Princeton Magazine, Winter 2019

Page 1


Jhumpa Lahiri Princeton University’s New Director of Creative Writing

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Princeton University’s new director of creative writing







Princeton Pro Musica brings the wrenching “Diary of Anne Frank” to musical life




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ON THE COVER: Writer and educator Jhumpa Lahiri. Photo by Andrew Wilkinson.






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Last week I was in the waiting room of a major medical practice in Princeton, and there were no less than six people reading the fall issue of your magazine. I was surprised, but also very pleased. That was a great issue, but wait until you read this one. As the expression goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” In the 10 years that Lynn Adams Smith and I have been producing Princeton Magazine, this winter issue is one of the strongest yet in terms of its diversity, its variety, and its reach into interesting pockets of our region and beyond. I have to admit it is a bit intimidating to be writing this letter in a magazine that features the brilliant new director of the Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University, Jhumpa Lahiri. She is not only an award-winning writer of fantastic books, but she is also bringing a new energy to the Princeton program. Join Wendy Greenberg in learning more about this amazing woman. Annelies, a full length, major choral work composed by James Whitbourn, is based on The Diary of Anne Frank, the vivid diary she wrote about her life in hiding from the Nazis. It will be performed by Princeton Pro Musica and conducted by Ryan James Brandau in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus in March. Annelies had its United States premiere at Westminster Choir College in 2007. Our Anne Levin goes behind the scenes. Double Sights is a new, beautiful, and important “marker” on the Princeton campus at the Woodrow Wilson School plaza. Our graphic designer, Derick Gonzalez, and writer, Donald Gilpin, bring to you a compelling presentation of an important resolution on how we might recognize the dual legacy of Woodrow Wilson, the man, his life, and his time. This is a very complex set of issues to which there are no simple answers. This complexity is beautifully and simply presented by the artist, Walter Hood, in his inspiring piece, Double Sights. Art on a different scale is presented in a photo page of several holiday ornaments by local artists. This special project was originated and photographed by our amazing art director, Jeff Tryon. Another locally-oriented article, written by Taylor Smith, is about Pennington native Tyler Christensen, an ecologist who, at a very young age, has become an expert on several native species, including owls and copperhead snakes. He also studies New Jersey bobcats, and was recently consulted about a bobcat that was discovered in the Sourland Mountain Preserve. Several years ago, we published a story about an area barn company that was dedicated to preserving the rich history of barns and how they were built. The mission of the company was to preserve barns by rebuilding them, and also reinterpreting them to become singular houses, commercial and public spaces, and historical museums. Well, the New Jersey Barn Company is still going strong after 40 years. They build barns, relocate barns, restore barns, repair barns, and preserve barns — not just in New Jersey, but all over the country. Join writer Ilene Dube as she takes you through an amazing photographic portfolio that presents proof of the professional skill of the company and its proficient founders. In this season of giving, you will be moved by Laurie Pellichero’s story about Christine’s Hope for Kids. Hopewell residents John and Jean Gianacaci founded the organization after they lost their daughter, Christine, in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, where she had been on a





Dear Princeton Magazine readers,

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Talking About Reading and Writing with

Jhumpa Lahiri P r i n c e t o n Un i v e r s i t y ’ s Ne w D i r e c t o r o f C r e a t i v e Wr i t i n g By Wendy Greenberg


humpa Lahiri takes a framed sketch from her office wall. It is a drawing of a library in her Rhode Island hometown. “This made me a writer, being around books,” she says. “It was so crucial. I believe that reading was the most important thing.” In addition to being an ardent reader and celebrated author, Lahiri is a teacher, lover of languages, translator, and now college administrator. In her life and in her writing, which seem to be inseparable, she straddles different worlds. Born in London and raised in Rhode Island by Bengali-born parents, she now divides her time between Rome, where she does most of her writing, and Princeton, where she was named director of the Princeton University Program in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts in August. Teaching has helped Lahiri explore new worlds, and new words. “When I teach, it inspires me to re-read an author, like Kafka,” she says. “I read the familiar and the unfamiliar. Reading is ongoing, infinite. I like being in environments where reading leads to conversations.” A lot of writing comes from conversations and questions, says Lahiri. Twenty years ago she won a Pulitzer Prize, at age 32, for her first collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies. At the time, the Pulitzer did not signify a “before and after” point in her life, but perhaps — in retrospect — it did. “Everything has a before and after. So, looking back, I can say, ‘yes,’” she says. “But

Photography by Andrew Wilkinson

at the time, I was undergoing several profound changes in my life. I got engaged and was more focused on a series of adult transitions.”

of awards and fellowships including the PEN/ Hemingway Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Asian American Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, among other awards and honors including a National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Obama. In 2012 she moved to Rome to fulfill a love affair with the Italian language and, eventually, its literature. This passion resulted in writing In altre parole (In Other Words) in 2015, Il vestito dei libri (The Clothing of Books) in 2016, translations of two novels by Domenico Starnone, and the novel Dove mi trovo (written in Italian) in 2018. This fall The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, which she edited, was published by Penguin Classics. TWENTY YEARS AFTER

After the Pulitzer, she wrote several more well-received books, including The Namesake (made into a film by Mira Nair), Unaccustomed Earth (winner of the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award), and The Lowland, which was named a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award in fiction in 2013. Recognition followed. She is the recipient

As her first success, Interpreter of Maladies, reaches the 20th anniversary of its publication, it still resonates today, especially in regards to the challenges facing immigrants in a new culture. “The stories are about basic human experiences — bewilderment, lack of connections, making connections,” says Lahiri. Although she has been described as a chronicler of the Bengali immigrant experience, Lahiri wants to be known simply as “a writer. I work in different modes. Writing should be as free as that. WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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There are so many great things happening here, and part of my job is maintaining that. Creative writing should be a place of exploration, whether for one semester or the rest of one’s life. It should be welcoming, first and foremost.

“The Bengali immigrant experience was a specific world that not many people were thinking about when I was a child. Growing up as a first generation American was my experience. Now the immigration patterns have changed and more people from different parts of the world are having that experience. There was a big wave of immigration from India in the late ’60s and ’70s, and my family was a part of that. Those numbers were not there in the 1950s, but by 1975 it was completely different.”

in Cambridge, Mass., who are still in her life, “still anchors” but aging, she says. In The New Yorker essay she writes about growing up in Rhode Island where her father was a librarian, but, ironically, she didn’t own many books. Speaking Bengali but reading in English, Lahiri (whose birth name is Nilanjana Sudeshna) was caught between the two languages. But, when reading, “entered into a pure relationship with the


Her journey to becoming an award-winning writer reflects her experience bridging different cultures. Lahiri says she was a prolific writer as a child, but less so as a teenager. “I didn’t focus on writing until after college. For many years, I wasn’t comfortable with the creative side of myself and felt nervous to call myself a writer. I was encouraged in graduate school at Boston University by BU Creative Writing Chair Leslie Epstein. I took a creative writing class while I was studying English literature and was encouraged by the other students in the workshop.” She referred to Trading Stories (Notes from an Apprenticeship), a piece she wrote for The New Yorker in June 2011. It is introduced by a photo of Lahiri at age 3 with her parents Amar and Tapati

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M.A. in comparative literature, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance studies — she “began to want to be a writer.” After sitting in on a creative writing class, she was later accepted to the creative writing program. When she was 30, as a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she wrote what she considers her first mature story, “A Temporary Matter,” which introduces the collection of short stories in Interpreter of Maladies. As she noted in the 2011 New Yorker piece, her desk became her home. Now she writes mainly in Rome. When she writes, she likes uninterrupted time, and seems to get that in Rome. “My life in Princeton is hectic,” she says. PRINCETON CREATIVE WRITING

story and its characters,” she wrote. As an adolescent, she preferred to practice music and perform in plays, and, as an undergraduate literature major at Barnard College in New York, thought she might become a college professor. At Boston University — where she earned a M.A. in English, M.F.A. in creative writing,

Her office in New South at Princeton University — bright, welcoming, and full of books and posters — is where she teaches, meets with students and faculty colleagues, and runs the department and all the details and schedules that necessitates. “There are so many great things happening here, and part of my job is maintaining that. Creative writing should be a place of exploration, whether for one semester or the rest of one’s life. It should be welcoming, first and foremost. “There are so many ways of becoming a

writer. It’s not a career track per se; it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. If I look back at my writing career, I realize that it unfolded on sort of a time release basis, and that there was an element of mystery to it. You don’t know when life will throw you something, or you will remember something. For me it wasn’t always a goaloriented experience. It can be, but some writers develop more slowly.” She wants the writing program to be “a place of experimentation, with the freedom to turn into something else, to present your point of view or learn other points of view. It’s like acting, assuming and embodying different perspectives, and getting to know yourself in the process.” The program is in its 80th year. Lahiri succeeds its former director, 2017-2019 U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who was named

chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts in July. The program has free public programming offered to the community, including the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, the C.K. Williams Reading Series, the biennial Princeton Poetry Festival, and other readings and lectures. “I am excited by the many authors working in languages other than English who are reading in our series this year, and we aim to bring more translated literature to campus as part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series,” says Lahiri. “I would also like to invite more authortranslators, writers who do both. My other priority has been to organize more student involvement and engagement with our guest writers. Prior to each reading in the series, one or more of the writers have an informal tea with students to talk about their craft.”

Lahiri also serves as associate faculty with the departments of Comparative Literature and French and Italian. This fall she received an Andrew W. Mellon faculty stipend from the Princeton University Art Museum to teach a class on artist, painter, and writer Leonora Carrington. The idea was born from her discovery of Carrington’s writings in 2016, combined with the fact that the Princeton University Art Museum owns a number of her artworks. Two of Carrington’s works are now featured as part of the exhibit “States of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing,” on view through February 2, 2020. The cross-disciplinary nature of the course “epitomizes the potential” of the creative writing program, Lahiri says, describing Carrington as someone who “crossed borders” in many ways. “I love the Museum. I love this course!” says Lahiri. “Carrington’s migrations, the language shifts, the many changes she realized in her creative life are so inspiring. So far it’s been quite exciting to see how the students engage with her and her vision.” ADVICE TO YOUNG WRITERS

“I hope it happens more,” she says of making connections with other academic disciplines, such as comparative literature and Italian. “I like to partner with the translation world and build bridges. One of the things I am most proud of is helping to institute the Translator in Residence program overseen by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.” Now in its third year, the position is currently held by Larissa Kyzer, who translated Kristin Eiríksdóttir’s book A Fist or a Heart from Icelandic to English. Lahiri envisions more links between creative writing and other disciplines, such as a connection with playwriting. “Unusual pairings interest me. I taught a course about the author Primo Levi. I revere him deeply with every ounce of my being. He shows how one can be a chemist and a writer too. We read The Periodic Table, his hybrid coming of age book. I loved sharing that extraordinary work with my students.” Continuing to bridge cultures, these days Italy and the Italian language and short story tradition excite her. “It is both an organic interest in ‘the other,’ and explains where I’ve always been coming from — outside. I was seeking something out but wasn’t sure what until I got there. I live in two worlds now, in Italy part of the time. In fact, this year part of me is always there because my son is finishing high school in Rome. I have a couple of homes, that is the nice thing about this job.” Next semester she will teach a translation workshop and a class called Imitating Italians — a course she has taught in the past, but before the new book. Reading contemporary Italian masters, the class will explore a range of techniques, styles, and themes. As she continues to bridge cultures, she has some basic advice for beginning writers: “Go to the library. Make that a fundamental part of who you are.”


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PRINCETON PRO MUSICA brings the wrenching “DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” By Anne Levin to Musical Life


Princeton Pro Musica.


the 72 years since its first publication, The Diary of Anne Frank has haunted readers with its account of a Jewish family’s life in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. The young, spirited Anne, whose full name was Annelies, poured her fears, frustrations, and even some joys into her redcheckered diary, given to her on her 13th birthday just weeks before her family was forced to flee to the attic of the building that housed Anne’s father’s business. As millions who have read the book are aware, Otto Frank was the only member of the family to survive. Anne, her mother, and sister died in concentration camps. When Otto Frank eventually returned to Amsterdam, a colleague who had helped hide the family presented him with Anne’s diary and other writings, which had been left behind when the Gestapo discovered the hiding place. Frank had his daughter’s diary published in 1947. Eventually, it was translated into more than 70 languages and adapted for stage and screen. Diary of Anne Frank, September 28, 1942. (WikimediaCommons/


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Soprano Lily Arbisser. (Photo by Arielle Doneson/

The diary was the inspiration for Annelies, a choral work by British composer James Whitbourn with versions for full orchestra and chamber choir. The large version was first performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London in 2005. Two years later, the chamber version debuted in Princeton, at Westminster Choir College. It is that version that Princeton Pro Musica will present on March 15 at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. “I’m particularly drawn to composers who are able to tell a story in a new way,” said Ryan James Brandau, artistic director of the 100-voice, symphonic chorus. “This piece, in particular, uses contemporary musical language to tell a story that is familiar to people around the world. It’s important for us to hear that story and embrace it. To take these famous words and give them life through music opens our ears and our hearts in a different way than just reading them would. It draws us into Anne, the individual.” Whitbourn, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford and a member of the its music faculty, first began working on Annelies when a woman named Melanie Challenger brought it to his attention. “She had been working on a music project in Bosnia, which at the time was torn apart by war,” he said during a phone conversation from Oxford. “She had seen how children in the community were brought together by music. She had heard some of my music and she knew the story of Anne Frank.”

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Whitbourn was intrigued. They worked on the piece for a few years before permission was granted to use the diary text. “It is a very closely guarded text. That permission had never been granted before for a major choral work, so that was a wonderful privilege and changed the project totally,” he said. “The involvement of Anne’s first cousin made the difference. It was

Ryan James Brandau. (Courtesy of Princeton Pro Musica)

British composer James Whitbourn. (

a long and difficult process, but ultimately a very joyous one. So it became, for me, a rather personal, family piece rather than something that embodied the totality of those years and all that they represented. In that way, it was possible to write a piece that was true to the individual, and I hope people that knew her as a human being would recognize her.”

Princeton Pro Musica on the steps. (Courtesy of Princeton Pro Musica)

Annelies is divided into 14 movements. The smaller version is for four solo layers — clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The vocal writing is the same in both forms. At the 2005 London premiere of the fully scored version, Leonard Slatkin conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; and soprano Louise Kateck. At the U.S. premiere two years later at Westminster Choir College, Whitbourn and James Jordan led the Westminster Williamson Voices, an instrumental ensemble, and soprano Lynn Eustis. The upcoming Princeton Pro Musica performance will be led by Brandau and features soprano Lilly Arbisser, who, like Brandau, is a Princeton University graduate. Annelies has been performed by choirs and orchestras in different parts of the world. But Whitbourn has a special fondness for Princeton — specifically Westminster Choir College, where he served as composer in residence. Asked about the future of the school, which Rider University is trying to relocate to its

Lawrenceville campus — a move that many say will lead to Westminster’s demise — Whitbourn said it is a poignant question. “These are people working at the highest level,” he said. “The college, over the years, has been a remarkable center of choral excellence, has provided the world with much great music, and provided composers with a platform and a voice. Annelies received its first American performance at Westminster. And then we went on to make a recording of it, which won a Grammy nomination. Luminosity (composed in 2007) also started its life at Westminster. So my ties to the school are very strong.” Brandau, who also has significant connections to the school, said he is looking forward to leading Princeton Pro Musica’s performance of Annelies in March. He finds the chamber version, minus a full orchestra, to be just as effective as the larger-scale work. “I am a huge fan of the full orchestra and its capabilities, but I think the sound of the chamber ensemble here is very evocative,” he

said. “Its foundation is in the piano, but the three instruments paired with it — clarinet, violin, and cello — give it a very particular flavor that was intentional on the part of the composer. It draws on Klezmer ensembles and instruments associated with Jewish folk music, so he could tap into that well of melodic material.” Brandau first read The Diary of Anne Frank in elementary school, and plans to visit it again this winter as he prepares for the performance. “What appeals to me is the way Whitbourn’s music makes the words understandable,” he said. “We can work against the risk of letting her fame and the ubiquity of the diary encapsulate an entire tragedy. There were millions of Anne Franks whose stories we don’t have. I think the composer says it best: He calls the piece ‘musical portraiture in which the essence of a young girl is portrayed in the fragile medium of a human breath.’”


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A Controversial Marker, a Troubled Legacy, and an Ongoing Challenge “Double Sights” Debuts at PU’s Woodrow Wilson School By Donald Gilpin


name be removed from all University buildings and institutions, but, among other recommendations, did call for the creation of a “permanent marker” at the Woodrow Wilson School that “educates the campus community and others about the positive and negative dimensions of Wilson’s legacy.” Hood chatted with passers-by who drifted into Scudder Plaza and were drawn to the dramatic new installation that Saturday afternoon. A public discussion, titled “Woodrow Wilson’s Legacy: Wrestling with History,” featuring Hood and University Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter, was scheduled for 3:15 p.m. in the McCosh 50 lecture hall, with the dedication, including remarks by Eisgruber, to follow. After that there was a reception in Robertson Hall of the Woodrow Wilson School, where an exhibition examining Wilson’s legacy, “In the Nation’s Service? Woodrow Wilson Revisited,” was on display. HOLDING THE UNIVERSITY ACCOUNTABLE Woodrow Wilson. (Wikimedia Commons)

University board of trustee’s Wilson Legacy Review Committee, based on a study initiated after protesting members of the Black Justice League (BJL) and their supporters occupied Nassau Hall for 33 hours in November 2015. As Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in his dedication speech, “Princeton has celebrated Woodrow Wilson in various ways that have not been transparent or forthcoming about his failings, and especially about his views about race.” The trustees rejected BJL demands that Wilson’s

Students were planning demonstrations during the dedication, protesting that Wilson’s harmful legacy remains intact in an institution that they claim continues to be white supremacist, fails to acknowledge fully the truths of its racist foundations, and still has a long way to go in working toward equity and social justice. Minter and Hood, along with Trustees Vice Chair and 1969 graduate Brent Henry, were also in for some sharp questioning from students and alumni during their public discussion that afternoon.


alter Hood, designer of the 39-foot-tall Double Sights marker, stood near the Scudder Plaza fountain outside Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs looking up at his creation. It was mid-afternoon on October 5, less than an hour before the start of a series of events surrounding the dedication of the new installation which addresses the complex legacy of Woodrow Wilson. Hood, recent recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”) and a Gish Prize, was open to talking about his controversial new composition: the two towering columns, white leaning against black to form a large triangle. But he was not offering an interpretation or an explanation of what it means. About three years ago, Hood accepted the University’s commission to create a work of art that comes to terms with Woodrow Wilson — Princeton University president (1902-10), New Jersey governor (1911-13), United States president (191321) — and a legacy that has been highly acclaimed over the past century, but more recently has been sharply criticized for its racist and sexist views. The consequences of the contrasting elements of Wilson’s life are manifested today throughout the country, and particularly at Princeton, where two major campus institutions, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College, bear his name. “If the stature and character of Princeton today results partly from reforms that Wilson launched, they likewise benefit from efforts from subsequent generations to repudiate the exclusionary views that he espoused,” states a recent report of the

Double Sights in the final stages of installation on Scudder Plaza. WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Princeton University Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter talks with Walter Hood in McCosh 50 before the dedication of his Double Sights marker.

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architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, convened focus groups of Princeton students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as members of the Campus Iconography Committee, a group established in 2016 to help diversify the range of art works on campus and to represent a more varied range of honorees. As we stood out on Scudder Plaza that early fall afternoon, Hood watched as the Double Sights marker continued to draw the attention of visitors and passers-by. Many of the interested observers, though they had an idea of who Wilson was, seemed to have little knowledge of the recent controversies over his racist views. AN “ANTI-MONUMENT”


Standing at the base of Double Sights, Hood reflected on his new creation and the upcoming events. “I would be almost dissatisfied if there was no protest,” he said. “This is a process where the students are calling on the University to have a consciousness about the past. We have to keep on holding institutions accountable for how we think about our history and what that history means to contemporary society and the future.” If Princeton’s administration, the trustees, or anyone else hoped that this work of art would solve the problems of the deplorable actions and attitudes of the University’s past and Wilson’s harmful views and deeds, Hood would be the first to disabuse them. It may be a powerful, meaningful response to the BJL 2015 protest and their demands, but it’s only a start, and far from a solution. Hood explained, “I’m hoping that people will come out and take a look at the piece and do research and see what the process has yielded. The thing that we’ve created is a public space that holds the University accountable to a certain degree, and it becomes a consciousness for the voice of the students.” The two columns of Double Sights are etched with quotations representing both positive and negative aspects of the Wilson legacy. Quotes on the outside of both columns present Wilson’s views on a variety of subjects, and on the inside of the arch, on one column at the sculpture’s center, is a glass surface with images of Wilson’s contemporaries — W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, David Lloyd George, James Weldon Johnson, and others — who were critical of his views and policies, particularly on the subjects of race and gender. On the inside of the other column are quotes by these critics about some of Wilson’s

most harmful attitudes and actions. Further details can be found at “Powerful words force us not to choose sides but to try to understand,” Hood said in a talk on campus last spring. “We are trying to create a design in which you might visit the installation 20 times and find something different every time you visit.” In his considerations of the content and imagery of the work over the past two years, Hood, who is the creative director of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, Calif., and professor of landscape

Two women in their 20s from upstate New York, one of whom had grown up in Princeton, were curious, immediately engaged. “We were happy to see it had a duality to it,” one said, “and that it didn’t just show Woodrow Wilson in a positive way.” Hood was quick to intervene when her friend asked, “This is then the positive side and this is the criticism side?” “No, it’s not binary – it’s binary from a visual point of view, not from a content point of view,” he explained. “The idea being the leaning part creates a sort of anti-monument. It’s not a monument. It’s a marker, a spatial piece. The white piece being held up by the black is social commentary about this country.” He indicated on the inner surface of the white column the images of scenes and people, speeches, demonstrations by women suffragists, protests against lynching, all from the Wilson era, all shifting on the lenticular surface as the viewer’s perspective shifts.

Hood gestured to the space between the two pillars underneath the arch. “If you go in the middle you’re actually supposed to be inside and giving him consciousness, but this privilege allows him not to have that consciousness,” he continued. “It’s complex.” A man in his 20s, a friend of the two visiting women, joined the conversation, noting that he had grown up in Atlanta, and that the South, with its Confederate monuments and its racist past, was wrestling with issues similar to those that Princeton University is confronting in coming to terms with its past. Hood pointed out the reflecting interior surface of the black column. In looking at that surface, viewers read the stinging criticisms of Wilson’s detractors and, at the same time, see both their own images and, in the distance behind them, the shiny white columns of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Robertson Hall façade. Viewers find themselves engaged in a learning process, in the middle of this experience, surrounded —literally and figuratively — by ideas, images, and words of Wilson and his detractors. Pointing out again how the black column holds up the white column, Hood added, “It fits in with so much societal discussion right now about what you’re supposed to do with this hard history. Woodrow Wilson is an important figure in history and to Princeton, but he’s a multi-faceted person.” “DISRUPTIVE BY DESIGN”

Later that afternoon, officially dedicating the marker, Eisgruber, surrounded by a gathering of about 200, including many protestors carrying signs decrying Wilson’s racism, said that the Double Sights marker is “disruptive by design.” Describing the work as “an engaging, vibrant presence on this plaza,” he noted, “It is a stimulus to reflection, and, as is the case today, an invitation to dialogue.” He predicted viewers’ reactions, imagining responses that had already been evident in the experiences of the visitors earlier in the afternoon. “Rare will be the student, faculty member, alumnus, or visitor who walks onto this plaza without being drawn to this towering and powerful work,” he said. “They might be discomfited or angered or enthralled or perplexed.” He went on, “Double Sights exposes the profound contradictions in Wilson’s life and character and challenges us to confront the fault lines of our society and the tensions within the human soul.” Noting “the troubled histories it represents and the poignant tragedies it illuminates,” Eisgruber stated that the installation would “rivet attention” and “provoke arguments as it does today. It will prompt us to reflect upon our past and encourage us to do better in the future.” In concluding his remarks at the dedication ceremony, Eisgruber said that Hood’s Double Sights “will advance this University’s fundamental mission to seek truth about even the most difficult and sensitive topics and to agitate and re-ask forever the profound questions of history and justice about which we must never rest content and for which, as with Walter Hood’s spectacular art work, no Between the pillars of the Double Sights marker, depicting some of Woodrow Wilson’s detractors and scenes from the Wilson era. (Photo by Derick Gonzalez)


single perspective is ever adequate.” Eisgruber’s words were encouraging, even inspiring, in the context of the difficult debate in contemporary society over the shameful elements of the University’s, and the nation’s, past. Hood’s towering marker could perhaps even serve as a model for individuals and institutions confronting past sins honestly and thoroughly, and continuing the process and the debate, the unfinishable task of working through those evils, perhaps without the prospect of ever achieving ultimate success or resolution. Clearly Hood and the University have responded successfully to the trustees’ recommendation that they install a permanent marker on the Woodrow Wilson School plaza that would help to education the community about positive and negative dimensions of Wilson’s legacy. And they have certainly helped to advance the report’s exhortation that “Princeton University must be more transparent about its historical legacy especially as it relates to Wilson and especially as it relates to race. We need to acknowledge that Wilson held and acted on racist views and that pernicious racial attitudes and racist actions are part of our institutional history.” “A PLACE OF PROTEST”

But in the spirit of the title of Hood’s work and his comment that “this should be a place of protest,” many, including the October 5 protestors, continue to believe that the University has not gone far enough. Protestors, who stood silently with their placards during the brief dedication ceremony, took over the podium after the departure of Eisgruber, Hood, and others,

and talked about Wilson as a racist and white supremacist. “He never intended for me to be here,” said Erica Dugue, a PU junior. As University president, Wilson had blocked black applicants from being accepted and at one point wrote, “It is altogether inadvisable for a colored man to enter Princeton.” Kiki Gilbert, junior protest leader who also co-wrote an October 4 editorial, “A Concrete Step Backwards” in The Daily Princetonian, stated, “We are here today because there is nothing complex about a white supremacist.” In her editorial, she warned against the dangers of attempting “to nuance the stance of a white supremacist,” stating, “If we do not denounce both the white supremacy and white supremacists with clarity and conviction, the University can never hope to uproot and dismantle the racism nestling in its crevices.” Gilbert’s editorial went on to point out the vestiges of Wilson’s legacy that remain at Princeton. “The University — which was the last Ivy League to officially begin admitting black American undergraduates, and was long known as ‘the Southern Ivy” — was a haven for Wilson’s particular strain of racism, and remains a haven for watered-down denunciations of white supremacy. To some black students, the implications of this feel farreaching.” Gilbert called for a stronger focus, not on Wilson but on marginalized groups currently on campus, and accentuated the need for more “resources towards making this institution more hospitable for people of color who call this campus home.” An October 3 letter to the Princetonian, titled “Stop and Think Before You Celebrate the New Woodrow

Wilson Marker” and signed by more than 50 Woodrow Wilson School graduate students, made similar arguments, emphasizing the need for much greater equity and inclusiveness at Princeton, and asserting, “when you pass that marker, understand that it represents two things: moral failure of the University and how much work remains.” In her comments at the October 5 discussion, Minter agreed that Princeton University has difficult challenges ahead and that “this is work that is only just beginning. We have much more to do.” She pointed out a number of initiatives, in addition to the Wilson marker, that the University is working on to promote a more truthful narrative about its history. “We have much more to do broadly to be the kind of diverse, equitable, inclusive place that we want to be, and we have more work to do to acknowledge the truths that we have not fully told about our history and the pain that has caused,” she said. “We have to keep talking about Woodrow Wilson forever. And if we ever get comfortable, then we have failed.” Hood reflected on the challenge for Double Sights viewers, black and white, male and female, to “do the work,” to engage with its multiplicity in experiencing it, and the ongoing challenges for Princeton University and the nation in working through the sins of a troubled, tragic past. “This is our struggle in this country,” he said. “It’s not just a struggle on Princeton’s campus. If, as an artist, I can participate in that struggle through the things that I make, then that is my participation.”

Scudder Plaza (opposite) reflected in the etched pillar of the marker.


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Students at Hopewell Elementary School display bags they helped pack for underpriviledged children.

Hope Kids for

Helping Children in Need One Smile at a Time By Laurie Pellichero

Photography Courtesy of Christine’s Hope for Kids 40 |



very child deserves the chance to be a kid, regardless of their circumstances. That’s the philosophy behind Christine’s Hope for Kids, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by John and Jean Gianacaci of Hopewell in honor of their late daughter, Christine. In January of 2010, 22-year-old Christine Gianacaci and several of her classmates from Lynn University in Florida were in Haiti on a mission to help children in need and feed the poor. It was a cause to which Christine was deeply devoted, especially after a transformative first trip to Jamaica in her sophomore year where she had seen the poorest of the poor and helped to build houses, feed sick children, and deliver clothes and toys. She was doing the same in Haiti when a catastrophic earthquake struck on January 12. The Hotel Montana in Port-Au-Prince collapsed and Christine, along with three other Lynn students and two professors, was killed. In the wake of this tragedy, Christine’s Hope for Kids was created to continue the legacy and generous spirit of Christine, and her desire to help underprivileged children and kids with difference. Through raising money, collecting item donations, and working closely with other area nonprofit organizations, Christine’s Hope is dedicated to giving disadvantaged children in the community a better life. They are also helping to create the next generation of community leaders by teachings kids how to help other kids. The mission of Christine’s Hope for Kids is to help less fortunate children; and to support local community agencies to work with and benefit children in need. Whether they are supporting children to attend camp, holding book fairs, or packing pajama bags for kids in shelters, they believe that it is the little things that can and do make the greatest impact in a child’s life. Christine’s Hope is committed to not only to providing funds to local programs, but also to offering opportunities for young students to become involved and teach them “the power of giving and how to be good stewards to the community.” Some of the nonprofit organizations they support include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County,

Christine Marie Gianacaci

Capital Area YMCA, Children’s Home Society of Mercer County, CYO of Mercer, Gregory School, HomeFront, Hopewell Valley YMCA, Kidsbridge, Mercer Street Friends, Millhill Child & Family Development, The Miracle League of Mercer County, PEI Kids, Princeton Junior Football League, Princeton Nursery School, Princeton YMCA, One Simple Wish, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), and Womanspace, among many others. “We strongly believe that all children, regardless of their life circumstances, deserve to have a happy and healthy childhood,” says Jean Gianacaci. “We also work to educate and empower children to help one another and to understand the importance of a life of giving.” In keeping with this positive concept, Christine’s Hope hosts school events

Young students participate in a Pajama Days fundraiser. WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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John and Jean Gianacaci with their granddaughter, Jocelyn.

“When Christine’s Hope for Kids was founded in 2010, its goal was to gift out $1 million in donations and goods in 10 years. They are thrilled to report that this goal was met this past summer, thanks to generous community supporters.”

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and programs that allow young students to directly help less fortunate kids in the community. Programs include Book Collections, Book Fairs, Backpack Drives, and Pajama Days at area schools to help pack necessity bags for children in shelters. As noted on its website, “It’s heartbreaking to see how many children in our community do not have access to books or safe libraries. Our Book Fair program is set up in several schools and businesses. People bring in their gently used, unwanted children’s books and we take them to kids who need them and host book fairs. It’s simple, but the smiles we see when these kids get their free books are priceless.” With Pajama Days, students who raise donations get to wear their pajamas to school all day long. Christine’s Hope will match the donations dollar for dollar (up to $3,000), and the money is used to purchase pajamas, books, stuffed animals, toothpaste, and toothbrushes to be assembled by the students into pajama bags and distributed to kids who need them. “We are most proud of our kids helping kids programs,” says Jean Gianacaci. “Giving kids the opportunity to give back and help others is so important to learn at a young age. This is the next generation of community volunteers. It amazes us how kids respond in such a positive way, they love being part of it. “Many children have organized collections on their own for us, given us their birthday money, and come in to our office to help pack bags for kids in shelters and at-risk homes. This is who we are as an organization.” And through the Christine’s Hero program, they promote the message that each person has the power to make this world better through simple acts of kindness and basic respect. When Christine’s Hope for Kids was founded in 2010, its goal was to gift out $1 million in donations and goods in 10 years. They are thrilled to report that this goal was met this past summer, thanks to generous community supporters. “We have donated out to local organizations that help kids in need more than $1 million to date,” says Jean Gianacaci. “The support from our community, our loyal supporters, and our dedicated volunteers has been both heartwarming and overwhelming. Tens of thousands of local children have benefited in some way from our foundation.” As the 10th anniversary of Christine’s Hope for Kids approaches in February, they plan to donate $10,000 to local organizations to commemorate the day. The Gianacaci family will also attend a memorial service at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on January 12, as they do every year. Also in honor of the 10-year mark, the organization is planning some new events to raise money for children in need throughout the community. They offer a variety of programs that you, your family, your neighbors, your company, or your church can get involved with that don’t require donation dollars. The only requirement is a smile, and willingness to lend a hand. To learn more about Christine’s Hope for Kids, volunteer, or make a donation, call (609) 406-7861 or visit


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One Simple Wish is so grateful to Christine’s Hope For Kids for their tireless work providing hope & happiness to children in need. We are so proud to call you a partner and congratulate you on this beautiful milestone!

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Photograph courtesy of Piedmont Ecological Services, LLC


rowing up in Central New Jersey, Tyler Christensen became interested in the lives and habits of regional wildlife at a very young age. Admittedly, his father was an amateur herpetologist (someone who specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians). In fact, most family vacations were chosen on the basis of access to wildlife and environmental exploration. Christensen has particularly fond memories of the kids and family programming at The Watershed Institute in Pennington, as well as volunteer opportunities with the Washington Crossing Audubon Society. “My initial love was birds,” he recalls. A graduate of Hopewell Valley Central High School, Christensen is currently completing his Ph.D. in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Surprisingly, for someone as naturally curious as Christensen, he is quick to admit that he wasn’t a very dedicated student in high school, and initially shied away from the thought of attending a four-year college. Post-high school, he took courses at Mercer County Community College and began working for the Mercer County Park Commission. He also served as a land steward for Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and director of the Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research Station in northwestern Costa Rica. This informative period solidified Christensen’s commitment to the study of wildlife research, particularly as it relates to some of New Jersey’s shyest species. “The goal is to find out what sensitive species need and how to give it to them,” he says.


“My initial love was birds.” After completing extensive fieldwork in Costa Rica and co-founding the Wild Bird Research Group (, Christensen enrolled at Rutgers University – New Brunswick and completed his undergraduate degree in ecology. His current studies involve fieldwork and research pertaining to the northern saw-whet owl, bobcats, and copperheads (one of two venomous snakes found in New Jersey). For Christensen, the fact that these differing species are all very reclusive, and frequently misunderstood, makes them even more compelling. In the case of New Jersey’s bobcats, Christensen hopes to play an influential role in both the conservation of land resources and public education. “Public perception about bobcats in particular, and predators in general, is often misunderstood,” he says. Historically, bobcats could be found in all of New Jersey’s counties. Subsisting primarily on mice, squirrels, and rabbits, the 18-35 pound felines have excellent vision and hearing (heightening their hunting skills), “tabby” stripes, tufted ears, and a short, bobbed tail. Unfortunately, human population growth, erosion of forestland, and highspeed roads and highways have threatened New Jersey’s bobcats to such an extent that they have been classified as endangered since 1991 on a state level. Christensen becomes noticeably animated when he describes the recent discovery of a lone female bobcat in the Sourland Mountain Preserve in Somerset County. He was initially contacted by the Sourland Conservancy when the organization received a few phone calls from area residents claiming that they had

Photograph courtesy of Sean Graesser.

seen a bobcat. Atypical for this region of New Jersey, most of the state’s bobcats reside in protected land, including the Nature Conservancy of New Jersey’s Bobcat Alley in northern New Jersey. Regardless, Christensen pursued the information and eventually confirmed that a female bobcat had indeed taken up residence in the Sourlands. This type of wildlife tracking and research for improved public and scientific knowledge is at the core of Christensen’s passion and motivation. For him, the relationships with the animals he studies are very real. “They really are individuals [these animals] — they have distinct personalities, habits, and preferences,” he says. Another aspect of Christensen’s scholarly research centers around the northern saw-whet owl. The name “saw-whet,” is said to derive from the repeated series of whistles — all at the same pitch — that brings to mind the “back and forth sound made while filing a saw” ( One of the smallest species of owls in North America, about the size of a robin, saw-whets are nocturnal, shy, and furtive. “They’re really good at hiding,” says Christensen. Christensen’s nonprofit Wild Bird Research Group (WBRG) studies the migration and winter ecology of saw-whets at multiple sites throughout New Jersey and Bucks County during the fall migration period. In the winter months, WBRG fits saw-whets with temporary radio transmitters to “track their movements and identify critical roosting habitat characteristics.” One of these fall migration sites is at The Historic Hunt House and the surrounding Lawrence Hopewell Trail system. Christensen hopes that his research improves knowledge of the saw-whet’s preferred habitat, migration patterns, and life cycle. “The environment could look like a backdrop to some people, but it’s obviously much more than that,” says Christensen. The northern copperhead is “another species of special concern,” according to Christensen. Their population has declined due to habitat loss, and they also suffer from public fear and animosity due to their visual similarities to rattlesnakes. According to Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, “Although copperheads are venomous, no one has ever died from a copperhead in New Jersey. They will WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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not chase people, but they will defend themselves if they are in danger.” Christensen is also the owner of Piedmont Ecological Services, LLC, a wildlife photography company that brings studio-quality equipment into the field to help capture high-quality and upclose photographs of rare wildlife. With a focus on birds and rare wildlife like copperheads, Christensen uses motionactivated “camera traps” to photograph striking images of rarely-seen wildlife. Christensen says that a large portion of his 2019-20 fieldwork pertains to research on migratory songbirds in Costa Rica — he monitors populations of neotropical migrants (birds that breed in North America during the summer and overwinter in the tropics) within the country’s mangroves and tropical forests. He aims to conduct research on age-related plumage changes in these tropical songbirds and hummingbirds. His 2019-20 fundraising projects include GPS tracking to monitor the migrations of long-eared owls, a threatened species. A medium-sized owl found in New Jersey during the winter months, very little is actually known on where longeared owls come from or how they get here. “GPS tracking is the most effective way of identifying the movements of birds over a large distance, but the technology has only recently become available in units small and light enough to deploy on larger owls, such as snowy owls,” Christensen says. Long-eared owls are currently listed as a threatened species in New Jersey and are thought to be declining. “Wild Bird Research Group intends to use GPS technology to track the

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“This area has an impressive array of biodiversity, which is attributed to conservationist tendencies.” movements of long-eared owls for the first time ever, gathering detailed information about their habitat use and migration routes that will allow land managers to better understand and provide for the needs of this threatened species,” he says. WGRB is actively seeking donations to provide a modest stipend for its interns. “Each year WBRG takes on a small number of interns and volunteers to assist with the research. These include positions at our Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research Station, a migratory bird monitoring program in Costa Rica; the Owl Project (taking place in New Jersey); and our Southern Appalachian bird banding station at the North Carolina Arboretum, which monitors breeding populations of vulnerable songbirds in the Blue Ridge Mountains.” The tracking research will also utilize ultraviolet light technology to deduce and record molt patterns in the owls. “These patterns allow us to roughly determine their ages,” says Christensen. Those interested in donating can visit for more information. “Ecology is complicated — all of the inter-relationships are subtle. There are wins and losses occurring all the time,” Christensen says of the general state of New Jersey’s wildlife and conservation efforts. “This area has an impressive array of biodiversity, which is attributed to conservationist tendencies.” Wherever his research takes him, Christensen intends to increase popular and scientific understanding of the natural world around us. “Sharing the findings of ecologists serves the public interest.” Fly on.


Photograph courtesy of Pam Podger of The Watershed Institute.

Photograph courtesy of Piedmont Ecological Services, LLC.

Protecting your water for 70 years.

Visitand • Learn • Support g water clean, safe healthy since 1949.

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Milee Ahn

Donna Payton


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Eva Mantell For more information on the artists, and additional photos, visit


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Performance in Life



ometimes I think if ballet didn’t exist, the New York Times would have invented it. That’s how often I see some form of balletic imagery dancing across the front page of the Arts section. In “Dancers, Glittering and Supernatural,” Times dance critic Gia Kourlas mentions “certain New York City Ballet performances that have a way of making you feel you’ve danced yourself, even as you sit, quiet and still, in your seat.” The article is accompanied by a photograph of Emily Kikta, who is described by Kourlas “as authoritative and smoldering ... like a modern ballerina who has grown up in the era of #MeToo and learned a thing or two.” But what most impresses me about this dancer, shown performing in a recent production of George Balanchine’s Jewels, is that she looks so happy. The seemingly heartfelt spontaneity of her smile breaches the barrier of formality I’ve always felt between myself and ballet. I began with ballet because two of the most imposing coffee table books this holiday season are The Style of Movement: Fashion and Dance (Rizzoli $75) and Ballerina Project (Chronicle Chroma $40). With a foreword by Valentino Garavani, The Style of Movement is the second volume from photographers Deborah Ory and Ken Browar, the husband and wife team behind the New York City Dance Project. According to Pointe magazine, “the book showcases couture gowns, jackets and

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trousers in a way that only dancers can,” capturing, in the words of Harper’s Bazaar, “the poetic beauty of dancers in motion.” New York City-based photographer Dane Shitagi’s Ballerina Project, subtitled (Ballerina Photography Books, Art Fashion Books, Dance Photography), features 170 images accumulated on Shitagi’s Instagram, which has more than a million followers. Showing ballerinas posed in a variety of visually striking locations around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, London, Rome, and Paris, the volume is bound in pink satin cloth with gold foil stamping, a pink satin ribbon marker, and introductions by principal ballerinas Isabella Boylston and Francesca Hayward. PERFORMANCE IN LIFE

Two no less imposing new performing arts books are Howard Gutner’s MGM Style: Cedric Gibbons and the Art of the Golden Age of Hollywood (Lyons Press $45) and Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll (Metropolitan Museum of Art $50). MGM Style celebrates the career and achievements of Cedric Gibbons, the head of the art department at MetroGoldwyn-Mayer from 1924 until his retirement in 1956. The book is illustrated with over 175 duotone photographs, many of which have never been published, and according to Steve Bingen, author of MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot,

“The shimmering art deco photographs and the perceptive and well-researched text finally give credit to the man who, more than any other, defined the physical look of the twentieth century.” For me, the most memorable aspect of MGM style in the Gibbons era isn’t set design, it’s Gene Kelly joyously singing, dancing, and splashing his way through the title number in Singing in the Rain, “making you feel you’ve danced yourself,” as Gia Kourlas might put it. In the Central Park scene from Band Wagon, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse play two professional dancers who have been uncomfortable performing together, which is apparent when you see them walking through the park, still not at ease with each other, still a bit formal, before slowly, subtly, beautifully moving into the dance. The other side of the performance-in-life dynamic is the inevitable return to reality, as when Astaire and Charisse settle down together holding hands in a horsedrawn carriage, or when Kelly descends from singing and splashing to feeling sheepish and self-conscious as he sees a cop warily eyeing him — sane, sober, law-abiding human beings are not supposed to sing and dance in public. PERFORMERS RULE

Although the source of the Metropolitan’s multi-authored Play It Loud is the recent exhibition on the “instruments of rock & roll,” the performers are the center of attention, beginning with “The Quintessential Quartet,” alias the Beatles, who also appear in individual close-ups as soon as you open Vogue magazine’s lavish Vogue X Music (Abrams $65), a glam-glorious coffee table book with Lada Gaga on the front cover and Beyoncé on the back. In his contribution to Play It Loud, David Fricke describes the deification of guitarist Eric Clapton that began in early 1966 with graffiti “scrawled on subway

walls and other spare surfaces in north London.” One image that captures the amped-up, electric-guitar-crazed milieu of the time is Roger Perry’s photograph of a hefty, heavy-coated elderly woman with a cane in one hand and a leash in the other, waiting while her dog pays its respects to a big corrugated metal fence on which CLAPTON IS GOD is spray-painted in immense black letters. You can juxtapose the gritty in-the-street ambiance of rock and roll with the impeccably stylish formality of ballet simply by comparing the photograph of the woman and the dog from Play It Loud with the elegant dancer in the Ballerina Project posing en pointe on a street in lower Manhattan with a leash in one hand while her dog looks on, as if admiring her style. “THE RED SHOES”

My favorite blendings of rock and ballet are Van Morrison’s “Ballerina,” where he’s urging the dancer to “step right up, keep moving on, moving on, stepping lightly,” and Kate Bush’s “The Red Shoes,” which takes its title and theme from the 1948 film based on Hans Christian Andersen’s Faustian fairy tale. Bush’s lyrics break through the formality of ballet to the dark side where the dancer can’t stop dancing, the real world is gone, performance is all-consuming, “really happening to you, really happening to you.” FROM DISNEY TO BOWIE

Other new books on the performing arts include Michael Goldman’s The Art and Making of The Lion King (Disney Editions $50); Portraits from Hollywood’s Golden Age (Lyons Press $29.95), drawn from Colin Slater’s Hollywood Photo Archive; The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together (Abrams $40) by Adam Nayman; and photographer Terry O’Neill’s Bowie by O’Neill: The Definitive Collection with Unseen Images (Cassell $50). WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE


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Hedges Barn, Mulford Farm Museum, East Hampton, New York, raised December 2018.


f these old barn walls could talk, they might use terms such as “braces and purlins,” “rafter-to-ridge,” and “jack-to-hip.” In fact, the centuries-old structures do have a lot to say about what’s taken place under their roofs. Elric Endersby and Alexander Greenwood are listening to those stories and reinterpreting them as they reimagine the historic structures. The firm they built 40 years ago, the New Jersey Barn Company, has 200 projects under its tool belt: everything from resurrected barns dating from Shakespeare’s time to exacting replicas of Colonial-era buildings. Most of their projects have been in the U.S., but they also work in the Dominican Republic (DR). “We fantasized about a project on a tropical island with warm breezes, sandy beaches, and rum cocktails,” Greenwood wrote for Timber Framing magazine in 2014, about a resort development at Playa Grande on the island of Hispaniola. “Be careful what you wish for,” he added. They flew to the job site with power tools tucked among socks in their luggage, managed to get in a swim, then surmounted innumerable obstacles in order to catch the return flight they had booked. “Okay, we didn’t make any money on this job,” Greenwood admits. “I suppose we lost money.… But it was something we had to do, and given the opportunity we would do it again.” And they will get to do it again — the Barn Company has another job in the DR, resurrecting an Ohio barn on a ranch where the client plans to raise Kobe-style beef. “We were up for an adventure,” says Greenwood. The ranch is in Jarabacoa, a mountain resort area with a tropical rainforest climate that is pleasant year-round. “There are more pine trees than palms in Jarabacoa,” notes Endersby. There are stables and ponds

on the property, and the barn will be incorporated into the house. Until it is built, the client operates out of a classic Airstream trailer adjacent to a pavilion with a fireplace. The New Jersey Barn Company picked up the barn frame in Ohio and is making structural repairs at its Ringoes headquarters before shipping it by container to the DR. Once there it will be hauled up the mountain on a tractor trailer and reassembled. “The logistics are like something out of Fitzcarraldo,” says Greenwood, referring to the 1982 movie directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski, in which a rubber baron is obsessively determined to transport a steamship over a steep hill in the Amazon. Although New Jersey Barn Company’s bread and butter is salvaging and rebuilding antique timber frames, they do much more. They have designed additions to historic properties, and have created new projects that convey a sense of having been around for centuries, with windows, floorboards, beams, and mantels from an earlier era. The vintage parts might come from the old barns they have in storage, or as they like to say, “in hibernation.” Looking for a historic barn with which to festoon your property? The New Jersey Barn Company has at least 12 to choose from, including an English barn from 1558. “That’s [six years] before Shakespeare was born,” Endersby remarks. At one time, clients in the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket were especially interested in repurposed barns for pool houses, antique cars, restaurants, and artist studios. “We used to believe our business was recession proof because many of our clients had plenty of money,” Greenwood says. But after the financial crisis that began in 2008, the optics of conspicuous consumption was not a good look. So the Barn Company began taking on more municipal projects.

Playa Grande Beach Club complex, Dominican Republic, July 2013.

Playa Grande pool pavilions, January 2014.


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Gazing out the window of the former tavern that is now their offices, seven Highland cattle can be seen grazing the land. They’d be pronounced “coos” in their native country, Endersby points out. The 15 acres, assessed farmland, is undergoing review for preservation. Greenwood and Endersby are fond of the animals and spend a good amount of time staring at the tawny-colored tresses that dangle over the animals’ eyes. The men bring them apples and worried like new grandfathers when one gave birth in a thunderstorm (after going missing for a short time, the calf was recovered and was fine). There are vintage green Chevrolet pickup trucks with the New Jersey Barn Company logo dotting the area, and the farm buildings also suggest a trip back in time. Endersby, a Ewing resident who winters in the Dominican Republic, and Greenwood, a Harbourton resident, started the business in 1980 out of a fascination with architectural history, and a determination to preserve venerable structures fashioned from virgin timbers, but relegated to sites slated for development. They foresaw that the forests that supply the wood would no longer exist. In 2000 they bought the tavern, built between 1737 and 1740, and most recently the home of a chicken farmer. To restore it they peeled away the knotty pine paneling, dropped ceilings and new flooring to reveal original floorboards, lath and plaster, four fireplaces, and a beehive oven. “Ghosting established molding profiles. Five-panel doors were salvaged from another mid-eighteenth century house destined for demolition. “We love detective work,” says Endersby.

To one side of the center hall, a room is filled with half-inch scale models documenting dozens of barns they have disassembled. Upstairs, the offices are filled with books, photographs, and files of measured drawings requisite for the re-erection of barnes and other structures. One of New Jersey Barn’s more high-profile clients was Steven Spielberg, who had a residence built in the Hamptons from an old New Jersey barn. Artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel had New Jersey Barn salvage a building that would have become his studio, but was ultimately denied the variance he needed. Other clients have included Larry David and Bill Murray, both of whom have summer retreats on Martha’s Vineyard. Closer to home, Endersby and Greenwood reassembled a barn to serve as the visitor center at Howell Living History Farm; re-created the Dutch barn at Rockingham; and for the Schenck Farmstead, a historic site in West Windsor, restored an early Dutch-English hybrid barn, a local oneroom schoolhouse, and a timber frame replica of a wagon house. Other recent projects include the restoration of a c.1800 barn relocated from Montgomery Township to the St. Michaels Farm Preserve, the D&R Greenway property in Hopewell. At Gravity Hill Farm near Lambertville, the Hendrickson Barn, a pre-Revolutionary War structure with Quaker origins, provides hospitable space for conferences and events. PARTY HARDY

One client, Princeton resident Carol Wojciechowicz, had an Englishstyle barn from behind the Plainsboro Municipal Building moved to her Herrontown Road property in 1990. It was taken apart piece by piece,

Hendrickson Barn, Gravity Hill, Hopewell Township, 2017.

Dominy house re-creation, East Hampton, New York, September 2019.

Bonham Barn, Kinterhook, New York.

Shehab family pavilion, Skillman, New Jersey, 2019.

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Nevius-Pleasant Plains Dutch Barn, Middlebush, Franklin Twp., Somerset County, New Jersey, May 1998.

Nevius Dutch Barn, Rockingham, Kingston, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy HMR Architects)

labeled, fumigated, and reassembled with wooden pegs and vintage area for a substitute, they eventually settled on a barn in Dutch Neck destined for demolition. In 1977, friends and family gathered for a twohardware. Wojciechowicz has hosted several weddings and numerous parties in the barn, and entertains her grandchildren in a small house she day barn raising, followed by a barn dance celebrating its completion. When the project was complete, Greenwood and Endersby resolved calls her “itty bitty” that the Barn Company resurrected from a site just to to pursue their mutual interests in down the road. Endersby has had a passion for historic architecture, carpentry, and restoration work. old houses since his childhood in Princeton. With dreams of becoming “Working on Glencairn, a longneglected property, was the best an architect, Endersby studied post-undergraduate training we could architectural history and fine arts at have,” says Greenwood. Trinity College, but became more interested in the history. TOOLED OUT FOR Returning home, he was MUSEUM USAGE recruited to collect oral histories for the Historical Society of Princeton, In 2016, New Jersey Barn Company founded the Princeton History dismantled an early barn in East Project, and launched the Princeton Hampton, shipped it to New Jersey Recollector, a monthly journal of for repair and replaced wood damaged local history. (Later he served on the by termites, and then hauled it back society’s board for many years.) to Long Island for re-erection as an Meanwhile, Greenwood, an event space at the East Hampton Abington, Pa., native who’d studied Historical Society’s Mulford Farm. sociology at Rider University, had Tools used for the Dominy house re-creation in East Hampton, New York, September 2019. A subsequent project for the Village worked for an architectural firm and of East Hampton is the reproduction realized his interest was more in of the Nathaniel Dominy V house. Dominy, part of a multi-generation early farmhouses, mills, and churches. He began restoring old houses, family of craftsmen, built furniture, clocks, houses, windmills, and was including Glencairn, now a bed and breakfast, with Clifford and Stephen a supplier of agricultural tools to farmers in East Hampton — his tool Zink. An old barn on the property had collapsed, so after scouring the WINTER 2019 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Elric Endersby, left, and Alexander Greenwood outside their studio.

member. A dendrochronology technician (one who dates trees by their collection is now housed at Wintherthur Museum in Delaware. The 1770 Dominy house had been torn down in 1946, but the village growth rings), Cuba lived in the Green Mountain State for five years while working for the Institute for Social Ecology before joining the historian has put together the resources to have it rebuilt. Plans archived in the Historic American Building Barn Company. He points out that a timber frame should be good for at least Survey of the Library of Congress several hundred years — much longer were used to create the replica, which will become a museum for the display than it takes a tree to grow. Greenwood and Endersby could of Dominy tools and the works they created. not do this work alone. They contract architects and other specialists with The challenge was that the new expertise in historic periods. Dale timbers had to be hewn so that the Emde has worked with them for 15 texture was exactly the same as the years, and Cuba joined the team original, and hewing had to be done with tools of the era. five years ago. A Doylestown native who went to summer camp at the “We’re Luddites,” says Greenwood. Mercer Museum, surrounded by its “We’re one of the few construction vintage tools, Cuba met Endersby companies that attempts to use periodand Greenwood at a timber framing correct materials and techniques.” conference. “They were the two guys Typically they will use white in tropical shirts,” he says. oak from the woods of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In considering the And those antique tools for hewing? Cuba brings his own collection. He sustainability of building with heavy says he learned to use them by listening timber, Greenwood notes that there “Thistle,” at the Barn Company headquarters in Ringoes, New Jersey. to the wood. And he couldn’t be doing couldn’t be a better use than in a this for a more appreciative set of museum honoring a wood craftsman. employers, who are in their business for the love of it. “In Vermont, people have traditionally kept woodlots, and don’t always rely on lumberyards,” says Michael Cuba, a Barn Company staff

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