In June, Coastal Arts Guild of CT member Mick Theebs was named Milford Poet Laureate. This is the first appointment of the position in the town’s history, a four-year term.
Theebs, the founder of the arts website “ALSO THAT” is both a visual artist and poet.
According to the New Haven Register, Milford Mayor Benjamin Blake said Theebs was selected because Theebs’ application proposed “enhancing poetry by engaging Milford in poetry contests, workshops and open mics, as well as spearheading an effort to help install poetry as visual art in community spaces.”
The Milford poet laureate program is co-sponsored by the Milford Public Library and the Milford Arts Council.
Theebs is a lifelong Milford-resident, graduating from Jonathan Law High School. He studied English at Northeastern University, and works a regular job by day.
You can meet Mick at our regular meetings. He will be reading his work — along with other regional poets — “Poetry on the Green” at Artists & Artisans in Paradise, August 28, 2016.
The Mighty Quinn Foundation is the 501c(3) behind the Stratford-based Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, a summer theater program for college students; and the New Works Lab @ Stratford, a program to support playwrights and directors creating new writing. In 2016, it takes the reins for the town’s theater program, In the Spotlight, a 30-year-old, town-run theatre program for 7-12th graders. Wright operates the foundation with her husband, Chris Rooney, and their children.
CAGCT: The foundation is named for your son Quinn, who died of a rare brain cancer in 2012. Tell us about why theatre.
SW: For most of Quinn’s life we lived in Stratford and Quinn grew up playing on the grounds of the Shakespeare theatre. He would mow the lawn when it was in disrepair. He loved theatre. He even wrote an impassioned letter to the people at the festival: why don’t you have more young people involved?
Because if you have young people involved, their parents will come to the show. It will sell more tickets. After he died, we wanted to create something to honor his spirit and joy.
CAGCT: Why did you choose Shakespeare?
SW: We approached two friends of Quinn’s who were recent college graduates. We had an idea of doing a theatre program on the festival grounds. They researched programs around the country and the world, and came up with the framework. It is filling a niche that had not been created elsewhere.
(The program is a six-week, educationally intensive workshop on the grounds of the former American Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford. Students take daily classes in Shakespeare performance and contemporary ensemble theater- making and perform two Shakespeare plays in repertoire at the end of the program.)
CAGCT: You lease space from the town at “The White House” on the Shakespeare grounds for your academy. The building has had some improvements. How is the space?
It’s a work in progress but it is great to have the space. We would like to have the ability to do programming throughout the year. Workshops for high school students to learn how to audition. Offer weekend classes for adult actors, that sort of thing. We want to keep expanding theatre programming, but we want to be sure we do it well.
CAGCT: The foundation’s latest addition is the long-running town theatre program, “In the Spotlight,” which many Stratford-ites know well. How did that come about?
SW: The town did not have the funding to keep it. So they reached out to us. Tammy Trojanowski will be helping to transition it. Three of my four children performed through the program, including Quinn.
They do a musical production in the spring/summer every year for youth. The one we are doing this year is “Urinetown” (which is a really awful name for a terrific show, by the way).
Alumni from the program are doing an Indiegogo campaign. And because there is not a theater that has air conditioning in Stratford, we are going to be doing the performances at the Klein Theatre in Bridgeport.
Auditions were in May and the program runs June 13 through July 23. It overlaps with the Shakespeare Academy.
CAGCT: It sounds like you’ve hit the ground running with this program.
SW: We have tons of very dedicated “In the Spotlight” parents, alumni and advisory board members! They are helping us do different parts of the program, helping us to keep the program alive.
CAGCT: You mentioned that you have other family involved in the foundation as well.
SW: Joe lives in the city so he isn’t involved in the day-to-day. He is our treasurer. Our son, Brendan, is the residential life coordinator. Katie, who is a junior at Laurelton, she does babysitting for the Master Class teachers and does anything needed to help things run smoothly. She helps with taking photos. And of course [my husband] Chris [Rooney] is the Board Chairman.
Please welcome and get to know Alec Lessard, our first-ever marketing intern!
Alec graduated in advertising last month from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. His specialties are design and strategy. He has worked with Aramis Consulting at Xavier University, Flipdaddy’s Burgers and Beers in social media, and in direct marketing for Momentum Marketing. He has also worked with Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati as well as Findlay Market and the Cincinnati Zoo, creating campaigns for all three of these organizations. His alternative movie posters are ridiculously fun. He lives in Shelton, CT.
CAGCT: Alec welcome to the guild! You’ve just graduated from Xavier Univeristy in advertising. What part of your studies would you say surprised you the most?
AL: The part of my studies that really surprised me was how many different areas and aspects of advertising we went into. The areas ranged from graphic design which I personally was to areas such as social media and media purchasing.
It was a well-rounded learning experience that I am excited to use moving forward. Also, the Senior Seminar was an awesome experience. We created campaign for the Cincinnati Zoo as well as a local farm stand known as Findlay Market. We even pitched our campaigns to them and my work is actually being shown off downtown because they decided to go with my ideas.
CAGCT: Of all of the social media outlets, which one do you like the best? Why?
AL: I really love Instagram. I have always believed in the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words and with that being said, Instagram is all about pictures. It links your life experiences with those that follow you and anyone that wants to look up a particular hashtag.
CAGCT: You work in design. Do you consider yourself an artist?
AL: This is tricky because art is defined in so many different ways. When I first was starting out in design, I never really thought of myself as an artist. This was mainly because i was taking pictures from the internet and creating my own twist on them with different backgrounds and various effects.
Recently, I have been getting more into what I believe can be described as art: I am more creating the different aspects of a piece such as my Batman and the Joker image I created called “You Complete Me” which then brought me to my piece where I created an image around Prince and his song “Purple Rain.” So long story short, I would classify my newer works as art while my older works are just pieces that I have had fun doing.
CAGCT: Plans for after your internship?
AL: After this wonderful opportunity, I am looking to getting into design for an agency either in the Connecticut/New York City area or move back towards Cincinnati where all my friends from school are. I miss them and with all of them out there it is easier to stay in touch rather than setting up phone calls or texting back and forth. You never know where the road of life will lead so why not take the less road traveled like Robert Frost said and see where it leads you.
CAGCT: You are stuck on a deserted island. Who would you most prefer to have stuck with you (and why?): Frida Kahlo, director Ang Lee, Queen Latifah or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
AL: I would have to choose Ang Lee. I have a huge respect for a great number of his movies as I sort of call my self a cinephile. In my collection I have over 200 movies, most of them being the Marvel superhero movies, but a lot of classics and recent box office smashes. I feel that a discussion with him going back and forth would be inspiration to me to continue whatever design work I am up to at the moment.
Member organization Stratford Sister Cities Chorus announces tickets are now on sale for its annual event
“25 Seasons of Love”
with guest appearances by
the Messiah Baptist Church Choir
the Stratford High Select Choir
Sunday, June 12th, 4 p.m.
Flood Middle School
For Tickets, call 203-380-6777, mailbox 1234
In other chorus news…
34 delegates represented our town at Reunion 2016 hosted in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Our Home Stay Hosts were wonderful to us, as you were in the summer of 2014 when you did the hosting. It was an awesome good time. If you are a Facebook person, you can see photos in two places: 1) Stratfords of the World Reunion UK 2016 or 2) Stratford Sister Cities Chorus You will recognize many of our global Stratford neighbors in the pictures, maybe even your homestay.
NOTE: The next Reunion of the Stratfords of the World will take place in September of 2018 in Victoria, Australia. Care to join us? Drop a line saying you would like to be kept in the loop.
Would you like to see your name in the June 12th concert program? We have a “FAN” page; you can be one for a $10 donation. Respond stating the name you would like printed on the fan page and follow up with a check payable and mailed to: Sister Cities Chorus c/o 401 Hilltop Drive, Stratford 06614. Please respond by May 27. You can mail the check later.
Stratfords of the World/Sister Cities will march in the Memorial Day Parade, so please join us as we strut our colors down Main Street on May 30. Our unit will gather on the north side of Christ Church at 11:45 a.m. Wear any combination of red, white and blue clothing.
Look for us on June 4 at the Main Street Festival. Stop by our exhibit to say hi and see the new Stratfords of the World logo coffee mugs we had made to take to the UK and to promote our organization locally. The mugs will be available for purchase.
The Friendship Garden at Boothe Memorial Park has been replanted with great help from garden designer Anne Lees of “Fleur de Lees” and many SOW volunteers who enjoyed getting down and dirty for the cause. Check it out as it fills in over the next month.
If you love art, music, theatre, writing and other creative endeavors (and you live within driving distance of Stratford, CT), please take a minute (it’s short!) to complete our survey. We want to know just what kinds of educational arts opportunities to offer you.
We continue our artist trading cards challenge this month.
The theme this month is “Water.”
Members of the guild are asked to submit their original work on artist trading cards (ACEOs) at our next meeting, to be held Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Two Roads Brewing Company, 7 p.m.
Please do let us know if you think you are going to make it.
Are you still wondering what’s the deal with ACEOs?
These cool little pieces of original artwork are hot right now. Check out the final selection for our first month, themed “Illuminated Letters.”
Members can pick up a blank card at our monthly meetings. Or feel free to use your own heavy card stock or paper sized 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.
You have the ensuing month to complete the project and submit it in person at the following meeting.
Each month, a selection of nine (9) of the cards will be framed together and put up for sale on the Guild website, price TBD. Each artist will have a stake in the sale.
The framed piece will also be available for sale at all Guild shows until it sells.
The nine cards will also be added to our Zazzle Shop on various items. When sold as a group piece of art, the Guild will receive net proceeds from the sale. When items are sold individually, the individual artist will receive the net proceeds from the sale.
ACEO stands for “art cards, editions and originals. ” They are also called artist trading cards. These are miniature pieces of art measuring 2.5 x 3.5 inches. They should be original pieces of work created for the theme.
1. Community. A membership to the local art guild is a gift for artists — and everyone else in your community. Supporting the arts in your community increases tourism, boosts the economy and raises property values. (Americans for the Arts.org)
3. Resources. Artists can often feel and act as solitary creatures. Yet creativity feeds off of other creative sources. Some of the best resources (grants, arts partnerships, showings, marketing) comes from groups like the Coastal Arts Guild of CT.
4. Support. The membership cost supports arts programming, yes. But more importantly, the membership says: “I support YOU as an artist.” Many artists don’t join a guild because they don’t feel “good enough.” A membership tells them: these are your people! Join them!
Guild member and painter Karen Essig will not be found painting in her studio all day. In fact, the room where she most recently used as her studio is now a spare room for her grandchildren.
Like many artists, Essig works full-time. She is a nurse.But her practical life has not stopped Essig from pursuing her dream one. She paints copiously.
“When I was young I would love watching my Mom paint pictures in her spare time. She is a very talented artist, and I hoped her talents would rub off on me. I started playing around with a sketch pad for fun as a young girl, and I painted my first oil painting at the age of 16.”
It wasn’t until she was 50, that she started working with watercolors. She had found her medium.
“I had always worked worked in oils. It wasn’t until the last 5 years that I really expanded into watercolors. I love it.”
As a painter, Essig has enjoyed dozens of commissions over her years paintings, including children’s portraits as well as 15 paintings for the Hershey Hotel when it was remodeled.
As a lifelong New Englander, Essig said she is affected by the beach, the sea and the natural world.
“I am intriguied by nature and colorful subjects,” she said. “I like to paint realistic images. I have done everything from scenery to portraits to still lifes.”
Contact Karen Essig for commission portraits or to view a gallery of her latest available work.