Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity

The Norwalk River Watershed Association has launched “Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity,” which includes hiking trail maps of the entire watershed region, including Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston and Redding.

Both the map and David Park’s “Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands” book are available through the NRWA website at http://norwalkriver.org/. Proceeds from each purchase go toward funding NRWA efforts to protect the Norwalk River watershed.

The map is available in paper for $5 and in water-resistant outdoor quality for $8 (100% of proceeds support NRWA). The book is available for $10 (40% of proceeds go to NRWA).

The maps were produced by NRWA and printed with funds from a grant from Norwalk outdoor gear and apparel store Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). The map charts existing and proposed trails from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk north to Danbury throughout the watershed and surrounding vicinity.

Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands by NRWA board member and kayak enthusiast, David Park, is packed with superb information on kayaking the Norwalk area.

The Norwalk Islands, located one mile off shore, include islands open to the public for camping and exploring, a few being part of the Stewart McKinney Wildlife Refuge. The guidebook, complete with color photos, includes information on three local rivers, complete descriptions of all the islands including local wildlife, history, and points of interest such as the Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse and other Norwalk lighthouses as well as other useful tidbits such as where to launch, coastal and off-shore paddling information, and safety guidelines.

For information on free programs, research, volunteer opportunities, and membership, contact http://www.norwalkriver.org.

About the Norwalk Watershed Association

The Norwalk River Watershed Association, incorporated in 1996, is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the water quality and aesthetic value of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed; to encourage recreational use of the existing trails and open space; and to promote research, education, cooperation, and action on the part of the stakeholders in the seven watershed towns in CT (Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) and NY (Lewisboro).

Two New Exhibits at Five Points Gallery, Torrington

Five Points Gallery, a Downtown Torrington gallery, located on 33 Main Street is featuring contemporary work by professional artists, is presenting two new exhibitions that will run through February 2nd.

Shortell_Birds_of_a_Feather

In the West and North Galleries, the show, curated by Michael Shortell is “Cut and Paste: The Art of 21st Century Collage and Assemblage”. Featured artists include: Caryn Azoff, Nancy Doherty, Jon Eastman, Anne Gilman, Jane R. Lubin, M.D., Jane Rainwater, Rashmi Talpade, Paul Theriault and Deborah Wadswort. The art of collage has become more sophisticated since the early 20th century when artists like Braque and Picasso first used scraps of newspaper in their drawings. For this show, Michael Shortell has chosen a variety of works to illustrate the field of contemporary collage and assemblage and its evolution since the early 20th century. This exhibit shows how far contemporary artists have come in technique and content from the simple newspaper cutouts of early Cubism.

Danielle Mailer is the featured artist in the East Gallery with her show called Body Language 2013.. With influences ranging from Matisse to Klimt, to Miriam Shapiro, to Niki De Saint Phalle, Mailer creates dynamic works that offer her interpretation of the patterned silhouette. This installation features numerous 11-foot figures in acrylic paint on aluminum. An artist talk will take place at the Gallery on Friday, January 24th at 6 p.m.

Five Points Gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1-5 and Sunday 1-3 and by appointment.

On February 1 at 2 p.m., three of the artists – Rashmi Talpade, Deborah Wadswort and Jane R. Lubin, M.D. will be at Five Points Gallery for a collage workshop. The workshop is free and open to the public. Space is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. To register www.fivepointsgallery.org.

For information on Litchifeld Hills where to stay, shop and dine visit www.litchifeldhills.com

Celebrate the holidays PT Barnum Style!

During December, Bridgeport’s Barnum Museum is offering a limited, yet glorious, series of Victorian Christmas events as part of the Celebrate the Season programming.

On Wednesday, December 11, at 11 a.m. the musuem is hosting a reading of The Night Before Christmas by Sonya Finch Bridgeport’s First Lady. Mrs. Finch will read Clement Clarke Moore’s timeless holiday tale, the enchantingThe Night Before Christmas, under the twinkling lights of a Victorian Christmas tree. Children attending the nearby Early Learning Lab at Housatonic Community College have been invited, but the public is also encouraged to bring their pre-school children for a $2 suggested donation to participate in this traditional way to ring in the holidays.

Lady in Wheeler Room

If you are a fan of Tom Thumb, don’t miss Eric Lehman’s Tom Thumb Lecture on Sunday, December 15, at 2 p.m. . Attendees will get a first look at Eric D. Lehman’s new biography of Bridgeport’s own Charles Stratton, Becoming Tom Thumb. Lehman tells the full story of this iconic figure for the first time. The book details his triumphs on the New York stage, his epic celebrity wedding, his meetings with Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria, and his around-the-world tour, drawing on newly available primary sources and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton’s unique brand of Yankee comedy not only earned him the accolades of millions of fans, it helped move little people out of the side show and into the lime light. Eric D. Lehman teaches travel literature, history, and creative writing at the University of Bridgeport. He is the author of seven books about Connecticut, including A History of Connecticut Food andInsiders’ Guide to Connecticut. Admission $5.

On Wednesday, December 18, at 12 p.m. Kathleen Maher, the Museum’s Executive Director will present Celebrate the Season. This presentation will take participants on a fascinating journey back in time to holiday festivities of bygone days. Maher will present the evolution of the tales and traditions of a Victorian age Christmas. $2 suggested donation.
The Barnum Museum is located on 820 Main Street in Bridgeport in the People’s United Bank Gallery, entry located at the back of the historic building, or McLevy Green on Dec. 5. Call for more information 203-331-1104 ext.100, M-F, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

The Barnum Museum Holiday schedule:
Sat, Dec. 21 through Weds, Dec. 25 – The Barnum Museum will be closed
Thurs. & Fri., Dec. 26 & 27 – Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Weds. Jan. 1 – The Barnum Museum will be closed
Thurs. & Fri., Jan. 2 & 3 – Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The back exhibition hall of the museum, featuring artifacts that belonged to P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb and others, is open for viewing and exploration on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To learn more about The Barnum Museum’s current programs visit http://www.barnum-museum.org. You can also visit the museum on Facebook, view past programs at www.barnummuseumexhibitions.org or communicate on Twitter @BarnumMuseum.

The original Barnum Institute building is owned by the City of Bridgeport and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“Divided Light and Color: American Impressionist Landscapes” AT The Bruce Museum Through Jan. 29

Still among the best loved of all artistic movements, Impressionism records the world with a memorable alacrity, capturing scenes with spontaneous shorthand of divided light and color. The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, presents a new exhibition, “Divided Light and Color: American Impressionist Landscapes” that runs through January 29, 2012.
One of the greatest strengths of the Bruce Museum’s permanent collection and local private collectors’ interests is the American Impressionist landscape. This exhibition brings together two dozen fine examples of impressionist art in a show with imagery that continues to enchant and endure.

Recent acquisitions by The Bruce Museum include examples of the some of the pioneers of American Impressionism, including the distinguished painters, Theodore Robinson (1852-1896), John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902), and Childe Hassam (1859-1935).
Childe Hassam is well represented locally, with outstanding masterpieces recording his time in France and summer art excursions in New England. He is also well known for his work of the local Greenwich scene, including the Holley House, site of the famous Cos Cob Art Colony, as well as Mill Pond and railway bridge in Cos Cob.

The exhibition attests to the importance of the local Cos Cob Art Colony and its founders and instructors, such as Leonard Ochtman (1854-1934), whose house overlooked the Mianus River and whose work is extensively represented at the Bruce Museum. Second generation American Impressionists, such as Elmer Livingston MacRae (1875-1953), Founder of the America Pastel Society and the Greenwich Society of Artists is also represented. A highlight is the work of Matilda Browne (1869-1947), a local resident of Greenwich, and one of the few women artists among the early American Impressionists.


The exponents of American Impressionist landscape painting also recorded American scenery as far afield as New Hope, Pennsylvania and Carmel, California. Uniting these diverse works is a response to changes in light, a strong palette, and the carefully observed atmospheric effects so characteristic of American Impressionism.

This is a beautiful show that should not be missed by lovers of Impressionist Art.

About the Bruce Museum
Consistently voted the “Best Museum” by area media, the Bruce Museum is a regionally based, world-class institution highlighting art, science and natural history in more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually. The Bruce Museum is located at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. General admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for children under five and Bruce Museum members. Free admission to all on Tuesdays. The Museum is located near Interstate-95, Exit 3, and a short walk from the Greenwich, CT, train station. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Mondays and major holidays. Museum exhibition tours are held Fridays at 12:30 p.m. Free, on-site parking is available. For information, call the Bruce Museum at (203) 869-0376, or visit the Bruce Museum website at www.brucemuseum.org.

Norwalk Seaport Association Stages Murder Mystery to Preserve Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse October 21!


Who done it? Find out as Norwalk Seaport Association (NSA) hosts a murder mystery dinner, “Double Trouble,” to benefit Sheffield Island lighthouse. The event will be held at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., and includes hors d’oeuvres and dinner while guests solve an exciting and entertaining mystery.

“It’s great fun to stage this murder mystery in support of our ongoing efforts to demystify the historic beauty and magnificence of our Sheffield Island lighthouse,” said Tom Shrum, president of the non-profit, volunteer-run NSA. “There’s no better way for southern Connecticut residents to show our pride in our local maritime heritage.”

This is the second event this year to benefit the lighthouse. In March, a sold-out crowd at NSA’s Light Keeper’s Gala collectively donated a record $49,000 for the environmental organization’s stewardship of the lighthouse.

Reservations to the murder mystery are required. Tickets are $75 per person for Seaport Association members and $85 for non-members, and can be purchased online at www.seaport.org.

About Norwalk Seaport Association

Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound. During the summer, its C.J Toth ferryboat takes visitors to Sheffield Island for tours of the historic lighthouse, special events and enjoyment of a walking trail through the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge.

NSA provides environmental education programs that use Sheffield Island and offers diverse special events and community projects, including the annual NSA Oyster Festival, now in its 34th year. This event attracts up to 50,000 people during three days in early September and provides $200,000 in fundraising opportunities for more than 20 other local non-profit organizations. In addition, the Seaport Association helped create Norwalk’s Coastal Area Management Plan; establish the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk; and revitalize historic South Norwalk.

More information can be found at www.seaport.org.

New Canaan Nature Center’s 42nd Annual Fall Fair October 15

The crisp days of autumn are here! It is a glorious time of year in Connecticut when families can enjoy traditional fairs and festivals amidst a backdrop of orange, scarlet and gold leaves.

The New Canaan Nature Center’s 42 annual Fall Fair is chock full of traditional fall fair activities that will please young and old alike. Visitors to the Fair will enjoy pony rides, a “haunted” woodland trail, apple slingshots, nature-based crafts, a hay maze, cupcake and pumpkin decorating, and fire engine rides on New Canaan’s antique fire engine, Old Faithful. The giant bungee jump, one of last year’s most popular attractions will also be back along with the “Kids On The Go” obstacle course and other inflatable rides.


The Fall Fair will feature a wide range of entertainment throughout the day. The Moses Brothers band will entertain families with a live performance of their blues/bluegrass/rock music from 11a.m. – 3 p.m. The 4th Annual Apple Pie Eating contest will begin at 3 p.m. with categories for youth and adults. There is an entry fee ($5 for youth and $15 for adults) and prizes will be awarded. Other live shows include birds of prey demonstrations, shadow puppet shows and story readings between 10:30am – 2:30pm.

New this year will be an “Eco-Village” where attendees can learn about the latest products, services and businesses to help green their home, family and life. Participating Eco-Village sponsors/exhibitors include Alteris Renewables, BPC Green Builders, Going Green Landscape Lighting, Graze Delivered, Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. and Vinylume Inc. Renewal by Andersen.

A wide range of fresh foods will be available to purchase throughout the day, including grilled hot dogs, pulled pork and vegetarian sandwiches, pizza, hot soup and hot and cold beverages. A variety of homemade baked goods will be for sale courtesy of Nature Center volunteers.

Admission to the Fall Fair is free and parking is available at St. Mark’s and the First Presbyterian Church. Tickets can be purchased for $1 each for the activities and food, which range from 1-7 tickets.

About the New Canaan Nature Center

The New Canaan Nature Center is a not-for-profit organization that is an environmental education center and sanctuary dedicated to helping people of all ages better understand, appreciate and care for the world of nature. The annual Fall Fair helps raise funds to maintain and offer this community treasure admission-free to residents of New Canaan and the surrounding area throughout the year. For more information about the Fall Fair visit www.NewCanaanNature.org of call (203) 966-9577.