Antarctic Photography Exhibition Opens at the Bruce Museum

A new exhibition is opening on October 28 at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich called Antarctic Photography: Selections from Gondwana: Images of an Ancient Land. This exhibition features a selection of large-format photographs by Diane Tuft, a New York-based mixed-media artist and photographer.

Wind Formation, Victoria Lower Glacier. Photograph by Diane Tuft
Wind Formation, Victoria Lower Glacier. Photograph by Diane Tuft

In 2012, Tuft traveled to Antarctica after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Her images chronicle the extraordinary results of that expedition with stunning photographs that capture Antarctica’s raw, untouched splendor with colors, textures, and compositions that verge on the surreal.

The exhibition will also include a few specimens, on loan from Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, representing some of the amazing life forms recently found in the Antarctic waters.

Snow Folds, Scott Base Pressure Ridges Photograph by Diane Tuft
Snow Folds, Scott Base Pressure Ridges
Photograph by Diane Tuft

The selected images are highlights of Tuft’s 2014 book Gondwana: Images of an Ancient Land,named for the mega continent that once contained what is now Antarctica, and present her vision of the continent as a living abstract reflection of hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s history. This exhibition runs through February 1, 2015. For more information about the Bruce Museum visit https://brucemuseum.org. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm. Doors close 1/2 hour before closing, Last admission 4:30 pm . For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Diane Tuft

Diane Tuft is a New York-based mixed-media artist who has focused primarily on photography since 1998. She earned a degree in mathematics at the University of Connecticut before continuing her studies in art at Pratt Institute in New York. She has always been fascinated by the mystery of what exists beyond the visible; capturing this through her camera—often traveling to the world s most remote places to do so—has been a guiding principle of her work. Tuft has had solo exhibitions at Marlborough Gallery, Ameringer-Yohe Gallery, and Pace Gallery in New York City, as well as The Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. Tuft’s work can be found in the permanent collection of The Whitney Museum of American Art and The International Center of Photography in New York City, as well as numerous private collections and museums throughout the country.

Holidays with the Bridgeport Symphony

The Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra has an exciting holiday season planned and tickets are selling fast. Once again this year, the orchestra is returning to Saturday night concerts beginning at 8 p.m. with a special optional 7:00 PM pre-concert open to all ticket buyers. Pre-concert attendees will hear the stories and letters that have inspired the repertoire for each concert by invited narrators. Pre-concert events also allow participants closer interactions with conductors, soloists and other musicians as well as the visuals that enhance each live performance.

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On November 15 at 8 p.m. the concert called Dream of Dances will feature György Ligeti – Old Hungarian Dances, Igor Stravinsky – Suite from Pulcinella, Ludwig Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus 92. The conductor, Jacomo Rafael Bairos has been described as “expressive and passionate” [Malaysian Straits Times], and lauded by the Leipziger Volkszeitung as an “impressive conductor… who is elegantly demanding”, Mr. Bairos enjoys an emerging career as an imaginative and inclusive conductor, dedicated collaborator and educator, and ardent champion of living American composers.

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On December 6 the orchestra has planned a special holiday concert that will also begin at 8 p.m. whose theme is A Folk Christmas. This concert will feature the work of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky – Serenade, opus 48; Antonio Vivaldi – from The Four Seasons; Carols and folk songs and the conductor is Eric Jacobsen. This promises to be a night of holiday cheer!

In addition, the holiday concert will highlight a performance by the Fairfield County Children’s Choir conducted by Jon Noyes, Musical Director. The Fairfield County Children’s Choir (FCCC) is a community-based choral program made up of 300 children in grades four through twelve from communities in and around Fairfield County, Connecticut. The FCCC was founded in 1995 to provide children the opportunity to participate in a musical experience which is challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. The FCCC has performed throughout New England as well as in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Maryland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Oakland, Hawaii, Canada, England, Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic. The group has shared the stage with such artists as Renee Fleming, Charles Strouse, Stephen Schwartz, Lawrence Gilgore, Sam Waterston, Christopher Plummer, Nick Page, Ivan Rutherford, Michelle Mallardi, Henry Leck, Bob Chilcott, Jean Ashworth Bartle, Tom Chapin and Rob Hugh. We welcome FCCC back to perform a 2nd time with GBS!

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There will also be a performance by Sara Watkins who plays the fiddle and has spent nearly two decades, as singer and fiddle player for the Grammy Award–winning, bluegrass-folk hybrid Nickel Creek, a trio she’d started performing in when she was a mere eight years old. As a solo artist as the BBC put it, “Watkins’ time in the spotlight is a triumph with her agile playing and the kind of voice that gives your goose bumps the shivers.”

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The final performer is Aoife O’Donovon, best known as the founder and frontwoman of the string band Crooked Still. She is also one-third of the female trio Sometymes Why, and has appeared on the Prairie Home Companion radio program. She has collaborated with artists as varied as jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, Yo-Yo Ma’s Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile’s Goat Rodeo Sessions band, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and Olabelle, to name just a few.

All performances are at the Klein Memorial Auditorium on 910 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport. For ticket information call 203-576-0263 or visit http://www.gbs.org.

Delightful, Delicious, Disgusting: Paintings by Mia Brownell 2003-2013 at the Housatonic Museum of Art

Twenty-eight of Mia Brownell’s paintings will be on display at the Housatonic Museum of Art in the Burt Chernow Galleries from through November 17, 2014. Luscious and sensuous, Mia Brownell’s paintings invite us to indulge in “earthly delights” and are themselves ripe with sexual innuendo.

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What Brownell asks us to contemplate is the brevity of life. “We begin in the madness of carnal desire and the transport of voluptuousness,” wrote the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “we end in the dissolution of all our parts and the musty stench of corpses.” Seventeenth century Dutch still life paintings of tables laden with gastronomic delights served to remind viewers that all things perish but Brownell’s fruits invite us to relish the sweetness of now.

Although Mia Brownell’s paintings “may recall classical Vanitas paintings, her food-based compositions also invoke contemporary food politics. A critic of the food industrial complex, Brownell creates a juxtaposition between the natural and artificial, modeling her opulent still-lifes after molecular structures. Her depictions of shiny apples, bead-like caviar and juicy grapes look almost too good to be edible, hence the title of her upcoming traveling solo show, Delightful, Delicious, Disgusting.

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The exhibition, which premiered at J. Cacciola Gallery in New York, is a ten-year survey of Brownell’s paintings (2003-2013) travelled to the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, New Jersey, Juniata College Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the final stop at Housatonic Museum of Art in Connecticut.”

Gallery hours: Monday- Friday from 8:30am until 5:30pm, Thursdays until 7pm, Saturday from 9am until 3pm and Sunday Noon until 4pm. Please note that the Gallery will be CLOSED Monday. October 13th. For more information visit http://www.housatonic.edu/artmuseum/index.asp

THREE TOP FALL FESTIVALS LURE FOOD LOVERS TO WESTERN CONNECTICUT

The aroma of steaming chowder, the tantalizing scent of garlic, and the chance to sample the best specialties of Iceland await autumn visitors to Western Connecticut, home to three of the season’s top food festivals.

Chowdafest, New England’s largest cooking competition, will be held at Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach on October 12, a new location spacious enough to accommodate the growing fan base, while another popular event, the tenth annual Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival takes place October 11-12, 2014 at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds. The following Saturday, October 18, the fifth annual Iceland Affair and Fire and Ice Music Festival once again will bring fans to Winchester, CT. for a rare treat, one of only two such festivals in the United States.

YOU ARE THE JUDGE AT CHOWDAFEST

At this SOUPerbowl of festivals to benefit the Connecticut Food Bank, attendees are the judges as more than two dozen of the regions best restaurants compete in four categories: classic New England Clam Chowder, Traditional Manhattan and Rhode Island chowders, “creative” chowders that might be anything from sweet potato to Cajun shrimp, and bisque soups such as Butternut Squash and Golden Corn. Everyone receives a spoon, pencil and ballot and can sample unlimited chowder and soups, grading entries on a scale from 7 to 10. Winners are announced at the end of the event.

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For tasting variety, samples are offered at the Cheese and Cracker Corner, at ChowdaMex featuring salsas and chips and at a beverage center stocked with beer and wine. The ChowdaKIDS area will provide samples of ice cream and milk as well as free chef hats, coloring books and stickers provided by Stop & Shop, the event sponsor.

Admission is $10 in advance for adults, $15 at the door on October 11. Ages 6 to 12 pay $5, children under 6 are free. Hours are 12 noon to 4 p.m. Proceeds from this food festival to fight hunger have provided over 100,000 meals for the CT Food Bank. For information, see www.chowdafest.org

GARLIC IN ITS GLORY

Foodies flock each year to the Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival where they enjoy cooking demonstrations, informative food talks, lessons in growing garlic, plus free samplings of garlic dips, spreads, cheeses and oils from specialty food vendors. Visitors can buy farm-fresh garlic as well as other bounty from the fall harvest. All of that is the warm-up for some serious eating that includes treats like homemade roasted garlic sausage with peppers and onions, garlic marinated steak sandwiches, garlic roast pork sandwiches, deep fried garlic, and even garlic ice cream.

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Live bands add to the festive feel, fine artisans are on hand offering hand made crafts and young visitors will find rides and games to keep them entertained.

The Garlic Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday October 11 and 12
at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds, Route 61 just north of town. Adult admission is $7, under age 12, just $1. Find more details at www.garlicfestct.com

TAKE A TRIP TO ICELAND

One woman’s love affair with Iceland was the spark that began this unusual festival. Gerri Griswold, a former chef and current broadcaster, visited the “land of fire and ice” and fell in love.
She has made over a dozen trips to Iceland since 2002 and in 2009, decided to introduce more Americans to their northern neighbor in what she thought would be a one-time event in her home town. Instead, the Iceland Affair keeps growing. At this year’s fifth edition at Winchester Center’s Grange Hall visitors will hear experts talk about Iceland’s arts and amazing nature, see prize photography of the land’s lavish geysers and waterfalls, and will be able to sample authentic Icelandic foods such as goat sausage, smoked and dried fish, sensational chocolates and licorice, the special local yogurt known as skyr, pure Icelandic water, and what Griswold calls the best hot dogs in the world.

On the Winchester Center Green the public will meet Iceland’s biologically pure animals including Icelandic horses, sheep, sheep dogs, and chickens. The event will be held on October 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All the day’s activities are free.

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At night, the original small concert in a barn has morphed into the Fire & Ice Festival, to be held this year at Infinity Hall in Norfolk at 8 p.m. Those attending will hear a host of top entertainers rarely seen in this country, and, perhaps discover the next Bjork, Iceland’s best known performer in the U.S.. For details on the festival and information on concert tickets, see http://icelandaffair.com or phone 860-307-6144.

For more information about lodging and other activities in the area and a free copy of UNWIND, a full-color, 152-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.visitwesternct.com

Westport Arts Center Presents a New Performing Artists Season with Local and International Musicians

The Westport Arts Center is proud to announce a new season for their Performing Arts Series of Jazz and Chamber concerts. The season will feature international musicians, such as Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovic as well as local gems like the Hartford Jazz Orchestra. Bernard Purdie and the Juilliard String Quartet will return for encore performances after their wonderful performances from the Arts Center’s past performing arts seasons.

Julliard String Quartet
Julliard String Quartet

The Center begins and closes the season with Sunday-afternoon performances by some of America’s most distinguished veteran artists. It all starts on Sept. 7 with a concert at the Pequot Library by the long-respected duo-pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter, who have brought their elegant style and technical command to the major music capitals of the world. Audiences will remember that the incomparable Juilliard String Quartet created a sold-out sensation when they performed here during the 2012-13 season, and they will wrap up the new season with another concert at the Pequot on May 17 with a salute to the musical traditions of Vienna.

Dover Quartet
Dover Quartet

The younger artists performing at the Westport Arts Center are all first-rate. When the late-winter storm of 2013 forced the cancelation of the dazzling Armenian clarinetist Narek Arutuynian’s concert, the Center knew they had to re-engage Arutuynian—and he’ll play at the Pequot Library on March 1. Another Young Concert Artists winner, Ana Vidovic, continues the Center’s tradition of solo guitar recitals at the Westport Arts Center gallery on April 26, presenting a satisfying program of music by Bach, Paganini, William Walton, and pieces from the Spanish repertory. On Nov. 9 will be the Dover Quartet, will perform at the Westport Arts Center. The Dover Quartet has swept the major string-quartet competitions in the last two years and is on track to become a major ensemble.

Bernard Purdie
Bernard Purdie

The 2014-15 WAC jazz series will provide a panoramic view on American and world music styles. Legendary funk drummer Bernard Purdie will kick things off in October followed by an intimate concert in November with jazz vocalist Nicole Pasternak featuring Chris Brown in a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Brasilian sounds will be presented in 2015 with Ali-Ryerson and Joe Carter followed by the Hartford Jazz Orchestra lead by the esteemed pianist Donn Trenner.

Tickets are $30/ $25 for Members of the Westport Arts Center, with a $65 ticket available for the Juilliard String Quartet. Student tickets start at $10 per concert and Jazz Jams are $20/ $15 for WAC Members. Season tickets for the Jazz Season are $125/ $105 for Members, and Chamber Season tickets are $165/ $145 for Members of the Westport Arts Center. A limited number of discounted Senior tickets will be available for presale at the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport.Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at www.westportartscenter.org and 203-222-7070.

Heavens Above! Star Gazing is a Thrill for All

They are seeing stars in Western Connecticut—not to mention planets and galaxies. The opportunity to view the heavens close up though a professional telescope is a rare treat, and Fairfield County in Western Connecticut is lucky enough to have four observatories that invite the public to share the thrill of star-gazing. Experts are on hand to guide beginners and viewing should be prime on the clear autumn nights ahead.

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The Stamford Observatory

The Stamford Observatory at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, a research facility used by members of the Fairfield County Astronomical Society, is open to all every Friday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting. The Observatory’s 22-inch research telescope is better than ever, thanks to recent updating with state of the art high precision components. When visitors spot the moon, planets or deep space objects, computer controls automatically prompt the telescope to zoom in on the object.

On specially scheduled Astronomy Nights, informative talks on the planets and galaxies are presented before the viewing hours. These lively programs are suitable for children ages 5 and up as well as for adults.
The Observatory is located behind the Hecksher Farm off Scofieldtown Road. Viewers enter at 151 Scofieldtown Road. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children. For more information, see http://www.stamfordmuseum.org/observatory.html or phone 203-322-1646.

Rolnick Observatory, Westport

The Westport Astronomical Society has its own long-running program for visitors. The domed Rolnick Observatory houses a 12.5-inch Newtonian telescope. On a moonless night when visibility is prime, the portable 25-inch Obsession telescope, the largest available to the public in Connecticut, is brought outdoors. The program at 182 Bayberry Lane is free to the public every clear Wednesday from 8 to 10 p.m. See details at was-ct.org, or phone 203-293-8759.

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Westside Observatory, Danbury

Westside Observatory, located atop a five-acre hill on the Westside Campus of Western Connecticut State University, is dedicated to astrophysical research by students and faculty. The observatory’s 20-inch Ritchey-Chrétien reflector telescope is equipped with a computer-controlled pointing and tracking system as well as a powerful CCD camera that takes multi-color digital images of planets, faint stars and other deep-sky objects. The University also has its own planetarium. Free public viewing nights are scheduled regularly depending on weather conditions, but planetarium shows go on rain or shine. The one-hour shows are not recommended for younger children. Schedules are posted at https://www.wcsu.edu/starwatch.

Bowman Observatory, Greenwich

A new 16-inch telescope is being installed by the Astronomical Society of Greenwich at the Bowman Observatory, with the reopening scheduled for sometime this fall. Check the website, seocom.com/asg or phone 203-413-6762 for exact fall viewing dates, usually the second and fourth Tuesdays each month.