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

July 4th Friday

The Marlborough Arts Center’s “4th Friday @ the Arts Cafe” for July is on Friday, July 26 at the Arts Center, 231 North Main Street, Marlborough, at 7:30 p.m., starring Steve Donovan, a classically trained pianist and Berklee graduate who specializes in standards, classic jazz and pop. He has played top venues in New York and Los Angeles and, now living in Cromwell, is widely known in Connecticut. Both as a soloist and with friends in his Steve Donovan Trio, he has given definition to the term listening music for celebrations in hotels such as the New York Hilton, Hotel Pierre, Helmsley Palace, Beverly Hills Hotel, Ritz Carlton, and restaurants including Spago and the Old Lyme Inn. He is widely sought for more intimate special occasions, and the Arts Center is delighted to have him playing in their beautiful Charles W. Hall Gallery in Marlborough.

Admission at the door is $8/individual, $15 for two. BYOWine. Other refreshments are available. Although the concert is from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., the doors open at 7:00 so come early, get refreshments, visit the Gift Shop and settle in for an evening of great music you will recognize.


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.


June 4th Friday

The Marlborough Arts Cente hosts “4th Fridays at the Arts Cafe”, coffee-house style convivial musical evenings in the beautiful Charles W. Hall Memorial Art Gallery which are perfect for meeting artists, and those interested in the arts, while enjoying good conversations along with food, drink, and performances by local musicians.

Brought back by popular demand, June’s Arts Cafe is on Friday, June 28, 2013, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Marlborough Arts Center and features “The Modern Riffs”, an unique high-energy blend of experienced musicians and exceptionally talented young people. They combine Jazz, Classic Rock, and Swing into their programs and have performed throughout the state at music festivals, private parties, churches, residence centers, fundraisers, art shows and many other places and clubs. “The Modern Riffs” were formed in 2008 by Bruce Phelps, a teacher and saxophonist from Marlborough. His idea was to form a band of adults who would mentor highly talented high school students while giving them the opportunity to perform professionally. After graduation, many of the students continue to study music in college and plan for careers in the field.

Admission is $8/person, $15 for two at the door. BYOWine. Freshly brewed coffee, tea and other refreshments are available. The doors open at 7:00 p.m., so come early, visit the Gift Shop, with arts and crafts by local artists, and settle in with your refreshments before the concert.

April 4th Friday with Anam Cara

The Anam Cara Band returns to “4th Fridays at the Arts Cafe” at the Marlborough Arts Center, 231 North Main Street in Marlborough, CT on Friday, April 26, 2013 from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Anam Cara, Irish for “Soul Friend”, is an acoustic trio formed of their common appreciation for songs from the folk traditions of Ireland, Scotland and the States. With many years of experience in various bands among them, this collaboration unites three performers with distinct and varied backgrounds. They played last year to an audience who enthusiastically made them promise to come back, and the Arts Center is delighted that they will be doing just that.

The trio consists of Patrice Smith (guitar/vocals), Steve Prout (guitar/vocals/fiddle), and Karen Ziel-Bodhran (vocals/percussion). Their rich harmonies bring new energy to a catalogue of traditional favorites and original tunes. Their fans know that singing along is not only impossible to stop, but also sought for by the musicians. This fits with the convivial and interactive atmosphere of the Arts Cafe. All the musicians who play at the “4th Fridays at the Arts Cafe” comment on the excellent acoustics at the Arts Center, a fact enjoyed by both them and the audience.

Admission at the door is $8/individual and $15 for two. BYOWine. Coffee, tea, home-made cookies and other refreshments are available. The doors open at 7:00 p.m., so come early, browse The Gift Shop with its unique creations by regional artists, settle in with your refreshments, and prepare for a wonderful evening of music which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Marlborough Arts Center is a non-profit regional center for the fine arts, performing arts, and fine crafts. Check the website or telephone (860) 295-9389 for further details of this and myriad other artistic activities and membership opportunities.