Formerly a thread mill…

…and significantly where the Gardiner Hall Jr Company produced the first spooled thread in the United States, the buildings dominate a typical 19th century mill village to this day. At the bottom of severe downhill curve on Route 32, with a porched wooden boarding house under restoration on the right and old barn a bit down the road, the setting remains largely intact. Tall windows of the studios and other spaces of the Mill Works overlook the old dam and still undeveloped mill pond. And recently it is also the home of EC–CHAP.

River Road looking south in South Willington, CT

To break that down – Eastern Connecticut Center for History, Art, and Performance. A small museum displays Gardiner and other artifacts. Writers talk. Occasional open studios. Monthly social dance. But foremost at this time is their performance venue The Packing House. Now in its third season presenting jazz and acoustic artists, 2017’s Best New Act Gracie Day by the New England Music Awards this Saturday night, we appreciate the bright lights brought to this outward fringe of the exurbs just off I–84. And BYOBF, what a great deal.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tunnel Road at the Slater Museum

Tunnel Road from the Reimagine New England suite has been included in the 74th Annual Connecticut Artists Juried Exhibition at the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, CT through March 16. It was not a promising morning for photography as I made my way on rustic roads down the east bank of the Deerfield River as it comes out of Vermont. The heights of the Mohawk Trail are lost in the fog. The tunnel referred to is the Hoosac, astonishing in 1875 for its engineering, hopeful that it might allow Boston a rail route through the Berkshires to compete with New York’s access to the Erie Canal and the Mid–West. I was struck by the simplicity of the iron work, sort of a “roofless covered bridge”. It was only in printing that I appreciated the importance of the sheen of light on the weathered wood planks, better than a sunny day! 24×30 archival pigment print, Exhibition Fiber paper, framed 30×40.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Introducing the Boston Color series

The first public exhibition from the new Boston Color series – Kodachromes from the 1970’s and 80’s will be in CAFA’s 106th exhibition at the Mystic Museum of Art, Mystic CT from June 18 to July 29. Both Mobil Man and Maria’s have been accepted for inclusion.

From the introduction to the series:

“When I came to Boston it was a black and white town, with a tint of brick…expressive neutrals, richly warm pastels, truth in earth tones, bright reds, varietal greens, shaping blues contribute to become these colors of memory.”

For more visit Boston Color on the Reimagine New England website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

73rd CT Artists Juried Exhibition

At the Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, CT:

On view January 22 through March 17, 2017. Now in its 73rd year, the Annual CT Artists Juried Exhibition features paintings, drawings, mixed media, sculpture, graphics and photography by resident artists of Connecticut.

Join us Sunday, January 22nd from 1-3 pm in the Converse Art Gallery for the Opening Reception and Awards, a special event for artists, friends and the public.


Athens Street, also awarded an honorable mention, and Empty Lot from the Crappy Negatives series have been accepted for this year’s show.

The Crappy Negative series utilizes decades old scratched and neglected film, maybe poorly developed too, and a cheap “inappropriate” scanner to set the motif for creative resurrection of an often dirty heavily damaged early B&W archive.

To see more visit Crappy Negatives on the Reimagine New England website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blanche Ames National Art Exhibition


A long gravel driveway leads through early Fall woods to a bend that opens into a late dusk sky with the window light of the castle-like mansion in the distance amid spreading lawns. There’s a movement of brighter lights out front as you approach, people are providing assistance for a line of cars to park safely. As we join a procession to the front door I’m glad we dressed to enhance a feel for the Gatsbyesque. It’s crowded and noisy with excitement, not unlike I presume often times before it was a museum, when it was the home of Oakes and Blanche Ames. He was a highly acclaimed Harvard botanist; she an accomplished painter and prominent suffragist. Underneath what appears to be a huge Arts and Crafts chandelier with what could be the Mayflower lies a dining table with all the appropriate party food. A piano plays in the music room. Champagne is being served on the enclosed terrace. And in the hall and two story library the well–lighted exhibition is on display. Curators Norma Urban and Robert Bendt are brightly forthcoming with appreciation for the artists’ contribution, and it’s reciprocated. The atmosphere is gay. A large print of New Ice from the Reimagine New England suite is holding its own in the corner. And to think of it, wasn’t so long ago that I bought a good sturdy Ames shovel at Home Depot to prepare my wife’s new vegetable garden. The forge, the factory made this town.

A quality printed catalog of the show is available here, or a pdf for download.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art Factory


The late night whistle blasts at each crossing orchestrate a plaintive wail to reverberate against steep hillsides as trains enter Stafford Springs within the narrow confines of the Willimantic River. Very slowly with a great westward hook the train will pass behind the businesses on Main Street, seemingly close enough to almost touch, and with just enough room there to fit a driveway to American Sleeve Bearing’s hundred year old factory on the Middle River. And a concrete trestle in their parking lot that once provided for a second track. Today it’s a perfect setting for a graffiti festival, and for a fourth year the civic minded company has allowed public access for a day in mid–September. The multiple arches are painted back to a blank canvas in preparation for about fifty invited artists who in about six hours will again create their kaleidoscope of color for another year. With live music, the frenzy of activity and good vibes is a blast.


from the 2015 event:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stafford Springs Blues Festival


Stafford Springs Blues Festival

Joanne Shaw Taylor at the Stafford Springs Blues Festival, CT, August 6, 2016.

Behind Main Street’s businesses, across the railroad tracks and over the bridge lies Hyde Park with the Historical Society and a couple of the springs that made the town famous. Johns Adams recuperated here, and partook. With a natural bowl surrounded by stately old pine and oak for a venue and the new music pavilion, the festival enjoys as fine a setting as any. So my brother–in–law says. And the talent too was top–notch. International. But be prepared, the stage lawn is full sun, if uncrowded.

Next year – August 5                            Stafford Springs Blues Festival

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Back to Mystic

Again, some more exhibition news:


In the 1960’s, color photographic prints were usually made from color negative film, the exposure from a darkroom enlarger on light sensitive paper with dyes so unstable that we all were treated a few years later to the spectacle of hideously purple renditions of ourselves on prom night. But I mostly shot slides which would require a costly film internegative be made to then print to paper. Except for the relatively new but very difficult to use Cibachrome paper, which allowed direct printing from slide to paper. The azo dyes of its thirteen layer emulsion produced a depth and brilliance of color some say is still unmatched today. But oh, the long exposures and reciprocity, high contrast to control, dark shadows almost impossible, and a chemistry to gag on.

Mystic Photo at the Mystic Art Center was actually one of then few exclusively photography juried competitions. I had prints accepted in 1979 and 1981. I began making larger prints that were recognized by Ciba-Geigy in Switzerland as finalists for their International Grant Award. You had to ship them. And these were included in Mystic Photo in 1989.

That’s “Mystic”, as in pizza, in Connecticut, the movie, Matt Damon’s film debut.

Cibachrome was renamed Ilfochrome in 1992 after a change in ownership and discontinued in 2012. The color today in those vintage color photographic prints is as good as when they were made.

The Connecticut Academy’s 105th exhibition at the now Mystic Museum of Art is the first public exhibition of an archival pigment print from my new Crappy Negatives series – Mystic River.


That’s “Mystic”, as in the river just north out of Boston, with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon etc., the 2003 Clint Eastwood movie.

From the introduction to the Crappy Negatives series:

Of course, 45 years ago any serious introduction to the magic of photography began with a developing tank in a darkroom. Thank you Ralph Mercer. But even then with LIFE Magazine predominantly in color, my interest wasn’t great and patience less for the tedium of Ansel Adams’ zone system. All that note taking. Those negatives accumulated slipshod, loose or variously sleeved in what was to become a battered and broken cardboard box, masking taped–up, and too small for its contents. Stuffed on a shelf somewhere. More recently, a free HP flatbed scanner was provided with the new iMac – a good excuse to at least make a digital record. Some negatives were well stuck to their glassines, if that. But the struggling front light low res scans of crappy negatives did occasionally provide an intriguing result. What opportunity would digital provide to control the chaos? Especially tone. Now an archival pigment print. But with some effort, pushing pixels does feel a bit like painting Mudhead portraits for Charles Hawthorne on a Provincetown beach sometime early in the 20th Century.

To see more visit Crappy Negatives on the Reimagine New England website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meadow Life at the Slater Museum

Some more exhibition news:

Meadows Poster

With continuing development of farmland and also reforestation of abandoned agricultural acreage, our fields and meadows, with their associated species are amongst the most endangered habitats, especially threatened birds. Also flood control as some require occasional standing water or other disturbance. Invasion by purple loosestrife is a serious altering problem. Fall mowing can help, my friend in Vermont waits until after nesting season before he’ll cut one of his fields.

Though the Slater summer exhibition takes an expanded view of the situation, their associated workshop focuses on the wet meadows and dry grasslands of Lowthorpe Meadow just north of town. Preserved since 1915, the museum will make a specimen gathering walk in the meadow on July 16th, followed up with a hands on The Art and Science of Herbaria back at the museum on July 31st.

We are grateful to being asked to provide four prints from the Reimagine New England portfolio, including Mudflat, you could say, also known as a clam meadow.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The free academy and an art museum

Helped by the style of its Second Empire mansard roof, the high ceilings of the parlor and halls are an opportunity to do justice to large landscape prints in my ca 1862 home in Stafford Springs. (see previous post) That’s an appropriate time frame too for I like my art to be wide open in understanding its precedents, especially the Hudson River School, America’s home-grown visual definition of a unique heritage. Amidst the portrayal of a sublime wilderness we see a pasture, cows, a cabin, a mill, perhaps the turret of a Victorian mansion. From the watershed at the Massachusetts state line, the Middle River becomes the Willimantic in the center of town, and recently I had occasion to leisurely drive state road #32 south along the river, further where it joins the Natchaug to form the Shetucket, continuing and then over a height of land to the Nantic River only to again meet up with the Shetucket at the headwaters of the Thames River, an estuary to Long Island Sound. Norwich Free Academy was founded in 1854 as privately endowed to be independent of political pressure and including the betterment of youth from the surrounding towns. The associated 1886 Slater Memorial Museum, a gift from a resident scion of  “The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution”, now the historic site in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, also provides art classes. A new multi-story glass atrium allows close eyeball of the magnificent Richardsonian Romanesque building. I was there to deliver a couple framed prints for consideration in their 72nd Annual Connecticut Artists Exhibition. But the really special treat I found in one of the upper galleries, wonderful works by a second generation local member of that esteemed School of artists, John Denison Crocker. I did not know him. Mills fit comfortably within a bucolic panorama of the port and rolling hillsides. Especially enthralling was The Capture of Miantonomo, painted in 1847, and a bequest of William A. Slater.


Slater Memorial Museum

The Thames had been known as the Pequot River, but after the 1636 war, the defeated remnant of the tribe no longer had control as frictions rose between the now neighboring Narragansett and Mohegan. Both enemies of the dominant Pequots they had allied in that war with the English in Boston. But the Puritans had been welcomed to some Mohegan lands along the Connecticut, whereas the Narragansett had friendly relations with Roger Williams of Providence Plantations whose beliefs in religious tolerance and Native rights were an anathema. In July of 1643, when the Sachem Uncas got word of Sachem Miantonomo’s secret approach on the Mohegan Fort Shantok he met him instead on the “Sachem Plains” west of the Shetucket. A surprise attack split the Narragansetts, some escaped by immediately forging the river, while others including Miantonomo were first pursued west toward Nantic Falls gorge. Now, while how and whoever actually leapt over the gorge, or fell, depends on the version of the story being told, the chase continued, Miantonomo was captured and brought to Hartford to await the disposition of the English. It happened that the United Colonies of New England, excluding Providence, were actually holding their first meeting, and without any examination of the allegations precipitating the confrontation, the decision was that Uncas could not be safe with Miantonomo alive so they ordered that he be killed on Mohegan lands, also ensuring the two powerful tribes would never unite against them. Miantonomo was buried on Sachem’s Plain at the place traditionally where he had been captured.

Today there’s a small monument erected in 1841 to Mianomoto almost lost on Elijah Street near the Shetucket in the middle of a small mid-twentieth century neighborhood perhaps near to where he is buried, but not far from what is now Unca’s Leap at the Yantic Falls and a more impressive obelisk to Uncas found nearby on Sachem Street. Here at the head of the estuary Norwich is seeking proposals funded by a state brownfield initiative for environmental and archeological study of the falls, the leap, and some granite and brick mills from their gilded age. The Mohegan Sun Casino is a few miles south on the Thames with the Mashantucket Pequot’s Foxwoods not far to the east. The CT/RI state line follows roughly the former extent of the Narragansett domain.

I hope those with a larger stake can appreciate this novice attempt at relevance, and thank you Slater for including Goldenrod from my Reimagine New England suite in the Connecticut exhibition. The museum truly is “a local gem” with an ambiance of Victorian sensibilities.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment