Support a Terrific Resource

Feast Header

Are you trying to figure out what to do as this cold, snowy, New England winter comes to an end? We can’t get snow in April, can we?!  As a volunteer for this year’s Green Street Arts Center benefit, I have just the thing!  Join me in heading to the Caribbean at Green Street for a warm getaway from the winter weather (at least in spirit)!

The Remainders at 2010 AuctionBuy your tickets for Green Street’s Caribbean-themed benefit evening, A Feast for the Senses, on April 8th from 6-8:30 p.m. at 51 Green Street. Many interesting and valuable items will be available that night at a live silent auction hosted by Ray Hardman from WNPR’s “Morning Edition.” Plus, we’ll enjoy fantastic food, live bands playing music from Trinidad and Jamaica, and a salsa dancing workshop.   Go to the following link to purchase tickets now:

Food from 2010 AuctionFrom my own experiences, I can testify that Green Street is a terrific resource for families in Middletown and the surrounding CT area.  I’ve brought my (almost) four and two-year-old daughters to Green Street’s music classes and I have also attended special events like the Bill Cosby benefit performance. Proceeds from this year’s A Feast for the Senses will help support Green Street’s Summer Arts & Science Academy and also the Young Women’s Leadership Institute.

Check out details about these programs and other details about the event here.

So, come in from the cold to the Caribbean that waits!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me, Robert Mosca at ( or Green Street’s Administrative Assistant, Rachel Roccoberton Griffin (

I look forward to seeing you on April 8th!

Submitted by Robert Mosca

A Feast for the Senses Auction Benefit
Friday, April 8, 2011
5:30pm Preview
6-8:30pm Event
Tickets: $50/person
Call 860-685-7871 for tickets.

Escape Middletown spring and journey straight to the tropics at Green Street’s second annual auction benefit. Join celebrity host and master of ceremonies Ray Hardman from WNPR’s “Morning Edition” at this Caribbean themed event. Guests will enjoy the sounds of live steel drum and Jamaican music performances, multicultural dances, a wide array of items for auction, stimulating conversation, and sumptuous refreshments. Proceeds from this event support Green Street’s tremendously successful Summer Arts & Science Academy as well as a new initiative, the Young Women’s Leadership Institute. Last year’s auction was the talk of the town—this year’s is sure to captivate you!

Guests at 2010 EventJust to tempt you, here are a few items that will be up for bidding at 6pm:  Nintendo Wii and games, wine baskets, 4 field level NY Mets tickets, Family Fun Package (including passes to Kidcity, the Beardsley Zoo, Lutz Children’s Museum, Rock Cat tickets, and more), hand-crafted jewelry, Keiji Shinohara block print, 2 Tickets to the Connecticut Forum “Book Club”, AHAVA Skin Care Gift Basket, and so much more!

This event is generously sponsored by Mary Beth and Stephen S. Daniel ’82 with additional support provided by Citizens Bank and IT Direct LLC.

Are you trying to figure out what to do as this cold, snowy, New England winter comes to an end? We can’t get snow in April, can we?! As a volunteer for this year’s Green Street Arts Center benefit, I have just the thing! Join me in heading to the Caribbean at Green Street for a warm getaway from the winter weather (at least in spirit)!

Buy your tickets for Green Street’s Caribbean-themed benefit evening, A Feast for the Senses, on April 8th from 6-8:30 p.m. at 51 Green Street. Many interesting and valuable items will be available that night at a live silent auction hosted by Ray Hardman from WNPR’s “Morning Edition.” Plus, we’ll enjoy fantastic food, live bands playing music from Trinidad and Jamaica, and a salsa dancing workshop. Go to the following link to purchase tickets now:

From my own experiences, I can testify that Green Street is a terrific resource for families in Middletown and the surrounding CT area. I’ve brought my (almost) four and two-year-old daughters to Green Street’s music classes and I have also attended special events like the Bill Cosby benefit performance. Proceeds from this year’s A Feast for the Senses will help support Green Street’s Summer Arts & Science Academy and also the Young Women’s Leadership Institute. Check out details about these programs and other details about the event here.

So, come in from the cold to the Caribbean that waits!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me, Robert Mosca at ( or Green Street’s Administrative Assistant, Rachel Roccoberton Griffin (

I look forward to seeing you on April 8th!

Submitted by Robert Mosca

Art Imitates Life of Local Playwright

Becoming Joaquin

Three years ago, when a childhood friend came out as transgender to Janis Astor del Valle, the New Haven-based, award-winning writer-performer found herself at odds with herself. “Here I was, an out and proud Latina lesbian, whose own coming out process had been marked by sheer angst; yet, when my friend Derek told me he was transgender, I’m ashamed to say, I freaked out. Not outwardly, because I didn’t want to make him feel bad, but inside, I felt devastated.”

“I’d always thought of myself as so liberal, so progressive. I lived in New York City for 20 years, and for part of that time, I was an activist, Vice-President for the LGBT group, PRIDE (Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment). I worked and marched alongside many transgendered comrades. But when Derek came out, I really could not comprehend why he wanted to change his body, his gender. We had known each other since second grade. All our lives I knew him as a girl, and we both came out as lesbians in our early 20’s.”

TransplantationsWhy was it so difficult for Astor to accept her lifelong friend as transgender? “I couldn’t figure it out at the time, but I’ve since determined much of my initial difficulty had to do with my own ignorance. I think, to some extent – and I know this is going to sound crazy – I felt a sense of betrayal. As adults, we had bonded as lesbians, members of an oppressed group, but now he was going to have a straight man’s identity and privilege.”

The more Astor talked to Derek, the more plagued with guilt she became, until she realized “I had to get over myself – this wasn’t about me, it was about him, he needed my support.” The problem was that she didn’t know how to overcome her fears and prejudices. So, she turned to what she did know: theater. “Writing has always been like therapy for me, helping me to sort out and work through problems or issues. And acting, to me, is about empathizing, learning to step into the shoes of another, in order to truly understand the person.”

Inspired by Derek’s courage and determination, Astor decided to create a Latina lesbian character who transitioned into a man. The first thing she did was talk to Derek. “I explained that I wanted to honor his journey, and respect his privacy; I didn’t want him or anyone to think I was telling his story, or anyone’s specific story. I just wanted to be truthful to the experience of being transgender and create a character with whom audiences could truly empathize, even if they weren’t themselves transgender, or Latino.” Her inspiration intensified, and she began writing a monologue entitled Passing, about the character of Joaquin, a transgender Latino who sheds his female and lesbian identity, yet struggles to gain acceptance from his family and himself. Astor felt herself turning a corner on the road to shedding her own transphobia.

Astor began conducting research, and uncovered alarming statistics pertaining to the transgender community. “Reading all this information was pretty depressing and infuriating, because I believe the numbers are even higher, but, historically, hate crimes have not accurately been reported by the authorities or tracked by the FBI. All in all, it fueled my fire to finish writing the play,” says Astor.

Has the research and writing process helped Astor overcome her transphobia? “Absolutely!” she exclaims. “But, I think, more than that, it’s just been the whole process of talking with Derek, coming to understand that he has felt this way his whole life. And he’s still the same lovable, good-hearted, funny person he’s always been.”

Astor was awarded an Aurand Harris Fellowship from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America to develop her original monologue into a one-woman play, Becoming Joaquin, in which she portrays the title character, his family members and girlfriend, who are in therapy, struggling to accept his identity as a transgendered Latino.  Integrating various elements of her research, Astor completed the play last month. She aims to tour the piece to schools and other venues, to educate others about the transgender experience and encourage acceptance.

Submitted by Jasmine Eve Diaz

Becoming Joaquin
Friday, April 1
Tickets $20 Patron (reserved seating)
A: $15   B: $12  C: $10*

Playwright, instructor and performer Janis Astor del Valle has written two plays about being lesbian and Latina, Trans Plantations and Pandora’s (which has been performed Off-Broadway. Becoming Joaquin, written and performed by Astor del Valle, is a one-person play about the experience of being a transgendered Latino.  The performance will be followed by a talk with Astor. Astor believes her play “offers an excellent opportunity to bring together diverse groups to spark meaningful discourse about identity and foster understanding of the transgender experience,” Becoming Joaquin is a don’t-miss event.
Call 860-685-7871 to reserve your seat.

Sunday Salon Discussion Series: The Law of Gaga

Pop musicians getting involved in politics is nothing new, nor has there ever been a shortage of musicians willing to make clear their personal and artistic connections to LGBT culture and politics.  But in the past year, there seems to have been an upsurge in mainstream pop artists getting involved in gay rights activism in surprising ways.  Attracting probably the most attention has been Lady Gaga’s outspoken advocacy for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, including appearing at a rally in Maine, and taping a personal appeal to members of the U.S. Senate.

But a larger trend has been the involvement of a number of pop musicians in combating anti-gay bullying.  Although not without precedent (cf. Christina Aguilera “Beautiful”), the range of artists contributing songs (Katy Perry “Firework”), public service announcements (Justin Bieber on Ellen) and entire television shows (Glee) dealing with bullying is quite striking.

Having worked with LGBT youth on these issues since I was one myself, Queer Pride Ribbonincluding a number of years participating in the Stonewall Speakers program here in Connecticut, I love to see attention given to the issue in such popular contexts.  But as a scholar of music history, I also want to think more critically about what’s happening, and why.  Because as much as these artists probably care very deeply about these issues, when the financial stakes are as big as there in the case of, say, Justin Bieber, you have to ask what market forces and what marketing strategy, might be involved.

Submitted by Phil Gentry, Wesleyan University Alumnus ’02, University of Delaware Assistant Professor of Music

Join Phil this Sunday to explore the promises and pitfalls of when pop meets politics.

Sunday Salon Discussion Series
The Law of Gaga: Queer Citizenship on the Pop Charts

Sunday, March 27, 2011 | 2pm
Suggested Donation: $5

The issue of gay rights is a hot topic on the pop charts. Be it well-intentioned or well-calculated, artists from Justin Bieber to Katy Perry have embraced the rhetoric of moderate gay activism.

Join us for this series of intriguing conversations with Wesleyan faculty, staff and alumni. Salons are accompanied by coffee and delicious baked goods from O’Rourke’s Diner. This series is co-sponsored by the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Wesleyan.

Recycle, Renew, Recreate, Research, Explore

Gabby PaintingI began teaching at Green Street in the After School Art and Science class in January 2010.  My classes have explored renewable resources and local animal habitats, and created portraits, pop-up art, and masks.  I tend to move around with subject matter and materials to keep each project fresh and interesting, and am inspired by close-to-home topics and input by our young artists.  My goal is for the students to not only learn a new creative technique, but also to be exposed to a variety of sources for creativity.  We’ve made sculptures based on Connecticut animals, pop-up cards inspired by castles found all around the world, oil pastel drawings of boats traveling by air instead of fuel, and many other inspired pieces.

Stefano DrawingDuring Summer Academy we concentrated on a selection of cultures.  Every culture we targeted began with a brief background of the location, lifestyle, and beliefs of the people.  We then discussed why art could be an important part of their lives and what it represented for them.  Each project we created was based on this historical study.

We journeyed from Egyptian hieroglyphs, to the Celtic Book of Kells, to a Caribbean mosaic, and ended with a Native American recycled totem pole.  Our spin on the totem pole was for each artist to select an animal of interest and sketch out the shape and look of the creature.  Summer DrawingWe had an enormous selection of recycled materials to sift through, from plastic containers and bottle tops, to tin cans and cardboard boxes (all made possible by community donations).  With these materials the results were fantastic- eagles, seals, pigs, moose, and even a dragon!  To finish off each animal’s look, the students added paint, felt, feathers, and other types of embellishments.  Each class clustered their final creation together to signify their modern-day totem poles.

Not only did we have fun, but each student also experienced putting their creativity Recycled Sculpturesto the test as they sketched, constructed, and finalized a mixed media recycled sculpture.

More about Lindsay

My primary mediums are painting and printmaking.  I look for inspiration everywhere, but nature, loved ones, and emotional expression are a few of my overriding themes.  Within these themes I alternate between a loose, painterly quality, to a tighter, more detailed style.  I layer colors, lines, and concepts until it feels as though there is a story illustrated on the canvas or paper.  The story is there as a still-frame, whether it be in abstract, surreal, expressionistic, or realistic form.

Submitted by Lindsay Behrens, Teaching Artist

Your child can take a class with Lindsay and many other dynamic teaching artists in the Summer Arts and Science Academy this year.  Call 860-685-7871 to receive your registration packet in the mail or click here for more information.

Sunday Salon: Exploring the Masters of Wesleyan’s DanceMasters Weekend

Suzanne Farrell Ballet
"Meditation", Suzanne Farrell Ballet

For the past eleven years, in collaboration with Wesleyan University’s Dance Department, Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge has brought contemporary dance to Middletown from around the world.  On February 27th at 2pm community members are invited to join her at Green Street Arts Center’s Sunday Salon Discussion Series where dance becomes more than an experience of rhythmic movement, but also the start of great conversations.

Taking her passion for dance far beyond traditional pre-performance talks and post-show conversations with artists, Tatge’s unmitigated enthusiasm for contemporary dance transformed the Center for the Arts program offerings. Under her leadership, the arts are now reaching directly into classrooms, where visiting artists and faculty members are initiating
interdisciplinary learning methods that span the university curriculum.

Otis Donovan Herring, member of Evidence, A Dance company in "Two-Year Old Gentlemen" choreographed by Ronald K. Brown
"Two-Year Old Gentlemen" choreographed by Ronald K. Brown

This year Tatge and her team have gone above and beyond for their phenomenal spring dance program with dance ranging from modern American to ballet to indigenous works from Brazil and Hawaii. For the highly anticipated  12th annual DanceMasters Weekend, March 5-6, two giants of the dance world, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, along with relative newcomer Gallim Dance Company, will be taking the stage.  Andrea Miller, Gallim’s founder and artistic director, is this year’s winner of the CFA’s annual Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award.

In her Green Street discussion, Tatge will share her experiences and expertise with the companies she was responsible for bringing to the area.  She will look back at the illustrious dance companies that have taken the stage over the past twelve years, including the José Límon, Paul Taylor, Sean Curran, Urban Bush Women
companies, and preview this year’s DanceMasters Weekend.

Pupil, Gallim Dance Co.
"Pupil", Galim Dance

Thanks to Tatge, dance is truly being used to unearth connections between artistic practices, modes of academic inquiry, and bonds of community in Middletown.

The Sunday Salon Discussion Series is a monthly series of intriguing conversations with Wesleyan faculty, staff, and alumni, held this month on Sunday, February 27 at 2pm.  Salons are accompanied by treats from O’Rourke’s Diner.  This event is held at Green Street Arts Center located at 51 Green Street in Middletown.  Admission is a suggested donation of $5.  For more information or to register call 860-685-7871 or visit  This series is co-sponsored by the Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies at Wesleyan (

Submitted by Sydney Lowe, ’13

Warm Up with Green Street

After the rush of the holidays and the start of the New Year, January settles down to be a nice, quiet month, right?

Not at Green Street!

This month is filled with classes, events, and workshops that are sure to bring you out of hibernation and warm you up.  The bright lights of Green Street will shine into the night beginning January 18th when the After School Program and Winter Session classes begin.  And then the days and nights are filled with workshops in Flamenco and Social Media, a Salsa Social and Family Fun Day, classes of all kinds, and more.  Check it all out below.

Winter Registration
Register online here or by calling 860-685-7871 for one of our
great winter classes. Here is a sampling of our offerings to tempt you:

Women Playing with Hair by Meredith ArcariSalsa Dance with Cori Presutti
Mondays | 7:30-8:30pm

Figure Drawing Open Studio with Elena Grossman
Tuesdays | 6:30-8:30pm

Writing in Motion with Christine Woodside
Tuesdays | 6:30-7:30pm

So You Got a Digital Camera with Shawn Hill
Wednesdays | 6:30-7:30pm

Yoga with Gia Khalsa
Thursdays | 6:15-7:15pm

Writer’s Out Loud with hosts Cocomo Rock & Al Bower
Thursday, January 20 | 6:30 pm – 8:45 pm
Regular: $5; Member: $3

Prose writers are invited to share works-in-progress, socialize, and seek out constructive comments. Presentations are limited to prose short stories or excerpts under 10 minutes. Sign-up begins at 6:30pm, readings begin at 7pm.

Salsa Social
Saturday, January 22 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Salsa SocialRegular: $8; Member/Student/Senior: $5

Overcome the sub-zero temperatures with one of Green Street’s acclaimed Salsa Socials.  Salsero Jason Pepin hosts an evening of hot music, open floor, and the best dance crowd in Connecticut.  Admission includes refreshments and free instruction from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

¡Viva Flamenco! A Demonstration and Workshop with Marta Torres
Friday, January 28 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Regular: $8; Member/Student/Senior: $5

Marta Torres of Madrid will a demonstrate flamenco dance, and explain its history, concluding with a question and answer session.  The final half hour will allow audience members to try flamenco for themselves – participation encouraged, but not required.

Using Social Media – A Two-Part Workshop
Instructor: Eric Lopkin
Saturday, January 29 | Part 1: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and Part 2: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Regular: $30 per session; $50 for the day | Member: $25 per session; $40 for the day

Social Media WagonPart 1 covers the basics, including the different social media platforms (Facebook, Linked In, Blogs, etc.,) and how to get started with the right settings to protect yourself.  Part 2 explores more advanced functions of all forms of social media, and prepares you to launch or enhance your home business, creative writing or political action.

Family Festival at Green Street – Come in from the Cold!
Saturday, January 29 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm | FREE

Kids having funJoin us at Green Street for a day of family activities for all!  Activities include Community Music Initiative, Creative Arts Workshop, Storytelling, Early Childhood music for parents with children aged 9 months to 5 years, Hip Hop and Breakdance for kids aged 7-13, and more!  All ages are welcome; children must attend with a parent or caretaker. This event is free, but your donation of $8 per family will help us hold future events.

With all these activities, why stay at home?  Call us at 860-685-7871 for more information or to join one of these events.  We hope to see you soon at Green Street!

‘Twas a Green Street Holiday

Green Street has some fantastic gift ideas for the holidays, and what better way to share them with you than to the tune of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  We hope this gives you some ideas and gets you into the holiday spirit.  After reading this, we hope you’ll check out our Facebook page to view pictures from our Omnidenominational Holiday Celebration on December 3rd and the Winter Solstice on December 10th.

‘Twas the night before the Omnidenominational Holiday Celebration, when all through the Center

Every creature was stirring, even the presenters;

The lights were focused in the Performance Space,

In the hopes that Buru Style would soon take their place.Arsean Breakdancing

The children all practiced breakdance and ballet;

While teachers were putting artwork on display.

The staff was all ready for winter to start;

With classes like Tai Chi, Writing, and Acrylic Art.

When suddenly the phone rang with a loud bleat

A staffer picked it up, and said “Green Street!”

“Have you any classes for someone age two?

“Or something after school for kids to do?”Anna Skates, Receptionist

“My co-worker Lisa’s interested in art,”

“And Claudia would like her lesson to restart.”

“I’m happy to assist you,” the staffer replied;

Her voice clearly showing organizational pride.

“We’ve something for Lisa, and Claudia too.

And an After School Program you cannot outdo.Membership Cards

There’s Private Lessons in violin and guitar.

With a Gift Certificate, you can really go far.

Use them for classes, lessons, or events.

They will take care of your holiday presents.”

The caller was intrigued, she asked to hear more.

About the great gifts Green Street had in store.Buru Style at the Omnidenominational Holiday Celebration

“There are Memberships!  Class Cards!  Tickets galore!

Treat yourself to a night out, don’t be a bore.”

The customer then smiled to find she was done

With all the holiday shopping that she’d just begun.

The staffer was pleased to have served one and all

And Buru Style took their place in the hall.Ceramics Work by After School Students

The students performed their ballet and breakdance.

And the artwork received a second, or third, glance.

With a look through the Center, the staffer declared

“This is the best time of year!” and that opinion was shared.

Happy Holidays
From Green Street

Submitted by Rachel Roccoberton Griffin

Give the Gift of the Arts this Holiday Season. Whether for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or someone else that will enjoy the experience of active creativity, Green Street makes giving art easy.  Click here to view more information.  To purchase any of these great items call (860) 685-7871 or email

After School Students Shine at Winter Solstice

Camille and studentsMy name is Camille Martin and for the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Green Street Arts Center’s After School Arts and Science Program.  I started at Green Street as an intern through Middlesex Community College.  I would come and work with the After School students as a support staff member, assisting several classrooms, participating in dance classes, and greeting students when they arrived.

After a month I became part of the staff working Monday through Friday taking care of attendance and dismissal, visiting class rooms, and tutoring kids during our Academic Enrichment hour.  I’ve watched the children flourish into mature, talented individuals thanks to the support of dedicated staff.

Breakdancing ArseanJust last week one of our students showed me her detailed watercolor painting, something she wouldn’t have been able to do four months ago.  The teaching artists and support staff have worked very hard over these months to empower the students to do their very best in the classroom and in life.  Each child has grown dramatically in character, as well as in talent, in their selected fields.  Helping kids develop skills in their young life that will carry them into their adult life has been such a rewarding experience.  From breakdancing to arts and science, our kids truly shine.  It has been an immense pleasure to be a part of the After School Arts and Science Program.

Submitted by Camille Martin, After School Support Staff

Come see all our students shine in our annual winter show.

After School Stars: Winter Solstice
Friday, December 10 | 6-8pm | Free

Students in BalletJoin us for our annual evening of performances, art exhibits, and multi-media presentations by the After School program. Enjoy performances by Breakdancing, Ballet, African Drumming, Songwriting, Storytelling, ThoroEnergy Hip Hop, and Videography classes, as well as exhibitions from Art and Science, Comic Book Drawing, and Creative Writing classes. Your support of local arts begins with our young artists—stop by and be amazed by the talent that surrounds you!

“It’s only half way through our After School Program year, but it is truly astonishing at how far our students have come and how much they have to share. Between the Cave Art and Dinosaur Sculpture exhibit from the Art and Science classes to the Beginning Breakdance Battle, our Winter Solstice event is a don’t-miss-opportunity for family, friends and neighbors to come and support Middletown’s youngest most creative minds.”— Sarah-Jane Ripa, Artistic and Education Coordinator

Explore the Alluring World of Sherlock Holmes’ London: A Sunday Salon with Stephanie Weiner

Sherlock Holmes“A positive case can be made that [Sherlock] Holmes exerts just as much hold on the world’s imagination today as he did a century ago,” writes Joshua Hammer in a recent essay.  And, he continues, “Conan Doyle’s other alluring creation was London.”

It is easy to appreciate the imaginative effort that produced Holmes, master detective and master of disguise, his brain a kind of compendium of raw data and a machine for deductive reasoning, his heart a refuge for unspoken demons and silent affections.  It is perhaps more difficult to grasp the equally imaginative effort that produced Holmes’s London.  But that place is also imagined, shaped by Conan Doyle’s narrative art into the proper setting of many of Holmes’s adventures and the surrounding context for 221B Baker Street, where most of the stories, no matter where they lead him and Watson, begin and end.  London Map circa 1890Holmes’s London partakes of the reality of the real city, the sprawling megalopolis documented by maps and photographs and record such as newspapers and police  reports.  But it also participates in a “fascinating and artistic” city more familiar from impressionist paintings and poems.  Our image of end of the century London is, in no small thanks to Conan Doyle, a mixture of these two cities, full of foggy streets and mysterious riverbanks only partially illuminated by the glow of streetlamps.

Holmes and Watson discuss the relationship between these two aspects of London in “A Case of Identity,” one of the stories that appeared in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892:

“My dear fellow,” said Sherlock Holmes, as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, “life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.  We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence.  If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outré results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”

“And yet I am not convinced of it,” I answered.  “The cases which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough.  We have in our police reports realism pushed to its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed, neither fascinating nor artistic.”

“A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing a realistic effect,” remarked Holmes.  “This is wanting in the police report, where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the platitudes of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter.  Depend upon it there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace.”

I think we can read this passage as a meditation on the kind of portrait of the city that Conan Doyle aspires to offer.  That portrait will be at once accurate and “fascinating and artistic,” and it will achieve this double effect, this fusion of documentary accuracy and aesthetic imagination, by demonstrating how unpredictable and “strange” the everyday life of the city really is.

In this Sunday’s salon, we will examine the London depicted in “realistic” portraits such as maps and the London presented by artists such as Whistler and Wilde.  We will see how Conan Doyle draws on both aspects of London to create Holmes’s city, which is not only a vivid setting but a character in its own right and an object of knowledge as well as mystery.

Submitted by Stephanie Weiner, Wesleyan University Associate Professor of English

Stephanie WeinerStephanie Weiner (B.A., University of Minnesota; Ph.D., Stanford University) is associate professor of English at Wesleyan University. Her recent publications include Republican Politics and English Poetry, 1789-1874 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), and articles about Ernest Dowson, Algernon Swinburne, and Arthur Symons. She is currently at work on a book about the English Romantic poet and naturalist John Clare and a series of articles about depictions of real and imagined sense experience in late nineteenth-century poetry. She is the recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010).

Interested in hearing more?  Join us this weekend.

Sherlock Holmes’ London on Paper, Canvas, and Film
A Sunday Salon & Graduate Liberal Studies Open House

Sunday, November 21, 2010 | 2-4pm
Suggested Donation $5

Professor Weiner will examine how various representations of London managed to offer a fascinating snapshot of the city as it was.  During the salon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, maps, and photographs as well as paintings by artists such as James Abbot McNeill Whistler, poems by writers such as Oscar Wilde, and recent Sherlock Holmes films will be examined.  The Salon will include an information session about graduate liberal studies at Wesleyan, where Professor Weiner will be teaching a course on Literature in London this spring. To reserve a seat, contact Green Street Arts Center at 860-685-7871 or email

Curiosity & Lifelong Learning

Autumnal Equinox by Edeltraud HullerHaving been part of the Green Street family for 5 years, and focusing primarily on the financial end, I have learned quite a bit about the offerings from a registrar’s point of view.  After working closely with the Teaching Artists, I was curious to see what attending their classes would be like.  This curiosity led me to take Edeltraud Huller’s Beginning Drawing class in the Summer 2009.

As the first class drew near, I was nervous with anticipation, as my previous drawings reflected the skills of a pre-schooler.  On the day of the class, I showed up armed with a few pencils, some paper, Klimt's Kissand sheer determination; my goal was to learn how to sketch fashion design.  Beginning Drawing consisted of two 16 year-olds and 3 adults who could easily have been their parents (or grandparents)- what a mix!  In these 5 weeks, we managed to sketch everything from our fellow students to the flowers in Green Street’s garden.  This experience, and the serenity of drawing outside, reminded me of what great inspiration lies in nature.  Additionally, the talents and different styles of each student were really fascinating and acted as encouragement for us to think about our subjects from a different point-of-view.

Miro's Cat Encircled by the Flight of a BirdIn one class, Edeltraud encouraged us to bring in works by our favorite artists for inspiration and to learn about their work through imitation.  I chose works by Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt and Spanish surrealist Joan Miró.  I was able to examine their different styles of painting as well as their uses of composition and color.  Klimt’s obsession with the female anatomy, and Miró’s use of shapes made it easy for me to draw inspiration and sketch multiple drawings.

After completing the course, I was left with four drawings that showed my progress.  Thanks to this class, I realized that I was actually a decent artist.  I have kept the nature sketches not only because I enjoy them, but also as a reminder that I should continue challenging myself.  Looking back on the experience, I realized that it was much more than a drawing class, but rather a time when I could forget about the stresses of the day and completely lose myself in the art.

Submitted by Claudia Foerstel, Financial Coordinator & Registrar and Green Street student

Adult Drawing & Painting StudentAre you interested in Claudia’s experience or do you want to take Edeltraud’s drawing class yourself?  Session II of Green Street’s Fall classes are beginning this week and registration is open now!  Click here to view all of Green Street’s offerings for lifelong learning.  Call 860-685-7871 or email to register or click here to register online.