Nature and Art Converge

22 05 2017

IMG_2748Nestled in the woods in eastern Connecticut lies a unique, eclectic, edgy – I don’t know what – artist colony, center, living installation? Located on about 450 acres adjacent to a state park, I-Park is an anomaly, a creative endeavor, a unique way of looking at landscape, nature, and its intersection with art. Brain child of co-founders Joanne Paradis (now Executive Director) and Ralph Crispino, it provides a safe haven for creativity to prosper.

With various studios scattered over the main blueprint of the property, this international artist-in-residency program is far from the madding crowd and provides a place of peace and restorative energy. Since 2001, more than 800 artists have created visual, auditory, and textual pieces both inside and on the landscape.

Recently, a ribbon cutting ceremony opened new studio space, and simultaneously welcomed twelve 2017 site responsive artists-in-residence from wide ranging locations (USA, China, Sweden, Japan, and the Netherlands). They will be provided with bird walks, history talks, and other presentations to provide a sense of their location, to be integrated into their work while on site.

IMG_2764Ceremony attendees were treated to a vocal performance by Raymond C. White, who sang O Sole Mio and other works in a bellowing voice as he was transported across a beautiful pond on a floating platform by its constructor Ted Efremoff.  The sun set behind them as they docked what was called the “Floating Living Room.” Minds that think of terms like that follow different neuron pathways than the common brain. Where do they get these ideas? The novelty, creativity, and uniqueness of their thoughts and visions manifest themselves across the I-Park landscape which provides the environment to “nurture artists and the creative process.”

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Sprague Preserve and Willimantic Friendly’s

28 07 2015

Robinson1 Oct 2013 Sprague FranklinJuly 13, 2015

Cherry and I meet in East Hampton to consolidate cars and I drive east to Franklin. Cherry has found a description of the Sprague Preserve by Peter Marteka and a Friendly’s in Willimantic. We are on our way.

 I made the mistake of asking Cherry to check the map on the way, forgetting how directionally challenged she (and her sisters and mother) is. Eventually, we arrive at the well-marked dirt road that leads into the preserve and bump our way down.

Suddenly, bright orange plastic fencing and HazMat notices. Not again (our previous encounter has not been published to protect the innocent)! We continue to the described parking area near an old cabin, where we can see orange fencing stretching for acres. In fact, there is a mobile headquarters and two rings of fencing, the actual area, and a decontamination ring around that. I look at Cherry and she justifies her choice by indicating Marteka’s recent article. The date? Oops, September 2010.

I search the bulletin board on the old cabin unsuccessfully for a trail map, while Cherry checks in with the HazMat headquarters. She returns, saying, “We can walk anywhere except in the fencing.” But we have no clue where the four miles of trail actually are. While standing on the dirt road that led us into this area, a worker is leaving the HazMat project. He carefully dips one shoe, and then another, in a pan of disinfectant before heading towards us. What in the world is out there?

We ask him about the trails and he hands us a beautiful trail guide from inside the headquarters (why the original staff person inside didn’t give it to Cherry is beyond us). I ask why the fencing? A former skeet range. Lead contamination.

And so off we go. We do our usually talking and checking in. Cherry has been spending more and more time alone and enjoying it. She says she’s changing from the extrovert to introvert. I talk a bit about how distress from relationships trickles into all interactions. Meanwhile, the trail arrives at the Shetucket River and we are stunned into silence. The broad shallow expanse running across a rocky bottom sparkles in the sunlight. A jewel. The guide says it’s part of the National Heritage Corridor and we understand why. Fortunately, the white blazed trail follows the river for a mile and we enjoy its splendor.

We return under the powerline, dubbed the waterfall trail, but we couldn’t find the turnoffs. Instead, we were treated with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and beautiful orange wood lilies. With a short stint on the Fairy Trail, it wasn’t long before we were back on the white-blazed trail and to our parking area. The two-hour loop was perfect.

The trip to Friendly’s in Willimantic went quickly as we joked about second close encounter with a HazMat site, and the date on the Marteka review. Ordering the “2 for $20,” we were pleased with our lunch but especially the included sundaes. Lunch was a welcomed respite from the hot, humid day outside and we had worked up an appetite. Our waitress, overloaded, finally cracked a smile when I asked for a chocolate covered cherry to match my forbidden chocolate and hot fudge.





Nature Class May 1, 8, 15, 22

22 04 2014

Happy Earth Day! Sign up for class starting next week:

Nature Class May 1, 8, 15, 22.





Higganum Reservoir

29 04 2013

Cherry and I have started hiking again! check out: Higganum Reservoir.





A to Z Blog Challenge: Animal Spirit Guides for a Good Life

10 03 2013

I’m taking on the A to Z Challenge again this year — Please check it out and follow: A to Z Blog Challenge: Animal Spirit Guides for a Good Life.





Third Time’s The Charm

22 12 2012

Cindy Lane to Clapboard Hill Road 002Thursday, for the third time, Cherry and I set out to walk the Menunkatuck Trail between Cindy Lane and Clapboard Hill Road (the first time, we lost the Cindy Lane trail head; the second time, Cherry had car problems). Check out: Third Time’s The Charm.





Menunkatuck Continues

30 08 2012

Cherry and I are on track as Menunkatuck Continues.