April 29, 2020

WINNING TEAM: Superintendent Steve Cochrane and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Gonzalez Kosek have led the Princeton Public Schools over the past few years. Both will be stepping down at the end of June. Kosek, described by Cochrane as “one of the most outstanding educators with whom I have ever worked,” announced her retirement last week after 17 years at PPS. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

Anna Gonzalez Kosek, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, praised by PPS Board of Education President Beth Behrend for “her intellect, her professionalism, her warmth, and ability to work well with teachers and staff,” announced last week that she will be stepping down at the end of June.

In addition to a new assistant superintendent, the PPS is looking for an interim superintendent to take charge on July 1, replacing Superintendent Steve Cochrane, who in February announced his upcoming retirement. Kosek said that her retirement plans have been in place since last August and were not affected by COVID-19 or by Cochrane’s retirement.

Kosek will be retiring after what she described as a “long and rewarding” 41-year career in education, including 14 years as principal of Littlebrook School before moving to PPS central administration in 2017. more

By Stuart Mitchner

We’ll sigh goodbye to all we ever had
Alone where we have walked together…

—from “I’ll Remember April”

If I’ve been compulsively whistling, humming, thinking “I’ll Remember April” lately, it’s not because my mother and my son were born April 20 and 28, or because my father died April 14, or because Duke Ellington was born on April 29, in 1899, or because jazz great Lee Konitz died of the coronavirus on April 15, or even because Shakespeare arrived and departed on April 23. Any month with so Shakespearean a claim to fame is surely worth whistling about.

Kerouac and Konitz

My recent fixation on this great American standard — I mean the music, not the labored lyric — began on the night at Birdland in early October 1951 when Jack Kerouac watched “in amazement” as Lee Konitz took “complete command” of the song Kerouac instinctively puts in the present tense as “I Remember April.” First noted in his journal six years before the publication of On the Road, it’s a characteristic, blissfully contradictory free-association streaming of his Manhattan-based jazz consciousness reimagined in narrative form in Visions of Cody when he follows “the famous alto jazzman down the street” after spotting him in “that bar on the northeast corner of 49th and Sixth Avenue which is in a real old building that nobody ever notices because it forms the pebble at the hem of the shoe of the immense tall man which is the RCA building.”

Following Kerouac through a wildly free-form meditation on Konitz’s solo in the journal, you go from the player standing “with the alto on his gut, leaning to it slightly like Charlie Parker the Master but more tense and his ideas more white” to “a 12th-century monk, some Buxtehudian scholar of the dank gloomy cathedrals practicing and practicing endlessly in the bosom of the great formal school in which he is not only an apprentice but a startling innovator in the first flush of his wild, undisciplined, crazily creative artistic youth (with admiring old organ monks watching from the background).” After blowing a series of “beautiful, sad, long phrases, in fact long sentences that leave you hanging in wonder,” Konitz “suddenly reveals the solution,” a weirdly dazzling combination of musicianly foresight and hindsight “that at last gives you the complete university education” in the structure of the song, “a beautiful and American structure” that leads inevitably to Kerouac’s realization (as if you didn’t already know) that Konitz “is doing exactly what I’m doing … and here I’ve been worried all along that people wouldn’t understand this new work of mine.” He means of course the work in progress that became On the Roadmore

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The biggest revelation for me was the combination of seriousness and fun that I saw at every rehearsal I witnessed at Kelsey Theatre,” says Princeton University professor Stacy Wolf, author of Beyond Broadway: The Pleasure and Promise of Musical Theatre Across America (Oxford University Press, 2020). “I loved witnessing those emotions sitting together.”

Kelsey is the focus of “Community Theatre,” the fourth chapter of Beyond Broadway. As its title suggests, the book examines productions by organizations throughout the country. Wolf’s research included visits to Worthington High School in Minnesota; the Zilker Summer Theatre in Texas; and the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Colorado.

Although Wolf lives fairly close to Kelsey, which is on the campus of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, she did not always intend for it to be the focus of the chapter about community theatre. “Originally, I assumed that I would write about a number of different community theatres across the country, and examine how they operate differently,” Wolf says.

That approach would have resembled that of the following chapter, “The Sound of Music at Outdoor Summer Musical Theatres,” which includes the Open Air Theatre in Washington Crossing, Pa., plus outdoor theatres in Austin, Texas, and Marin, Calif.  more

Sarah Rasmussen

McCarter Theatre Center has announced the appointment of Sarah Rasmussen as its new artistic director, effective August 1. Rasmussen is currently artistic director of the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis.

“The search committee was impressed with Sarah’s commitments to inclusive artistry and inventive storytelling,” said McCarter Board Chair Robert Caruso, who co-chaired the search for a new artistic director with board member Jill Dolan. “McCarter looks forward to how she — partnering with managing director Mike Rosenberg — will expand the theatre’s audiences with innovative programming and original content.”

Rasmussen will succeed Emily Mann, who is departing from McCarter after 30 years leading the theatre. “I have long admired Emily and her legacy of commissioning and developing new work,” said Rasmussen. “I am energized by the conversations I’ve had with McCarter board, staff and community about this next chapter. And, as a former professor, I look forward to the possibilities between the theater and Princeton University.”

Mann said, “I am so very happy to light the torch of my successor, Sarah Rasmussen, and wish her a glorious tenure as McCarter’s new artistic director.”  more

Vinroy D. Brown Jr.

The Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) has announced that Vinroy D. Brown, Jr. will take over as artistic director, starting this summer.

“On behalf of the entire board and the entire organization, we are thrilled to have Vinroy join us as our next artistic director,” said board Co-Presidents Jill Jackson Carr and Nora Schultz. “With his outstanding music skills, his energy and enthusiasm, and his strong commitment to connecting communities through music, Vinroy was a unanimous choice. We are confident that Vinroy will carry on the TCC 30-year legacy and lead the Trenton Children’s Chorus into its next era.”

TCC will be hosting a free “Meet Our New Artistic Director” livestream session on Tuesday, May 5 at 5 p.m. More information is available at trentonchildrenschorus.org.

Brown has credits in conducting, sacred music, and music education. He is a member of the sacred music faculty at Westminster Choir College, where he conducts the Westminster Jubilee Singers. A church musician, he is director of music and worship Arts at Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in East Orange. He is the founder and artistic director of the Elmwood Concert Singers and is artistic director and conductor of the Capital Singers of Trenton.

“This appointment holds special meaning for me,” said Brown. “I’ve been connected to the TCC family since my undergraduate years at Westminster Choir College, as a guest conductor and soloist. Being able to serve this great organization as its artistic director is nothing but a dream realized. I look forward to the possibilities for this next chapter in the life of TCC and my own.”  more

“THE TILED HALLWAY”: This painting by Lucretia E. McGuff-Silverman won second prize in the West Windsor Arts Council’s “2020 Member Show: Built Environment.” The exhibit is on view at westwindsorarts.org, with a virtual tour on May 8 at 7:15 p.m. with the juror and artists on hand to discuss their work.

The West Windsor Arts Council’s (WWAC) 2020 Member Show: Built Environment features the dynamic work of 22 artists showing how they incorporate structures into their work. Artwork featured in the online show considers the built environment as a source of inspiration as it reflects identity, ancientness, modernity, interstitial space-built forms, and the architectural design.

The exhibition is on view on the West Windsor Arts Council’s website (westwindsorarts.org). A virtual tour is set for May 8 at 7:15 p.m. with the juror and artists on hand to discuss their work. The juror, Alexandra Schoenberg, is both an architect and an artist with a studio in East Orange.

Schoenberg was born in Cali, Colombia. She pursued architecture studies at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota graduating in 1986. Her training in technical drafting and architectural rendering greatly influenced her art practice and love for pencil drawing. Schoenberg moved to the United States in 1987, working for several architect firms. She earned her MFA degree in 2014 from Montclair State University where she embraced the techniques of architecture drafting as an art medium. She has exhibited widely. In her art practice, different tropes of architectural representation collide to expose the mechanics of how we observe the world. more

PERFECT PROPERTIES: “We’re a boutique real estate firm because we are a privately-owned company and are not associated with a franchise or large corporate organization.” This offers Addison Wolfe Real Estate more freedom and flexibility in decision-making and operation, points out founding partner Art Mazzei.

By Jean Stratton

That interesting new career opportunities can always be in one’s future is certainly evidenced by the experience of Art Mazzei.

After 30 years teaching English in the New York School system, he is now founding partner of Addison Wolfe Real Estate, the company he established in 2006.

Located at 550 Union Square in New Hope, Pa., it is a boutique company with 50 realtors on the roster, covering an area including New Hope, all of Bucks County, the Lehigh Valley, Center City Philadelphia, and parts of New Jersey.

How did such a dramatic change transpire? As Art Mazzei recalls, “When I was in my childhood, I guess that the first makings of a realtor developed. My father was a contractor, and nothing to me was more exciting than visiting a new home under construction and the smell of pine.” more

POINT COUNTERPOINT: Star point guard Blake Dietrick, left, triggered the 2014-15 Princeton University women’s basketball team to a 31-1 record in a senior campaign that saw her get named as the Ivy League Player of the Year while junior guard Carlie Littlefield was a first-team All-Ivy performer this winter as the Tigers went 26-1. (Photos by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University women’s basketball team was left with a number of what-ifs following the cancellation of the NCAA tournament in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a postscript to an historic season that saw Princeton dominate the Ivy League and barge its way into the Top 25, there is a lingering hypothetical what-if.

In the same vein as water cooler debates over which storied NBA teams could have beaten the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, the subject of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, strong opinions are sparked by the question of how would the 2019-20 Tigers team fare against the 2014-15 Princeton team in a matchup of the two best seasons in program history.

Former Princeton players and coaches — rather reluctantly — compared their teams, always with the caveat that they were each other’s biggest fans, not rivals in any way.

“I really wish this year’s team could’ve made their run in the tourney,” said Annie Tarakchian, who starred for the 2015 team before graduating in 2016 and returning to her home state of California. “We were all so looking forward to that and gearing up to go wherever the games were seeded.” more

GAME OFF: Hun School Director of Athletics Bill Quirk, left, and his wife, Kathy, discuss strategy in their roles as coaches of the Hun softball team during a game in the 2016 season. Last week, Quirk and the school’s administration formally canceled its 2020 spring sports season, concluding that it would not have time to compete in the wake of Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to keep schools closed through May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As schools across New Jersey were shut down by Gov. Phil Murphy in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hun School was hopeful that it could hold an abbreviated spring sports season starting in May.

But with Governor Murphy’s later decision to extend the school closure to May 15, time has run out on Hun and it formally canceled its spring campaign last week.

“We tried to hold off as long as we could,” said Hun Director of Athletics Bill Quirk of the decision, which comes in the wake of the Peddie School and the Lawrenceville School having previously pulled the plug on their spring seasons.

“Once the governor kept moving that date back with us being scheduled to graduate on May 27, by the time we would come back, there would be only nine days of school.”

For Quirk, who also serves as an assistant coach of the Hun softball team, the cancellation was a tough pill to swallow.

“Spring is one of those seasons where you see the kids working out all the time from September on,” said Quirk. “The teaser was that the majority of them got to go on their spring break trips and then they come home and find out that basically was your season. It is disheartening.” more

April 27, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

Two more COVID-19-related deaths, the seventh and eighth in Princeton, were reported today, April 27, by the Princeton Health Department (PHD). The victims were two men, both with pre-existing medical conditions, one in his 70s, the other in his 80s. Neither was at a long-term care facility.

The sixth death in Princeton from COVID-19 was reported yesterday, April 26. The victim was a female in her 70s, the first coronavirus-related death of a resident of the Acorn Glen assisted living facility.

There have been four deaths at the Princeton Care Center.

The PHD also reported today a total of 110 total COVID-19 cases in Princeton, with 61 active cases in isolation and 45 cases that have recovered.

In his press briefing today,  New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reported 111,188 total cases of COVID-19 in the state, with an additional 2,146 positive tests in the past 24 hours, and an additional 106 COVID-19-related deaths for a total of 6,044 deaths in New Jersey, though he cautioned that there may be some reporting delays in the numbers of cases and deaths.

Murphy noted signs that the pandemic is leveling off, with hospitals reporting continuing declines in numbers of COVID-19 patients, confirmed or suspected. After declining for the sixth straight day, the number of New Jersey patients, 6,407 as of Sunday night, is down 23 percent from its April 14 peak. more

April 24, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported today, April 24, five new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Princeton in the past two days for a total of 98 positive cases, 50 active positive cases. There have been five COVID-19-related deaths reported in Princeton, four at the Princeton Care Center (PCC).

The PHD, under guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), continues to work closely with the staff at PCC and also with staff at Acorn Glen assisted living facility. There were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PCC and seven at Acorn Glen as of April 20, according to the NJDOH.

In Wednesday’s update, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Council highlighted the community’s efforts to implement thorough contact tracing to help contain and stop the spread of the coronavirus. The PHD has been working to track down and warn all the people who have been in close contact with infected individuals.

The PHD has recently increased its contact tracing capacity by training school nurses to assist the effort. The need for contact tracing is expected to grow as testing becomes more widely available. Contact tracing, the PHD notes, relies on the cooperation of individuals who have been infected, and all of those who’ve been exposed have a duty to quarantine themselves so that the virus, if they get it, stops with them.  more

April 22, 2020

The fruit trees are now in full bloom at Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road. Beehives were delivered to help ensure that the blossoms are successfully pollinated. The public is invited to stroll through the trails in the orchards and fields and enjoy the sights and smells while practicing social distancing. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

As health officials continue to work closely with the Princeton long-term care facilities in their battle with COVID-19, the Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported on Tuesday, April 21, a total of five deaths in Princeton, with 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 41 active positive cases.

Four of the five Princeton deaths have taken place at the Princeton Care Center, where there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20. There have been seven confirmed cases at the Acorn Glen assisted living facility, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) April 20 report.

“PHD staff have been working with these facilities on cohorting patients and staff in order to reduce disease transmission as much as possible,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser. Princeton health officials have also been working with the NJDOH in delivering updated guidance for PCC and Acorn Glen. “We will continue to work with these facilities in order to suppress the outbreak as much as possible under current conditions with limited testing available,” Grosser said.

Residents of those facilities testing positive are being isolated and PHD is working with the facilities to have all staff tested for COVID-19 and continuing to reinforce the facilities’ universal masking policy. Staff members with existing exposure to confirmed COVID-19 patients are being placed on quarantine.

The NJDOH reported on Tuesday, April 21 a total of 133 COVID-19-related deaths in Mercer County, 11 additional over the previous 24 hours, and at least 2,753 cases, an increase from 2,591 the previous day. more

By Anne Levin

An appeal is being prepared to the March 2 dismissal of two lawsuits that sought to block Rider University’s plan to move Westminster Choir College from its longtime Princeton home to Rider’s campus in Lawrence Township.

Following a February 14 hearing in which attorneys presented their arguments, Judge Robert Lougy of Mercer County Superior Court issued his ruling in favor of Rider. Last week, Princeton lawyer Bruce Afran filed a notice of appeal.

The two lawsuits had been filed by the Westminster Foundation, a nonprofit made up of alumni and supporters of the choir college, and 71 Westminster students.

Westminster became a part of Rider in 1992. Citing financial difficulties, Rider has tried to sell the choral academy during the past two years. When a deal with a Chinese organization did not materialize, the University announced it would relocate Westminster and its programs to the Lawrence campus.

Opposition to the plan is centered around the argument that Westminster’s specialized facilities, including pipe organs, a new performance hall, and specialized practice rooms, cannot be duplicated on the Rider campus. more

By Anne Levin

Thanks to a collaborative effort between Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), The Watershed Institute, the Ridgeview Conservancy, and the municipality of Princeton, a three-acre lot comprised mostly of wetlands will remain just that instead of being developed.

The nonprofits and the town closed on a deal recently to protect the Ridgeview Road site, which contains the headwaters of the Mountain Brook. The brook feeds into Mountain Lake in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, and beyond that, to the Stony Brook.

The property is important because it helps protect the water quality in Mountain Brook, and prevents excessive sediment from flowing into Mountain Lake. The Watershed Institute was alerted to plans to develop the property in fall of 2018 by several concerned members and Princeton residents. The Watershed staff then gathered evidence and presented opposition before the Zoning Board to a variance that had been sought to permit development.

New Jersey’s Green Acres Program and Mercer County’s Open Space Grant Program were major contributors to the preservation project. The Municipality of Princeton, in addition to contributing acquisition funds, played a key role in facilitating the purchase. The D&R Greenway Land Trust also contributed funds towards the project.

“The fact that we were ultimately able to protect this land and the Mountain Brook is a testament to citizen action and the work of our staff,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of the Watershed.  more

COMING TO THE RESCUE: Jen Cura, founder of The Patchwork Bear, mobilized a community effort to make isolation gowns for the doctors, nurses, and emergency room staff at Capital Health.

By Anne Levin

As chairman of emergency medicine at Capital Health, Dr. Garrett Sutter was closely involved in planning for the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. He quickly realized that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical staff was going to be in short supply.

Sutter immediately thought of his friend and Hopewell neighbor Jennifer Cura, the founder and designer at The Patchwork Bear, which turns clothing into keepsakes such as memory bears and quilts. Earlier that day, Cura had offered to make face masks for the hospital. That evening, Sutter called Cura back and asked her if she had any ideas for isolation gowns that could be sterilized and reused.

Within a week, the first batch of isolation gowns was delivered to the hospital, and hundreds more were in the works.

“He sounded desperate,” Cura said of that phone call from Sutter. “He asked if I could come up with an easy pattern for an isolation gown because he anticipated that they would be running out of disposable gowns quickly. That evening, he dropped off a disposable gown so I could understand what they needed. I tried to come up with an idea right away.” more

By Donald Gilpin

College seniors preparing for graduation and the next chapter in their lives have suffered the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The class of 2020 may be still working to complete online course requirements for a graduation that will take place virtually, if at all. There is no opportunity for the spring rituals and celebrations of senior year, no lingering farewells, no class day or baccalaureate, no caps and gowns and pomp and circumstance.

Amy Guan, spent little time lamenting her lost spring term at Dartmouth College, where she was completing her fourth year as an economics major with a minor in Asian Studies.

A 2016 Princeton High School (PHS) graduate, Guan was ready to begin the last term of her senior year at Dartmouth when she came home to Princeton on March 10 for what was supposed to be spring break.

“I spent a lot of time at home reading the news,” said Guan in a phone interview this week. “My college roommate and I read a lot about essential workers and the dangers they faced every day in order to keep the rest of society running.”

They read stories about those workers and their lack of protective equipment, their financial problems, and their needs for many different resources. “We realized that a lot of their biggest needs were for things that a lot of us might just have lying around,” Guan added.

The two young women had just taken a course together on social entrepreneurship, and, as they discussed how to connect essential workers with would-be donors, they devised an online matching platform and called it Give Essential. more

By Donald Gilpin

With the postponed New Jersey primary now scheduled for July 7, the general election four months later, and images of the troubled Wisconsin primary fresh in memory, the push for online voter registration and universal voting by mail has gained momentum. The challenges of preparing for voting in the context of a pandemic are significant.

New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello, and best-selling author Dave Daley (Unrigged: How Americans are Battling Back to Save Democracy) joined the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) in a virtual forum on Sunday, April 19 to warn that organizing to ensure a fair vote with all legal voters enfranchised will not be easy.

“There’s a lot to be optimistic about in our democracy,” said Daley. “There have been so many amazing citizen movements over the past couple of years and they are making a difference. But Democracies are hard to keep and ours is perhaps more fragile than we imagined it was and that’s why it needs all of us.”

Daley echoed a note that was sounded repeatedly throughout the evening by the panelists and also by moderator and PCDO President Jean Durbin. They all urged citizens to get involved, to vote, and make their voices heard.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Find Your Place at the Library,” the theme for National Library Week, April 19-25, was chosen before the pandemic forced most libraries to temporarily close their doors. The American Library Association’s animated lighthouse logo cleverly puts the in-home alternative “Find the Library at Your Place” simultaneously in play through the flashing of the lighthouse beacon. With each flash of the beam, the silhouette of a sailboat appears headed toward the lighthouse while a library user can be seen in a tiny window near the top of the tower.

That little sailboat flashes me back to third grade and the library activity in which the number of books you read was indicated by the progress of your miniature ship or car or train or fire engine on a large prominently displayed chart. For me the most evocative image in the ALA logo isn’t the lighthouse, it’s the sailboat. Before you’re aware of such things as symbols and metaphors, you’re already playing the game; with each book you finish, the ship with your name on it moves closer to the goal. While the idea may have been to put a competitive charge into reading, what happened in my case was a merging of reading, identity, and motion: the more you read the farther you travel, guided, in effect, by that lighthouse beacon. It was more about going places than finding a place in the library or finishing more books than anyone else.  more

“BE INSPIRED”: A performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, performed by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, could be the inspiration for art, poetry, or prose in the orchestra’s “Be Inspired” online activity.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) invites the greater Princeton community and friends worldwide to listen to its music, then respond creatively, tapping into the poet, painter, and writer within.

As outlined on the orchestra’s latest online activity page “Be Inspired,” (princetonsymphony.org/home-pso/be-inspired) visitors can listen to one of the PSO’s weekly featured recordings, consider the emotional impact of the music, and let it lead to an outward expression of feelings or memory it evokes. If desired, participants can send in their art, poetry, and/or prose for possible publication on the webpage and/or as a post on social media. more

Kelsey Swanson

Trenton Music Makers has announced that on May 1, Teaching Artist Kelsey Swanson will become its Early Childhood Program Director, succeeding the program’s founder, Ronnie Ragen.

Ragen, the founder of Trenton Music Makers’ Music for the Very Young, launched the program in 2000 in the wake of the landmark Abbott v. Burke decision, which brought universal Pre-K to Trenton. In the intervening 21 years, thousands of Trenton preschoolers have engaged in high-quality music and movement in their schools, hundreds of preschools teachers have received mentorship in building a musical classroom, and parents have joined their children for Family Music Parties at school, and played music games at home with the books and recordings they receive as part of the program.

Swanson joined the team as project coordinator in 2015, when Trenton Music Makers was selected by PNC Bank as a partner in its Trenton Makes – WORDS! program. Together with teaching artists from The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, and the New Jersey State Museum, Swanson helped young children and their parents discover the joy of new words, in a collaboration that used music, science, and multicultural adventures to support vocabulary development and kindergarten readiness. more

HONORING VOLUNTEERS: Maureen Connolly-Hersh, right, of West Windsor is one of five individuals recognized as a Volunteer of the Year by the West Windsor Arts Council for their commitment to both the arts and the community.

To mark National Volunteer Week, the West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC) is recognizing the more than 135 individuals who help the organization through furthering the arts. WWAC volunteers help in many ways from organizing and running exhibitions, to event support, fundraising, serving on advisory committees, and by providing leadership through board membership.

The most recent volunteer project at WWAC is to make masks for medical support staff dealing with COVID-19. Called the “WWArts 1000 Mask Donation,” the organization’s volunteers, many of whom are artists and craftspeople, are making masks to be distributed in partnership with the Mercer Mask Project.

The organization has singled out five dedicated individuals who went above and beyond in service this past year, awarding them each the Volunteer of the Year award.

Chris Mittendorf of Plainsboro and Maureen Connolly-Hersh of West Windsor are recognized for their high-level commitment to both the arts and to the community. High school students Zia Ostawal, Julia Kundu, and Anika Kapoor are recognized for the hours they have given to the Arts Council and for their steadfast readiness to help.

Mittendorf chaired the 2019 STEAM Series Art Show: Math and Art, doing everything from writing the prospectus and press release, to helping with the hanging of the show, and hosting the reception. Since then, he has volunteered at many other exhibitions, including the Off the Wall Affordable Art Show. He recently took a leadership role on the art auction committee during planning for the 2020 Blank Canvas Gala and Art Auction. more

“SUMMER COLOR”: This work by Marion H. will be featured in “Small Works with Big Hearts,” an online exhibit to benefit Homefront’s ArtSpace programs. Art may be submitted through May 8. Visit artjamnj.org for more information.

Like everyone, artists are home. Creating art in studios, on kitchen tables, wherever and whenever they can.
Now, while apart, artists are coming together virtually.

To share this “art while apart,” ArtSpace is creating an exhibition called Small Works from Big Hearts. At first, it’s online only. But when things become safer, they will exhibit the works “in real life.”

HomeFront’s ArtSpace knows that creating art has many benefits — calming the troubled spirit, lifting one’s mood, focusing the mind, and inspiring hope. At this time, when we are all practicing social distancing, art is a refuge, now more than ever. HomeFront families residing at the Family Campus are also creating lots of artwork. more

This photo by Kat Kelly, taken at the Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, won first prize in the annual Friends of Princeton Open Space Give Thanks to Nature Photo Contest. For more information, visit fopos.org.

BUILDING SUCCESS: “We strive for the highest level of customer satisfaction in all of our projects. Our focus is on residential and light commercial, and we do all sizes of projects, as well as new construction.” Jim Baxter, right, founder and owner of Baxter Construction, is shown looking over plans with his longtime colleague (26 years!) and lead carpenter, Weir Strange.

By Jean Stratton

The house is the structure, but the home is where the heart is.

An especially important sentiment during this difficult time of coping with COVID-19, when people are relying on the safe haven of their home every day.

Jim Baxter, founder and owner of Baxter Construction, at 31 West Broad Street in Hopewell, has helped clients enjoy the comfort of their homes for almost 40 years.

Indeed, helping homeowners build memories within their home has been the focus of his company since he opened it in 1981. more