Ridgefield Arts Watch: Here are the events to look forward to this month

The Ridgefield Arts Council presents this monthly column on a roundup of the month’s key arts and culture events in town to celebrate the numerous arts organizations that make Ridgefield’s vibrant and thriving art scene possible and to promote Ridgefield as Connecticut’s first cultural district.

If you’re a gardener like me then you’ve been praying for rain. Fairfield county has not officially been declared as drought stricken just yet but the brown lawns and listless trees and plants thirsting for water tell a different story. Now more than ever, we need the arts to underscore the urgency of taking action on climate change. Polemics will not convince the naysayers and policy makers on the climate crisis but the arts with their astonishing power to influence minds and hearts can. I begin this month’s column then, with David Shaw’s monumental sculpture, “Last Steps” on view in the Aldrich Museum grounds, as part of its “Main Street Sculpture Series,” until April 23.

Combining manmade materials with found natural objects, the larger than life green ladder speckled with splashes of iridescence and a few missing rungs is both a warning about our misguided assumptions about the watertight binary between the natural and human worlds, between technology, consciousness and nature, as well as an invitation to bridge that divide. The missing rungs beg to be repaired and invite us to ascend to a more evolved consciousness of the sacred continuity between our animate and inanimate worlds. For more food for thought, do consider attending the Outdoor Artist Talk on September 24 between Richard Klein and David Shaw where they will parse this sculpture in the context of Shaw’s larger body of work.

And while we are on the subject of the fluid boundaries between nature and the man made, do zoom in to the Ridgefield Library’s online talk on the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism, the fantastic architecture of Antonin Gaudi, on September 21.

Gaudi’s work is a celebration of his interest in architecture, nature, and religion, as his fantastical structures created out of ceramic, iron, wood, and granite celebrate not just the beauty of structural forms but also its materiality which find expression in an organic style inspired by natural forms.

His masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain, is estimated to be completed in 2026. Gaudi is said to have been inspired by the idea of a forest-like structure to create a hierarchical system to support a light and airy vault. 

Moving on from Gaudi’s surreal architectural forms and the illusory boundaries between the real and the imaginary, indulge in a real life magic show at the Playhouse on Sept. 23 when Reza the Illusionist comes to town.

Be prepared to be dazzled by the slick techno-whiz pyrotechnics of a Reza show as “Edge of Illusion” combines personal charisma and the ability to engage the audience with state of the art production elements, masterful comedic timing, and numerous interactive and inspirational moments, which allow the audience to experience the magic first hand.

Besides this show, do check out the plethora of music, movies, and streaming events slated for September by the Playhouse, including shows by two great contemporary American comics, Amy Schumer and Paula Poundstone.

The Ridgefield Theater Barn opens its 58th season with The Exonerated on Friday, Sept. 9 in collaboration with the Innocence Project. The critically acclaimed The Exonerated made its off Broadway debut in 2000 and won many awards including the Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards. Written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the play dramatizes the stories of six people, some of whom, were wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses, placed on death row, and later exonerated and freed after serving varying years in prison.

If you missed out on the Ridgefield Independent Films Festival in August, you can still have the pleasure of watching some very good feature length films that have reached the finalist stage of RIFF's competition for the full Festival in May in the Ridgefield Library’s new monthly series of films. The best part is you can be involved in RIFF’s selections for 2023 by offering feedback and voting on each film. The featured film for September, for instance, is Northern Shade by Christopher Rucinski about a disenchanted Army vet who emerges from isolation when his younger brother is recruited by an extremist militia.

These are but a few events; with the busy Ridgefield Arts and culture scene there is always more. If you haven’t already, do stroll the Ridgefield Guild of Artist’Art Walk to catch the work of some amazing local talent. On till Sept. 11, the Art Walk features 48artists who showcase their works in thirty-six venues along Main Street and Bailey Avenue.

Both the Colabella and RPAC galleries have interesting exhibits for September, including a retrospective of its last three years for RPAC. Don’t miss too, the Keeler Tavern’s exhibit, "Cheers to 250 Years! A History of T. Keeler's Inn, Tavern, and Store" which explores the role of Timothy Keeler's tavern and store in colonial and early republic Ridgefield (1772-1800).

Located at the convergence of two major travel routes, the tavern was both a gathering place and a gateway between Ridgefield and the rest of New England. Even more, in the goods it carried from far-flung places: tea from China, chocolate from South American, sugar and molasses from the Caribbean, the Tavern connected this little new England town to the wider world beyond.

A good thing to remember the cosmopolitan temper and world of our antecedents when chatter about borders and walls threaten to drown out open mindedness and empathy.

These are just a select few of the art events in town. For more information on these, and other events, check out the websites of all these organizations.

Raje Kaur

Member, Ridgefield Arts Council