Branchville Soho Gallery bequest of art becomes exhibit

Wilton Library, site of show beginning Friday, is beneficiary of Paula and Louis Reens’ gifts of 50 paintings

As many New York metro area art lovers had known, Paula Reens was the longtime owner and curator of the Branchville Soho Gallery in Ridgefield, which earned a measure of prominence in the art world throughout the ’80s and ’90s.

After the gallery closed, most of the artwork was stored in her and her husband Lou’s attic. Last year the Reens, who have called Wilton home for the past 49 years, decided that it was time for the diverse collection to find new homes and have the remaining paintings from the contemporary art gallery placed on display at the Wilton Library, with all proceeds from the sales going to the library.

“When they closed the gallery, they had to move the paintings and they’ve been with them in Wilton ever since,” said Ed MacEwen, Wilton Library’s art chairman. “I talked with Lou one day and he told me he really needed to downsize and wanted to give the paintings that were left in the gallery to us. Months ago, we set June as the month to do it.”

Paula Reens died on April 22 at the age of 84 after a long illness. Lou Reens continued on with fulfilling the bequest and the library has spent the past two months getting things up and ready for an exhibit.

“It was an interesting experience to go to the house and go through them all,” MacEwen said. “One of my associates (Petra Saldutti, a volunteer) and I went over and looked at the collection and picked out what we thought would make an interesting exhibition. We’re very grateful for both Lou and Paula for what they are doing for us.”

Beginning on Friday, June 9, Paula Reens’ efforts will not be forgotten when the library honors her legacy and her former gallery with the Branchville Soho Gallery Estate Art Exhibition, kicking off.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see such a great set of paintings in one place,” MacEwen said. “Through the generosity of Lou and Paula, before her passing, this exhibition came together as a love letter to their gallery and to the library. They wanted to see these paintings enjoyed by others and to have the library benefit 100 percent.”

“Wild Horse” by American contemporary artist Ben Benn (1884-1983) is one of 50 paintings in Wilton Library’s Branchville Soho Gallery Estate Art Exhibition, opening Friday.

The exhibition features 50 works, including many by noted American artists Ben Benn (1884-1983), Jack Youngerman (born in 1926), Marvin Hayes, 77, (lived in Wilton 1965-1991) and Robert Heindel (1938-2005). Heindel’s paintings, “Garden of Eros I” and “Garden of Eros IV” will be on display. His works are featured in public and private collections globally including The National Portrait Gallery in London and The Smithsonian Institute.

Wine and food will be served at Friday’s opening reception, 6 to 7:30 p.m., and the public — art lovers or not — are invited to come out and celebrate the exhibit. The Branchville Soho Gallery Estate Art Exhibition will run from June 9-29 during library hours at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton Center. For more information, visit wiltonlibrary.org.

In an announcement about the upcoming exhibit sent to Arts & Leisure recently, Elaine Tai-Lauria, the library’s executive director, said, “Wilton Library is honored to have this exhibition in our gallery and on our walls. We were overjoyed by the Reens’ bigheartedness.”  

— Keith Loria

 

Readers Theatre at Stratford Library

Not yet the weekend, but the Readers Theatre Summer Showcase opens Thursday in the Lovell Room of the Stratford Library at 2203 Main Street. The library’s annual festival of live, script-in-hand readers theater continues weekly with titles from Broadway and Off-Broadway through July 27. The readings are held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in conjunction with library and Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. Square One is “the only full-time, resident theatre currently producing in the town of Stratford,” according to squareonetheatre.com. The group has used a new venue for its 27th season: the stage of Stratford Academy at 719 Birdseye Street. Doors for the readers theater open at 6:30 for open seating and no reservations are needed. The program is free and open to public but it’s recommended for adult audiences. For more details, visit stratfordlibrary.org or call 203-385-4162.

 

On your mark, get set, go!

Special Olympics Connecticut, Summer Games will take place this weekend, June 9-11, at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., New Haven, and at Hamden Hall Country Day School Skiff Street Athletic Complex, 225 Skiff Street, Hamden. More than 2,400 athletes and Unified Sports teammates are expected to compete in cycling, soccer, swimming, tennis and track and field events. Opening ceremonies, Friday at 7:15 p.m. at Jess Dow Field, include the parade of athletes, the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, music and special guests. Competition and award presentations will be held throughout weekend. All are invited and encouraged to attend and cheer on the athletes. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.soct.org, email specialolympicsct@soct.org, or call 203-230-1201. Also, follow at facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsCT, twitter.com/SOCTconnecticut and Instagram (specialolympicsct).

 

Demetri Martin in stand-up Friday

Comedian Demetri Martin will appear Friday at 8 p.m. at The Capitol Theatre, 149 Westchester Avenue, Port Chester, N.Y. “I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I am good at everything” is one of his many quips. The comedian is also an actor, musician, writer and humorist, who is perhaps best known for his work as a contributor on The Daily Show and his Comedy Central show Important Things with Demetri Martin. Doors open at 7 for his Friday night show. Tickets, $39.50-54.50, are available at thecapitoltheatre.com or by calling 914-937-4126.

 

Grayeck’s art in new Easton show

Reverie, a solo art exhibition by Len Grayeck, opens Friday at the Easton Public Library at 691 Morehouse Road. The opening reception is Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m. Grayeck, a self-taught artist with more than 25 years’ experience, specializes in portraits, landscapes and abstracts, according to his Facebook page. “Painting still means the world to me. When the work is going well, I am filled with a sense of industrious wonder,” the Shelton artist declared at LenGrayeck.com. The exhibit runs through July 30. Viewing hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10-8 p.m. and Saturday, 10-3. For more details, call the Easton Arts Council at 203-261-0175 or send email to info@eastonartscouncil.org. The arts council’s annual regional open juried show, Art in the Country, with 57 works by 42 artists and sculptors ends this weekend at the library.

 

Director Donna McLaughlin Wyant, center, providing characterization to, from left, Giovanna Olcese, Richard Holmes, Bill Johnston and David Victor for the Westport Community Theatre’s production of The 39 Steps.

Zany whodunit on stage in Westport

Westport Community Theatre will open The 39 Steps, a comedy by John Buchan, on Friday night at 8 in the theater at Westport Town Hall at 110 Myrtle Avenue. The 39 Steps, which won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, was a two-time Tony Award winner in 2008. The production is described as a “fast-paced whodunit” that combines “the suspense of a Hitchcock masterpiece and a spy novel, with a dash of Monty Python humor.” The cast plays more than 150 characters in the show with “antics including handcuffs, missing fingers, a plane crash and some good old-fashioned romance.” Director Donna McLaughlin Wyant is an award-winning TV writer and producer. The show runs through June 25 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., and Thursday, June 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and students. They may be reserved at westportcommunitytheatre.com or 203-226-1983.

 

‘Great War’ exhibit to open in Danbury

The Great War: Danbury Answers the Call exhibit includes many images, such as this one showing soldiers departing by train.

“All we hear & know now is war and my head and ears ache from the roar of the guns. We went into position again the other night and got an awful reception. Fritz sent over the iron and filled the air with gas so it was rather hard work and living in the ground fairly makes your bones sore all over. Have stood it pretty good so far.” The preceding description of World War I events on Oct. 7, 1918, was penned by Danbury soldier Ernest Hoyt Patchen to his mother, Mrs. Arthur Patchen. Ernest Patchen was serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. The soldier’s letters, numbering nearly 100, were donated to the Danbury Museum & Historical Society at 43 Main Street by his daughter, Marilu Tosi, and are featured in the new exhibit at the Danbury Museum, The Great War: Danbury Answers the Call, opening on Saturday. Also on display will be historical imagery of all kinds, such as parades, war bond rallies, soldiers and the like, plus posters and other memorabilia. The museum gives guided tours on Saturdays when it is open 10 to 4. Hours on other days are 9 to 4 Wednesday through Friday. Throughout the next several months, the museum plans special events related to the exhibit such as a World War I Film Series in conjunction with the Danbury Library; a WWI Recipe Potluck Dinner in October and A Night of Poetry in November. The exhibit runs through Veterans Day, Nov. 11. For more details, go to danburymuseum.org or call 203-743-5200.

 

New Pond Farm open house Saturday

New Pond Farm at 101 Marchant Road, West Redding, will have an open house Saturday from 10 to 2. Visitors can meet the farm’s animals, visit a Native American encampment, gaze through a telescope with a solar filter, learn about the farm’s dairy operations, feed a turtle and take a walk on the trails. Continuing through Sunday is the farm’s Invitational Art Show featuring original paintings, drawings, and sculptures by 50 professional artists inspired by the flora and fauna of the farm and the surrounding countryside. For more information, call 203-938-2117 or visit newpondfarm.org

 

Clay Art Center: two solo shows

The Clay Art Center at 40 Beech Street in Port Chester, N.Y., will open two concurrent solo exhibitions on Saturday with a reception 6-8 p.m. Stories of My Histories by Natalia Arbalaez features her sculptural stories, which the artist uses “to connect with her Colombian heritage and to pay homage to her family.” In Geometric Configurations by Logan Wall, the 2016-17 Clay Art Center Artist-in-Residence, the artist “explores the challenge of designing pottery with sharp lines and precise geometric forms. Her formal focus in composition references geometric abstraction and architectural elements.” The exhibits run through July 15. For more information, visit clayartcenter.org or call 914-937-2047, ext. 226.

 

Festival helps kids’ healthy eating

Healthyville exhibit at Stepping Stones Museum for Children

The inaugural Kids’ Food Festival takes place at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children at 303 West Avenue, Norwalk on Saturday. There’s a morning food demonstration/tasting with Bill Kunkel from Harbor Harvest, a cooking class with Cricket Azima starting at 1 p.m., and more food demos, tastings and a workshop at the Stepping Stones Café. “Our exhibits not only feed children’s imaginations, but we incorporate healthy eating into many of our activities to instill good habits at a young age,” said Rhonda Kiest, the museum’s CEO and president. Making a stop on its national tour, Creative Kitchen Kids Food Festival To-Go brings the signature activity, the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt to Stepping Stones. Upon completion of the scavenger hunt, families are rewarded with a prize pack. Visitors can also experience the travelling Healthyville interactive exhibit to learn more about health and wellness. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10-5. Admission is $15 per person and $10 for seniors (over 62). More details are available at steppingstonesmuseum.org or 203-899-0606.

 

Liz Joyce and Sprout

Free puppet show and more

The Doubtful Sprout, a free puppet show with songs by Liz Joyce and a couple of puppets, will take place on Saturday, June 10, at 1 p.m., at Greenwich Historical Society, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob. It’s CT Open House Day, with activities from noon to 4, and admission is free. Visitors will also be able to make their own puppets in the Vanderbilt Education Center throughout the day, visit Henson exhibit and tours of Bush-Holley House at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Details are available at greenwichhistory.org or 203-869-6899.

 

Big tailgate tag sale in Southport

Tailgating is not exclusive to football season. The Trinity Tailgate Tag Sale is on Saturday from 9 to 4 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport. Sellers get the opportunity to buy spots in church’s parking lot on corner of Pequot Avenue and Center Street in Southport, and pack their cars with merchandise for sale. But first dibs will be at the Chic Boutique & Cocktails event on Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with the sale’s team serving “tailgate style” appetizers including lobster rolls in Trinity’s Parish Hall. Tickets, $40 each or $75 for two, are available at tinyurl.com/tagsale2017. More than 40 families are expected to set up spots on Saturday and sell items ranging from antiques, clothing, hand bags, scarves and accessories, to china, silver, housewares, children’s party clothes, kayaks, mountain bikes and more. There will also be a merchants’ row, featuring brand-name merchandise. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and lemon scones will be available in morning. Later, there will be food trucks with hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, plus cookies, ice cream, candy and soda throughout the day. There’s entertainment for kids, including face painting and games. The sale is a benefit for Trinity’s outreach program. Spots cost from $100 to $150 and may be reserved at tinyurl.com/tagsale2017. The rain date is June 11, 12-5.

 

Ramsey Lewis

Jazz legend in concert Sunday

Three-time Grammy Award-winning pianist Ramsey Lewis will play the Ridgefield Playhouse stage, 80 East Ridge Road, on Sunday at 8 p.m. Described as an “iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for more than 50 years” his sound has crossed over to the pop and R&B charts. Italian wine tasting by Gallo Ristorante and art exhibit by award-winning Connecticut painter Cynthia Mullins will take place starting at 7:15 in the lobby. Kicking off the night: funky-jazz-fusion band Steve Clarke Trio. Tickets $62.50 at ridgefieldplayhouse.org or 203-438-5795.

 

First Pirate’s Ball in Milford

New this year for the 15th annual Pirate Weekend, June 10 and 11, organized by the Downtown Milford Business Association and teamed up with firefighters of Local 944 to raise money for Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp: The Pirate’s Ball on Saturday, starting 6 p.m. at Fowler Pavilion, 1 Shipyard Lane, Milford. The ball features Changes In Latitudes, a Jimmy Buffet cover band; food trucks, and cocktails for purchase. Costumes are encouraged for this 21-and-over event and the best dressed pirate will win a chance to ride aboard “Oz” with Captain Kidd the following day. Tickets, $30, are available at eventbrite.com. Sunday is Pirate Day, with activities from 9 to 4. For more details, visit downtownmilfordct.com/events and check Bill of Fairs.

 

The Soupstock Music & Arts Festival on in Shelton will feature two music stages and more. — Shelton Herald photo

Soupstock VIII Saturday and Sunday

Both soup and chilli cook-off competitors will square off at the Soupstock Music & Arts Festival on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 to 8 at Veterans Memorial Park in Shelton. There will be art, music, food and crafts; two music stages, a Kids’ Zone, artisan craft shopping and exhibits. The annual Soup Cook-Off is Saturday from noon to 5 and the Chili Cook-off follows on Sunday, noon to 5. Tickets are $15 per day and admission is free for kids 12 and under. For more information, go to soupstockfestival.org. The festival is a benefit for Mary A. Schmecker Turtle Shell Fund, a non-profit charity which provides education grants and scholarship programs. For more details, visit turtleshellfund.com

 

Free birding walk for families

A family birding outing is planned on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield at 2325 Burr Street in Fairfield to celebrate Connecticut Open House Day. This free program is all about birds. Guests will learn the basics of how to identify birds, then there will be a guided walk in the center’s wildlife sanctuary to put the newly learned skills to work. Visitors can explore the Larsen Sanctuary’s varied trails and ecosystems, the Birds of Prey compound, view live animal exhibits and shop the Nature Store where open house participants get 10% off. To register, call 203-259-6350, ext. 109. For more details, visit ctaudubon.org.

 

Bacon, brew and more at fest

The Bacon and Brew Fest, hosted by Notre Dame High School in Fairfield (home of original Garlicfest) is an effort to bring back a “fest.” The ND Bacon and Brew Fest, (a 21-and-over event), takes place on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at 220 Jefferson Street, Fairfield. There will be beer sampling, live music, food and fun. Tickets, $15-$30, are available at ndbaconandbrew.eventbrite.com.

 

One room school and herb garden at Mill Hill Park.

Mill Park reopens Saturday

Norwalk Historical Society will hold a grand re-opening of Mill Hill Historic Park on Saturday from noon to 5:30 in the park with access at 2 East Wall Street, Norwalk. This free event on Connecticut Open House Day includes a ribbon cutting at noon, Chef Tony Delicias’ Mexican Food Truck noon-2, lessons in the one-room Little Red Schoolhouse (1826), self-guided tours of the Governor Fitch Law Office (1740) and the Colonial Herb Garden. Historian Madeleine Eckert will lead a tour of Remember the Ladies: A Revolutionary War Cemetery Focusing on Some Fascinating Women at the Mill Hill Burying Ground at 3 p.m., there’s a new salon-style exhibit in the Town House (1835) entitled: Preserving and Observing: Two Centuries of Norwalk Art at 4. The park grounds feature new interpretive signs. For more details, visit norwalkhistoricalsociety.org.

 

First Jewish Food Fest Sunday

The Southern Connecticut Jewish Food Festival this Sunday is the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy’s inaugural one and it runs from 11 to 4 at Temple Israel, 14 Coleytown Road, Westport. There will be a diverse array of activities, including workshops on topics from food justice and sustainable food practices to global Jewish culinary traditions, as well as a keynote lecture on “new wave Jewish cuisine.” There will be an exhibit hall of vendors and organizations engaged in Jewish food and sustainability, a Jewish food book exhibition and sale, and the opportunity to meet cookbook authors. “Bringing a Jewish food festival to Upper Fairfield County has long been a dream of mine,” says Westport resident Elise Meyer, festival chair, avid organic gardener and kosher-food blogger. “For me, Jewish food is about so much more than pastrami and gefilte fish…” Registration is required at jewishphilanthropyct.org/food-festival-2017 or call 203-226-8197.

 

Maloney in Ridgefield Folk concert

The Ridgefield Folk series continues with Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter Heather Maloney in concert on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library at 472 Main Street. Maloney has toured nationally as a headliner and also in support of acts including Mary Chapin Carpenter. “Raised on a record player instead of a TV, Maloney dug deep into her parents record collection for entertainment obsessing over the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and more,” according to an announcement about the concert from the library. “So, it’s no surprise that the folk, pop and rock greats of the 60’s and 70’s found their way into her own music, along with 90’s radio hits by Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and Mariah Carey.” Free tickets will be given out at the door starting at 1 p.m. Doors open at 1:30. For more information, visit ridgefieldlibrary.org or call 203-438-2282.

 

Oscar Wilde portrayal in Newtown

The Town Players of Newtown will present a special one-time fundraising event, Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class, a one-man show portraying Oscar Wilde, on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Town Players’ Little Theatre, 18 Orchard Hill Road, just off Route 25 in Newtown. Featuring actor Johnson Flucker, the production is “a fully-staged, costumed, one-act play that finds the famous author/playwright Oscar Wilde – alone and near destitute – in a Parisian café in August 1898, where he reflects on his past, present and prospects for a not-too-promising future.” Tickets, $20, are available at newtownplayers.org or 203-270-9144. Walk-ins are welcome, but online tickets or phone reservations are recommended.

 

Nuremberg Trials in Sunday talk

The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County will present the inaugural Norma and Milton Mann Lecture, with the topic Nuremberg Trials: What Happened Then and Why It Matters Now, on Sunday, June 11, at 11 a.m., at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford. The speaker will be John Q. Barrett, an expert on the Nuremberg Trials and U.S. Chief Prosecutor at the trials, Robert Jackson, who became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Professor Barrett is a teacher, writer and public commentator who was the official moderator and gave the introductory lecture at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Nuremberg Trials in the historic Nuremberg courtroom. He is a professor of law at St. John’s University in New York City where he teaches constitutional law and legal history. Refreshments will be served at 10:30. Reservations are suggested at info@jhsfc-ct.org or 203-359-2196.

 

And coming up…

Bill Emmott, author and journalist, whose latest book, The Fate of the West, examines the decline of liberal democracy, will talk about civility and Western society on Tuesday, June 13, 6 p.m., Ferguson Library, 96 Broad Street, Stamford. Emmott is also chairman of The Wake Up Foundation, a charity dedicated to education and communication about the decline of Western societies, which he co-founded in 2013 with Italian filmmaker, Annalisa Piras. Info about the series: 203-351-8231, registration at fergusonlibrary.org

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The next Fairfield County Arts Association Art Presentation is on Wednesday, June 14, 7 p.m., Roger Ludlowe Middle School Library, Fairfield. The presenter: painter, Dr. Philip Eras of Fairfield, will talk about how he started painting and progressed from objective to non-objective art; several paintings to be shown to demonstrate. Non-members may attend first meeting for free. Info: fairfieldcountyarts.com or Alice Katz at 203-259-8026.

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September 1917 – November 1918: From Chaos to Victory with Jean-Pierre Lavielle, Thursday, June 8, 7-8:30 p.m., Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road. Lavielle will examine how arrival of American Expeditionary Force and the influx of 250,000 doughboys per month starting in September 1917 changed the course of WWI. Registration: at wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-762-6334.

 

For more upcoming events, check the Arts Listings and daily Events Calendar under the Events tab.

A&L email: arts@hersamacorn.com
Website: arts.hersamacorn.com