Ridgefield events: Keeler Tavern Museum reopens, Congregation Shir Shalom concert, education classes

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center reopens

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) is open to the public for museum tours and exhibit access. Tickets are now available for purchase online, over the phone, and at the Visitor Center.

In January and February, our curatorial team assessed and cleaned our collections and the interior of our historic tavern. They also worked to refresh and reinterpret specific spaces, improving the visitor experience. As we reopen, visitors will be able to see the results of these efforts for themselves.

For example, throughout the museum, our beautiful wood floors are shining: recently cleaned and waxed, they now better showcase their historic detail. And a second-floor bedroom features new collections items and an updated layout, to better reflect and engage with our 19th-century history. 

On our historic tavern museum tours, visitors engage with centuries of site-specific stories, learning about the experiences of our former residents and their connections to larger national narratives. We’re excited to offer two tours this season: “Meet the Residents,” a highlights tour through the museum’s period rooms that provides glimpses into the lives of the people who lived in the home from the colonial era to the early 20th century; and our newest tour, “War at Home,” which shares the experiences of the residents of our site during the Battle of Ridgefield in 1777 – how they navigated their community’s division and the impacts of war. 

Site admission also includes access to our exhibits and gardens. In the Gilbert Wing of the historic tavern, we’re showcasing former site resident Timothy Keeler’s successful business enterprises and national and international connections with Cheers to 250 Years! A History of T. Keeler’s Inn, Tavern, and Store. And in the Visitor Center, we’re now displaying a curated selection of redware pottery, dating from the 1770s to the 1860s. Don’t forget the walled garden and four-acre grounds – beautiful even in winter months! Follow the self-guided "Gilberts in the Garden" walking tour or chart your own path.

The museum will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tours going out at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. We recommend purchasing tickets online in advance, as tour capacity is limited – but we also welcome walk-ups.

Learn more and purchase tickets at www.keelertavernmuseum.org/visit/museum-tours.

One-Woman Musical with singer and actor Kimberly Wilson at the Ridgefield Library

On March 5 from 2 to 4 p.m., Kimberly Wilson, award-winning creator, actor and singer of “A Journey: Musical One-Woman Show,” will tell multiple stories about the Black experience as told by a Black woman at the Ridgefield Library. This program is co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Ridgefield and offered in partnership with the Ridgefield Historical Society.

Through song, movement and dialogue, Wilson brings her characters, their triumphs and truths to life. Her deep, velvety speaking and singing voice embraces the audience and animates the stage. In this powerful performance, seven women whose lives span hundreds of years, tell their stories of faith, hope and sense of calling that truly shaped American history. The women featured in this show like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks and more had the courage to make their dreams a reality that not only elevated their lives, but also helped lay the foundation for future generations. "A Journey: Musical One-Woman Show" has been a touring production since 2012. In 2016, Wilson was awarded the Best Playwright Award at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival for her play and performance of "A Journey."

Wilson is originally from Minneapolis. She began her theatrical career while in high school  studying and performing in the Minneapolis Children’s Theater and in local community and professional theaters. After graduating from the Breck School, Wilson studied Fine Arts at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She returned to Minneapolis after college and was later crowned Miss Black Minnesota in 1984. She continued her professional acting career performing in stage and touring productions most notably, “Ain’t Misbehaving,” “For Colored Girls,” “Little Shop of Horrors," “The Great White Hope,” “Glory Road,” “A Civil War Christmas” and “Ragtime the Musical.”

This event is free and open to the public. Please register at www.ridgefieldlibrary.org or call 203-438-2282. 

Ridgefield Lions offers vocational, college scholarships

The Ridgefield Lions have awarded scholarships for many years and are pleased to now offer two awards - one scholarship for $4,000 for a four-year college and one scholarship for $2,000 for vocational training - to outstanding students from Ridgefield demonstrating a commitment to our community attending training or education after high school.

Scholarships are available to any Ridgefield resident with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. In this year, we recognize that with rising costs combined with the difficulties of the pandemic some may have decided to take a gap year. We encourage you to apply as long as you live in Ridgefield.

Applications can be downloaded at www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/ridgefieldct under "Grants/Scholarship" on the left or are available on the Ridgefield High School website, www.rhs.ridgefield.org/.

The deadline is April 22.

Donations to Lions helps maintain services to those in need. COVID-19 has limited the Ridgefield Lions from so many typical fundraisers that revolve around the gathering of people. Fundraisers will occur again in the future, but in the mean time, any donations you can make, keeps valuable services in place. 

Please join us April 29 for our Spring Shred Day. Hours are from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lot behind Starbucks. It is $10 per copy paper size box.  Social distancing will be observed. No one will be allowed out of car as Lions in masks and gloves will remove boxes from your trunk. Once boxes are removed, drive up to pay station and Lion will collect your cash or check.  

Lions Club is the largest service organization in the world. If you are interested learning more about Lions and making a difference in our community and on an international basis, visit www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/ridgefieldct.

'Victims or Villians' history course offered through Ridgefield Continuing Education

"Victims or Villains: The Stuarts in England" is a new history course led by long-term history instructor Nancy Maxwell through Ridgefield Continuing Education.  

The advent of the Stuart kings after the reign of Elizabeth I heralded an era of religious and political turmoil. How did Charles I, a shy, art loving family man so enrage the English Parliament to the point of rebellion? How did his sons Charles and James manage to survive their father’s execution and Cromwell’s abolition of the monarchy and then be welcomed back, only to lose their grip again? Were they willful tyrants or misunderstood idealists? An examination of the reigns of these kings, as well as the civil war that interrupted them, will help us draw our own conclusions.  

This course meets March 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Zoom. The cost is $77; Ridgefield seniors age 62 and up pay $65. Advance registration is required.  

Visit www.ridgefieldschools.org or phone Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812 for more information on this and other history classes.

Career workshops offered through Ridgefield Continuing Education

Three separate career workshops, all one-on-one to offer you individualization and confidentiality, are available through Ridgefield Continuing Education. Assess your skills and interests, develop a search strategy, set up or improve your LinkedIn profile and learn interview skills. These one-on-ones are available on most Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. Dates and times in addition to those listed below can be scheduled.

"Intro to LinkedIn One-on-One" with tech author Lance Whitney (available most Fridays from 1 to 2 p.m.) takes you through the steps to create or update a LinkedIn profile that will promote your professional achievements. You will also learn how to build your network, connect with other professionals, post updates, ask for recommendations, and join specialized groups. 

"Resume Assistance" and "Job Search and Interview Techniques" with Glenna McNally, who has over 30 years of experience in executive recruiting and human resources consulting, is available on most Fridays starting March 3 from 1 to 2 p.m.

These on- hour one-on-one workshops cost $50 each. Advanced registration is required. Visit www.ridgefieldschools.org or phone Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812 for more information.

RPAC Gallery presents 'The Artist's Path' exhibition

RPAC Gallery, located at 410 Main St., is excited to present "The Artist’s Path: An RPAC Academy Student Exhibition," which will run March 16 to May 13 with an opening reception on March 16 from 6 to 9 p.m.

This exhibition will showcase the artwork of several talented students and instructors that work with us in the RPAC Art Center and Academy above 850 Degree Wood Fired Pizza Restaurant in Ridgefield and RPAC resident artists. The theme of this show is the path and development of the artist. Passion for art has no age limits, and just as the journey of life goes through many phases, twists, and turns, so does an artists’ work as a reflection of this journey. The RPAC Resident Artists will display artwork that play on and elaborate this theme with their own interpretation.

The guest artists for this exhibitions will be the students and instructors. Not only will their work be proudly displayed at the front of the gallery, but they will be attending classes in the gallery as well, visible from Main Street.

RPAC's mission is to create, promote and exhibit working, emerging, and student artists while providing them with a supportive and creative environment. Owned and directed by Dee Dee Perrone Colabella, RPAC Gallery on Main Street provides a wonderful space with high visibility and foot traffic in the middle of downtown Ridgefield for artists to showcase their work. Our everyday goal is to help our resident artists with whatever they may need to increase their exposure in the art world. We pride ourselves on the many different styles and media in which our artists create, as we believe in maintaining a rich and diverse collection of works for the community to enjoy. 

Visit www.rpacgallery.com for more information. 

Congregation Shir Shalom offers concert by cellist Julian Schwarz

Congregation Shir Shalom is delighted to bring the music of renowned Cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki to 46 Peaceable Street to perform a selection of inspiring music on March 12 at 3 p.m.

Cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki met as students at the Aspen Music Festival in 2006. Over the subsequent years they reconnected at the Verbier festival in Switzerland, and as students at the Juilliard School in New York City. They began their musical collaboration in 2014 and made their debut together in recital at the Austrian Embassy in Washington DC for the Embassy Series. 

In November 2016, the duo won first prize in the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s inaugural “The Art of Duo” from an applicant pool of over 150. During the 2017-2018 season, they presented first prizewinner recitals at the Boulder Bach Festival, as well as debuts at the University Club (NYC), Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (VA), Musical Club of Hartford (CT), Bravo Niagara! Festival (ON), the complete Bach Gamba Sonatas at Bargemusic (NYC), and a Stutchevsky retrospective at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (NYC).  

In March 2017 the duo embarked on a 10-recital tour of China, including the grand-opening performance at the new concert hall in Qianjiang. Past engagements include recitals at the National Arts Club (NYC), Bargemusic (Brooklyn, NYC), Thurnauer School of Music (Tenafly, NJ), University of North Carolina Greensboro (Eastern Music Festival), Danbury Music Center (CT), Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival (MA), Rosenegg Castle (Steyr, Austria), Paul Hall at The Juilliard School, Hammond Chamber Music Series (Boston, MA), Peninsula College (Port Angeles, WA), Second City Chamber Series (Tacoma, WA), Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (Nova Scotia, Canada), and an appearance on the prizewinners program at the Mozarteum, Salzburg. 

The duo released its first recording, the complete music for cello and piano of Ernest Bloch, in 2015 for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music and released the world premiere recording of Bright Sheng’s “Northern Lights” in summer 2017 on the Naxos label. The duo’s debut album, highlighting music of Schumann, Strauss, Poulenc, Beethoven, and Kreisler, recorded in spring 2016, will be released in early 2018.

As teaching artists, the duo is in residence at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (NS), and as part of the Mile-End Trio at the Eastern Music Festival. 

Mr. Schwarz and Ms. Bournaki have appeared on WUOL (Louisville, KY) and in hour-long live radio broadcasts for “Northwest Focus Live” on Classical King FM 98.1 (Seattle, WA) and “Backstage Pass” for WXXI (Rochester, NY). The duo has worked closely with violinists Mark Fewer, Yevgeny Kutik, Eric Silberger, Frank Almond, Avi Nagin, and Mark Peskanov, as well as given a performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto with violinist Jo Nardolillo and the Lake Union Civic Orchestra in Seattle, WA. 

According to Classical Voice of North Carolina, “Cellist Schwarz is a force to be reckoned with – a powerful player with a big rich tone with a rapid but full vibrato and impressive intonation all the way up the fingerboard,” and Pianist Marika Bournaki is “The Celine Dion of Classical,” according to the Huffington Post.

This concert is open to all and suitable for all ages. No reservation required, and no fee will be charged.

Congresman Jim Himes Announces $125k in Federal Grants for the Arts in Southwest Connecticut
Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced $125,000 in federal grants to support arts and culture in Southwest Connecticut. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded the grants through their Grants for Arts Projects and Challenge America programs. These programs fund education, engagement and access to art.
“Southwest Connecticut is home to a vibrant arts scene that enriches our communities and strengthens our local economy,” said Congressman Himes. “This federal funding will expand access to music, dance and theater, bring artistic projects to life, and further cultivate our state’s strong creative tradition.” 
“This is the first time in recent history that Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts with competitive grant funding,” said Beth Ulman, Executive Director of Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras Inc. “We are grateful to the NEA for recognizing the value of GCTYO to young musicians and their families in Connecticut and for helping us support our quest for accessibility, equity, and belonging for all our students, regardless of background or circumstance.”
“We are thrilled that the National Endowment for the Arts is giving us the opportunity to first connect Connecticut students with disabilities with their peers in Kenya in an exchange of art and live videoconferencing – and then display the art in schools throughout the state on cARTie’s Museum Bus. Disabilities are not inabilities – and this program will fully bear this out for all participants and viewers,” said Alan Steckler, Creative Connections Founder and President.
“I am grateful for the continued advocacy from Congressman Himes for projects that support arts and culture in Stamford, which contribute greatly to the vibrancy of our community,” said Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons.
The nine Fairfield County grant recipients include the following: 
1.    ACT of Connecticut Inc (Ridgefield) -- $10,000 to support a series of theater performances for underserved audiences.
2.    Creative Connections (Norwalk) -- $10,000 to support an international art exchange and mobile tour of artwork created by Deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
3.    Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras Inc. (Fairfield) -- $10,000 to support youth orchestra activities for underserved students.
4.    INTEMPO Organization, Inc. (Stamford) -- $10,000 to support a multidisciplinary concert and a series of dance workshops.
5.    Mill River Collaborative (Stamford) -- $10,000 to support an outdoor interactive dance performance.
6.    Thrown Stone Theatre Company (Ridgefield) -- $10,000 to support a theater production by the Thrown Stone Theatre Company.
7.    City of Stamford -- $25,000 to support the installation of a mural at the Stamford Transportation Center in Stamford, Connecticut. 
8.    Games for Change (Fairfield) -- $20,000 to support the Games for Change Festival and the XR for Change Summit.
9.    Stamford Symphony Orchestra, Inc. -- $20,000 to support an artist residency by the Dali Quartet.
For more information, contact Charlotte Hoffman at Charlotte.Hoffman@mail.house.gov.