Tag Archives: Real Art Ways

Another Precious Summer Weekend Hartford, Make It Count!

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Darn it, the summer is almost gone and as kids get ready to head back to school and adults get readycalendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1] for the annual goodbye to kicking back a bit, we have only  a few summer weekends to savor.

Begin the weekend Thursday, Aug. 21 with Creative Cocktails at Real Art Ways.

The monthly Happy Hour this month includes dance lessons, art, food, beverages and Ice Cream Dream and Little Gem Cantine food trucks. The Creative Cocktail Hour goes from 6 to 10 p.m. For more information go here.

Did we mention the kids are going back to school soon? Depending on your personal feelings, it could be a time of celebration. Connecticut Science Center has it  covered with its the 4th annual Back 2 School Bash on Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24.

Back2SchoolBash_Slider[1]Meet and greet Mr. Potato Head and have fun with Radio Disneyfor Pirate and Princess: The Power of Doing Good, as well as Jake the Pirate and Sofia the Princess themed music, activities and prizes. There will be arts & crafts, face painting, live science and tons of kids’ entertainment.There will also a Wild About Balloons Magic Show and a special appearance by Dora the Explorer. For more information go here.

It’s Hot Air Balloon Festival time again  in Plainville this weekend. The festival, sponsored by theballs Plainville Fire Company, opens Friday at Norton Park with an arts and crafts fair, food booths, entertainment and of course a  balloon night glow followed by a fireworks show at dusk. Get up early and head over to the park at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23  and Sunday, Aug. 24  for the early morning balloon take-offs and the rest of the festival events. For more information go here.

Katharine-Hepburn-Cultural-Arts-Center[1]Hard to believe but it has been five years since the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center opened in Old Saybrook. On Saturday, Aug. 23, the center will celebrate with its annual Summer Gala beginning at  5:30 p.m. The gala will include live entertainment, outdoor cocktails, dinner catered by Max Catering, dancing  and auctions. For more information go here.

And fair time is up and running all over the state and this weekend you can head to Terryville, Chester or Brooklyn to enjoy the best a good old fashioned fair has to offer. For more information go here. cow

For foodies, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is showing off the area’s best cooking talent at its second annual  Chef’s Challenge on Aug. 24

The competition, which will be held at Cheney Hall, features six chefs from local restaurants and businesses. They include Shawn Bittman of A Villa Louisa, Dotti Cannon of Brown Sugar Catering, Tony Sousa of Hartford Road Caf?, Tim Sheffield of Waterview Cafe at Manchester Country Club, Llord Tilley of The Main Pub and defending champion Corey Wry of CW’s Chops ‘N’ Catch. For more information  go here.

And speaking of food, eat out and help a good cause on Sunday, Aug. 24 from 5 to 10 p.m. Dine at Sorella, Salute or Vito’s By the Park that evening and the restaurants will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the Bushnell Park Foundation  and its efforts to restore the Spanish American War Memorial there. For more information go here.






RAW “Taste” Series Not Over Yet

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raw1 (2)Dinner included “l’ombre et lumiere” and “gargouillou,” dishes made famous by food legend Michael Bras and recreated Monday by On20 executive chef Jeffrey Lizotte and staff at Real Art Ways.

While the sold-out dinner was scheduled to be the last in RAW’s food-as-art inspired “Taste” series featuring  the film collection “Inventing Cuisine” and tasting plates by the area’s most popular local chefs, it’s not.

raw2 (2)“We are going to keep it going,” said RAW executive director Will Wilkins who was part of the crowd that at what was to be the last of the three-event series. “There are still a few more documentaries in the collection and we have other chefs who would like to come in and it has been so popular that we plan to resume it after Labor Day.”

Lizotte had it all under control as he prepared food for 100 included the vegetable mosaic “gargouillou” and the monk fish and black olive oil “l’ombre et lumiere” (light and dark) dish.

“Food is art and this series is wonderful,” said Lizotte. “I don’t think there is anything like it around.”raw3 (2)

raw4 (2)Among those at the dinner, hosted by food writer Rand Richards Cooper, was popular former staffer LB Munoz.

“I don’t work here anymore but I still want to support the programs,” said Munoz, whose date for the night was dad, Roberto Munoz.

Trashion, Tourism Cocktails…Coming Up Hartford!

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calendar_clip_art-1_opt It’s a long weekend coming up for some, one that is filled with renewal and faith of religious observances.

But there are also a slew of other things to do this weekend ranging from Easter-themed egg hunts and Passover traditions to an eclectic mix of cocktails, an Earth Day fashion show and more.

rawlogo82x62[1]Thursday is Creative Cocktail Party day at Real Art Ways in Hartford. The monthly event includes dancing, art, food, live music and cocktails of course.  For more information go here.

Earttrashion 44h Day is April 22 but the party starts in Hartford on Saturday.

That’s when “The Hartford Trashion Fashion Show” will be held at Hartford City Hall. Runway designs are made from recycled materials including bubble wrap, duct tape, junk food bags, straws and other materials. A $50 per ticket VIP reception begins at 6 p.m. and includes admission to the show. General admission tickets are $20. For more information go here.

And looking a bit ahead, it’s award time for Connecticut tourism efforts.

The 2014 Pineapple Awards, which recognize those individuals and organizations that pineappleexemplify tourism excellence in Connecticut will be announced at the 2014 Connecticut Conference on Tourism at the Connecticut Convention Center on April 24. The Pineapple Awards honor people and organizations from the three state tourism districts – Eastern, Central and Western and are presented in four categories including Excellence in Tourism Image, Tourism Ambassador, Excellence in Tourism Service and Hospitality, anFineArtFlowers_wadsworthatheneumF-10-2_WEB[1]d Volunteer of the Year.  For more information go here.

Also looking ahead, the Wadsworth Atheneum hosts its annual Fine Art & Flowers weekend on April 25 and 26. It  features floral arrangements and garden designs inspired by works of art in the collection created by community florists, garden clubs, and designers and a marketplace featuring hand-made goods for sale by local vendors.

This year’s honorary chair is WNPR’s Ray Hardman, who will be the special guest  at a Farm-to-Table Dinner on April 26. On April 25, professional floral designer Bill Graham demonstrates how to accessorize your “little black dress” by creating one-of-a-kind floral arrangements to mBest_Of_Cover-crop (2)atch any occasion followed by lunch. For information go here.

And finally, need help deciding what to do or where to go or eat or shop?

You might want to check out what’s been voted best on the CTNow 2014 “Best Of Hartford” list, volume 1. Congrats to all the winners!

Spring Arrives And So Does The Hartford Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]jewIt’s practically official, winter is over and spring has arrived. And it’s time to seriously get out of the house Hartford! And the spring choices include:

The highly regarded Jewish Film Fest opens March 20 at Front Street’s Spotlight Theatres. The festival features 23 thrillers, romantic comedies, shorts and documentaries from 13 countries in five venues over 10 days. The 2014 series opens with “The Jewish Cardinal” and an opening night dinner gala at the Hartford theater. The series continues through March 30. For more information go here.

To get the weekend off to a good start, you can also head over to Hartford’s Real Art Ways for its monthly Creative Cocktail Hour from 6 to 10 p.m. on March 20.  The evening features the opening of two new exhibits and a recycled art workshop with Trashion Fashion. More information is here.

While we officially say goodbye to  hot chocolate season, you can enjoy the treat another way on March 21 at the Bushnell. The program titled” Hot Chocolate Soul” includes music, comedy and poetryhome with a live Karl Browne’s Smooth Improvisation. More information is here.

What better way to welcome spring than with some spring clean-up, fix-up inspiration when it comes to your home. Get a big boost of that energy by heading over to The Spring Home Show at the XL Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 21 to 23. The show features over 300 exhibits all aimed at giving you ideas when it comes to home improvement.  For information go here.

Now that the weather if getting a bit nicer, time to put that body in motion and support severalriding_a_bicycle_311140[1] good causes in Hartford . Get a jump-start by heading over to XL Center atrium where the Downtown Hartford YMCA will host its 4th annual  “Mission in Motion” event March 22 from 8:30 to  1 p.m. The event supports the YMCA’s Annual Campaign, Read to Succeed, Live Strong and Footlights Performing Arts Program.  Teams secure sponsors and spend time on a bank on stationary bicycles to raise money. Find out more  here.

Love Italian? You must get over to the Wadsworth Atheneum for its Italian Film Wesaluteekend.

On March 21,  there will be a reception at 6 p.m with food from  Peppercorn’s Grill followed by a screening of ” I Am Love” at 7 p.m. On March 22, at 5 p.m. it’s “Big Night,” followed by a five-course Italian dinner at the museum cafe.

On March 23, explore “Views of Italy” in a docent-guided tour of the museum’s collection followed by a screening of “Mid-August Lunch.” For more information go here.

Get in a spring kind of mood by thinking pink and head over to the Hill-Stead Museum on Mardancersch 23 from 2 to 4 p.m

Guests are invited to celebrate French artist Edgar Degas and his famous painting “Dancers in Pink,” part of Hill-Stead collection,  at this family-friendly event. It will feature a performance by the Albano Ballet dancers and a tour of the museum. Light refreshments will be served. there will also be a special art activity mural project as part of the event. To find out more go here.



Flower Show, Parade Plans And More this Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1] Had enough snow? There is hope.

Three acres, yes three acres of spring and summer are a short drive away as the Connecticut Convention Center welcomes the  “33rd annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show.”

The show, which opens Thursday and continues through Sunday, features 20 gardens created by professional landscape designers and nonprofit organizations.

This year’s  theme is “Backyard Paradise.”

There will also be the  Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s 2014 Advanced Standard Flowerfshow Show with its judged entries and hundreds of displays and activities and aisles of fresh flowers, plants, garden ornaments, gardening books, patio furniture, ornaments and more for purchase. Among the guest speakers will be Baroness Maureen Haseley-Jones, also known as “The English Lady.”

Planning your own springtime plantings? People can bring a 1/2 cup of soil to the UConn Co-op booth at the show for free soil testing.

Information: ctflowershow.com

Alsrawlogo82x62[1]o on Thursday, it’s Creative Cocktail Hour night at Real Art Ways on Arbor Street in Hartford. Music, art, dancing and the chance to unwind are all part of the popular event.

Information: realartways.org

Get your book and author fix  on Friday and Saturday.

Mbookohegan Sun will be the place where more than 70 bestselling and award-winning authors will converge Friday and Saturday for “The Big Book Getaway, ” presented by The Mark Twain House and Museum. Featured speakers include Hallmark Channel’s Debbie Macomber; author and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer; political humorist P.J. O’Rourke; former CNN news journalist Kitty Pilgrim; plus Sarah Addison Allen, Pete Hamill, Charlotte Rogan, Eloisa James, Jane Green, Susan Conley and several others. Many different genres including memoir, history, military, travel, health, mystery, romance, theatre, fiction and non-fiction will be represented. Guests will have an opportunity to hear authors on the main stage and in concurrent break-out sessions.

Ticket information: mohegansun.com

Oh the snow, snow  ,snow and the cabin fever,  cabin fever, cabin fever.

Deal better with both by heading over to Lyman Orchards in Middlefield . WinterFest[1]

On Saturday and Sunday  the place will hold its 42nd annual Winterfest, an outdoor extravaganza featuring snow tubing, ice carving, sleigh rides, husky sled dog rides, food samplings, and the making of sugar-on-snow with Ct maple syrup.

The Winterfest is open both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Information: lymanorchards.com


Nothing like a parade to get the spirits up. Even if it is still a few weeks away. parade_opt

On Sunday beginning at 1 p.m., head over to the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury where the 2014 grand marshal and person of the year for this year’s Greater
Hartford St. Patrick’s Day parade will honored.

Beverly Concannon will be this year’s parade marshal and Dr. Pauline Olsen is Person of the Year in the annual parade that this year is held on March 15 beginning at 11a.m.

Sunday’s reception includes a buffet.  Tickets are $25.

Information: irishamericanparade.com





And Last But Not Least An Odd Ball Best

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant


And finally, what is Hartford’s social scene without Real Art Ways annual “The Odd Ball?”

And this year, there was a kicker because the crazy party was moved from spring to the pre-Halloween weekend.

So Java’s “All Hallows’ Eve Best and Beyond” award goes to Will K. Wilkins and his Arbor Street arts center, that once again proves there should be no limit on your  imagination when it comes to getting your costume on.

Among the veteran revelers at this year’s event was Bloomfield resident Judith Mourad, who was enjoying some of the very tempting appetizers as she channeled her “inner countess.”

“I am originally from Hungary” said the mysterious masked lady in silver lame. “I came to this a couple of years ago and I love it because it is so different from any other party I have gone to.”


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

An honorable mention for interesting libations there, as well. Republic from Bloomfield had me as soon as I walked in the door and was handed one of its “bourbon slushies,” created by potion wizards on a set-up that put any traditional chem lab to shame.

For more pictures go here.

(And it’s now official. My cramped, tilted feet have hit the wall. I am walking sans stilettos. It’s a costume gala anyway, who will even notice!)


A Hartford Weekend of Galas Galore and Halloween Hijinks

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]Java doesn’t know what to say except grab a nap when you can because the “going out” possibilities are almost too numerous to mention this pre-Halloween weekend. But here we go!

Yep, those Boston Red Sox are in the World Series so how lucky is the Greater Hartford YMCA! Former Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield comes to Hartford town Thursday for the “YMCA Celebrates Champions ” program at the Connecticut Convention Center.

Theredsox baseball legend, community leader and philanthropist will be featured at the event that benefits the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and Read to Succeed program.

Information: ghymca.org or call 860-522-9622.

The Norma Terris Theatre continues the Goodspeed’s 50th anniversary party with the opening of “Snapshots, A Musical Scrapbook” on Thursday.  Curtain up at 8 p.m. Information: goodspeed.org.

On Cowboy-cartoon[1]Friday, there are not only a few pre-Halloween parties around town but also a couple of events benefitting really good causes. Open Hearth will hold its annual Open Hearth Round-Up  at 7 p.m. at the home of Kelly and Jon Jarvis in Hartford. Proceeds from the western-wear fundraiser benefit the non-profit that provides services and shelter to Greater Hartford’s homeless men.

On Saturday, there’s a party in nearly every part of Hartford. 

It all starts at the Connecticut Convention Center where  the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective  will host its annual “One Big Event,” a black tie affair benefitting the organization’s programs. Music by Shaded Soul band, dancing, silent and live auctions, food, and the who’s who of New England LGBTQ life are highlights of the night.

Cross the boulevard to Hartford’s Front Street complex where the nearly completed Infinity Hall bigmo2 will be the venue Saturday for the annual “Big Mo.” Big Mo’ (the “Mo’” stands for “mo’mentum”) has been Riverfront’s major fundraising event since 2000, celebrating positive changes in Hartford and East Hartford, with a focus on locations close to the River.Information: riverfront.org

 Still have some energy? Walk up the block to the Wadsworth and don’t be surprised if you see revelers there ‘dancing in the street.’ That’s because the Amistad Center for Art & Culture  will be welcoming  girl group icon Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vandellas at its annual Fall Gala, called, of course “Dancing in the Streets.”

 PDAIEDA5[1]roceeds from  the dinner/dance benefit the center which owns a collection of 7000 items including art, artifacts and popular culture objects that document the experience, expressions and history of people of African-American heritage. .

Over at the Bushnell Saturday, the Hartford Symphony will be continuing its 50th anniversary celebration with a performance of  Walt Disney’s groundbreaking marriage of symphonic music and animation, Fantasia. Information: bushnell.org

  We’re not done yet as far as Saturday goes. Get on overoddballblog1 to Arbor Street where Real Art Ways is holding its Odd Ball. Usually held in the spring, the costume ball was moved to Halloween weekend because well, what better time of year to dress up in a costume. Plan on tricked out galleries, eerie photo ops and outrageous tunes. Tickets are $65, and include treats by top local chefs, specialty potions, and a costume contest! A cash bar will also be available. If you just want to dress up and dance, there are  $25 “Just Dance” tickets available starting at 11 PM.  Information:realartways.org

Also, if you are in the mood for some football fix, head over to Hot Tomato’s at Union Station in Hartford on saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. where ESPN guy and former NFL standout Mike Ditka will be signing bottles of his wine! 

If you have some free time Satuday, you also might want to head over to the YWCA’s Money Conference for Women featuring broadcast journalist/author Stacey Tisdale.  The conference begins at 8:15 a.m. at the Connecticut Convention Center. Admission is free.



Painted Nails. Manicure or Art? Find Out At RAW Thursday

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

 I do not paint my fingernails. I take care of them but there is never any color on them. Just clear, plain clear.

Until Tuesday. That’s when I went blue, glorious blue.

And the reason is not vanity nor fashion but rather art. Breanne Trammell art.

The New York/New Jersey art professor, who will be at Real Art Ways at its monthly Creative Cocktail Hour Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m.,  is in the midst of an art project she calls “Nails Across America.” it’s a cross-country road trip of sorts, aimed at the art behind the manicure. Her plan is to do a documentary not just the color painting nor the designs nor the necessity, but the intimacy, the conversation and the insight that occurs when two people are sitting practically nose-to-nose for an hour.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

“I love color and the performing arts and just got an idea that doing a documentary on 500 manicures would be fascinating,” said the 33-year-old who teaches at SUNY at Purchase and at Ramopo College in New Jersey. “It’s been an experience.”

Trammell began her 30-stops journey after the semester ended, transforming a 1968 Shasta Compact travel trailer into a mobile salon.  She did get her nail license in order to go forward with the art documentary and a manicure with her includes a few pictures and for some along the way, video as well.

“I haven’t looked at it all yet, I am just collecting everything and writing some and when
I get done I will put it all together,” she said.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

A core member of the Wassaic Project in New York, Trammel, who received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, has incorporated art and whimsy into her manicure art selections. There is “Cheeto Orange,” reminding her of one of her favorite snack foods and color, and a gold with black polka dots representative of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.  I chose  ‘Klein Blue’ the bright, deep blue signature color made famous by French artist Yves Klein.

Trammell, who does manicures on both men and women,  has great stories from her journey so far like the one about “Barry the Cowboy” in Texas and the teenaged mothers in need in Minneapolis. Her stories were another benefit of the hand-to-hand art going on.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

But back to my nails. I was positive I would go home and take the color off, sure in my heart that I was just not an “artsy” kind of woman and way too old to be flaunting such nail notoriety. But I didn’t. I like it and find myself smiling ever time I look down at my hands. I like the boldness and the surprise of these nails of statement.  I like being art.

 Call 860.232.1006  for a manicure appointment and Creative Cocktail information or go to realartways.org.





Hartford’s New Infinity Hall Big Mo’ Party Venue in October

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infinityhIt’s not even done yet but the anxiously awaited downtown Hartford Infinity Music Hall & Bistro  will be the venue for this year’s  Riverfront Recapture annual Big Mo’ celebration on Oct. 26.

And that  means a full social plate in the city that night. 

The Big Mo’ is an annual fundraising event that supports Riverfront Recapture’s efforts to improve the quality of life and urban vitality of the Central Connecticut region. bigmo2

Part of the Big Mo’ (as in momentum) tradition is that the party is held in a location near the river in downtown Hartford. Infinity Hall & Bistro, with its main location in Norfolk, broke ground for the second location at the Hartford Front Street location near Adriaen’s Landing last March and is expected to open in the spring of 2014.  

 “Big Mo’ celebrates the positive momentum that is building in the Riverfront parks and in the adjacent neighborhoods,” said Joe Marfuggi, Riverfront Recapture’s president/CEO.  

“Infinity Hall Hartford is excited and honored to be selected as the location for this year’s BigMo’ annual fundraiser,” said Dan Hincks, owner and founder of Infinity Music Hall & Bistro. “Riverfront Recapture’s initiatives to bring the riverfront to life are akin to our mission to bring live music to the next level in the region. 

Co-chairs this year are Chris and Kim Byrd and Barry Lastra and Alison Coolbrith.

AlOBE-logo-2012-600x275[1]so being held on Oct. 26 is Real Art Ways annual “Odd Ball.” Usually held in the spring, this year’s event was moved to coincide with the pre-Halloween weekend.

Also that night, the 11th One Big Event will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Sponsored by the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, the gala is the principal fundraisers for its programs and services.

‘Bottoms Up!’ A Mark Twain ‘Stirred Or Shaken?’ Party At Real Art Ways

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If you know anyone who went to The Mark Twain House & Museum’s “Bottoms Up!” program at Real Art Ways Thursday, oh you are so in for a treat next time you visit them.

Because those attending the program featuring author Tim Federle and his newest book “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With A Literary Twist” were inspired, not so much by the impressive array of classic literature included in his book, but rather the quirky spin-off libations that make a bartender out of anyone, even English majors and classic literature teachers.

“ThisTEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD cover is just so funny,” said Mary Roberge , as she thumbed through Federle’s book that features mixed drinks like “The Last of the Mojitos,” “The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose,” and “Vermouth The Bell Toll,” good-tasting liquid parodies of some of the world’s most beloved novels

“I want to share this with a couple of my professors,” said the Hartford resident, who is an English major in Boston. “And this summer, I think I need to try several of these drinks with friends at home.”

Federle ( of ‘Better Nate Than Ever’ fame) , who signed books and explained how his saucy “Tequila” idea came to fruition, was jusbottoms3t part of the cocktail-themed program. The documentary “Hey Bartender,” featuring Stephen “Carpi” Carpentieri, an owner of Westport’s Dunville’s and made by Westport and Weston filmmakers Doug Tirola, Susan Bedusa and Danielle Rosen was shown. And there was music and a late night “Happy Hour” featuring fun Federle drinks like the non-alcoholic “Pear The Wild Things Are” and the Southern Shakespeare classic “Romeo and Julep.”

But be assured, for many it was as much a learning experience as it was a cocktail one.

“I can’t wait to try some of these recipes at First Fridays,” said Sharon Straka, a New Britain resident who volunteers as a bartender at the New Britain Museum of American Art’s “First Friday” monthly cocktail events.

Forbottoms2 Bolton High School educators, Joyce Teed and Claire Fazzina, it was a chance to celebrate summer break and relax a bit.

Java expected Teed, an American Literature teacher at the school, to have something deep to say about the classics that are part of the book, and innocently asked if her choice of the “Huckleberry Sin” was because she was a Mark Twain/Sam Clemens scholar.

“Nope,” she said as she sipped the vodka/ soda and muddled fresh blueberry concoction. “I just like vodka.”

For more pictures, go here.