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New Britain to Hold Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

NEW BRITAIN — The Queen Ann Nzinga Center, Inc. will once again present its 26th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration this December.

The event, an African-American holiday observed each winter, will be on Dec. 27 at the historic Trinity-on-Main, 69 Main St. in New Britain at 4 p.m.

Kwanzaa encourages the traditional values of family, community, commerce and self-improvement.

Organizers said that this year’s program will celebratesKwanzaa in the context of a musical, entitled “A Change in Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) High School.”  Along with traditional Kwanzaa rituals of African Drumming and Dance, the Libation Statement, candle lighting and positive affirmations, the Queen Ann Nzinga Center participants have created a musical about the seven principles of Kwanzaa that demonstrates how the concepts of this holiday can be applied to everyday life.

Playwright and program facilitator Rebecca Trapp, who has been involved with the Queen Ann Nzinga Center since childhood, wrote the script for the theatrical performance to show the Kwanzaa concepts in action.

The performers include a mix of professionals and non-professionals and children, teenagers and adults who will offer an eclectic show consisting of Gospel, Jazz, Soul, Pop and Hip Hop music selections.

Tickets: $15, general admission; $10, seniors and youth.

The celebration is open to people of all ages, races, cultures and faiths, and all are invited.

For more information, please visit:   or

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Vernon Arts Center to Lead Guided Tour

VERNON — Talented ACE artist members  will be in the galleries this December to lead a guided tour of their art.

The event is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 2:00 p.m. in the Arts Center East, 709 Hartford Turnpike (Route 30) in Vernon.

As you walk from painting to painting, each artist will talk about how they get their inspiration and how they use oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, computers, photography, multimedia or assemblage to create their vision.

This is a great opportunity to meet artists and to ask questions. Most of the art work is for sale and would be a memorable holiday gift.

Our Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale items will be on display as well. As an art talk attendee, you are entitled to a 15% discount on the purchase of one artist member’s artwork or one Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale item.

Snow date is Wednesday, Dec. 16th.


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Arts Council Accepting Grant Submissions

HARTFORD –  Writers, graphic designers, photographers, artists and other creative professionals  and organizations now have a change to get their projects funded.

The Greater Hartford Arts Council invites arts and cultural organizations in its 34-town region to submit an Intent to Apply for a Hartford Events Grant by Dec. 3, 2015.

These grants, supported in part by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, fund exhibits, concerts, festivals, parades, and performances that take place in the City of Hartford.

The current application cycle, Round I, supports events occurring between April 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016.

“Hartford Events Grants celebrate the talent and cultural diversity that are unique to the Capital region,” says Cathy Malloy, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council.

“They make possible free events that bring the community together and generate energy in Downtown Hartford.”

Applicants approved through the Intent to Apply process will be invited to submit an application. For more information about Hartford Events Grants and to submit an Intent to Apply, visit

Visit to learn more about the Arts Council’s range of grant programs.

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Movie: Steve Jobs

Now playing in theaters near you is the bio-pic of the founder of Apple, Inc.: Steve Jobs.

The movie unfolds by showing what it was like backstage minutes before three iconic product launches spanning Jobs' career—beginning with the Macintosh in 1984, and ending with the unveiling of the iMac in 1998, the movie, Steve Jobs, takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. It's also the story of race, gender and immigration as never depicted before on screen.

Steve Jobs is directed by Academy Award® winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography of the Apple founder. The producers are Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady of Film 360, Scott Rudin, Boyle, and Academy Award® winner Christian Colson.

Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award®-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The film also stars Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs' ex-girlfriend, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Apple Macintosh development team.

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Bizarre Facts About Vester Lee Flanagan II, Virginia Shooter

By Stephen A. Crockett, Jr.

VIRGINIA — Renowned film, stage and television actor Kevin Bacon will lead the Hartford Stage cast in the world premiere of Rear Window, adapted for the stage by Keith Reddin, and directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, from October 22-November 15.

Tresnjak said, “I read Cornell Woolrich‘s classic crime story ‘Rear Window’ in high school, and it made a lasting impression. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to direct a stage version thirty years later, when the issues of surveillance and voyeurism have become even more pertinent. Keith Reddin‘s taut adaptation takes place inside of a sweltering, claustrophobic apartment, very much like the addled brain of the leading character, who will be played by Kevin Bacon. I can’t imagine finer collaborators than Kevin and Keith in exploring the terrifying psychological landscape of this timeless thriller.”

The play is based on the same short story-“Rear Window” by Cornell Woolrich-that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock film, a 1954 Academy Award nominee. It is the classic story of a man confined to his apartment who thinks he may have witnessed a murder in a nearby building. Rear Window is presented by special arrangement with producers Charlie Lyons, Jay Russell and Jeff Steen.

Russell said, “Kevin and I have been friends and collaborators for decades, and we’re thrilled he’s taking on this iconic role.” Lyons concurred, “Kevin’s award winning body of work is unparalleled, a leading man who creates memorable characters.”


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Forest Whitaker to Speak at the United Nations

By Ann-Marie Mesquita |

NEW YORK — academy Award winning film star, Forest Whitaker, will appear at the United Nations to call for action on peace, prosperity and political leadership to the world’s parliamentary leaders at a global conference at UN headquarters in New York

Whitaker, founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative and a UNESCO Special Envoy for peace and reconciliation on Aug. 31, will address the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament as a keynote speaker on the opening day. He will be joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IPU President Saber Chowdhury.

The Conference, a global summit of the heads of national parliaments will focus on the three pressing issues of the day – democracy, peace and development. Its outcomes will feed into the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in September, during which new development goals will be adopted.

With more than 150 Speakers of Parliament from most of the world’s nations due to attend the IPU-organized event, the Conference will focus on challenges to peace and democracy

Forester, an actor and a social activist will also make his Broadway debut next spring in a revival of “Hughie,” a short play by Eugene O’Neill. Whitaker, who won an Oscar for playing Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” will play Erie Smith, a hustler who confides in a hotel night clerk.

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New Exhibit at The New Children’s Museum

WEST HARTFORD — Greater Hartford residents are invited to  invent, design, create and build in the New Children’s Museum’s latest exhibit, Tech City, set to open this September in West Hartford.

Tech City features several interactive activity stations that allow visitors to solve real-world problems that engineers face each day,museum officials say.

Visitors can build a structure that will hold up under the force of an earthquake, use a computer program to adjust the flow of traffic and stop a traffic jam, produce their own recordings using a variety of sound effects, and dam a creek to prevent flooding. These activities, among others, encourage an understanding of the natural world and devising solutions based on human needs and issues.

The goal of Tech City is to encourage all young visitors, especially girls and underrepresented groups, to consider engineering careers. Diverse role models, videos and other media, combined with hands on exhibits and programming, encourage problem-solving techniques and thinking.

Tech City opens on Saturday, Sept. 29 and will take the place of It’s a Nano World in the main exhibit hall at The New Children’s Museum. The main exhibit hall will remain closed for renovation and installation from Sept. 4 to 25.

During the exhibit closure, admission to The New Children’s Museum will be buy-one-get-one-free.

The New Children’s Museum is positioned as a premier STEAM education center, integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Home to over 100 live animals, the Museum features hands-on science exhibits, out-of-this-world digital planetarium shows, and programs for young children and families.

The New Children’s Museum and Roaring Brook Nature Center are the region’s premiere destinations for science and nature exploration. The New Children’s Museum and Preschool are located at 950 Trout Brook Drive in West Hartford and Roaring Brook Nature Center is located at 70 Gracey Road in Canton.

More information is available at

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Dirt Salon to Present Pop Show: SODALICIOUS

HARTFORD — The Dirt Salon will present the premier of SODALICIOUS! – a  Pop Art Show featuring a vast exhibit of photography by artist Beth Phillips who has photographed numerous works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both of whom have been major influences on her own art.

“I knew artists Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat from 1983-1988,” says Phillips, who worked with the artists during exciting periods of their careers, but also unfortunately near the end. ”

June Bisantz to perform at the Dirt Salon in Hartford

June Bisantz to perform at the Dirt Salon in Hartford

Andy Warhol passed away February 22, 1987. His Estate called me to photograph thousands of paintings at the new “Factory” at 22 East 33rd. The following year, when Jean Michel Basquiat passed away on August 12, 1988, his father, Gerald Basquiat, called me to photograph hundreds of his paintings and drawings.”

Years later, her own photographic work would hearken back to both Basquiat’s hip hop street life and Warhol’s repetitive collection of Campbell soup cans. On long walks around New York City, Ms. Phillips began noticing crushed soda cans. Ms. Phillips began collecting and photographing crushed soda cans and educating herself about recycling. People began sending her crushed soda cans from around the world. The resulting work draws attention to the need for recycling and recyclable packaging while commenting on the art of the soda industry.

SODALICIOUS! features nearly two hundred photographic prints.

As part of the Pop Art tribute, there will be exhibits by two emerging Connecticut artists: Thomas Radovich and Katie Fogg. Radovich’s work began as an exploration of nostalgia but has expanded into a nearly compulsive need to document every action figure, stuffed animal, and toy in his ever-growing collection.

Katie Fogg’s paintings have been displayed in numerous group exhibitions throughout NYC and Connecticut, and have been acquired by private collectors. Fogg’s KFOGG Studio is located in her hometown of New London and she also keeps a studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Phillips, an artist and photographer, attended the Hartford Art School and the Rhode Island School of Design. She lived in New York City for about 30 years and ran a business photographing fine art.

SODALICIOUS! will also include a musical treasure not to be missed – June Bisantz Jazz.
Tickets are $15 in advance (go to:, $20 at the door.

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Box Office Revives Puritan Play, The Gallows

FILM REVIEW — Scary movies with a puritan theme is a rare commodity at the box office. So it’s a surprise to see a relatively successful showing of this genre in North American theaters, raking in about $21 million in two weeks. In other territories, it garnered $9.4 million and raked in an impressive worldwide total of $30.8 million against a budget of $100,000.

Not bad for a small-budget film with a familiar horror template,based on a real-life tragedy.

Beatrice High School’s most infamous stage production was revived with budding thespian Pfeifer Ross, who plays the high school kid, Charile Grimmel.  The film begins October 1993 at Beatrice High  in Beatrice, Nebraska, with production of  “The Gallows.” Grimille’s parents, delighted about their son’s performance, record the play. In the third act, Charlie’s character is set to be hanged at the gallows.  Then tragedy strikes as the door beneath Charlie’s feet opens and he falls through with a noose around his neck. He died of strangulation in front of his co-stars and the  audience.

Twenty years later, a student at the same school, arrogant football player Ryan Shoos tapes his good-natured friend (and the events of the film) Reese as he is in a production of “The Gallows” playing the same character Charlie played. Reese acts alongside his crush Pfeifer,

The Gallows ended with the death of  Grimmell with leading man, Reese Houser. He plays a former football star who lacks acting talent but tried out for the play. He died in a deadly freak accident at a high school play in Nebraska.

The film is  a mash up of The Blair Witch Project and Brian De Palma’s horror movie, Phantom of the Paradise.

Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Louflin,  The Gallows serves up a modicum of scare on the scare-o-meter: The scares consist of moving objects and sound effects with lots of bloody and fear-inducing scenes.

However, it’s a story best left in the past.


Movie Review by Fran Wilson




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African Diaspora Concert Comes to Hartford

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — World-renowned soul singer Betty Harris and Nzinga’s Daughters will headline the annual Music from the African Diaspora concert at the Learning Corridor in Hartford on July 25.

Concertgoers will enjoy a the soulful sound of Betty Harris and her backup singers, which  she has mentored from the Queen Ann Nzinga Center’s Watoto program. The other performers are Third Tabernacle Choir, Nzinga’s Daughters R&B Band, Changes, Relentless, Crystal Blue Project and world-renowned soul singer Betty Harris.

David Mayes of Plainville, who mentors young vocalists in the Queen Ann Nzinga Center programs, will also perform a solo.

Aaleya Hardy, 18, of Bristol, Sabrina Jones, 12, of East Hartford, and Dillyn Caruso, 18, of Plainville, will perform at the Music from the African Diaspora concert with Harris; and Hardy and Savannah Freitas, 16, of Plainville, will join Harris  on stage at the four-day festival, along with Snell, executive director of the Queen Ann Nzinga Center.

Doors  at 359 Washington St. will open at 6 p.m.  Artwork and photography will be sold at a silent auction to benefit the Queen Ann Nzinga Center’s youth arts and enrichment programs before the concert.

The free concert is geared to all ages, and children are welcome.

For information, contact Queen Ann Nzinga Center at or 860-229-8389.

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