was with the New Jersey Department of people out there, has been really nice. It’s a way to get outside and reconnect Environmental Protection, was among those invited to the initial meeting. with neighbors without having to worry about proximity. I can keep my He told Taylor and Horne, who had been introduced by former Lawrenceville distance. And it’s beautiful. I jog, and I have also taken my bike on the trail. Mayor Pam Mount, that establishment of a trail was typically something Whatever your needs that day, there’s an area that calls to you.” Hillman Property # Moo res M For social worker Sarah Emily Gilbert, ill Mt Rose Mt. Rose Rd Preserve whose remarkable sunrise photographs are HOPEWELL BOROUGH featured on the LHT website, early morning PRINCETON walks have been a lifesaver. “The trail has Cl ev ela nd been my personal therapy during COVID Rd tty d Prerook R Ba B yb Watershed Reserve er times,” she wrote in a Q&A on the website. ry Rd “It’s free, no appointment necessary, or mind# Rd ll Titus Mi numbing waiting room music. I’m sold.” Educational Testing Service Formerly The southern end of the trail is near (ETS) Bristol-Myers Squibb ale Rd Gilbert’s Lawrence Township home. Rosed Hopewell A I Accompanied by her dog, Pilot, she started Rd d idge le R Elm R eda shooting photos with her cell phone after Ros sustaining a concussion last May and having Carson Rd. to curtail her daily run. “It was something & * I il Rd 31 Woods Cold So ' A I * I I could do during a time when I was


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MEDIUM (2–5 miles round trip)

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Keefe Road / Pole Farm to Rosedale Lake (13–14)

| 33Mt. Rose Distillery (

Brearley House to M

The Great Blue Heron that frequents the Pole Farm at Segment 13 is captured before taking flight.

The familiar hay bales at Caron Road Woods on Segment 5 rest in a November Sunrise.

A bundle of flowers reach out to meet a Monarch butterfly at Mercer Meadows at Segment 13.

initiated by government. through the Mercer County Equestrian Center with a much safer route. “The “Dennis was very right about the fact that it would be an unusual approach county’s decision to build that bridge says a lot,” said Horne. “It says there to develop a trail,” said Horne. “We are the only situation in the country is a tremendous partnership there. That trail is so heavily used that it was that I know of where a nonprofit organization is developing a complex, worth the investment to make it safer. We are deeply indebted to [Mercer paved trail that crosses jurisdictions. And after 18 years of working on it, I County Executive] Brian Hughes for being an incredible supporter. We also think I understand why we are the only one. But it has turned out to be the have a fabulous relationship with the Mercer County Park Commission. The right way for us to develop this trail. And here we are, 18 years later, still LHT is not the only trail in Mercer Meadows, but it is the transportation working on it.” spine.” The Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation was formed in 2001 as an The LHT has several signature events, including the popular Full Moon independent nonprofit. An all-volunteer board meets regularly to advocate Ride that allows joggers, walkers, bikers, or skaters the opportunity to and manage the 22-mile trail (20 miles are completed; two miles remain). log miles for a virtual trip to the moon. The Saturday Morning Walking The first section was built in 2004. There Club continues during the pandemic, but are 16 individual segments along the trail: “Trail or Treat” for Halloween 2020 was Mt. Rose Distillery, Mt. Rose Preserve, canceled. Cleveland — Pretty Brook, ETS, Carson “Giving the impacts COVID has Road Woods, BMS — Lawrenceville, had on the people of Lawrence and King’s Highway, Maidenhead Meadows, Hopewell and beyond, we have adjusted BMS — Princeton Pike, The Lawrenceville our approaches,” said Taylor. “We had School, Lawrenceville Main Street, 600 people come out for the Full Moon Village Park, Mercer Meadows — Pole Ride. We have a really robust arts program Farm, Mercer Meadows — Rosedale, BMS where we challenge people to create art — Hopewell, and The Watershed Institute. on the trail — paintings, photographs, or The LHT is the northeastern-most point of something made at home. We love hearing the Philadelphia-based system known as that what we are trying to do actually Circuit Trails, 850 miles of pathways that makes a difference in people’s lives. Yes, connect communities. we wanted to build a trail. But we also Financial and in-kind support for the wanted to enhance our community.” LHT has come not only from BMS, ETS, Future visions include a bridge over Mercer County, and the Mercer County Pedestrians and dogs enjoying the LHT. (Courtesy of Interstate 295 connecting north and south Park Commission, but also from Lawrence and Hopewell townships, the Lawrence Township. “It’s going to be pretty hard, but being hard has never New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Department stopped us,” said Horne. “We’re like the little engine that could. And we of Environmental Protection, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning have a lot of support for it.” Commission, The Watershed Institute, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Since the bridge over Stony Brook opened, the trail has been busy. “A The Lawrenceville School, Prism Capital Partners, Capital Health, and new thing for us is that people are beginning to complain that too many individual donors. people are using the trail,” said Horne. “They think of it as an experience Last July, Mercer County opened a pedestrian bridge over the Stony where they can feel isolated, so they complain. But it makes me happy. It’s Brook at Mercer Meadows, replacing a leg of the trail that formerly went a good problem to have.”

34 |


A barn sits along Pennington Rocky Hill Road on Segment 15 in early November.


| 89

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31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, NJ 08534


One of the last large parcels of land (57 acres) is now on the market. The zoning is R-1 and the geological study permits septic mounds and spray irrigation. Located on Route 202 in Buckingham, just minutes from Doylestown Proper and 15 minutes to New Hope. Explore the possibilities. $1,435,000



“The Residences at Rabbit Run” are an enclave of a limited number of prestigious individual homes that reflect architectural distinction and sophistication. This highly customized home, set within a gated community, comprises the taste level and desired amenities of today’s Buyers. As you enter the foyer, you are greeted with an open concept floor plan. The dining area is contiguous with the living room and distinctive fireplace. The expansive window walls with plantation shutters flood the space with natural light. The oversized chef’s kitchen features top-of-the-line appliances with marble countertops...the island becomes a show stopper with its beautiful “waterfall” edge.There is a natural flow throughout the first level that is ideal for entertaining and allows you to enjoy the custom wainscoting and millwork. The second level provides guest bedrooms, baths and a luxurious master en suite that brings you to a level not usually found in this price range. The lower level is completely finished and boasts an extra bedroom area for overnight guests and a full bath. There is room for a home office or home theater, Naturally, all floors are serviced by a private elevator. “The Residences at Rabbit Run” are located 5 minutes from New Hope, PA and 30 minutes to Princeton. Once you have experienced the amenities, luxury and care-free living of these quality homes, you will quickly realize that all other gated communities in the area, pale in comparison. $1,725,000

Art Mazzei Cell: 610.428.4885

550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • • 215.862.5500

18 Meadowbrook Ct, New Hope, PA 18938


Rabbit Run Creek is New Hope’s newest and most sought after ultra-luxury gated townhome community. This is a rare opportunity to own a newly completed, top of the line end unit that backs up to woods and has ample privacy. This over 3900 square foot townhome has extensive upgrades throughout. Exceeding the standard Rabbit Run townhome width by 4’ providing an even more engaging open floor plan. The kitchen features custom upgraded cabinetry and lighting, Wolf cook top, oven and microwave, Dacor warming drawer, Sub-Zero refrigerator, and Asko Dishwasher.The butler’s pantry is highlighted by ample storage within lighted custom cabinetry, Miele Dishwasher and Scotsman ice maker.The dining area opens onto an expansive 20’x22’ blue stone patio with custom planter boxes, Sunbright outdoor television and upgraded exterior lighting. The lower ‘basement’ level is ready to be built out based on the next owner’s needs. It has been plumbed for a full bathroom and has extra-large windows for egress. The basement also houses a number of infrastructure upgrades such as water leak detection system, water softener, water circulating pump, reverse osmosis, and generator outside. Included in the sale of the home are multiple Televisions inside and $1,779,000 out and all AV equipment.

Nick Esser Cell: 646.745.5460

550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • • 215.862.5500

16 Stoney Hill Rd, New Hope, PA 18938

STONEY HILL OVERLOOK Welcome to 16 Stoney Hill a rare opportunity to own a 12 Acre estate in downtown New Hope. This well-appointed home has been completely updated including the kitchen and all bathrooms. As you enter this stately home you will come into the wide foyer with a private office and half bath to your right. Up a few stairs you come to the great room that has a marble fireplace, cathedral ceilings, custom millwork and expansive windows looking out to your private oasis. Through the great room you have the dining room with French doors opening into the courtyard.The kitchen is completely upgraded with a chef’s heart in mind. Featuring white cabinets with a grey island, beverage bar with a wine refrigerator, marble countertops and new appliances throughout.The kitchen also has a large eat in area with French doors to your covered pavilion with blue stone patio and large outdoor fireplace. The Bluestone patio wraps around the front of the house providing expansive vistas of the property. Off the kitchen dining area there is a staircase to the basement and a secondary staircase to the master sitting room. Back through the great room up a few steps you have a unique floor plan that has great living arrangements. There are two bedrooms that share an updated bathroom to the left. To the right there is a large family room that has an additional two bedrooms, a huge bathroom and a laundry room that would be a delight to fold in. Up another few steps you have a walkway that overlooks the great room and leads you to the Master Suite. The Master Suite has a separate bedroom that is updated throughout. The bedroom has a Juliet balcony that overlooks the courtyard and great windows look out upon the property.The master bathroom is heavenly with its neutral tones and marble inlay in the shower and stunning soaking tub. Next to the master bath you have an expansive Walk In closet with custom built ins. Additionally, in the master suite you have a lounge area that is a great escape with a large deck overlooking the front of the house.This home also features extensive hardscape around the home with blue stone patios and paver walkways.The home has custom window coverings throughout and every part of this home has been updated and meticulously cared for.There is an expansive 3.5 car garage. An additional guest house with a 2 car garage.This home is seconds from downtown New Hope. A short walk from the end of the driveway you can be in New Hope in just a few minutes. This property also has 2 approved building lots that just have to be recorded. $2,295,000

Nick Esser Cell: 646.745.5460

550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • • 215.862.5500

Amir ElSAffAr 40 |


Princeton University Hodder Fellows destined to “transform the Art world and society” By lori Goldstein Photos courtesy of the office of communications, Princeton University


ach academic year, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts selects five Hodder Fellows, artists who receive an $84,000 stipend to support their work. The committee looks for “emerging artists who have attained a certain level of achievement, yet are not fully established — people who will transform the art world and transform society,” says Stacy Wolf, professor of theater and director of the Arts Fellows. “We look at what they’ve accomplished, what we imagine they’ll accomplish in the future, and what they plan to do in their ‘studious year of leisure.’” Financial support has been critical during the pandemic. “Artists’ lives are always precarious, no artist can ever count on an income. Especially this year, the University is happy to be able to support this group of artists.”

Amir ElSAffAr, compoSEr/ muSiciAn/vocAliSt

Amir ElSaffar, a jazz trumpeter and composer who has just completed his seventh album, is assembling a creative team for an opera in the Arabic tradition, entitled Ruins of Encampment. The opera’s narrative is the Mu’allaqat, a body of pre-Islamic poems revered throughout the Arab world from the sixth century to present day. Myth has it that the poems were written in gold on a black cloth in Mecca, where the Kaaba, the holy site for Islam, is located. In ancient times, nomadic tribes convened at certain points in the year; for example, they would meet at an oasis or at a place where rainfall was expected. A young man might see a young woman from another tribe; they would exchange glances, experience an intense romantic

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kim brandt connection but never meet, as their tribes departed. In the tripartite Mu’allaqat, the narrator, the young man, arrives at the campsite where his beloved once was; he experiences trials and tribulations in his quest to find her. In some cases they will find each other, oftentimes they won’t. Yet he’ll experience a transformation before he returns to his tribe. ElSaffar wants to set the story in the present-day Middle East. The city could be Aleppo or another city damaged by war. “The ruins could be a literal or figurative encampment. You could read into the story that it’s about a refugee who is cut off from his homeland and now attempting to survive in his

current situation,” he says. The style of singing will derive from the Iraqi maqam, a melodic modal system which ElSaffar studied in Iraq from 2002 through 2006. (IraqiAmerican ElSaffar sings in the maqam style on several of his albums.) “What I’m interested in structurally is finding a way to use some of the elements of Middle Eastern maqam music and juxtapose them with the structural elements of Western opera.” The melodic material, the poetry, the way of singing — that will derive from maqam. The staging and operatic dialogue between a man and a woman through recitatives and arias are not common in the Arab operatic world. The orchestra will be no more than 30 musicians, playing on Middle Eastern instruments — the oud, the santur, the qanun, and Arabic percussion — along with such Western jazz instruments as the trumpet and saxophone, and classical string instruments. The ensemble will include musicians adept at improvisation, which will be part of the opera’s score. As a jazz trumpeter and composer, improvisation is integral to ElSaffar’s work. “I write music that is based on each musician’s sensibilities,” he says. “Some elements are strict in terms of form, but there’s a lot of openness where each musician is able to bring something to the music that I didn’t write for them. I give them liberty, the license to be expressive; I’m honoring their creativity.” The Ruins of Encampment orchestra will include the musicians in his 17-piece Rivers of

Open Studio 2019. Chinati Foundation, Marfa Texas. (Photos by Sarah Vasquez)

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Sound Orchestra, which has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East for the past five years. The six members of his Two Rivers Ensemble were in existence for 15 years prior to their expansion as Rivers of Sound. As of this writing, ElSaffar is in search of a librettist versed in Arabic poetry as well as a stage director. He has also been in communication with several European opera houses. These elements need to be in place before he can begin composing for the musicians he has chosen. ElSaffar sees the project in “the very early stage, pre-commission. I couldn’t get a commission without having a foundation, without the creative team in place. This year, with the Hodder Fellowship, I’m building that foundation.” Kim Brandt, choreographer

In a time when “social distance” has entered our daily vocabulary, choreographer Kim Brandt has been separated from the dancers whom she relies upon for the creation of her work. “When we went into lockdown, I understood that we had to not move our bodies as a collective experience. This language is very familiar to me — an attention to where we are, the space we’re in, and the time it takes to be there,” she says. “The whole world was all of a sudden thinking about these things that I am always thinking about, although for completely different reasons.” Brandt’s choreography develops in three stages: she works alone; rehearses with the dancers to build movement scores; and after the performance, the work morphs and shifts according to her criteria for the performance space. Since March, Brandt, whose spaces have included Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and MoMA/PS1, has been an artist-in-quarantine. Her solo practice has generated movement scores, “drawings that operate somewhere between story board or notation … a way for me to keep track of what I’m thinking about.” Brandt engages in movement practice at home in New York, via Zoom or the internet. She has also been writing, “put[ting] language to the experience of how I relate to my body and my body’s movement to my environment, and how I will translate that in my work and how I will ask the dancers to translate that … it’s such an interior, private experience.” Brandt’s introspection has yielded publication of a number of articles, including one in the Smithsonian’s American Archives of Art Journal. Because much of her choreography relies on the dancers’ proximity to one another, rehearsal is not possible during the pandemic. Also critical to Brandt’s choreography is the collaboration between the dancers and her. “It’s such a priority for me to create an environment where their point of view is valuable and part of the process,” she says. As choreographer, she observes from outside: “I’m interested in the dancers’ experiences, how they feel about

a particular movement I’ve asked them to do with this or that dancer, or all the dancers together. It has made for some very meaningful relationships.” In the work, Untitled, performed onstage at The Kitchen, dancers gather informally in different stances then build a body mountain. Brandt says they “knew where to go and the score was to hold the structure as long as possible without talking or any one person leading or being in charge, trying to get everyone to ‘hive-mind,’ to work together. Once they couldn’t hold it anymore, the score was just to dissolve the structure across the space.” As for a musical score, there was none, which is typical of some of Brandt’s work. A soundtrack may be whatever is happening at the time of a performance. One work occurred in a gallery with artists’ studios upstairs; someone was listening to WNYC, so that became the sound. Another score occurred at 5:30 a.m. in Red Hook, right on the water. “There were lots of tugboats and seagulls, it was just beautiful,” she says. Brandt has also collaborated with composer Nate Wooley, whose music has either been recorded or performed live during some of her exhibitions. Her choreography has ventured to outdoor spaces as well. Brandt recalls a performance at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where they had to contend with afternoon thunderstorms during summer rehearsals. “I made the work accommodate the potential for somebody to come upon it and for invited viewers who showed up intentionally.”

“For me, dance is about movement, the body, and the relationship between moving bodies toward other moving bodies or moving in the environment,” she says. Brandt looks forward to the time when she’ll be “knee-deep” in rehearsals, bringing her concepts of dance back to live performance. CASEY PLETT, WRITER

Casey Plett is writing her third book of fiction, a novella with short stories interspersed between its chapters. The novella will form a trilogy with her two widely acclaimed debuts — a short story collection, A Safe Girl to Love, and a novel, Little Fish. She was the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award for each of these works. The novella “focuses on relationships, intimacy, and love,” says Plett, whereas the first two books, whose main characters are young trans women, “explored questions of creating some meaningful adult life without necessarily a lot of precedent for what that looks like.” She also enjoys crossover characters, “because I like to make them earn their keep.” Two characters from A Safe Girl to Love appeared in Little Fish; similarly, there are characters from Little Fish who will show up in this new work.

There are commonalities between Plett and Wendy, the central character in Little Fish. Both lived in Winnipeg, a city that Plett loved “for all its darkness and flaws.” (She currently resides in Windsor, Ontario, yet went to graduate school and transitioned in New York City.) Both were brought up as Mennonites. Plett aspires to the example of many people in her life, who try their best to live up to the values of humility and sacrifice as a form of faith; Wendy’s religious upbringing comes into play as she explores the truth about her grandfather. Ten years ago, 33-year-old Plett would have been passionate about explaining why writing on transgender issues is so important. From 2010 through 2011, she wrote a McSweeney’s Internet



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“Tacuche #1,” Clothing fragments, Steel, wood, Shoe fragments, wire, tape, hanger with zoot suit jacket, 2018. “Invisible Man 2,” Woven Paper Collage, 2018.


Tendency column on being transgendered. Today, she says she sees “the randomness in which we exist, even though we’re [transwomen] a small part of the population within our population, we’re just as diverse — divided by race, class, and geography and every other way you can divide the human race.” Plett acknowledges the difficulties that still face trans women of color, those involved in sex work, or experiencing male intimate partner violence. “That’s all pressing and horrific and needs to change, but probably won’t change whether I write fiction or not,” she says. Via the novella, she feels it is “very important to fold [those issues] into a lot of other mundane parts of life. I’m not doing anything particularly inventive or groundbreaking, but if those women are trans, then what does that look like?” As for the difference between writing a short story versus the novella, Plett explains that for her the germ of a short story is aesthetic-based, “often an image, a place or a room, some kind of visual or sensory setting. There’s a story in my first book which literally started with an image of an apartment I lived in with my dad when I was 4.” Her novella, on the other hand, is clearly narrative-based. “It’s one of those ideas that I’ve had for a very long time,

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Trained as a painter, Troy Michie redirected his creativity during graduate school to the art of collage, an assemblage of disparate, fragmented materials. His work is emblematic of his hometown, El Paso, Texas. It straddles two communities, with not only the Rio Grande as its physical boundary, but also a fortified barrier that separates Mexico from the United States. The shifting boundaries — Texas originally belonging to Mexico — elicits his art. ‘’That’s what I’m thinking about in terms of collage. The idea of the cut, the cut becomes the boundary.’’ One type of fringe publication — erotica magazines often read by white men, containing photographs of Black male nudes — provides material for Michie’s collages. He opens the magazine to the photograph in the centerfold, and weaves parts of it with other pages. He’ll draw or paint on the papers with acrylics. “With the photography that gets cut up and woven, I’m thinking about what differentiates a boundary from the silhouette of a body, or the boundaries on a page becoming a margin,” he says. The work is “particularly aimed at the queer community … queerness is something most people universally try to disregard. They can’t really see Black and queer as a thing, and I’m in many different categories, from Mexican to Black and queer.” First-generation Mexican Americans — El Paso’s pachucos and pachucas — and African Americans were united by one notorious garment: the zoot suit of the ’30s and ’40s. Its traits were high-waisted, wide-legged trousers and a coat with oversized lapels and wide, padded shoulders. For those who donned it, the zoot suit was an example of self-fashioning, a personification of identity. It was the black-tie equivalent for jazz clubs and nightlife.

TROY MICHIE so that when I sat down to write what happens and what happens next — that all came organically,” she says. The novella started out as a 28,000-word story, which cleanly divided into five different chapters. “There’s definitely a part of the process where writing shifts over to editing, says Plett. “I’ve never sculpted anything … the writing feels like I’m handling this huge slab of stone and editing feels like I’m starting to hammer out something that looks artful. Editing is arduous and labor-intensive, but the writing is harder.” In regard to the Hodder Fellowship, Plett says, “It’s a dream to have this much freedom to work unencumbered, one of the most generous gifts I’ve ever received.” Now she lives in the moment: “My only thought is getting my work out the door.”

the completion of several shorter commissions in this country and in England. Lee was one of three playwrights chosen by the British Actors Touring Company to write a monologue for the Signal Fires project, inspired by James Baldwin’s Letter to My Nephew: My Dungeon Shook. They were asked to write a letter to a stranger, a letter of hope, as a way of reaching out and connecting. Once a letter was purchased from the project website, it would be engraved and mailed, along with a votive candle and the suggestion to “read aloud the letter with whomever you are isolating.” Lee wrote about Inwood, the Manhattan neighborhood in which she lives. “Young people are on the baseball fields yearround at Inwood Hill Park … always practicing, always playing, they’re beautiful to watch,” she says. “When those fields were empty early in the pandemic, more than anything else, that was disturbing to me. I wrote about that — missing the rhythm of the neighborhood.” Anton Dudley, a playwright on the faculty of Kenyon College, asked Lee to write a dialogue his students could perform via Zoom. Addressing the theme of isolation, “Dough” takes place on either side of a door in an apartment hallway, with two people having to talk through this door. It’s a conversation between a pizza delivery boy and an old lady, who complains about Kimber Lee, pLaywright the quality of the pizza. Eventually she realizes that the dough is not as good as it usually is because Playwright Kimber Lee had planned to travel the pizzeria owner has passed away. In writing this to South Korea for research on her next play. dialogue, Lee says she “was thinking about how all The pandemic grounded her physically, but not over the world, there are missing people that you artistically. She rerouted her creative energy toward take for granted but are not here anymore, that have been such a huge part of the fabric of their community — what kind of a hole does that leave?” Lee also participated in Radio Round, a fundraiser organized by Los Angeles theatre director Casey Stangl. Ten playwrights each wrote a five-minute, two-character play in turn to form a chain play: the second playwright receives the first playwright’s play and Taliyah Whitaker and Lizan Mitchell on stage at the LCT3 New York premiere of “brownsville song must utilize one of the (b-side for tray),” written by Kimber Lee and directed by Patricia McGregor. (Lincoln Center’s Claire

The zoot suit was also an example of camouflage, akin to the disruptive patterning painted on battleships during World War II. “Because of its excessive use of fabric during wartime and the fact of it being worn mainly by men of color, it was considered a disruptive garment,” says Michie. “Due to the hegemonic style of the time, the suit was a confusion to most Americans outside of the subculture and ultimately made zoot suiters a target at the expense of formulating their own identity.” When a group of white servicemen beat and disrobed zoot suiters in Los Angeles in 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt saw the clashes for what they were: a race riot. Since it became illegal for tailors to make a zoot suit, Michie collects clothing that has zoot suit features — an oversized lapel, a vintage shirt, or a pair of high-waisted pants. In his archive of collage materials are clothes he’s worn, clothes from consignment shops, and zoot suit patterns. What Michie is particularly energized about is his newfound ability to use a sewing machine. “Sewing is a way of drawing again, on the woven pages which then become my paper,” he says. “I’ll trace the outline of a figure or make an organic mark, so I feel there are all these different pieces of making a collage.” The sewing has altered the process: before he could put a piece down and if he wanted it to stay, he glued it down. Now, “if I want to sew something I have to be sure of what it’s going to be.” A 2019 Whitney Biennial Artist, Michie is creating work for his second solo show at the Company Gallery in New York, its date yet to be determined. He also submitted collages to Miami Basel, which became an online viewing room due to the pandemic. For the first time in his life as an artist, Michie is enjoying not having a side job. (He taught painting at Yale before accepting the Fellowship.) Michie happily keeps a nine-to-five routine in his Brooklyn studio, returning to his home in Queens each day.

kimber lee characters from that play. “It doesn’t have to be a continuation of the same story; it can be a completely different context and moment,” says Lee. The third playwright takes the other character, so it becomes a chain of plays linked by one character from play to play — based on the structure of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1900 La Ronde. Ever inquisitive, Lee continually jots down notes for new ideas, including a reimagining of The Taming of the Shrew as a horror story, in the way that Japanese and Korean horror films “build atmosphere, there’s always something lurking under the surface.” She finds what happens to the female characters in that drama, traditionally considered a romantic comedy, horrifying — especially for Katherina, “because essentially she is silenced,” says Lee. “In the latter quarter of the play, she doesn’t have any lines anymore.” As we endure this long, hard winter, Lee is optimistic that to the yellow house, about the two years Van Gogh spent in Paris with his brother Theo, will have its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse during the summer of 2021. She also looks forward to next year’s London production of untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, whose protagonist, Kim, breaks out of a repetitive cycle of narratives about Asian women.

Tow Theater/

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with Meghan Sellet Director of the accessibility Resource Center (aRC) at the College of new Jersey

photo by bill Cardoni , Cardoniphoto.Com

Interview by Taylor Smith

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Photo courtesy of the college of new jersey


he Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) at The College of New Jersey promotes an awareness of disability by providing learning, social, emotional, athletic, and residential accommodations for students, faculty, staff, and guests. Since her appointment as director of ARC, Meghan Sellet has continued to break down barriers and change definitions of what it means to be “different.” Rooted in social justice, Sellet’s work is at once uplifting and inclusive. All those who are interested can receive services and accommodations through ARC. In fact, Sellet details how the onset of COVID-19 and remote learning has only increased access to special services in a manner that is completely stigmafree and much less stressful. Please describe what led you to your current work, including your academic background and your own higher education experience. I accessed reasonable accommodations throughout my K-12 and college experiences. There were points during high school at which my guidance counselors gave me advice about “the best I could do with my future.” This advice didn’t exactly align with my own goals and vision. If I weren’t resilient, that advice would have unraveled me. Instead, I used others doubts

as fuel to keep moving towards success. I went on to college to receive a B.S. in rehabilitation services from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Given the large population of students with disabilities at Wright State, I really was able to explore my identity as a disabled woman. For the first time in my life, I saw people like me on a daily basis. It felt so empowering. I played competitive sports at Wright State and was really involved on campus. Once I figured out how to balance my academic, social, and athletic obligations, I felt ready to take on an on-campus job in the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at Wright State, where I was a test proctor for other students with testing accommodations, such as extended time. It may sound silly to say that this job as a test proctor changed my life, but it truly did. From my sophomore year in undergrad to now, I can’t imagine working in a different field. My time at Wright State provided me with the confidence I needed to move on to my next chapter — grad school. When I think back on it, it is interesting how graduate school just fell into place for me. During my junior year at Wright State, Teri Jordan, my future wheelchair track coach at Penn State, called my parents’ house in New Jersey looking for me. “She’s in Ohio,” my parents said. So, tenacious Teri tracked me down in Ohio, with the hopes that I would consider transferring to Penn State to participate in Penn State’s Ability Athletics program as a wheelchair track and field athlete. Penn State had just become a Paralympic high-performance training camp, and it was a great time to get in on that initiative at

the ground level. As it turns out, I didn’t end up transferring to Penn State, but I did complete my undergraduate practicum with Teri in ability athletics. I got so comfortable at Penn State that I ended up staying there for grad school. It was tough and rewarding, and so snowy, but my time there was just amazingly memorable. I ended up graduating from Penn State in May 2006 with an M.Ed. and promptly headed for warmer weather in Arizona and an outstanding professional opportunity. From 2006-2013, I worked in the University of Arizona’s (UA) Disability Resource Center (DRC) where I worked as an access consultant, implementing accommodations for students with disabilities and engaging with faculty around conversations of universal design and overall accessibility. Working at UA gave me the foundation that I needed to move forward in my career, and the view of palm trees on my lunch break never disappointed. After nearly seven years in Arizona, great weather and all, I was ready to come back home to New Jersey. I missed my family, the East Coast, and pork roll (or maybe, Taylor ham?!). After nearly eight years at TCNJ, it definitely still feels like all of my adventures, experiences, successes, and failures have brought me to exactly where I am supposed to be. As the director of the ARC, I do tend to use my own experiences as a template for working with and supporting others — students faculty and staff alike.

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The mission is to level the playing field regarding all things access, whether that’s in the classroom, on campus in general, and/or within our surrounding community. Describe the different facets of ARC and the people it serves. My staff and I work with literally everyone on campus. There is no menu of accommodations, however, we do meet our community members where they are. We work with students around reasonable accommodations such as extended time for testing, note-taking support, on-campus housing accommodations, and a multitude of other supports. We also work with faculty and staff around workplace and workspace accommodations. While accommodationrelated work is solidly linked to compliance, creativity also plays a huge role in our day-today interactions with those that we serve and support. We are constantly challenged to think outside the box, which is really cool. Every day is totally different. How has ARC evolved to better suit faculty, staff, and student needs during the COVID-19 pandemic?

What steps does an individual go through to obtain services from ARC? With our newly-implemented online process, individuals can log onto our website at arc. Under the “Forms” section of the homepage dropdown menu, the ARC affiliation form (for students as well as faculty and staff) can be found, completed, and submitted. Completion and submission of this form alerts the College that an individual is requesting reasonable accommodations on the basis of

photo by bill Cardoni , Cardoniphoto.Com

Oh my gosh, we’ve learned so much, so quickly, during this totally unpredictable time! In March,

at the start of the pandemic, we were prepared for a two-week virtual experience — a sprint, if you will. Before long, we realized that we needed to flip the switch to remote learning and engagement for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, and eventually into the fall 2020 semester as well. It’s definitely been a marathon. One of the first things that we did when we moved to a remote setting was to update many of our internal processes to electronic ones, such as the office affiliation, or registration, process. Now, instead of filling out a physical form to connect with ARC, a quick electronic form can be accessed via our website, completed, and submitted online. This update sounds so simple, but it has really improved office workflow tremendously. We’ve become experts in the art of adaptability, which I think is so important in this work as it is, but it is even more critical in the time of COVID-19.

FROM LEFT: Lynn Ann Cornell, program assistant; Kyla Tucker, disability specialist; Meghan Sellet, director; Dixita Malatesta, MA, NCC, learning specialist.

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disability. As part of the affiliation process, supporting documentation from a licensed professional is also provided by the individual. Once these steps are completed, the individual requesting accommodations meets/connects with an ARC staff member to develop an action or accommodation plan, and to discuss next steps. We are flexible with the affiliation process. If someone is asking for support and assistance, that can be difficult. We want to make the connection to ARC as comfortable and welcoming as possible. How has technology helped to eliminate barriers for those with any form of disability? Never in a million years did I think I would be meeting with students and colleagues from my living room! In just a few seconds, I can log onto my laptop and instantly connect with just about anyone. For many, stress levels are reduced by just being able to log into a meeting or class as opposed to making a trip to campus, and waiting anxiously in an office setting or a long hallway before making your way to where you are supposed to be. Thanks to technology, we’re learning that we’re all more connected and accessible to one another than ever before. If someone is in a virtual meeting, and needs to turn off their camera for any reason, they can do so pretty easily without being noticed. Whereas, in an in-person gathering, it can sometimes be difficult to slip seamlessly out of the meeting.

photo Courtesy of the College of new jersey

What is the mission of ARC?

Photos courtesy of the college of new jersey

Please provide some examples of student accommodations that have been made possible through ARC. One of the most common accommodations continues to be extended time for testing. Other examples of reasonable accommodations include peer note-taking, the provision of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, housing accommodation support, and more. Each student who is connected to ARC has a unique set of accommodations that often evolve over their time at TCNJ. How many TCNJ community members currently receive support from ARC? Currently, more than 1,000 TCNJ members are connected to, and receive support from, ARC. In what ways does ARC support diversity on TCNJ’s campus? With 1,000+ TCNJ community members connected to ARC, it is important to acknowledge that disability is diversity! How do you envision the continued evolution of ARC for the fall 2021 semester? We will keep moving forward, remembering our lessons learned from 2020, which was such an eventful year for our department — the year that our colleagues definitely leaned in and leaned on us for support and guidance. This year, I anticipate that ARC’s visibility will continue to grow, and my staff and I look forward to all that is to come.

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| Book Scene

Ripeness is All: Writing in Plague Time By Stuart Mitchner


he bubonic plague hit Stratford on Avon in the summer of 1564, a few months after Shakespeare was born, killing up to a quarter of the town’s residents. Four and a half centuries later, another Warwickshire resident named William Shakespeare made headlines as the first male Briton to be injected with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Predictably, the coincidence set off an epidemic of Shakespearean puns and wordplay (viz. The Taming of the Flu, Two Gentlemen of Corona). Not so predictable was the timely arrival of Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague (Knopf $26.95), which was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2020 by the editors of New York Times Book Review. As Geraldine Brooks suggests in her lead NYTBR article, the novel explores why Shakespeare titled his most famous play after the 11-year-old son who had died several years earlier (Hamlet and Hamnet being considered essentially the same name in parish records of the time). Camus and Human nature

Another book-oriented side effect of the pandemic was the sudden resurgence of critical and commercial interest in The Plague (Vintage $15) by Nobel laureate Albert Camus. In a New York Times op-ed (“Camus on the Coronavirus”), Alain de Botton says that Camus “speaks to us in our own times not because he was a magical seer who could intimate what the best epidemiologists could not, but because he correctly sized up human nature.” Writing in The New Yorker (“The Coronavirus Crisis Reveals New York at Its Best and Worst”), Adam Gopnik observes that the plague, as Camus insisted, “exposes existing fractures in societies, in class structure and individual character; under stress, we see who we really are.” a Quality of destiny

According to another Nobel laureate, Gabriel García Márquez, “Plagues are like imponderable dangers that surprise people.” Referring to his novel Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) in a 1988 New York Times interview, he adds, “They seem to have a quality of destiny.” After noting how “great plagues have always produced great excesses” by making “people want to live more,” Márquez says his interest in literature on the subject began with Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, The Plague of Camus, and The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. His intention was “not to copy from them but to have the use of them,” for behind every idea there are “a thousand years of literature.”

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a matter of Humanity

Conspicuous by its absence in Márquez’s thousand-year vision is Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, in which seven women and three men retreat to the countryside outside Florence in 1348 during the Black Death, amusing one another telling tales ranging from romance and tragedy to bawdy farce. Princeton University Professor of Comparative Literature Leonard Barkin has called The Decameron “the greatest short story collection of all time.” An acclaimed new translation by Wayne A. Rebhorn was published by W.W. Norton (2014) on the 700th anniversary of Boccaccio’s birth. After the introduction, an unsparing account of the horrors of the plague of 1348, in which some 80,000 residents of Florence perished, Boccaccio writes, “It is a matter of humanity to show compassion for those who suffer.” Explaining his rationale for dwelling on his graphic documentation of suffering before getting to the tales, he compares the “horrific beginning” to the “steep and rugged mountains” the reader/travelers must traverse in order to reach the “most beautiful and delightful plain” on the other side. a CoVid deCameron

A contemporary answer to Boccaccio is The Decameron Project: 29 New Stories from the Pandemic (Scribner $25), a collection compiled by the editors of The New York Times Magazine as the 2020 pandemic first swept the globe. Among the authors are Margaret Atwood, Tommy Orange, Edwidge Danticat, Charles Yu, Rachel Kushner, Colm Tóibín, and David Mitchell. Varying widely in texture and tone, the stories are intended as “a historical tribute to a time and place.” Hemingway’s otHer war

Ernest Hemingway’s 20th-century classic A Farewell to Arms (1929) begins its vision of time and place with a view of the plain on other side of death and war: “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees.” As the first chapter moves succinctly from late summer to winter, the movement of artillery and soldiers, motor-trucks, and ammunitionladen mules is absorbed into the landscape of crops and orchards and the

“brown and bare mountains” beyond the plain; the long barrels of the big tractor-drawn guns are covered with “green leafy branches and vines.” In the fall with “all the country wet and brown and dead with the autumn” the underlying menace of contagious disease is signified before being brought into full view in a last short paragraph charged with typical Hemingway understatement: “At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army.” As Hemingway recovered from wounds in a Milan hospital, he was getting war news from the home front in Oak Park, Illinois, where the enemy was Spanish flu. In an interview on jfklibrary. org, Hemingway scholar Susan Beegel mentions the letters he received from his four sisters: the eldest, a front-line volunteer at the hospital, who had lost close friends to the disease; the next oldest describing how it felt when the boy she was dating died after the influenza turned to double pneumonia; another sister who was coming down with it had to be home-schooled; and the youngest, a 7-year-old, told Uncle Ernie, “We are in quarantine. We can’t come out of our yards.” DiviDing a Life

The connection between World War I and the Spanish flu is at the heart of Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), in which a woman stricken by the virus falls in love with the soldier taking care of her. Asked in a 1963 Paris Review interview what made her want to be “a good writer,” Porter refers to the “plague of influenza” that almost killed her: “It just simply divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered, ready.” Having “almost

experienced” death and “come back from it, you are no longer like other people, and there’s no use deceiving yourself that you are.” a ProDuctive Quarantine

Whether or not Shakespeare actually composed King Lear and Macbeth during quarantine after the bubonic plague shut down the Globe Theatre for the better part of a year in 1606, there are traces of plague imagery in both plays. Perhaps the most suggestive and best-known instance is the poisonous mantra, “Fair is foul and foul is fair, / Hover through the fog and filthy air” chanted by the witches in the opening scene of Macbeth and echoed throughout the play. An article in the March 22 Guardian (“Shakespeare in lockdown”) pictures London at the time Shakespeare was writing King Lear: “the mood in the city must have been ghastly – deserted streets and closed shops, dogs running free, ... church bells tolling endlessly for funerals.” The oppressive atmosphere can be read into Lear’s curse, “Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air / Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!” Rather than end with a curse, I’ll close with one of the most lyrical visions of lockdown ever conceived by man: Lear’s fantasy of confinement after he and his steadfast and true daughter Cordelia are reunited: “So we’ll live, / And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh /At gilded butterflies ... And take upon’s the mystery of things, / As if we were God’s spies.” Finally, the most Shakespearean last word comes from the same play: “Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.”

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life as in dance, grace “ Inglides on blistered feet. ” —Alice Abrams

601 Ewing Street, Building A-2, Princeton 256 Bunn Drive, Suite B, Princeton (609) 454-0760 •

Pictured: Jennifer Barnickel Photo is courtesy of photographer Ritchie Petrosino

By Ilene Dube Family photos courtesy of Lisa Stockton Wilson 60 |


TOP: The Stocktons, 1900s, dressed as their Colonial-era ancestors. BOTTOM: Sketch of Morven.

Richard Stockton ("The Signer"), Class of 1748, attributed to John Wollaston, British. Princeton University Art Museum.

n a Zoom call in early December, when the end-ofthe-year light was ebbing low, Lisa Stockton Wilson brought a spark to my computer screen. The actress, goth opera singer, composer, and independent filmmaker was clad in a black Moroccan tunic with a white lacy placket and a turban atop her blond pageboy.

Portrait of Annis Boudinot Stockton (Mrs. Richard Stockton) at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Images on her website, showcasing both her music and film careers, present her in everything from frilly Victorian gowns to a velvet dress suggestive of the silent film era. “I have all these costumes from my performances and like to wear them around the house,” says Wilson. “We Stocktons like to get dressed up.” Wilson — her stage name is Lisa Hammer — is a descendant of Richard Stockton (17301781), signer of the Declaration of Independence. Along with his wife Annis Boudinot Stockton (1736-1801), one of the first published female poets in the U.S., Stockton built a residence and farm in Princeton. They named it “Morven,” from the mythical Scottish kingdom of Fingal. (In recent years Morven has been turned into a museum.) “Grandma Nannie always said, ‘don’t leave the house without lipstick,’” Wilson continues. “Grandma Nannie” was Anne Strobhar Stockton, married to Bayard Stockton III. The story goes that if she used her initials to monogram her towels, it would not look proper and thus she changed Anne to Nannie. Although Wilson grew up in Massachusetts, she summered in Princeton with Grandma Nannie, where the attic was filled with the kind of period costumes children of a certain passion love to dress up in. Among the accoutrements, Wilson remembers the sword that belonged to

Commodore Robert Field Stockton (17951866), now on display in a case at Morven Museum & Garden. “Lisa was the oldest of the grandchildren, and she would write a play and get everyone in costume to enact it,” says Marty Stockton, Wilson’s aunt and the daughter of Nannie and Bayard III, from her office at Stockton Real Estate in Princeton, the firm founded by her mother. VOICES FROM THE PAST

While a student — Wilson earned a bachelor’s in filmmaking from Emerson College — she restored turn-of-the-century footage recovered from a family member’s basement. “The original was so old and cracked that it broke in the projector,” Wilson recounts from her home in Riverdale, New York. The film, about Morven history, is shown on a loop in the first floor galleries at Morven Museum & Garden and confirms Wilson’s remarks that the family did indeed love to dress up. Morven During the Revolution: A Story as Told by Bayard Stockton to his Great Nephew, was first created in 1926. Helen Hamilton Shields Stockton (1860-1949), the second wife of Bayard Stockton (1853-1928), had the film made for what she believed to be Morven’s 225th

Lisa Stockton Wilson with her husband, Levi Wilson. FEBRUARY 2021 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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“Grandma Nannie” was Anne Strobhar Stockton

FAR LEFT: Nannie Stockton in front of Stockton Real Estate. TOP: Nannie and Bayard Stockton dining. LEFT: Nannie Strobhar Stockton.

anniversary and, according to museum literature, the production sums up the early 20th century understanding of the property’s history. Morven Museum acknowledges that aspects of the film, such as actors in black face, are racist, and that while Richard Stockton built Morven in the 1750s, the land had belonged to the Lenni-Lenape. Frequenters to Morven will recognize architectural details in the movie. The costumes were based on ancestral portraits painted by John Singleton Copley and Charles Wilson Peale. The silent film begins with a title card about Richard Stockton the Settler (1652-1709, father of Richard the Signer) getting the deed for the land for Morven from William Penn circa 1700. During the Battle of Princeton, we see the family packing up to leave Morven as British General Cornwallis and his troops take it as headquarters. Men in tricornered hats and white wigs are shown yucking it up over libations in steins. When they learn that the battle is not going well for their side, they ransack the property. Richard Stockton was imprisoned and tortured, and subsequently developed cancer and died four years later. A LOVE STORY RETOLD

Wilson made a whimsical coda to the film, toning it a vintage-spoofing sepia and fabricating a character, a present-day Stockton heir searching the Gothic buildings of Princeton University for the silver her ancestors allegedly buried during their flight. As this character digs in the dirt at Morven, interns from Isles Youth

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Institute are shown laughing at the ridiculousness of her plight. Lisa and her husband, Levi Wilson, who is also her partner in film production, are working on a screenplay about Richard and Annis. “Descended from French Huguenots, Annis was an intellectual and a free spirit,” Wilson says admiringly of her ancestor. “It was love at first sight when she met Richard. They were said to be perfectly matched in spirit, kindness, and intellect, and both were quite handsome. When he died, she was haunted by him and thought she saw him coming down the path to Morven.” Wilson intends to tell the story through Annis’ own words, using her poetry: And Still as my guardian he waits/ I See him through Yon Lucid Cloud/ He passes through the crystalline gates/ My walk from all danger to shroud/ In beauty celestial array’d/ With youth Ever blooming and new/ No more of the tyrant afraid/ His smileing appears to my view/ In accents as gentle and soft/ as dewdrops descending in May/ He bears my Sunk Spirit aloft/ And points to the regions of day. After the property was looted, burned, and defaced by the British, Annis returned to Morven and rescued what she could of the house and papers, and continued on after her husband’s death, raising their six children and hosting the likes of General George, to whom she wrote odes, and Martha Washington. MORVEN LEAVES THE FAMILY

The Stockton family resided at Morven through the early 20th century before the property was

leased to General Robert Wood Johnson by Helen Hamilton Shields Stockton, following the death of her husband Bayard. “We have a copy of the (1928) Johnson lease for $7,500 annually, which would make it $625 a month, fully furnished,” says Morven Museum Executive Director Jill Barry. “Helen had it written into the lease that (Johnson) would pay all the taxes and make at least $5,000 worth of improvements, not including, but allowing, a tennis or squash court be built. He also had to keep up the garden, with any changes to be approved by Helen in advance.” After the Johnsons left, Helen sold the property to Governor Walter Edge stipulating that Morven become the “Executive Mansion for the use of successive governors of the state of New Jersey, or if its use as such … should for any reason become inappropriate or be abandoned, then for the uses of a state museum or historic site.” Governor Edge later sold it to the state of New Jersey for $1. STOCKTON LEGACY

“Aunt Roberta” — sister to Bayard III — told many family stories that Lisa and Marty cherish. Among Marty’s favorite ancestors was Richard Stockton (1824-1876) who served as president of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company. “I think about him every day when I walk on the D&R Canal towpath,” she says. Her grandfather Richard Stockton (1885-1944), grandson of the above-named Richard, was New Jersey assistant district attorney and served on the prosecution side in the Lindbergh trial; family lore has it that

TOP LEFT: Bayard Stockton III with fellow soldiers from World War II. TOP RIGHT: Morven MIDDLE LEFT: Just about every generation of the family named a son Richard. This baby Richard Stockton, born in 1915, died in 1917. His father, also a Richard Stockton (at right, with a catch), was assistant attorney general of New Jersey. FAR RIGHT: Bayard Stockton III

BOTTOM LEFT: Stocktons, c 1930. BOTTOM RIGHT: The Stocktons at Bay Head, 1950s.

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Stockton Reunion, 1980s.

he died young (age 59) because of the stress. The wilder side of the Stockton family can be seen in a Dudley Morris painting, “Quiet Evening at Bayard’s,” hanging in Marty Stockton’s home. Her family lived on Van Dyke Road and her father Bayard III, who coached football for Princeton University, turned the barn on their property into a party space with a dance floor, a bar, and a champagne fountain. In the painting, which dates from the 1940s, a woman is dancing on a liquorstrewn table, one shoe on and one shoe off, as a man, holding her other shoe, watches. Another man is being pulled from the floor under the table, and a man with a rather large belly reclines on the lap of a woman who is emptying a bottle into his mouth. A robust man in a kilt holds a skinny man up by the collar of his jacket as a basketball makes its way toward a hoop on the wall.

Marty demurs from identifying any of these revelers, except for her parents — her mother carries her infant siblings in a papoose on her back, while her father sits reading a book. The artist, too, can be seen amid the fray, working on his canvas. Bayard III owned Cousins Liquor Store in Princeton, and he and his sister Roberta would travel to France to sample the wines. Princeton Reunions was a major client, according to Marty, and the store made a delivery to Albert Einstein’s house every day, she says (a story she heard from the delivery man). Bayard made a good amount of money from uranium mining in the 1940s, and in 1958 he sold the liquor store and left his family for the Bahamas, where he established a resort. “A hurricane would come along every few years and he’d have to rebuild it. It was his mid-life crisis,” says Marty. THE NAME CONTINUES

The Stocktons of yore continue to intrigue to this day. Retired Princeton High School history teacher John Baxter, who has lectured about Richard Stockton at Morven, is at work on two books, “one a history, the second historical fiction,” says Baxter. The non-fiction book focuses on the life of Richard Stockton “Quiet Evening at Bayard’s,” by Dudley Morris.

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during the American Revolution. “The historical fiction is broader in scope, looking at the Stocktons from the Revolution to the Civil War, from Richard the Signer to his great-grandsons.” Like many writers in the throes of it, Baxter is reluctant to reveal too much. “I am drawn to creative nonfiction as a way of putting forth a narrative that explores possible answers when no complete record exists,” he says. “The historian in me wants to keep searching for the most complete record. “In certain important respects, I see the Stocktons of the 1765 -1870 period as a quintessential American family, touched by the various issues that shaped the nation, but also actively involved in ways that make the family extraordinary.” Extraordinary indeed, begetting attorneys general and U.S. senators. The name Stockton has been applied generously. Four U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Stockton in honor of Robert Field Stockton, as have the cities of Stockton, California; Stockton, Missouri; Fort Stockton, Texas; and the borough of Stockton, New Jersey. Stockton University is named for Richard the Signer. Stockton Street in Princeton is the address for, among others, Morven Museum & Garden. And there’s even the Richard Stockton rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, at mile 58 near Hamilton. FORGOTTEN STOCKTONS REMEMBERED

But you don’t have to go to a rest stop to learn about the family. Morven, established as a museum after four decades as governors’

residence, has devoted its first floor galleries to the history of the family. The gallery was recently re-installed to include important information about enslaved people who lived in the mansion, as well as the sometimes racist proclivities of its residents. “As wealthy lawyers, the first two generations of Stocktons at Morven owned enslaved men, women, and children,” says the museum’s website. When Marcus Marsh, born into slavery at Morven in 1765, was separated from his mother, Annis Stockton served as his wet nurse. She ultimately freed Marcus to live and work with her son-in-law Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia, whom she wrote a letter to stating that she “almost brought up” Marcus like a son. Upon the gallery’s reinstallation, Curator and Deputy Director Elizabeth Allan said of this history “we are not celebrating it but want to acknowledge it, rather than whitewash it. It’s definitely a shock.” Betsey Stockton (1798-1865) was born to a woman enslaved in the household of the Commodore. Her father was likely white, identity unknown. As a young child Betsey was taken from her mother and placed in the Philadelphia household of the Commodore’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Ashbel Green, a Princeton University president in the early 1800s. (The University has recently named a garden fronting on Nassau Street for Betsey Stockton as part of a campus initiative to recognize and honor a more inclusive set of people who make up the University’s history.)

After emancipation, Betsey became the first African American and first unmarried female missionary to Hawaii and became a founder of the First Presbyterian Church of Colour of Princeton, now known as Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, and the segregated school for Black children. FAMILY MEMBERS FIND MORVEN

In 2006, Morven exhibited “Capturing the Spirit: Virginia Snedeker and the American Scene.” Snedeker (1909-2000), an urban realist who, among other things, painted covers for The New Yorker and a post office mural, was the greatgreat-great-great-granddaughter of Richard and Annis (her mother was also an Annis). Her oeuvre was brought to the attention of Morven by Snedeker’s son, Robert, and brother, Richard (Dick) of West Windsor (1927-2020). Retired from a career in aeronautical engineering (he earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University) with five U.S. patents, Dick was a devoted docent at Morven and volunteered his fine woodworking skills to build furniture. Something of a Renaissance man, his volunteer leadership extended to the West Windsor Arts Council where he was a founding board member. He painted in the shadows of his more well-known sister, but a painting in the permanent collection of the arts council is evidence of his prodigious talents as a visual artist. Morven continues to attract visitors from Stockton family members, both local and out of

town. Debi Lampert-Rudman, curator of education and public programs, recounts a time when a family came in with a boy who might have been 8 or 9 years old. “He was glued to the wall in the Garden Room, which lists all the inhabitants (of Morven). It’s rare for a young child to want to stare at a list of names, but his name was on the wall and that fascinated him. He was named for (an ancestor) he had no idea about until coming to Morven.”

Virginia Snedeker, “Self Portrait” 1933

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Stephen McDonnell and Jill Kearney in the Hatch building. PRINCETON MAGAZINE fEbRuARy 2021

ruNNING wITh The baTON DesPITe The PaNDeMIC, arTyarD Is ThrIvING aND exPaNDING IN freNChTOwN By Wendy Greenberg | Photos by Jeffrey E. Tryon

“Art is not an end but a beginning.”

– Artist Ai Weiwei; quote seen at ArtYard’s Hatch celebration, 2019

For many years, Jill Kearney’s spouse, Stephen McDonnell, ran Applegate Farms, a leading organic meat production company. After a debilitating stroke, he decided to sell the New Jersey-based company in 2015. Then, as Kearney said, she took the entrepreneurial baton. The next year she opened ArtYard — a nonprofit community art, performance, and education center — in Frenchtown in 2016. Despite the challenges of the past year that necessitated outdoor exhibits and art in store windows, ArtYard will soon open a 20,000-square-foot performance and exhibition space, and exhibitions are lined up for the spring. Creative juices are flowing, and the local community is excited and engaged. If “past is prologue,” as Kearney titled an art exhibition (“The Past Is Prologue: Vernacular Photography, Pop Photographica, and the Road to Selfie Culture”), ArtYard’s prologue lies in Kearney’s childhood, which set the scene for something like ArtYard. Her parents ran an alternative arts center in a former dairy processing facility in Chicago that held galleries, a bronze foundry, and studios. Her father was a sculptor, and her mother was the administrator. “The other artists had to walk through my mom’s office and my dad’s studio to get to their studios,” she said. “My dad pretty much built all the spaces. I’m sure it wouldn’t pass any building code anywhere now, but it was a few blocks from the school I went to, so I would go to school, and then walk there after school and wait for them to be finished. I was just doing my homework and watching potters, artists, painters, dancers, and photographers come and go. Or watching my dad do the casting. They had classes there, or maybe he was teaching classes, it was a wonderful place to grow up.” The Kearneys spent the summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which, she said, “was then, and still is, an art community going back to Eugene O’Neill,

an early Bohemian outpost that attracted a very interesting array of artists and philosophers and shrinks and a whole bunch of different kinds of people, living cheek by jowl in this tiny little town. “And there were a couple of arts institutions — one was the Fine Arts Work Center — that functioned essentially as the town square, where we would all gather and go to openings and performances. Experiencing that from a very young age formed my idea of what community and place should be. When I moved to Bucks County and there wasn’t such a thing here, I kept looking for it. I have wanted to build something like this my whole life.” Kearney, who holds a degree in English literature from Harvard, spent time in Hollywood as a studio executive for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, and also in New York. She met her husband Stephen through her best friend in Los Angeles, who was one of his eight siblings. They encountered each another at a series of family weddings, and eventually got married themselves. A Different WorlD

Stephen McDonnell was immersed in a totally different world — food — natural and organic meats (think nitrate-free bacon), as the founder and CEO of Applegate Farms in Flemington, later in Bridgewater. A proponent of sustainable agricultural and the humane treatment of livestock, McDonnell had spoken on the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture in the media and at congressional briefings. He also funded a documentary film to raise public awareness about important issues around food. A 2012 Inc. article, “How I Did It,” called Applegate “one of the largest natural and organic food brands in the U.S.” Known for working from home long before it was common, the Hampshire College graduate, with a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Harvard, had purchased Jugtown Mountain Smokehouse in Flemington in 1987 for $250,000, according to the article. In the next decade, with a name change, Applegate Farms developed antibiotic-free meat, and a few years later, organic meat.

TOP: “Three Mothers” by Jesse Wright, featuring monumental portraits of Mamie Till-Mobley (Emmett Till’s mother), Larcenia Floyd (George Floyd’s mother), and Eileen Wright (the artist’s mother), which are displayed on the side of ArtYard’s new building.

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“The Past Is Prologue: Vernacular Photography, Pop Photographica, and the Road to Selfie Culture,” a 2019 ArtYard exhibition featuring vernacular photography from the collections of Daile Kaplan, W.M. Hunt, Nigel Poor, Pete Brook, and Cynthia Elyce Rubin, with original works by Marcia Lippman and Cassandra Zampini. (Image courtesy the artists and ArtYard, Frenchtown. Photograph by Paul Warchol)

The food business was “very intense,” said Kearney. “It was Stephen’s business, but I helped in a variety of ways. I did a lot of marketing and package copy. I helped develop the logo and helped develop the art department, and some of the look of the packaging and material, and I served on the board. So, I was sort of in the background cheering him on and adding my two cents.” “What’s been fun for me,” said McDonnell, “is that Applegate and ArtYard are two mission-based organizations. Applegate wanted to ‘change the meat you eat’; ArtYard wants to show the transformative power of art. Each has a clear purpose, and it’s enormously fun and rewarding for me. I’m enjoying her run.” During this time, Kearney thought about ArtYard, or something like it. “When I passed big old industrial buildings that looked like my parents’ workshop I would stop my car and look, and think, ‘Could I do something like that?’ In the beginning it was more of a Walter Mitty daydream because I had three kids in four years, and I was working in the film business at other times. And then circumstances conspired.” A SeriouS SetbAck

McDonell suffered a serious stroke in 2015 when the family was in Florence at midnight Christmas Eve, seven years ago. “He was very, very lucky,” said Kearney. “He got cutting edge thrombectomy surgery that is now available in the states but wasn’t available at the time. He was paralyzed but surgeons were able to retrieve some of the clots and free up some pathways, and he’s been recovering ever since. It’s a life-changing experience, but he’s a very resilient, positive person and he is working on it every day.” In the aftermath, during his recuperation, McDonnell decided to sell Applegate to Hormel. He is “relieved to not be in the hot seat running a large, intense business with perishable products,” said Kearney. “So, he’s doing things like planting trees, making gardens, spending time with our children, and looking over my shoulder at ArtYard, enjoying that somebody else has taken the entrepreneurial baton.” The sale of Applegate brought ArtYard closer to fruition. “It occasioned a moment when I actually could do something like that, and I started looking for a place that could work,” Kearney said. About this time, Elsa Mora, an old friend of Kearney’s, called to say, “Why don’t we start something together?” Mora is the wife of Jill’s old high school friend, Bill Horberg (a producer of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix), and someone who shares her aesthetic and philosophical outlook.

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“I loved that idea but didn’t think it was possible because she wasn’t able to move here,” said Kearney. She started the process and then realized that it would be possible for Mora to work remotely and visit often. Horberg set up ArtYard’s FilmYard program; Mora is ArtYard’s current artistic director and curator. Frenchtown Setting

After looking at some far-flung locales, it turned out that Frenchtown was an ideal spot. It reminded Kearney of Provincetown, “a place that quietly attracted a lot of curious, creative, interesting, diverse people,” she said. “I didn’t even really know that, when I first started looking in Frenchtown, but as I developed ArtYard in the early stages I began meeting the people who live there and realized it was the perfect place.” The Hunterdon County borough along the banks of the Delaware River, midway between New York and Philadelphia and not far from Princeton and Newark (which Kearney cited as a burgeoning arts community), offered a rich mine of artists to draw from, as well as the potential to “create collaborations between disparate communities.” The name, Kearney said, is because she likes the idea of a third space, not home, not work, but a yard. ArtYard is not quite a family business but McDonnell now cheers on his wife, as she did for him at Applegate. He sits on the board, and is very excited about the new building, visiting almost daily to check out the work in progress. McDonnell said he spends much of his time in various therapies — such as acupuncture and neurological rehab — to reactivate the nerves on his left side, since the stroke left him partially paralyzed. “I’ll be in rehab the rest of my life,” he added. “It’s my new job.” He said he can find some humor in the situation because he “feels so lucky” that he is able “to get the right help when many can’t, or don’t, get the help they need.” The couple lives in Erwinna, just across the river from Frenchtown, in the house that writer S.J. Perelman lived in and owned with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel West. The home was the subject of Perelman’s 1947 book, Acres and Pains. “This property was place where a lot of literary lights came during that time, which is nice to know,” said Kearney. The couple turned Perelman’s house into a guest house and studio. They turned the stone barn into their main residence with the assistance of New Jersey architect William Welch, who is working on the new ArtYard building. “There are good vibes here,” added McDonnell. McDonnell said that ArtYard’s success shows their daughters that while their

Installed in the backyard of ArtYard’s residency is Lucia Thomé’s “Greenware” — a temporary structure made from clay and incased in a greenhouse that protects it from the vagaries of the climate while also allowing for it to be modified and maintained by the artist. This installation marks the first time in which ArtYard has activated this outdoor space as a platform for public art viewing and engagement.

“Shelter Is," an exhibition that brought together the work of nine artists whose practices consider the physical and psychological function of shelter, its construction, and its improvisational nature. The works on view also explored questions of who seeks shelter, and for what reasons — political, socioeconomic, or environmental. (Image courtesy the artists and ArtYard, Frenchtown. Photograph by Paul Warchol) february 2021 PrINCeTON MaGaZINe

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Kearney with a public installation in the front yard of 12 Bridge Street featuring poetry by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown and Whiting Award-winner Aracelis Girmay. ArtYard recently acquired a second building on Bridge Street with space for an art and poetry library.

father ran a successful business for some 25 years, their mother “is equally talented. It’s not that common that both people (in a couple) are so good at what they do.” The oldest of three McDonnell daughters (now all in their 20s) aims to be a public defender, and another is in graduate school for social work. Two are artists, and have lent their artistic talents to the Hatch, an annual celebratory parade that conjures creativity with a nod to the new building’s former tenant, an egg hatchery. The Hatch has a bird theme and features a 14-foot egg and wild and quirky bird costumes for the march that ends in Sunset Lenape Park. Their youngest child, Flannery McDonnell, a painter and activist, designed the bird costumes for the last Hatch, which “were strangely made out of Hazmat suits before COVID happened,” Kearney said. “Then COVID happened, and we couldn’t do the Hatch.” The 2020 PivoT

In addition to the 2020 Hatch in Place, ArtYard has navigated the pandemic with customary creativity. “At times, it’s been kind of a joyful improvisation and at times really exasperating and frightening,” said Kearney. “Typically, we have an opening and 300 people come and it’s a crowded, interesting, and joyful experience.” Closed totally during the spring, ArtYard pivoted to virtual and outdoor programming. Again, Kearney reached back to her childhood for inspiration, inviting audiences to make medals based on ones her father made for her mother when they were first married. “My father was a World War II veteran who came back with a lot of medals from his service in the Navy and he supported our family as a jeweler, in part,” she explained. “And he began making medals that were quasi-military for my mom, all kind of an inside joke about things she did that he loved…. And so, when COVID hit, we launched a project called The Order of Everyday Humans, and we invited people to make medals for people who were doing something helpful or appreciated, in COVID,

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and to send them to us.” At first, the medals were in a virtual museum, but Kearney yearned to create dimensional exhibits. She turned the medals into printed prayer flags, that were then hung in the center of town “so there was actually an exhibition that you could go see.” Another pivot was the annual Pride exhibit in June, “Queer Icons: Pioneers.” Central Pennsylvania artist Silky Shoemaker’s plywood figures representing cultural pioneers of queer life were commissioned for the gallery but ended up in the windows of closed Frenchtown stores. “It turned out to be a lovely thing because people have to elect to come into an art exhibition space but if they walk down the street, they might encounter these figures and read about them,” said Kearney. “And we got a lot of letters and emails from people saying they were extremely moved and really appreciated it. And it was also so lovely that the shopkeepers in town all embraced the idea and that the town engaged in the process of constructing an art exhibition out in the world.” When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Kearney asked Newark artist Jesse Wright to create something in response. The result was the exhibition “Three Mothers,” featuring monumental portraits of Mamie Till-Mobley (Emmett Till’s mother), Larcenia Floyd (George Floyd’s mother), and Eileen Wright (the artist’s mother). “We blew them up into giant banners and put them on the side of the new building we are building,” said Kearney. “It was inspired by George Floyd calling for his mother, and we invited people to write letters to their mother and we hung them on the construction fence and in the gallery.” ArtYard is full of surprises. After an outdoor screening of the John Lewis documentary film Good Trouble, Kearney said that they “plunked a grand piano in the middle of the park and Jon Batiste, musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, who was staying in the ArtYard residency, did a pop-up concert. It was really tricky because we couldn’t really advertise it, couldn’t risk having

Construction of the Hatch building.

Stephen McDonnell and Jill Kearney at the Bridge Street property.

The former hatchery. BeLOW: Colorful banners liven the construction fences.

too many people, so we had to risk having too few people, but that was better in COVID than having a crowd. The tickets were free, so anyone who reserved a ticket to the John Lewis documentary also got a surprise concert.”

extremely excited and welcoming, and it’s pretty much been like that the whole time. “When I told the then-mayor about my idea, he almost burst into tears because he had had the same idea for the town but didn’t know how to make it happen.” The current mayor, Brad Mhyre, continues that support, she said. “I like to make art engaging and welcoming to people who think that they can’t understand art. We offer very high-quality cultural offerings, but there is a playfulness and surprise element.” Again, Kearney was inspired by her childhood. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, which she frequented, had “all these buttons you could push and press, and something would fall down and be like a Rube Goldberg contraption and I really loved as a kid, being able to participate in an exhibition rather than just be a passive receptacle.” This was apparent in something like the poetry “confessionals” at ArtYard, designed so a person on one side could tell their story and get an immediate poem back through a slot in the wall. “I like to subvert people’s expectations,” said Kearney. To attract and engage non-traditional audiences, she will, for example, hire a drumline from Camden to drum during a poetry reading. “I have an expression I say to my kids sometimes, that is, ‘Just when you think you know me, I like to do something.’ I was a natural food person but every once in a while I would show up with pink cupcakes or something … something they would never expect their mother to do. And I try to apply some of that philosophy to ArtYard. “I don’t want people to think that art is the province of wealthy people, or an object to be acquired. Somebody said this about literature, but I think it’s true for art — that art is necessary equipment for living. And I think when people begin to understand that art is a way of seeing what is hiding in plain sight in your life, they will see that it’s a beautiful and necessary thing.”

The Prologue Informs The fuTure

The artist residency is in development. ArtYard recently acquired a second building on Bridge Street with space for an art and poetry library. Because the ArtYard mission is to be an incubator for creative expression, and a catalyst for collaborations, the residencies can bring unlikely people together. “I was very influenced by a book I read by Robert Putnam called Bowling Alone about the silo-ing of American culture and how the arts are one of the few places that can bridge these divides. I would like to bring not just disparate people together at ArtYard, but like-minded institutions together.” The new $10 million building on Front Street was supposed to open in May, and then the fall. “It looks like March, but it’s pretty hard to know,” said Kearney, adding that it is difficult to plan a grand opening event with the uncertainty of pandemic guidelines. (Check for an opening date.) For the new building, Shoemaker will create 40 plywood “artist ancestors” — inspiring cultural figures who have died. They will sit in the new 162-seat theater to create social distancing. Also opening this spring is “Girl You Want,” curated by Bennington professor Vanessa Lyons. And artist Ledelle Moe, who creates monumental sculptures currently on view at Mass MOCA, will have her work at the two ArtYard locations. Kearney’s feeling that Frenchtown was the right place turned out to be a good hunch. Frenchtown, she said, has “been extremely welcoming from the very first conversation. There were other towns that I looked at and I immediately got the feeling that there would be an uphill battle to get permission for an art center, and parking would be an issue. The minute I came into Frenchtown everyone I asked was

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