• The Uncommon Path of Ronald Weintraub: Kaleidoscopic Abstraction

    Elaine A. King

    “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent, with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” ~Henri Matisse

    Ronald Weintraub became an artist by an uncommon path.  He was a prominent entrepreneur with multiple careers including leading a family business, the founder and CEO of Harmon, the largest publisher of real estate photo magazines in the United States and the publisher of the New York Sun newspaper.  Earlier he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California studying Political Science.  Although he was pressured by his father to join the family business after graduation, he opted in 1956 to enter the Army and spent two years in Camp Zama, Japan, during the Post-American Occupation.  Weintraub refers to this “as a significant transformative time of my life!”[1]  This was a critical turning point because of his involvement in army life with a wide range of US and Japanese.  On returning in 1958, he attended Harvard’s Business School learning from the pragmatic case method.  This applied philosophical approach to problem solving would shape and influence all of his future participations both in business and art.

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  • ‘Merchants of Deceit’: A work of historical fiction due in spring `21

    Richard Friswell

     “Opium has a harm. Opium is a poison, undermining our good customs and morality. Its use is prohibited by law…However, recently the purchasers, eaters, and consumers of opium have become numerous. Deceitful merchants buy and sell it to gain profit.”                        ~ ~Qainlong Emperor (known as Hongli), 6th in Succession, Qing Dynasty (1793)

    The Samuel Russell House occupies a prominent place on the Wesleyan University campus, a neoclassical ‘wedding cake’ located on the corner of Washington and High Streets. Its prominence speaks to the career legacy of the man who planned and coordinated the 1827-28 construction of architect, Ithiel Town’s design for the home. But, many are not aware of the fact that Russell’s rise to prominence in Middletown derived from his accrued fortune in the sale of opium, tied to the early 19th century China Trade. The detailed historical records left behind by Samuel Russell speak volumes about his skills as a fastidious financial record-keeper and prescient businessman, but little about the heart and soul of the man who accomplished so much for himself, his family and the busy trading hub of his birthright, Middletown, CT.

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  • The ‘Big Lie’: A Cautionary Note

    Richard Friswell

    It is a mistake to believe that the long nightmare is over. Over the last five years, Donald T**** has injected a slow-acting venom into the American consciousness, the effects of which will continue to manifest, even after he micro-manages his ’emperor has no clothes’ exit on the 20th of January. On this eve of a new administration, it is useful to remember some history, recognizing that while events may not repeat themselves, ithey often rhyme (thank you, Mark Twain). I’ve been recalling a Wesleyan University seminar I chaired in 2017, just months after the last election. Entitled: Rise of the Right: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and the Age of Extremism, the day- long event was intended to alert conference goers to the through-line betwween past and present and–at that particular time–our uncertain and perilous future with a known autocratic despot at the controls. I dug into my files, to find the attached handout, which I had prepared for that event (a scan of the original).

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  • Washington, D.C.’s Nat’l Portrait Gallery: ‘Remember the Ladies”

    Amy Henderson

    In a March 31, 1776 letter to her husband John, Abigail Adams urged him and other members of the Continental Congress to “remember the ladies…all men would be tyrants if they could.”  It would take until 1920 for women to achieve Suffrage, but the indomitable Abigail–despite her inability to vote or hold property–would be a powerful First Lady in John Adams’ Presidency (1797-1801).

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  • 217 Films: Considering Kenneth Clark’s ‘Civilisation’ and America

    Richard Friswell

    “Civilisation has been a series of rebirths. Surely this should give us confidence in ourselves.”  ~Lord Kenneth Clark

    In the latest in their series entitled, ‘Essays in Film,’ documentary film makers, Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton (217 Films) have once again shed light on a complex historical theme, placing it in the context of our vast American cultural narrative. After tackling topics like, Art in the Gilded Age, Arts of the Works Progress Administration, and the 1913 Armory Show, among others, this time their sights came to rest on British art historian and BBC star, Lord Kenneth Clark, and his much-touted 1970’s TV series, “Civilisation.” The video’s late-2020 release celebrates the 50th anniversary (1970-2020) of the American public television premiere of Lord Clark’s ground-breaking, thirteen-part BBC documentary series. Featuring archival footage from the original programs, as well as contemporaneous interviews with Sir David Attenborough and James Stourton (Clark’s definitive biographer), this documentary, entitled, “Civilisation and America,” focuses on the ways in which the series, airing in American homes in the midst of a time of great political and social upheaval, was received on this side of the Atlantic.

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  • A serendipitous opportunity to read ‘Enraptured by Raptors’!

    Katherine Arcano

    The newly published work by photographer/author, Jennifer Packard, Enraptured by Raptors, offers a most welcome, positively uplifting saga. In an unlikely stroke, its action centers around the recent real life of a family of red- shouldered hawks; it is replete with wonders of discovery, raptors’ behavior and activities that we can actually relate to, and an encouragingly heartwarming response to it all, by an urban Wahington, D.C. community.

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  • NYC’s Pace Gallery- “Adrian Ghenie: The Hooligans”

    Mary Hrbacek

    Pace presents “Adrian Ghenie:  The Hooligans,” an exhibition of nine large-scale semi-abstract oil paintings and three charcoal drawings rendered on paper.  The term “hooligans” refers to an underground group of individuals who ignore the limitations of polite society, shaping their lives to be free of constraints.  In his powerful new works, Ghenie explores the artists who formed movements that rocked established academies, challenging the status quo of their times with new visions of transformed realities, reinvigorating art in the process.  Ghenie has identified J.M.W. Turner, the Impressionists, especially Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin as the artist “hooligans” whose activities he chooses to emulate.  His focus is on the primacy of oil paint in a semi-abstract approach which downplays figurative imagery.  This daring exhibition is beautifully installed, presenting bold monumental paintings and intriguing charcoal drawings, but it is unfortunate that it is located on the second floor, where it is possible that the public may overlook it.  

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  • 14-Year old Musician/Actor Joshua Turchin Takes the Stage by Storm

    Aaron Krause

    Joshua Turchin wrote the book and lyrics, and composed the music, to an original, award-winning, Broadway-bound musical which wowed New York critics. Not bad for a 14-year-old, huh? But the New York-based youngster, who is also an actor, would rather you not dwell on his age. Instead, he wants people to focus on his accomplishments. And there are many. For instance, Joshua recently released the cast EP of his Broadway-bound musical, The Perfect Fit. The EP, or extended playlist, is available on platforms such as Amazon, iTunes, and Apple Music.

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  • Streaming: Jessica Sherr’s ‘Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies’

    Edward Rubin

    Of all the celebs channeled by drag queens and female impersonators, Bette Davis, like flies to honey, has always been at the top of every performers list. Her mannerisms, her clipped New England cadences, her famous lines like “fasten your seatbelt this is going to be a bumpy ride,” and the forever dangling cigarette in her airborne hand, like the actress herself, are legendary.

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  • ABE: A MASKED LINCOLN PORTRAIT

    Amy Henderson

    George Washington may be revered as the tradition-setting first President, but Abraham Lincoln remains the President we turn to in dire times. His words and understanding have a timeless human sensibility–his accessibility makes him “present” when we need national reassurance.
    Lincoln’s ability to remain high on our radar is reflected in how often he’s been showcased. In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on the National Mall. Architect Henry Bacon created a neoclassical temple, and Daniel Chester French designed the remarkable interior Lincoln sculpture that looms over the Mall.

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