September 19, 2014

Cappella Cantorum Men’s Chorus Presents Concert in Old Lyme This Evening

Drawing by Madeline Favre of Deep River of Cappella Cantorum inspired by a performance in St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Old Saybrook.

Drawing by Madeline Favre of Deep River of Cappella Cantorum.  The work was inspired by a performance of the choral group in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Old Saybrook.

Cappella Cantorum Men’s Chorus will present a concert this evening, Sun., Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme on the corner of Ferry Rd. and Lyme St. in Old Lyme. The concert features selections from Irving Berlin and Oklahoma, A Patriotic Salute, Just a Closer Walk, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Barbershop and a variety of solos.

Tickets are $15 at  or 860-526-1038  or at the door.  Children aged 12 and under are free.

Soloists include Tony, Carrano with I Love a Piano, Ed Bosse with Bridge Over Troubled Water, Kevin Swan with I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, Len Dongweck with It Only takes a Moment, and Bob Johnson with Perhaps Love.


Big Book Club Hosts Mystery, Suspense Author Event at ‘The Kate,’ Sept. 27

John Searles

John Searles

The Big Book Club has announced a new event on Sept. 27, at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (“The Kate”), presented by The Day.  The line-up of mystery and suspense authors includes:

  • John Searles, Editor-at-Large for Cosmopolitan Magazine, Book Critic for the NBC Today Show, and author of Boy Still Missing, Strange But True, and Help For The Haunted; 
  • Tess Gerritsen, internationally bestselling author and creator of the Rizzoli & Isles series on TNT;
  • Alafair Burke, American crime novelist, professor of law, legal commentator, and author of two series of crime novels featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Prosecutor Samantha Kincaid;
  • Lisa Unger

    Lisa Unger

    Lisa Unger, whose novels including Beautiful Lies and In The Blood have sold more than 1.7 million copies and been translated into twenty-six languages;

  • and, Old Lyme’s own David Handler,author of the popular Hoagy & Lulu and Mitch & Desiree mysteries.

The event will be moderated by Hank Phillippi Ryan, investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affliate who has won 32 EMMYs and dozens of other awards for her ground-breaking journalism.  Phillippi-Ryan is also the coveted Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of crime fiction including The Other Woman and The Wrong Girl.

David Handler

David Handler

The event will benefit Reach Out and Read Connecticut, a non-profit organization that prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. By using the code READ at registration, $10 from each ticket sale will be donated to Reach Out and Read.

Tickets are $45 each and include a signature martini courtesy of 44 North Vodka and hors d’oeuvre stations by the Bee and Thistle Inn and The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook.  A cash bar will also be open.

Books will be available for sale by Bank Square Books of Mystic, CT.  Other sponsors include Bob’s Discount Furniture, The Copper Beech Inn, Middlesex Hospital, and

The Big Book Club is a creation of LaFrancois Marketing Consultants and Essex Books.

Register at


Faculty Exhibition on View at Lyme Academy College

'Rest Stop' by Nancy Peel Gladwell is one of the signature paintings of the Studio Faculty Exhibition opening Friday.

‘Rest Stop’ by Nancy Peel Gladwell is one of the signature paintings of the Studio Faculty Exhibition opening Friday.

An exhibition of artwork by studio faculty at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven opens at the College’s Chauncey Stillman Gallery, Friday, Sept. 12.

'The Fall' by Illusration Instructor Jon Sideriadis.

‘The Fall’ by Illusration Instructor Jon Sideriadis.

Thirteen members of the College’s studio faculty are exhibiting in a variety of media in this exhibition.

"Work in Progress" by Chair of Painting Susan Stephenson.

“Work in Progress” by Chair of Painting Susan Stephenson.

The chairs of the Painting, Drawing and Sculpture Departments—respectively Susan Stephenson, Randy Melick and Brian Booth Craig—will all be exhibiting along with their colleagues in those departments.

The Illustration Department, which now comprises three acclaimed professional illustrators, will also have examples of their work on display. Two of the Illustration faculty – Dale Stephanos and John Sideriadis—are new to the College this academic year. Chairs and faculty members from all departments will be present at the opening reception to discuss their works.

Campus Dean Todd Jokl comments, “The faculty exhibition is a wonderful opportunity that highlights the exceptional artist educators who make this institution such an excellent teaching facility. Each member of the faculty is an outstanding and highly respected working artist in her or his own right.  This exhibition will showcase their exceptional talents.”

The Studio Faculty Exhibition 2014 runs from Friday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery. Admission is free and the gallery is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about the exhibition or the College, call Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Olwen Logan, at 860.434.3571, ext. 135, or visit


Latin Arts Organization Awards Scholarship to Incoming Student at Lyme Academy College

Aubrianna Robinson of Groton -_323x468

2014 LNVA Scholarship Winner Aubrianna Robinson of Groton

Aubrianna Robinson describes herself as unique, creative and happy, qualities that helped her win a scholarship funded by the Latin Network for the Visual Arts (LNVA

Robinson, a Fitch High School graduate who enrolled at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts last month, won a $2,000 scholarship administered by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. The foundation awarded a record 206 scholarships totaling $440,000 this year.

Co-founder of the LNVA Mimi Daumy said as the organization closes its doors after Latin Views 2014, its seventh and last biennial exhibit from Sept. 19 through Oct. 31, the group’s annual scholarship will endure as its legacy. The LNVA also awarded a $1,200 scholarship to Lisa Chavez, a New London High School graduate, who will attend Eastern Connecticut State University.

Robinson plans to pursue illustration at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. The 17-year-old served as editor and contributor to Fitch’s art magazine and designed a T-shirt her classmates wore to honor a Day of Silence supporting the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance.

She pursued drama as an actress in the Groton school’s theater program and in the community to help raise money to alleviate hunger. She also received art and writing awards from the Connecticut Art Education Association.

Robinson credits her mother as her role model, saying, “She’s been there my whole life and she listens to me if I have problems or if I have trouble coming up with an idea for art. She is very, very supportive of everything I do.”

That support helped shape a young woman with well-defined opinions. “Everyone is born with a unique and important purpose,” Robinson wrote in her scholarship application essay. “The gift I was given and my purpose in life is to be an artist.”

'Casino' by Aubrianna Robinson

‘Casino’ by Aubrianna Robinson

The first characters that Robinson drew were Powerpuff Girls, three little cartoon girls with a mission to save the world before bedtime. The animated television series ran from 1998 to 2005, but Robinson added, “I’ve been drawing since forever.”

Her career goals include recognition for her art, inspiring other artists to keep working their imagination, and creating, “A new, different and complete series of cartoon.”

It’s no surprise that her favorite band is a virtual, fictional, electro-pop band of cartoon characters called “Studio Killers” that employs 2-D and 3-D animation, unique fashions and unpredictable voices emanating from characters. “Sweeney Todd” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” rank among her favorite movies.

Robinson, her mother, stepfather and two younger sisters are a Navy family accustomed to frequent moves. She came from Washington State to Groton for her senior year in high school.

In her spirit of believing in a strong community and giving back, she made a video for sailors on deployment and received recognition from the Chief of the Boat in appreciation for boosting morale.

Robinson said she is excited to attend Lyme Academy College, especially since its recent partnership with the University of New Haven that creates expanded opportunities for studies.

She enjoys drawing teeth, as evidenced in her pieces called “Teeth” and “Braces.” In “Teeth,” she challenged herself to experiment with gouache, an opaque watercolor medium, learning to create shades of skin. “Braces” is an observational drawing in which Robinson stood in front of the mirror, holding a finger to pull one side of her mouth and expose the braces on her teeth.

'Beautiful Way' by Aubrianna Robinson

‘Beautiful Way’ by Aubrianna Robinson

“Ruffles” shows her intention of creating movement, while “Beautiful Way,” (shown at right)with its psychedelic images streaming from the character’s heart, takes its title from a Beck song with the line, “Such a beautiful way to break your heart.”

The pieces are just a sampling of Robinson’s creations. Her bedroom walls are covered with her art – colored-pencil drawings, ink-and-marker posters and even her red graduation cap, which fostered an art lesson in using acrylic on unfamiliar fabric. She painted herself as an illustrator with a ruffled white skirt under her graduation gown and lettered the words: “Off to illustrate my future!”

Robinson and Chavez join four previous LNVA scholarship winners. The organization has awarded $7,000 to the six winners since establishing the scholarship in 2011.

The group strives to enrich the Southeastern Connecticut community through visual arts created by Latin American and Latin European artists.

The LNVA culminates its work this fall with Latin Views 2014: The Final Biennial. The exhibition features more than 70 pieces of art, showcasing 43 artists that represent 18 countries. The exhibit’s opening reception is 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 19, with a meet-the artists’ event from 12 to 1 p.m., Sept. 20. The show runs through Oct. 31 at the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art at the Branford House Mansion on the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Campus.


Late Registration for Cappella’s ‘Magnificat,’ ‘Gloria,’ Sept. 15

Cappella Cantorum MasterWorks Chorus late registration/rehearsal for Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria is Mon., Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River, 06417.

Registration is $40, Vivaldi’s Gloria $12, Bach’s Magnificat $6.

Rehearsals are Monday nights. Use the rear entrance.

The Gloria, Vivaldi’s best known sacred work, is a joyful hymn of praise and worship.

Cappella is a non-auditioned Chorus.  Tenor and bass soloists will be auditioned from the membership, on Sept. 22, 7 p.m.


Zhang’s Artwork Featured in Fresh Ayer Gallery Exhibition

Artwork by Christopher Zhang.

Artwork by Christopher Zhang.

“Artwork by Christopher Zhang” is currently on view at the Fresh Ayer Gallery in Old Lyme.

Born in Shanghai, China, Zhang acquired a BFA degree in China and a MFA in the United States. In addition to creating subject matter paintings, he specializes in portraiture and landscapes. His versatile styles and skills in both still life and Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy have also won popularity.  His primary painting medium is oil.  Others are watercolor, acrylic, gouache and Chinese ink.

As a professional artist, Zhang has focused on two types of subject matter in his paintings:

  • Chinese minorities and their indigenous cultures and traditions:
  • Classical Ballet Dance



An Open Letter to our Readers from Diane Birdsall

An Open Letter to Friends and Patrons of the Diane Birdsall Gallery

I have taken on a job that will take me outside of the gallery in Old Lyme and into another phase of exhibiting.

I will be working with a hotel developer, Charles Mallory — he operates several beautiful and viable hotels in Greenwich, Southport, Stamford, Aspen [Marfa] Texas and a Vermont inn to be completely revamped, as well as a new hotel project on the boards to open in 2016.

I closed the Old Lyme, 16 Lyme Street address gallery at the end of this past show on Aug. 22. The walk-in traffic has always been slow and having a presence outside of the brick and mortar space is more viable.

After SCOPE in Basel and Cutlog in New York, I am now receiving request regarding sales and just recently sold a work to the largest art collector in Turkey.

Funny how art sales work — it sometimes takes years or minutes for people to make a move.

I do conceive a pop-up show here in Connecticut in a completely different sort of space.  You as patrons and clients are important to me and bringing the work of artists out into exhibition is my passion, so I do not want to lose this side of the art world that I truly enjoy.

My website will remain active and I have planned exhibits for 2015 – they will take place in new locations and expanding worlds.

I have always felt honored to work with talented artists and to be a part of their world.  And encouraging others to bring art into their life is like food for me — an absolute necessity — how can you live without it?

I could not have enjoyed the success of these past eight years without your help and belief and I thank you for your patronage and friendship.  See you soon under a different tent, but assuredly an exciting format.

With heartfelt thanks to you.


Diane Birdsall


Registration Open Now for Community Music School’s Fall Semester, Open House Week, Sept. 8-12

The Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, is now registering for the Fall semester which begins Sept. 3, and welcomes the general public to visit during Open House Week Sept. 8 through 12.

Children and adults can tour the School’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs including private and group lessons, jazz and string ensembles, musical theater, the Kindermusik early childhood program, and music therapy services.  Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.  Those interested in a 15-minute preview lesson are requested to call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities.  The School’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit or call 860-767-0026.


Big Book Getaway Hosts Authors Green, Greenspan at Bee & Thistle for Saturday Lunch

Jane Green Photo credit: Ian Warburg

Jane Green
Photo credit: Ian Warburg

The Big Book Getaway (BBG) team presents New York Times bestselling author, Jane Green, and award-winning cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan, at the next Big Book Getaway luncheon at The Bee & Thistle Inn this Saturday, Aug. 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Green, who is British but now lives in Connecticut, wrote one of her books, Family Pictures, while staying at the Inn.

Green will be introduced by award-winning cookbook author Dorie Greenspan of Westbrook, whose new book, “Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere” (Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $40, will be available for puchase at the event.  

Green will then give the feature talk about her new book, titled, “Tempting Fate,” (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, hardcover), which has been described as a, “riveting, heartrending, and ultimately hopeful new novel, praised by Kirkus as “a Scarlet Letter for the 21st Century.”

Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan

Both women will also sign copies of their new books at the event.  Book sales will be offered by Bank Square Books of Mystic, CT. 

The Big Book Getaway is a creation of LaFrancois Marketing Consultants and Essex Books.  Tickets to the luncheon and author talks may be purchased via the BBG website at this link.

For further information or questions, contact 914-310-5824.  


Essex Winter Series Board of Trustees Elects New Members

Essex Winter Series Vice President Janice Atkeson (left) stands with (from left to right) newly-elected trustees Madeleine Nichols and Paula Anik, and board president Peter Amos at the organization’s June garden party.  Not shown is Henry Resnikoff, who was elected to the board in August.  Photo by Peter Harron.

From left to right, Essex Winter Series Vice President Janice Atkeson stands with newly-elected trustees Madeleine Nichols and Paula Anik, and board president Peter Amos at the organization’s June garden party. Not shown is Henry Resnikoff, who was elected to the board in August.           Photo by Peter Harron.

Peter Amos, president of the Board of Trustees of Essex Winter Series, has announced that Paula Anik of Essex, Madeleine Nichols of Lyme, and Henry Resnikoff of Essex were recently elected to the board of the organizatioin.  In addition, Janice Atkeson, who has served on the board since 2012, was elected vice president.

Anik has strong ties to music and has been a member of Essex Winter Series.  Her father was a classically-trained vocalist who toured with the USO entertaining troops. her eldest daughter is also a classically trained vocalist. She has lived in Boston, Los Angeles and Essex, where she now resides with her husband, Joel.  Anik is a retired residential real estate broker and has served on various charitable committees in a fund-raising role.

Nichols, an interior designer, was born in Budapest, Hungary, and attend Hungarian University of Fine Arts.  She has lived in Cairo, Egypt, and Athens and is fluent in in numerous languages.  She has been professionally involved with antiques and interior design for nearly 30 years in New York and Connecticut, and is currently as Associate with Jonathan Isleib Design of Old Lyme and owner of MWN Interior Design.

Henry Resnikoff is a professional real estate developer and has developed commercial, residential, industrial and assisted living properties throughout the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states.  He was born and raised in New London where his father was also a real estate developer.  With the exception of four years, Henry and his wife Daphne Nielsen have lived in Essex since 1978, currently on Ingham Hill Rd. They have four grown sons.

Bringing world-class classical and jazz music to the shoreline area was the dream of Fenton Brown, who established the Essex Winter Seriesin 1979.  Each year, the Essex Winter Series presents a series of concert performances by top-rated musicians from around the world.

These concerts, held primarily at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, are presented on Sunday afternoons in January, February and March.  A single season may include a mix of such performances as instrumental soloists, opera singers, chamber orchestras, and jazz bands.


Two New Exhibitions on Show at LAA

"Bouquet with thistles" by Marilyn Caissy is featured in the Connecticut Pastel Society exhibition opening Friday at the LAA.

“Bouquet with thistles” by Marilyn Caissy is featured in the Connecticut Pastel Society’s exhibition opening Friday at the LAA.

The Lyme Art Association, (LAA) presents an exhibition celebrating landscape, still life, and figurative scenes captured on canvas and in sculpture on view from Aug, 1 through Sept. 20, 2014.  The August Light: Summer Painting and Sculpture Exhibition for Members is on view in the Association’s three front galleries.

A separate juried show, Pastel Brilliance, in the Goodman Gallery highlights the talented artist-members of the Connecticut Pastel Society (CPS).
The Lyme Art Association is pleased once again to host the CPS in Old Lyme. Exhibition Chairwoman and CPS Signature Member, Cindy Mazzaferro explains, “The CPS is happy to once again partner with the LAA to showcase some of our most talented artists during the Pastel Brilliance exhibition.  This year, our donated demo paintings will be available through the CPS silent auction, which will end the last day of the LAA exhibition, Sept. 20, at 4 p.m.”  Bids can be placed in person or called in to the LAA at (860) 434-7802.
As part of the sculpture component to the exhibition, the LAA is also delighted to welcome members of the Connecticut Sculpture Society as invited guests.
The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community.

The Lyme Art Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within a national historic district.  Admission is free with contributions appreciated.  Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1 to 5pm.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call (860) 434-7802.


Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts Becomes Sixth College of University of New Haven

The Chandler Academic Center at Lyme Academy College.

The Chandler Academic Center at Lyme Academy College.

The University of New Haven announced today that it has finalized its affiliation with Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, making the fine arts school in Old Lyme the university’s sixth college.

“This a historic event, and we look forward to providing outstanding educational opportunities to generations of aspiring artists,” said University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan. “The affiliation of our two institutions will raise the stature of fine arts education in the Northeast while providing expanded benefits, services and opportunities to students, faculty and alumni at both the University of New Haven and Lyme Academy College. We also intend to expand the outreach efforts at Lyme Academy College to benefit local residents and, in fact, all Connecticut residents.”

The Board of Governors of the University of New Haven and the Board of Trustees at Lyme Academy College approved the affiliation in early April. The Connecticut Office of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges also approved the affiliation. Since that time, both institutions have worked to merge their student services, faculty units and other support and operating systems. Those integrations will continue through the upcoming academic year.

Todd Jokl, associate professor and past chair of the UNH Department of Art and Design, will serve as the campus dean at Lyme Academy College. Jokl will be based at the College in Old Lyme. Jokl received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut.

“I envision great things happening in the months and years ahead,” Kaplan said. “We will work closely with Lyme Academy College to create a top-tier fine arts education program.”

The affiliation presents many advantages to both institutions. Lyme Academy College will benefit from the operational breadth and depth of the University of New Haven, gaining access to an expanded range of liberal arts courses and complementary UNH art programs, such as design and digital media. The University of New Haven also offers study-abroad opportunities at its campus in Tuscany, Italy, where Lyme Academy College students can attend classes. Lyme Academy College students also will gain access to the university’s broad liberal arts program and new learning opportunities.

Administrators have said that little will change regarding the student experience at Lyme Academy College. The small classes will be retained, and students will continue to be provided the hands-on experiences and the opportunity to become immersed in figurative and representational art. But through the affiliation, students will be provided access to more courses, technologies and academic initiatives that will strengthen their educational experience.

The University of New Haven will add Lyme Academy College’s high-quality Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) program to its curriculum, making it possible for UNH students to study painting, sculpture, drawing and illustration. The university does not currently offer a B.F.A.

“Our university is known for the unique experiential programs it offers to students,” Kaplan said. “The program at Lyme Academy College fits in well with our rapidly expanding offerings at our main campus in West Haven, our new campus in Orange, and our international program in Italy.

“We are determined to protect and preserve the mission of Lyme Academy College, retaining the unique qualities that appeal to students seeking an arts degree in an idyllic, rural setting that nurtures creativity,” he added.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. The university has 80 degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Founded in 1920, the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is nationally known for its academic tradition of figurative and representational fine art that prepares students for a lifetime of contemporary creative practice. The college offers bachelor of fine arts degrees in drawing, illustration, painting, and sculpture (full- and part-time study); certificates in painting and sculpture, a post-baccalaureate program; continuing education for adults; and a pre-college program for students aged 15-18.


Magic of Midsummer Successfully Celebrated Again in Old Lyme

Photo courtesy of the Florence Griswold Museum.  Hard at work, but with a smile, at the Florence Griswold's En Plein Air Market!

Photo courtesy of the Florence Griswold Museum.   Hard at work, but with a smile, at the Florence Griswold’s En Plein Air Market!

They (well, my mother does anyway) say, “The sun shines on the righteous …”  One must therefore assume that the residents of Old Lyme are exceptionally righteous because their Midsummer Festival fell beautifully between damp weather on Friday afternoon before the art openings and concerts began, rain Saturday afternoon just towards the end of the day portion of the Festival and storms Saturday night after the spectacular fireworks.

The weather simply could not have been more cooperative — except, I suppose, if we’d had sun from start to finish!


The Lyme Garden Club’s stand is always a popular spot in front of the Lyme Art Association.

In a nutshell, the Festival embraced a triumvirate that has been celebrated for many a long year here in Old Lyme — art, music and food.  But this is no ordinary celebration — we do it with a certain style and a touch of panache!  To that point, there is even a Parading Paws dog contest at the Florence Griswold Museum hosted by the Vista organization, which is full to capacity each year.

Everyone loves a parade?

Photo courtesy of the Florence Griswold Museum.  Everyone loves a parade?

Every year it is a little bit different.  Things move around sometimes — for example, the en plein air  “fence artists” were down at Center School this year.

The music was served with a new twist in the form of an after-concert party at the Bee and Thistle on Friday night, jazz at the Old Lyme Inn and a youth band called, School House Rock at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.

And the food  … ah, the food.  Well, that too was simply splendid!

They wee tapping their feet and swinging their hips under the Old Lyme Inn's band tent.

Feet were tapping and hips were swinging under the Old Lyme Inn’s band tent, while a delicious spread of food was prepared on outdoor grills

The Florence Griwold’s Market en Plein Air aroused the senses — especially the taste buds — as always,  but where to next?  Lobster rolls at Lyme Academy College or grilled food at the Old Lyme Inn or what about a Maui-Wowi smoothie?

Maui-Wowi drew a continuous crowd.

Maui-Wowi drew a continuous crowd.

There were crafts to do, games to play, books to buy, flowers to admire and art of every description to view — and even, sometimes, buy!  Old Lyme more than lived up to its reputation as the place “Where Art Lives,” and the thousands of visitors who came by on Saturday would likely agree.


Music at the Lighthouse Tonight in Stonington Hosted by Holt


Patricia Schumann and David Pittsinger

Salt Marsh Opera presents Music at the Lighthouse tonight at 6 p.m. at the Old Lighthouse Museum, 7 Water St., Stonington Borough, Conn. Fishers’ Island Sound creates the perfect backdrop for an evening of operatic favorites including music by Mozart, Puccini and Verdi hosted by executive director, Simon Holt, who is the Director of Music at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.   The professional singers, who will be performing this evening, are baritone David Pittsinger, a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, and soprano Patricia Schuman, currently at Glimmerglass Opera.

The event will also debut “The Battle of Stonington.”  Composed by Berklee College of Music senior Joe Holt (who performs at Hard Rock Café in Boston and The Bitter End in New York), with lyrics by Stonington author Meredith Brown, the song is a rousing 200th anniversary tribute to the Borough’s intrepid 1814 defense against the British.

This is an open-air concert by the sea on the lawn of the lighthouse museum. Famlies are welcome to bring their blankets and lawn chairs. The rain location is the Walker Building at Dodson’s Boatyard (194 Water St.) Parking is at the Town Dock.

Admission is $15 in advance or $20 at the door with children under 12 free.  Call 888-788-4188 for reservations or visit


Adam Kolker Quartet Plays In Old Lyme Tonight with Bassist Fitzgerald of Lyme

Joe Fitzgerald

Joe Fitzgerald

There is a very special concert this evening, Thursday, July 24, at The Side Door – the jazz club at the Old Lyme Inn — when Joe Fitzgerald of Lyme and New York City is playing with the Adam Kolker Quartet, which features renowned jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.

Saxophonist and bass clarinetist Adam Kolker has long been recognized as an important part of both the NYC and international music world as a robust improviser, composer and band leader.  He has several critically acclaimed recordings under his name including “Flag Day” featuring Abercrombie and the late, great Paul Motian.

John Abercrombie is a long time ECM recording artist and a true legend in the world of jazz guitar and modern composition.  Fitzgerald on bass and Anthony Pinciotti on drums — two veterans of long standing in the NYC jazz scene — complete the band.

This is a rare opportunity to hear this exceptional band.

The band takes the floor at 8 p.m. and plays through 10:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 at the door or in advance at or by phone at 860-434-0886.


Last Day to Enjoy Florence Griswold Museum’s Free Week for NL County Residents

The Florence Griswold Museum's Gallery Garden will be in full bloom during "Free Week."

The Florence Griswold Museum’s Gallery Garden will be in full bloom during “Free Week.”

Thanks to a grant from The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, all residents of New London County receive free admission to the Florence Griswold Museum from Tuesday, July 15, through Sunday, July 20.

The Museum’s riverfront landscape is situated on an 11-acre site in the historic village of Old Lyme, just 20 minutes from New London. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, where a generation of Impressionist artists lived, the Museum features an exhibition gallery, education and landscape centers, extensive gardens, and a restored artist’s studio.

The current exhibitions celebrate the artistry and skill of traditional folk art. Art of the Everyman: American Folk Art from the Fenimore Art Museum features both rare objects related to notable people or events and anonymous objects of beauty. Thistles and Crowns: Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore traces the stories of these chests from their inspiration, to their fabrication, and ultimately to their lives in local homes.

Visitors can tour the historic Florence Griswold House, restored to its appearance as the boardinghouse for the Lyme Art Colony, stroll through Miss Florence’s historic gardens, and relax along the banks of the Lieutenant River.
 Can You Find Me cards in the gallery and a scavenger hunt in the historic house make the trip both fun and educational for families.

On Sunday, July 20, visitors of any age who want to try their hand at painting are given everything they need to paint down by the river or in Miss Florence’s garden. Their masterpiece makes a perfect souvenir for the day. In conjunction with the current exhibitions, visitors can also make folk art-inspired craft projects. There is no charge for any activity.

“Over the past six years, over 4,000 people from all over New London county have enjoyed these Free Weeks,” notes David D.J. Rau, Director of Education and Outreach. “For many it is their first visit and they are delighted by what they find here. For those who already love the Museum, it’s a great opportunity to see what’s new – for free!” He adds, “Our visitors appreciate this opportunity and we are grateful for the support of The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.”

New London County residents must show proof of residency to receive free admission. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, exit 70 off I-95.

For additional information, contact the Museum at 860-434-5542or


Old Lyme Singer/Songwriter Connie Howard Performs This Weekend

Connie Cihocki chats in the studio with Don DeCesare.

Connie Cihocki Howard chats in the studio with Don DeCesare.

After a decade of writing songs for country artists and performing in Nashville, Tenn., Old Lyme native Connie Cihocki Howard has returned to the shoreline and will be performing local shows this weekend.  Both shows will include another Connecticut native, Matt Bednarksky, who is currently pursuing a record deal in Nashville.  The two have collaborated on a few songs which they will perform together, in addition to each playing other original songs.

Connie won the Nashville Songwriter’s Association Grand Prize a few years ago with her song “Feel,” which has been recorded by various singers including Jive Record’s recording artist Nikki Clearly.

After graduating from Stanford with a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science, Howard spent the next year playing the piano and singing at a popular restaurant in Aix-en-Provence, France, where she began to dabble in songwriting.  She returned to the U.S. to work in investment banking in Manhattan, and recorded her first album of original songs.

Connie Cihocki performs at WLIS radio station.

Connie Cihocki Howard performs at WLIS radio station.

During that time, Howard played numerous Off-Broadway shows and original music at cabarets and songwriter nights in the city.  A trip to visit her sister in Nashville hooked her on the songwriting community there, and eventually she moved to Music City to pursue writing, teaching piano and performing.

“I am so glad to discover how much great live music there in going on here, much more than when I was growing up,” she said in her recent interview on WLIS/WMRD with Don DeCesare, host of “Best of the Shore.”  That interview can be heard on the station’s website at at ‘On Demand’ where it will be available for the next two weeks.

This weekend, you can hear Howard perform on Sunday, July 6, at Perks & Corks in Westerly, R.I., from 8 to 11 p.m. and at The Black Sheep in Niantic on Monday, July 7, from 7 to 10 p.m.

For more information, visit


Atwood Johnson Honored with Community Service Award at Northfield Mount Hermon Reunion

2014 NMH Reunion weekend

Photo by Glenn Minshall/Northfield Mount Hermon School.

Diana Atwood Johnson, Class of 1964, of Old Lyme (pictured center, above), received the Community Service Award at her 50th Reunion at Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) School earlier this month, which recognizes an alumna/us who has been of service to a particular community in either a volunteer or a professional roles, thus acknowledging the value an NMH education places on service to others throughout one’s life.

Atwood Johnson says that she will always remember how compassionate and encouraging the faculty and administration, staff, and housemothers were to a homesick girl at boarding school.  Northfield taught her to add and subtract, wash dishes and make beds.  She attributes her success as an innkeeper and restaurateur to both her education and her senior year dummy working in Dr. and Mrs. Meany’s house.

Recalling that she was not a very good athlete at the school, Atwood Johnson notes, however, that Mrs. Robertson and Ms. Morrow encouraged her to excel—and, in the process, fulfill her sports requirement—as chairman of the Northfield Athletic Association.

Continuing to show her leadership skills, Atwood Johnson helped to found the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and has served on its board since 1980.  She was its chair from 1996 to 2003.  Her involvement with the academy and the Town of Old Lyme gave her the skills she needed to open the Old Lyme Inn, a focal point in town.

She has served as chair of Old Lyme’s Open Space Commission and the state’s Open Space Matching Grant Program. She also joined the board at the Trust for Public Land in 2010.  She is chair of the Connecticut Natural Heritage, Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Review Board, and served for 10 years on the board of the Connecticut chapter of the Nature Conservancy.  She is also a member of the Connecticut Land Conservation Coalition, Old Lyme Conservation Trust, Connecticut Audubon, National Audubon, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

From 1986 to 1992, she served as president of the Connecticut River Museum.  Atwood Johnson also served on the board of the Bank of Southern Connecticut and was a founding director of the Maritime Bank and Trust Company in Essex, Conn., from 1989 to 1999, and later served as its vice chairman.  She served on the Advisory Board of Webster Bank when it acquired Maritime Bank.

Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) is an independent, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades 9–12 and postgraduates, with a mission to provide an exceptional, multidimensional education for the “head, heart, and hand.”

Located in the hills of western Massachusetts, NMH balances academic excellence and a challenging college-preparatory curriculum with opportunities in athletics, the arts, international studies, and service work. Students are encouraged to pursue their passions and discover new ones.  They are empowered by expert faculty and staff to act with humanity and purpose and to understand their potential—in the NMH community, in college, and in the world.  The international alumni population numbers more than 30,000.


The Road to Lymestock: All-Day Youth Concert at Ashlawn Farm

Zach Lockwood

Zach Lockwood

The MusicNow Foundation is sponsoring a youth concert at Ashlawn Farm in Lyme today, Sunday, June 29, from 12 to 6 p.m.  Headlining the rain-or-shine event is Old Lyme’s Zach Lockwood, pictured left, who now pursues his music career in Nashville, Tenn.

Other performers include Kala Farnham, PJ Tautkus, The Modern Riffs, Braiden Sunshine and Laura Spineti, Meredith Kegley, Anna Thompson and many more of the best young artists on the shoreline.

There will also be games, crafts, door prizes and more.  Picnics will be available from Bliss Gourmet BBQ.  Bring your own blankets.

Partners supporting the event include the Old Lyme PGN Library, Ashlawn Farm and Bliss Gourmet BBQ.

Sponsors include Mightingale’s Acoustic cafe, Gramma’s Attic/WCNI Radio, Imagine Gifts of Mystic, Gramma’s Attic Live, local revue/Metrocast Cable Network and captain’s Pizza.

The MusicNow Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to live music to engage, enrich and educate young artists nurturing creative and artistic development.


‘Bird’s Eye View’ Photo Exhibition on View at Lyme Academy College

A Great Egret photographer by Diana Atwood Johnson in Orlando, Fla.

A Great Egret photographer by Diana Atwood Johnson in Orlando, Fla.

An exhibition featuring more than 50 photos by the former Board Chair of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Diana Atwood Johnson is on view in the Sill House Gallery at Lyme Academy College in Old Lyme through Aug. 30.

Atwood Johnson is an accomplished nature photographer, conservationist, and amateur naturalist with a particular love for birds and wildlife.  Since her retirement from 25 years as an innkeeper and restaurateur, Atwood Johnson has spent an increasing amount of time practicing to improve her eye and learn the ever-changing world of digital photography.

After a round-the-clock career in the hospitality industry, she has been able to return to her love of the outdoors, which she learned on fishing expeditions and long walks down the dirt roads of western New York State with her father.

Atwood Johnson is also the publisher of the lavishly-illustrated book, “Swallow Tales,” a pictorial of the hundreds of thousands of swallows that gather over the lower Connecticut River in the early fall.  Copies of the book will be on sale at the Opening Reception, which Atwood Johnson will be attending in person.

The famous, "Swallow Tide," above the Connecticut River, photographed by Atwood Johnson.

The famous, “Swallow Tide,” above the Connecticut River, photographed by Atwood Johnson.

The exhibition will comprise a combination of photographs featuring the natural world both locally and further afield.  The North Gallery of Sill House will feature, “Swallow Tales,” made up entirely of images of birds from Lyme and Old Lyme. The South Gallery will be used to display ‘Large Bird Portraits’ on canvas, mostly from Florida and Connecticut.  The hallway adjoining the gallery will feature small Hummingbird portraits from Atwood Johnson’s birding travels to Namibia, Trinidad, Belize and Cuba.  Finally, the lobby will be used to exhibit photographs from Atwood Johnson’s recent trip to Namibia.

Atwood Johnson served on the board of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts from 1980 and was its Chair from 1996-2003 and 2011-2013.  She was named 2011 Old Lyme Citizen of the Year for her advocacy work on behalf of the arts and the environment.  She is currently the Chair of the Old Lyme Open Space Commission and the State of Connecticut Natural Heritage, Open Space and Watershed Review Board and also serves on the board of The Trust for Public Land.

All photographs will be for sale with proceeds benefitting Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.  There will be both framed photographs and works on canvas ranging in size from 9” x 6” to 40” x 36”. It will also be possible to view the Selected Student Work exhibition on display in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery during the Opening Reception.  This exhibition comprises the best work selected by faculty and created by students in all four years of the College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program.  The BFA program has majors in drawing, painting, sculpture and illustration.  Most works in that exhibition are also for sale.

The Opening Reception is free and open to the public.  Both exhibitions will be on view through Aug. 30, 2014.

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts continues the academic tradition of figurative and representational fine art while preparing students for a lifetime of contemporary creative practice.  The College offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drawing, Illustration, Painting, and Sculpture (full- and part-time study); Certificates in Painting and Sculpture; a Post-Baccalaureate program; Continuing Education for adults; and a Pre-College program for students aged 15-18.

The College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Association of the Schools of Art and Design, and the Connecticut Department of Higher Education.  The College is located at 84 Lyme Street, Old Lyme CT 06371. For more information about the College, call 860-434-5232 or visit