President Joan C. Lester’s November 2013 letter to the Membership

Hello, Fellow Members,

What would November be without Thanksgiving, the quintessential New England holiday? This is my favorite holiday and I personally wish each and every one of you a lovely Thanksgiving Day, a day in which to be grateful for all our bounties shared with loved ones. I hope that you can also share some with those who have less. The Marlborough Food Bank can always utilize even the smallest of contributions because they add up to larger ones and help so many.

As the seasonal cold starts here, I am still basking in the warmth of a resent cruise on the Danube River including stops in Vienna and Salzburg and with book-ended stays in Prague and Budapest. The art and architecture, the strolling musicians on cobblestoned streets and town squares, the concerts in Baroque halls, and the fun of going back in history with every step are wonderful memories. But we are home now, and it is good to be home. Travel also brings a fresh perspective to what we have here. We may not have strolling musicians in Marlborough. We don’t even have cobbles! But we do have a new rating as the #3 small town out of 44 in “Connecticut Magazine”, November, 2013, pp. 60-61. That rating includes a high score for culture/leisure and obviously the Marlborough Arts Center is a major factor. We have art and the regional artists who create it; we have the architecture of old New England as our home in the Charles W. Hall historic building; and we have musical evenings monthly. All of this is special. All of this is easily available. All of this is open to everyone in the region.

This month’s musical evening is a concert by Gail Wade and Turning Point on Friday, November 22, at 7:30 p.m. This is a continuation of her annual concerts at the Arts Center, events which are anticipated by people from all over the state and by the audience who fills the hall. Note that the date has changed from early publicity. The concert will be on the 22nd. Come early to secure a seat, see the new items in our renovated Gift Shop, and relax with refreshments before the concert.

As President, I can tell you how proud we are that Jim Grabowski, one of our artists and Board of Directors Member, has had his painting “The Red Phase” accepted into the permanent collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art. What a great honor, and one well deserved. Jim’s paintings grace the walls of homes, offices, state buildings and companies, and now also in this fine museum. The next time you visit MAC, do look for some of his paintings on our walls. They would be a joy to own for your walls too.

Also note that our Stegosaurus sculpture now has a name: MACxine. Elizabeth Peters, 5th grade, won the contest with this name and was honored at a Prides Assembly at the Elmer Thienes Mary Hall Elementary School on October 23, with awards given personally by the sculptor, Neal Alderman. Neal said that he hadn’t really thought about the gender of his sculpture, but when he and the rest of us on the Board heard MACxine, it just seemed right. Congratulations to both Elizabeth and Neal and with appreciation for the collaboration with the school’s art teacher, Denise Ketterer.

Not only does the colder weather presage winter is coming, it also harkens to holidays and celebrations, many with the happy exchange of gifts. Our Gift Shop is a fine spot for finding a perfect gift and knowing that it is a unique piece of original art by one of our artists or fine crafters. The Gift Shop is filled with new, many never before seen, objets d’art. Before you think of joining pushing crowds at area malls, do think of the pleasure of shopping at ease for unusual gifts right here in Marlborough. You and your loved ones who receive the gifts will truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. And, the artists donate 30{eba5a16469fb4a7f18f8ea69c1431b00c5f2da579f8ac6bd75c322ccea0d0754} of their earnings to the Arts Center in order to help maintain all of our artistic activities. We’ll be open every Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 4 p.m. from November 23 – December 22. Check for any other special holiday hours on our website and in local newspapers.

Then give yourself the gift of membership for 2014 by going directly to:, download the membership form, and send it in by mailing it to us: attention Membership, Marlborough Arts Center, 231 North Main Street, Marlborough, CT 06447. Those of you who remember the old P.O. Box address, will note that we have our own mail box now, a very secure locked mailbox, on site. Already we are preparing for the second Membership Directory and want you to have it soon after the New Year. As you can imagine, “making a list and checking it twice” is very time consuming when we are talking about a membership list. In order to meet our printing and distribution goal we are asking that you rejoin now for the 2014 year. The Membership Committee thanks you sincerely for renewing now and making their work easier.

With best wishes and Thanksgiving blessings to all,


Joan C. Lester, President
Marlborough Arts Center

or at home:
(860) 295-9565

President Joan C. Lester’s October 2013 letter to the Membership

Hello Fellow Members,

Beauty is all around us in October and I hope you are taking the moments to breathe deeply of the fresh air and glory in the colors of autumn in New England. I’ve spoken before of my life in Rome and find it interesting how often I am reminded of that. In fact, that we even speak of October at this time of year is due to Julius Caesar and his reform of the Roman calendar around 45 BCE. Verbally, October’s prefix means the eighth month, but it is the 10th month of the Julian calendar. September, November, and December are similarly misplaced by two months, because Julius added July (for himself) and August (ditto…). Of course, he did that in order to put the calendar on a schedule based on the earth’s revolution around the sun rather than the extremely complicated Roman computations so we owe him a debt of gratitude. But as the Bard said, “What’s in a name?” Whether the 8th or 10th, October is a lovely month.
The colors of October, and of all the seasons, are reflected in the Artist Member Show still open at the Arts Center. I urge you to come in and be surrounded by beauty in its myriad artistic forms and mediums. The Opening Reception on September 20th literally packed the house and the response was electric. Without hyperbole, this is the finest Artist Member Show anyone can recall. It is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. through October 27th. Do not just drive by; come on in and refresh your spirits.

There are many ways to express beauty, to express art, to be creative. Our extremely popular 4th Friday @ the Arts Cafe evenings are among the ways. On October 25, we highlight Hugh Blumenfeld, a singer-songwriter, published poet, ex-English Professor, present medical doctor, and researcher, a life-long professional musician: a true Renaissance Man. Hugh was the first musician to play at our 4th Fridays and having him back this month on the 2nd anniversary of our musical evenings will indeed be an evening to celebrate. Among the many venues he’s played in Europe and America, he has played in Greenwich Village in the vibrant 1980’s, the Smithsonian’s Folkways Collection, and the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage Series in Washington, DC. He has opened for Arlo Guthrie among many other greats. He was also Connecticut’s State Troubadour from 1999-2000. And he will be here in Marlborough with beautiful music from quiet ballads to political satire on Friday, October 27 at 7:30 – 9:00 . ($8/individual or $15 for two) What an evening this will be, truly one evening you do not want to miss.

But to bring you all this beauty, we must have members so October is also the month in which we begin our 2014 Membership Drive. Check our website ( for the Membership Form. Frankly, the Marlborough Arts Center would not exist without the loyal support of each and every one of us. So fill out the form, send it in with your dues, and we will send you your 2014 Membership Card giving you the 10{eba5a16469fb4a7f18f8ea69c1431b00c5f2da579f8ac6bd75c322ccea0d0754} discount on purchases plus the other benefits of belonging to this dynamic group of art lovers. These Art Shows, classes, workshops, music, collaboration with Town Hall and the schools, the being a center for art in our community and the region: these are visual signs of the Arts Center at work throughout the year, but we need your dues to do it all. The Membership Committee will send out an email reminder to rejoin – or join – soon. Already they are organizing for receiving membership forms and for writing the second Membership Directory that has brought us closer together as a group, which is why we begin now so the popular Directory will be ready for you in January and the beginning of the new membership year.

As I sign off for this month, I realize we are all busy in many ways and hope it really is a good month for you personally in the midst of such seasonal activity – and the beauty around us.


Joan Lester, President

President Joan C. Lester’s September letter to the Membership

Hello fellow members,

We are preparing for another special year at the Arts Center, one which traditionally begins with the Opening Reception of the Annual Artist Member Show ushering in the season on Friday, September 20, 2013 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in our gracious Art Gallery.

Enjoy a glass of wine or punch, and some home crafted finger foods, as you mingle with the artists. I urge you to put this date and time on your calendars – in red even – then come over with friends to the Arts Center and join our artists in celebrating their creativity. “The more the merrier” certainly fits this occasion as we show support for our artists. Plus, it is so much fun to meet these talented people in person and talk with them about their work. It is also a privilege.
This show is being judged by the well-known award winning Katherine Simmons, elected artist member of the Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society, Connecticut Women’s Artists, Lyme Art Association, Salmagundi Club, and the Oil Painters of America. We are honored to have her. Awards and cash prizes will be made at 8:00 p.m. There will also be a door prize for some very fortunate attendee at the Reception. The show continues from September 21 – October 27, every weekend day from 1-4 p.m. and attendance is always free of charge.

September also brings another 4th Friday at the Arts Cafe monthly musical evening. Last month’s Grass Routes brought a packed house and this month promises the same as, literally back by popular demand, we have Deep Ellum, September 27, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Rich Johnson, on 6- & 12-string guitar and Dobro, and Jon Swift, on guitar, both sing as they switch their instruments. They say “We play plain old American music.”, a very humble expression for the range of classics they perform They are masters of it all. If you don’t know the meaning of Deep Ellum or have never heard a Dobro played, they will explain both and you will be delighted.
We are beginning Fall classes with: Acrylic Painting for Children (Marcia Letourneau), a Watercolor Series (award-winning Audrey Carroll-Prucnal), Fused Glass (Robin Simpson), Extreme Origami (Ben Parker), Contemporary Clay Pottery Open Studio (TBD), & Pumpkin Painting (Audrey Carroll Prucnal). Check details on our website

DID YOU KNOW #1 ?: Our website is a fountain of current information not only on forms for classes and membership, but also on our myriad artistic activities, and with pictures of historical moments including the actual moving of our building and its renovation. I hope you do check it often. We also send announcements to the news media (Hartford Courant My Towns, Cal, Rivereast, Reminder News, Hartford Advocate, Greater Hartford Arts Council, Art Guide, surrounding towns’ art centers). Please do let us know where you read/hear about our activities. We need your feedback on how successful our publicity is. You could let us know by email to me personally at .

DID YOU KNOW #2 ? We rent out our facility: the beautiful upper Charles W. Hall Art Gallery, the lower level classroom, and even the landscaped gardens for meetings, parties or receptions. There is a discounted price for members even though the charges are already reasonable. Think about us when you are looking for a  special setting. Just leave a message on our telephone at (860) 295-9389 and the appropriate Board of Director Member will be back in touch with you.

DID YOU KNOW #3 ? Our Gift Shop has been refurbished all the better to display new items created by our artist members. The Gift Shop is open whenever the Art Gallery is open and is filled with unique gifts. This is the place to come when you seek something no one else has. It is often difficult to choose just one item and you can be assured that whatever you do choose will be truly appreciated the recipient.
It sounds something like Dr.Seuss’ Thing 1 and Thing 2, doesn’t it? But with appreciation to him for the idea, I will continue in my letters to highlight “things” I hope you will consider.

Once again, on behalf of the Board, I thank you for your ongoing support of the Arts Center and our mission of being a regional center for art and culture in its many forms. We are all art lovers and our membership dues provide the base for us to be the Marlborough Arts Center.
But we must build upon that base and I’m sure you will also support as you can the necessary fund raisers throughout the year which allow us to continue and grow. We have some interesting and fun ideas on which we are working, so “stay tuned”.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Reception, at the 4th Friday, and maybe even in a message on my email.



President Joan C. Lester’s August 2013 letter to the Membership

Hello Everyone.
Wasn’t July a month to break all heat records in Connecticut, and we were here to experience it! The ancient Romans spoke of the “dog days” of summer in July, blamed on Sirius, the dog star that rose at sunrise and led to hot sultry weather. In fact, modern Romans do the same. During the 24 years that we lived in Italy, 19 of them in Rome, everyone who could, literally, escaped to the Castelli, the hill towns outside Rome where affluent Romans have had summer villas over the ages and where it was always degrees cooler than in the city. Even without a villa’s garden, just sitting in a piazza sipping white wine and looking out over the hills to Rome made for a calmer, cooler feeling. Now if only Marlborough had some hill towns nearby…

But we are in August and the weather will change again. The Arts Center has changes also. We have a blue grass group, The Grass Routes, playing at the “4th Friday at the Arts Cafe” on Friday, August 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Come early and settle in for a delightful evening of music in the intimate environs of the Art Gallery. Remember it is BYOWine, but we have freshly brewed coffee/tea, soft drinks, and home-made cookies available.

Two days later we will be participating in Marlborough Day on Sunday, August 25 at Blish Park and hope you stop to greet us at our table where we’ll have another interactive art project. Last year our artist member Susan Whitehouse designed a huge sunflower painting made up of smaller squares that individuals could paint. Children, and their adults, loved painting their square and then seeing it come together to form the complete painting. Many came back to paint more than one square. This year Susan has created a “Lilies of the Field” theme which should be great fun.

This summer has been a time to reflect as we plan activities for the year. It has also been a time to reflect on our past and the founding of the Marlborough Arts Center. To that end I am pleased to announce that Betty Keister, one of the Founders and our second President, agreed to write a history of the Arts Center. We have many pictures of moving the Charles W. Hall building to our present location, all the volunteers who gave so freely of their time and expertise to make it what it is today, and other celebratory moments. We do not have a written history though and Betty has once again volunteered her knowledge and skills to fill this void. She would appreciate hearing from all of you who have memories of the “early” days as she begins her writing. We know there are hundreds of stories out there, so please do share them with her – and eventually with all of us members.

One last request. Many of you have indicated when filling our annual membership forms that you would like to volunteer your time – some of your time – offering your myriad skills, but are not sure what to offer and would prefer to be asked for something specific.

Well, I am asking. We are in need of assistance in two areas: (1) gardening & (2) fund raising.

For the former if you have 1-2 hours you could give in helping the Facilities Committee in getting our gardens more in order, that would be a very big help indeed. If you could come more often, all the better, but just a couple of hours by a few people can make all the difference to us. Those dog days may have dragged us down, but the flowers and weeds flourished and need attention.

As for fund raising, we are working through sub-committees on long-range planning and would appreciate benefiting from the expertise we know some of you have. If you could be on a sub-committee with a single focus such as marketing or grant writing, or are one of those people who always has creative, stimulating ideas, we’d appreciate hearing from you.

Hearing from you means calling the Arts Center’s telephone at (860) 295-9389 and leaving a message. Believe me, we will have the appropriate Board Member get back to you!

We really want to know our members more personally, and are opening up our Board Meetings every other month to the general membership. If you’d like to come in person, put Tuesday, September 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Art Gallery down on your calendars now. After the business portion of the meeting we plan Open Discussion time and invite your thoughts and responses. I’m mentioning this now in my August letter because this September meeting is the day after Labor Day and I want to be sure you can plan ahead and attend.

I look forward to seeing you then and at August’s activities too.

Joan Lester, President

President Joan C. Lester’s July 2013 letter to the Membership

Hello All,

At our Annual Meeting in June I was elected the 9th President of the Marlborough Arts Center, and if you read down the list of Past Presidents in the Membership Directory it will be evident why I am honored to join these women. They have led our organization from a dream of a regional arts center into the ever-growing reality it is today with almost 150 members. And it’s our volunteers and members who care and support the arts that make it all possible. As much as I hope to greet each one of you in person some day, in the meantime I will chat with you every month through the electronic ease of these “Lester Letters” to keep you current with what is happening.

And there is always something happening, even over the quieter summer months. The next time you pass the Arts Center, do stop and see our newest addition, the charming Stegosaurus outside near the front steps. It is a minimalist sculpture by Neal Alderman, a Board of Directors award-winning member artist and retired member of the UConn Faculty. There will be a naming contest in the fall, but some of us have nicknamed him “Steggy” for now. A second outdoor sculpture is in the planning stages, this one by Jim Grabowski, another award-winning artist and Board of Directors member. I’ll keep you informed of its progress in future letters.
Not only stop and look, but do plan to stop and attend our very successful monthly “4th Fridays @ the Arts Cafe” musical evenings which I’m happy to say do not go on summer vacation. The next musician will be Stephen Donovan, a classically trained pianist who will present on July 26. Over the past two years, a wide range of musicians have entertained on these Friday evenings: from a solo cabaret singer to an 8-piece band, with music covering all genres. Regardless of their specialties, all the artists have said they love the ambience of our beautiful Charles W. Hall Gallery, the great acoustics, and the close interaction with the audience. People who come really enjoy the variety of the music and the spirit of camaraderie. One woman told me that she loved classical music, but came “just for something to do one evening” and found herself singing along with some folk songs and having fun she hadn’t expected. She and many others come regularly regardless of the style of the music. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, like participating in a musical evening in a lovely home. In fact, our Arts Center is a lovely home belonging to us as members, so do come and enjoy music in our home.

Even without music in the background, your Board of Directors, listed on our website, meet monthly to plan our artistic activities and events for the year. You’ll read announcements in the news media and art guides as always. However, I invite you to also check out our website,, for current details. Our website is undergoing changes, so keep checking in to see how it moves to include more interesting information about our volunteers and artists, as well as about our history.
Even more, I invite you to share your ideas and comments with me and other Board members. Call me; my telephone number is in our 2013 Membership Directory. Also, all messages left on the Arts Center’s telephone answering machine at (860) 295-9389 will be forwarded to the appropriate Board Members. Whomever you call, call. We want to hear from you.

Remember, that without your support as members, there would be no beautiful building and grounds, no art shows and exhibitions, no musical evenings, no classes, no artistic events.

Simply, without our members there would be no Marlborough Arts Center.

With thanks, and wishing you all a Happy rest-of-July, I look forward to chatting with you again in August.