February 15, 2023

“DIVA 3”: African mask-making in celebration of Black History Month is among the upcoming workshops at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park, Trenton. (Art by Janis Purcell)

Kids and adults alike are invited to get creative with workshops at Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion. The February and March lineup features African mask-making in celebration of Black History Month, a fun way to make a chunky blanket without knitting needles, and a four-part series in which iPhone users will take their iPhone photography and editing skills to the next level. Participants will find plenty of parking adjacent to the museum’s building.

African Mask-Making: A Workshop for Kids and Families — Celebrate Black History Month at Trenton City Museum with a hands-on workshop to make your own traditional-style African mask on Saturday, February 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free admission; materials and snacks provided. Supported in part by a grant from the Trenton Arts Fund of Princeton Area Community Foundation.  more

SUMMER ART CAMPS: The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster offers weekly in-person camps for children ages 5-15 from June 15 through September 1. All sessions are led by professional and creative teaching artists.

Registration is underway for Summer Art Camps at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. Eleven weekly in-person Summer Art Camps, from June 19–September 1, are offered for children ages 5-15. The Center’s Summer Art Camps are designed to stimulate creative expression through projects and fun activities that change each week. All sessions are led by professional and creative teaching artists. Small classes, social distancing, daily sanitizing, and other protocols are in place and enforced to keep children safe.

Each week children ages 5-8 and 9-11 will spend the morning exploring drawing, painting, collage and other mixed media projects, and pottery in the ceramics studio. In the afternoon, campers ages 9-11 will explore a wide range of subjects in depth such as drawing, painting, pottery, upcycled art, cartooning, manga/anime and more.

Teens ages 12-15 may choose to spend their mornings or afternoons in an intensive art camp studying a single subject.

The Center will also offer camps for children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs on Saturdays from June 24-July 29.

The Center for Contemporary Art is located at 2020 Burnt Mills Road in Bedminster. For more information or to register, visit ccabedminster.org or call (908) 234-2345.

“PORTRAIT OF A DREAMER”: This painting by Delia McHugh of Central Bucks High School West was awarded Best in Show at the “10th Annual Youth Art Exhibition” at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa. The exhibition runs through February 19.

The Phillips’ Mill Community Association recognized student award winners at the “10th Annual Youth Art Exhibition” Awards Ceremony in its historic Mill in New Hope, Pa., surrounded by 140 works of art by students from area high schools. The show runs through Sunday, February 19.

Kenoka Wagner, a prolific artist and owner of the 2nd Floor Art Gallery in Revere, Pa., was the juror of awards selection for this year’s show.  A mixed media artist, painter, printmaker and sculptor, Wagner said, “There were so many amazing, inspired works in this year’s ‘Youth Art Exhibition at Phillips’ Mill.’ I wish I could have given them all awards.”

Wagner selected awards in five categories with digital art making a debut this year: Painting, Works on Paper, 3-Dimensional Art, Photography (film and digital), and Digital Art (excluding photography). 

Best in Show honors went to Delia McHugh from Central Bucks High School West for her painting, Portrait of a Dreamer. Wagner said he selected the piece for “its unteachable sensitivity, originality in the use of materials, conveyance of theme, and overall presentation.” more

“WASHITALES”: An exhibition by visual artist Kyoko Ibe is on display in the Hurley Gallery at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts through March 5. An artists’ talk and book launch is on February 23 at 6 p.m. (Photo by Jon Sweeney)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Programs in Theater and Visual Arts at Princeton University, in collaboration with the Department of Art and Archaeology, now presents “Washitales,” an exhibition of work made from traditional Japanese washi paper by renowned visual artist Kyoko Ibe. The exhibition is on view through March 5 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus and is presented in conjunction with the Lewis Center’s theatrical presentation of Felon: An American Washi Tale by Freedom Reads founder, lawyer, and poet Reginald Dwayne Betts, with development and direction by Elise Thoron, on March 2 through 4. Additional events including a book launch of Ibe and Thoron’s The Way of Washi Tales and artists’ talk are planned as part of Ibe’s residency. The exhibition is free and open to the public with no tickets required; performances of Felon require tickets through McCarter Theatre Center.

The set for Felon is designed and created by Ibe from 1,000 squares of “prison paper” that papermaker Ruth Lignen constructed from the clothes of men Betts first met serving time together in prison. Ibe also incorporated letters from men Betts had lived with in prison, friends who were still locked up and with whom he corresponded, helping them find freedom through parole. The paper kites  — “kites” is a slang moniker for letters received from family while in prison —  hang suspended from floor to ceiling in various groupings around the spare stage set. The “Washitales” exhibition in the Hurley Gallery includes work related to the theatrical set for Felon along with other works created by Ibe building on traditional techniques for Japanese hand papermaking. more

PAVING POSSIBILITIES: “Calvary Paving & Sealcoating is an independent family-owned business. We are a full service asphalt paving company, and we treat your driveway as if it were our own,” says owner Jimmie Harrison. Shown is a recently completed driveway in the area.

By Jean Stratton

Even though it is February, the unusually warm temperatures hint of spring. Spring cleaning and home improvement projects come to mind, and it’s not too soon to consider the state of your driveway.

In the same way it affects roads, winter, with fluctuating cold and warm temperatures, can be hard on driveways. Especially if they are older, and haven’t had recent maintenance attention, wear and tear takes its toll. Cracks, crumbling, and rough patches can appear, not only lessening eye appeal, but even causing hardship on tires.

Jimmie Harrison, owner of Calvary Paving & Sealcoating, is ready to help! He has a long history in the paving business, having received hands-on training from his father and grandfather.

“I really started helping out when I was 4 years old,” he says with a smile. “I definitely started young!” more

ON THE ATTACK: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kate Mulham heads upfield in a game last season. Senior attacker Mulham, who tallied 35 goals and 13 assists in 2022, figures to be a key offensive weapon for the Tigers this spring. Princeton, which will be guided by new head Jenn Cook, the successor to Chris Sailer, who retired last spring after guiding the program for 36 seasons, opens its 2023 season by hosting No. 13 Virginia on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

A new era kicks off at noon Saturday for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse program when it hosts Virginia in Class of 1952 Stadium.

It will be the first game at the helm for new head coach Jenn Cook, the successor to Chris Sailer, who retired after her 36th season with the Tigers concluded last spring. Cook brings familiarity to the program as a former assistant to Sailer, but also a different energy and approach in her first head coaching job. She, her staff and her players are ready to prove that Princeton is as good as ever.

“It’s been awesome,” said Cook, who is entering her 11th season with the program, having previously served as an assistant coach and associate head coach. “Our kids are tremendously motivated and hungry. They have come back ready to go.”

The Tigers are focused on who they have, not who they don’t have, after several marquee players moved on from both ends of the field. Kyla Sears, whose 100 points (70 goals, 30 assists) were 42 more points than anyone on the Princeton team a year ago, graduated as the unanimous Ivy League Attacker of the Year. At the defensive end, four-year starting goalie Sam Fish graduated after earning Ivy Goaltender of the Year. So did defensive stalwarts Marge Donovan (the unanimous 2022 Ivy Defender of the Year who is finishing her college eligibility at Maryland), Mary Murphy and Olivia Pugh.

“I think for us it’s about confidence and focusing on us and right now and being where our feet are, and not necessarily what we’re losing but we have,” said Cook. “It’s really about being in the moment — playing our best and really showing how hungry we are and capable of stepping up in big moments.” more

COMING THROUGH: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Alex Slusher fights to get past a Cornell defender in action last season. Star attacker Slusher scored 46 goals in 2022 in his junior season to help the Tigers advance to the NCAA Final 4 for the first time since 2004. Princeton opens its 2023 season by hosting Monmouth on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After advancing to the NCAA Final 4 last spring for the first time since 2004, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team is hoping that the stirring postseason run will be a harbinger of things to come.

“Hopefully, it will pay dividends in experience if we are fortunate enough to earn that opportunity again,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, who guided the Tigers to an 11-5 overall record in 2022. “I think the more you get back there, the more comfortable you feel in those settings.”

The squad developed a deeper comfort level after going on a fall trip to Spain and Andorra.

“It absolutely helped, any time you can get your team away from the normal routine of Princeton, academically and athletically, is good,” said Madalon. “To be able to get them out of the country and eat all of your meals together and see the coaches in a different light, it is all very wonderful.”

Princeton didn’t have much time to get up and running for the 2023 campaign as it had a whirlwind preseason.

“Preseason was 10 practices, two scrimmages, and two days off,” said Madalon, whose team is ranked fourth in this week’s Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and hosts Monmouth on February 18 in its 2023 season opener. “It was good, I think we stayed relatively healthy. We are still just trying to build off of last year and teach the new guys some things.”

Madalon is expecting great things from his top attack group of senior Alex Slusher (46 goals, 10 assists in 2022), sophomore Coulter Mackesy (28 goals, 15 assists), and sophomore Braedon Saris (1 assist).

“Alex has gotten better every year, he is a leader down there,” said Madalon, who will also be using sophomore Jack Ringhofer, senior Jack Crockett, and freshman Chad Palumbo on attack. “He is showing the poise and dealing with the pressure that gets put on that unit so he is wonderful. Coulter stepped up big time last year, we have got really high hopes for that young guy. Playing to their right will be Braedon, he is a Canadian guy, he is skilled with a high IQ. He is very complementary to the other guys.” more

SENIOR SURGE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors looks for the puck in a game earlier this season. Senior star forward Connors enjoyed a big final regular season weekend at Hobey Baker Rink, tallying two assists in a 3-2 overtime win over Union on Friday to help Princeton clinch a spot in the upcoming ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, and contributing an assist as the Tigers topped Rensselaer 4-3 in overtime a day later. Princeton, which has now posted five straight wins to improve to 14-11-1 overall and 10-10 ECACH, plays at Clarkson on February 17 and at St. Lawrence on February 18 to wrap up regular season play. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Maggie Connors, taking the ice last weekend for her final regular season action at Hobey Baker Rink with the Princeton University women’s hockey team was a long time coming.

“I took a gap year, I feel like it was never going to arrive,” said Princeton senior forward Connors, a 5’6 native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada.

“The fact that I came here in 2018, it feels like I have been here forever. That doesn’t make me want to leave in any way. It definitely feels like I have gone through it for a while.”

As Princeton started the Senior Weekend by hosting Union Friday evening, it looked like the Tigers were never going to score as they trailed 1-0 after two periods despite outshooting the Dutchwomen 29-7.

“Credit to their goalie [Sophie Matsoukas], she played well and we peppered her,” said Connors who generated eight shots on goal in the first two periods and pounded her stick against her helmet in frustration at one point when one of her shots was turned away. “I think we could have had some better quality chances. We talked about getting in front of her more, they were getting all of the rebounds.”

Early in the third period, Connors helped Princeton cash in on a chance, picking up an assist on a power play goal by fellow senior Kayla Fillier.

“On that power play, I shot for the far pad on a one timer,” said Connors. “I thought Annie [Kuehl] was going to put it in and then Kayla was able to do it.”

Minutes later, Connors picked up a second assist on a 2-on-1 rush as she slotted the puck to Fillier, who banged it home for her second goal of the contest. more

RISING UP: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kaitlyn Chen heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior guard Chen tallied a game-high 16 points with four assists and three rebounds to help Princeton defeat Dartmouth 64-47. The Tigers, now 17-5 overall and 8-2 Ivy League, play at Brown on February 17 and at Yale on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s basketball team clinging to a 31-25 lead against visiting Dartmouth early in the third quarter last Saturday, the Tigers rode a unconventional one-two punch to break the game open.

With starting point guard Kaitlyn Chen scoring eight points and reserve forward Paige Morton contributing four points, Princeton produced a 21-8 surge and never looked back on the way to a 64-47 victory, improving to 17-5 overall and 8-2 Ivy League.

Chen, for her part, attributed the third quarter run to some intense defense.

“It was just to do what we always do, lock it down on defense,” said Chen “Our defense translates to our offense.”

Junior star Chen translated those stops into several end-to-end drives as she sliced through Dartmouth players on the way to the hoop.

“Coach (Carla Berube) just mentioned slowing myself down,” said Chen, who tallied a game-high 16 points with four assists and three rebounds in the win. “I felt like once I slowed myself down I was able to see things open up more.”

Sophomore forward Morton enjoyed a second strong effort against the Big Green as she tallied 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in a 79-59 win over Dartmouth on January 21. more

TITLE CHASE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, right, chases after the puck last Monday as second-seeded PHS faced sixth-seeded Paul VI-Camden Catholic in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Senior star forward and captain Zullo tallied three goals in the contest as the Tigers prevailed 7-4 and improved to 13-6-1. PHS will face fourth-seeded Hopewell Valley in the MCT final on February 15 at the Mercer County Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Two weeks ago, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team fell behind Paul VI-Camden Catholic 4-0 in the second period before rallying to pull out a dramatic 6-5 victory.

When the foes met last Monday in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, Cooper Zullo and his PHS teammates were determined to get off to a better start in the rematch.

“I don’t think we played a very good first two periods against them the first time and it showed,” said Tiger senior star forward and captain Zullo.

“That was definitely a point of emphasis. We said coming into this game they are not going to give it to us. We have to work for it, especially against a team like that. They are a team that works hard, they are very well coached. They have come a long way over the four years that I have been here.”

Late in the first period with second-seeded PHS and sixth-seeded Paul VI locked in a scoreless tie, Zullo took matters into his own hands. Looking to clear the puck on a penalty kill, Zullo flipped it from the red line and watched in amazement as it bounced past the Paul VI goalie into the back of the net with 2:00 left in the period.

“I was just trying to get the puck deep,” said a smiling Zullo. “I think this ice has a history of doing its own thing, it has a mind of its own. That was the goal there to put it on net and see what happens. That is my curve ball.”

Zullo’s tally triggered an outburst for the Tigers as T.T. Zhao scored 15 seconds later and Ethan Garlock scored with 40 seconds left in the period and then added a second goal 2:38 into the second period as PHS built a 4-0 lead.  more

STICKING TOGETHER: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Mia Hartman, right, listens in as PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton instructs the squad during a timeout in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Hartman scored 10 points as the Panthers fell 48-32 to Princeton High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Invitational. PDS, now 3-18, is next in action when it competes in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A South Jersey sectional tournament, where it is seeded 14th and will play at third-seeded Trinity Hall in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Determined to get the most out of her junior season for the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team, Mia Hartman has spent a lot of time honing her game.

“I play nine out of the 12 months, I am definitely playing a lot,” said Hartman, who competes for the AUF Lady Hawks on the AAU circuit. “I am definitely working on my craft and having a lot of confidence in myself. Last year, it was hard figuring out my role but this year I definitely figured it out.”

That work has paid off as Hartman has solidified her role as the squad’s top scorer, tallying more than twice as many points as anyone else on PDS.

“I feel my team gives me the momentum to score, they pass it to me,” said Hartman. “I am close to reaching 500 points. It is definitely a huge part of my role and I feel like it gets us going. My progress has been really good this year. Playing AAU over the summer and my training and a lot of gym work that I put in this summer has definitely helped me around the basket.”

Last Wednesday, Hartman displayed her skills around the hoop, scoring eight points in the first half as the Panthers trailed WW/P-South 19-12 at halftime.

“When we start to score, the bench starts to get into it and we start to get into it,” said Hartman, reflecting on a second quarter which saw PDS outscore the Pirates 8-6. “It definitely helps the momentum. If we started that from the beginning, I think it would have been a different game.”

The Panthers rallied to draw within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter but could get no closer as they fell 34-23. more

DRIVE TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Mason McQueen drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard McQueen scored a team-high 10 points as a short-handed PDS squad fell 59-30 to Hillsborough. The Panthers, who lost 71-60 to Doane Academy in the Prep B state semis on Friday and then lost 59-27 to Trenton Central in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals a day later to move to 8-14, are next in action when they compete in New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B South Jersey sectional where they are seeded 11th and will play at sixth-seeded Gloucester Catholic in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mason McQueen knew he was going to draw a lot of attention as the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team hosted Hillsborough last Wednesday.

With backcourt stars and leading scorers Jaden Hall and Jaden Dublin sidelined by injury for the contest, senior guard McQueen took control of the PDS offense.

“It was different because they are two big parts of our offense and without them, they are able to focus on me and Bram [Silva] more,” said McQueen. “They are able to put the focal points on us.”

Missing Hall and Dublin, the Panthers struggled as they fell behind 32-15 by halftime.

McQueen scored five points in the early moments of the third quarter as PDS tried to rally against the Raiders.

“I don’t like losing and the team doesn’t like losing,” said McQueen. “We had to step up.” more

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Stephen Chen turns away a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior standout Chen made 37 saves to help Hun edge Malvern Prep (Pa.) 2-1 as it improved to 9-12. In addition to starring for the Raiders, Chen recently competed for the China squad in Division II, Group B of the 2023 Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Iceland. In upcoming action, Hun plays at Princeton Day School on February 16 and then hosts Academie Saint-Louis (Canada) on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Emotions were running high as the Hun School boys’ hockey team hosted Malvern Prep (Pa.) last Wednesday at the Ice Land Skating Center.

Hun was holding its annual Senior Day ceremony and was hoping to use the occasion to snap a three-game losing streak.

“It was great because it was senior night. We have a huge crew — we have 11 kids between varsity and JV,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally. “It was, ‘wait a minute, we are on a little skid here, let’s fix it today.’”

Hun went on to fix things, pulling out a hard-earned 2-1 victory as it improved to 9-12.

“It was timely, they played really well,” said McNally, who got goals from Brendan Marino and Charles Guida in the victory with senior goalie Stephen Chen making 37 saves.

Star goalie Chen, who recently starred for the China squad in Division II, Group B of the 2023 Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Iceland, has been a key performer this winter for the Raiders.

“He has been playing great; he is strong and he is one of the more influential players that we will have on any game that we play this year,” said McNally of Chen. “When he is on, we are pretty darn good.”

The Raiders boast two other influential seniors in high-scoring forward Elian Estulin and standout defenseman Mark Gall.

“If Elian doesn’t have a point every game, I would be surprised,” said McNally of Estulin, who has tallied 32 points this season on 16 goals and 16 assists. “He is a catalyst for our offense for sure. We promoted Mark to defense this season. I think he has scored more goals (7 goals, 6 assists) playing defense than he did at forward.”

The trio of Chen, Estulin, and Gall has provided leadership as well as production. more

February 8, 2023

Mayor Mark Freda and Council President Mia Sacks, shown cutting the ribbon, were among the dignitaries at the grand opening of the Princeton Community Dog Park in Community Park South on Sunday morning. More than 100 people and 70 dogs were on hand for the festivities. Attendees discuss what the new dog park contributes to the community in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

In December, as winter approached, health officials braced for a harrowing combination of spiking COVID-19 variants, an early flu season, and more patients with RSV and other respiratory illnesses than they had seen in recent memory. Media and others warned that the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic would be followed by a “tripledemic.”

But no such surge has come to pass. COVID-19 numbers continue to decline. The flu season seems to have peaked. And the early RSV wave has abated.

“Good news,” said Penn Medicine Princeton Health (PMPH) Chief Medical Officer Dr. Craig Gronczewski in a February 6 phone conversation. “New Jersey was hit particularly hard with a COVID uptick in December, but in the past four weeks hospitalizations and ER visits have gone down significantly.”

He continued, “It also looks like influenza as a disease peaked in early December in New Jersey, and serious illnesses and hospitalizations from RSV have trended down as well. From a respiratory illness standpoint things have been tracking very well in the past four weeks as far as the emergency department is concerned.”

But the news is not all good at PMPH. “We had many fewer COVID cases and hospitalizations than in the previous year, but the number of patients coming to the ER requiring hospitalization actually increased,” said Gronczewski. “I was surprised by the volume of ER visits. The number of patients requiring admission and hospitalization with non-respiratory illnesses was much higher than in years past. It has been a busier winter than ever. We had to use more hallways for patients than ever before.”

Gronczewski suggested that one reason for the influx of hospital patients might be “deferred care,” perhaps an unanticipated consequence of the pandemic. “That’s a lot of what I’m hearing from patients and staff — difficulty in getting access to care or getting diagnostic tests or getting appointments with primary care physicians or with specialists,” he said. more

FIGHTING FOOD INSECURITY: Active in the recent passage of the Food Donation Improvement Act were Share My Meals board members, from left, Stan Berteloot, Isabelle Lambotte, and Victoire Cleren. (Photo courtesy of Share My Meals Inc.)

By Anne Levin

Early last month, President Biden signed the Food Donation Improvement Act (FDIA), legislation to reduce food insecurity and food waste, into law. Among the organizations supporting the bill was Share My Meals, which was founded in Princeton in January 2020 and has since delivered more than 175,000 meals to people in need.

Share My Meals was part of a coalition of more than 70 nonprofit and corporate leaders, including WeightWatchers, Grubhub, Food Tank, and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, to push the bill forward. The nonprofit’s involvement came through a family connection.

“A board member of ours is related to a person from WeightWatchers, which is the organization that really set this up,” said Helene Lanctuit, vice president of Share My Meals’ board, who is in charge of food safety protocols, and a consultant for advocacy and sustainability. “So we found out by chance and got in touch, and they were happy to have us. We went to [Washington] D.C. to support it, and it was enacted in December last year.”

According to Share My Meals’ website, more than 1.2 million New Jersey residents are food-insecure. At the same time, 1.5 million tons of food are wasted each year across the state, which raises greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation is actually not new — it amends the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, broadening and clarifying protections for food donors who might be hesitant about liability for food once it leaves their facility. more

By Donald Gilpin

As HomeFront prepares to celebrate its sixth annual Week of Hope February 13-19, HomeFront CEO Sarah Steward reflected on the growing organization’s work in helping local families break the cycle of poverty. “Hope” is a constant theme.

“I see reasons for hope,” she said. “I see challenges, but I do see reasons for hope, and part of that is based on the HomeFront philosophy, which is working family by family. Even when there are big social challenges, I can walk into our waiting room or into our Family Campus any day and meet dozens of families whose lives are being changed, whose lives are being improved. And that gives me hope that we can tackle this in a big way.”

She went on to emphasize the importance of support from the Central New Jersey community. “We know that our community cares deeply for families that have found themselves in difficult times,” she said. “We find so much hope in the volunteers and supporters that give so generously of their time and energy to support our neighbors during this week and throughout the year.”

This year’s Week of Hope will include in-person opportunities to work with HomeFront’s staff in delivering meals to families living at local area motels, sorting clothes and stocking shelves at HomeFront’s Free Store in Trenton, and working at HomeFront’s Diaper Resource Center.  more

“TRAILBLAZERS AND TRENDSETTERS”: Villa Lewaro, home of the country’s first self-made female Black millionaire, is among the “Grand Homes and Gardens” being explored at Morven starting February 22.

By Anne Levin

For this year’s “Grand Homes and Gardens” speaker series, Morven Museum & Garden is venturing into some new territory — literally and figuratively. “Trailblazers and Trendsetters” takes participants beyond the usual palatial mansions and landscapes to some previously unexplored locations, styles, and time periods.

“This year is a little bit of a departure in that we’ve been focusing on Gilded Age homes a great deal,” said Morven Executive Director Jill Barry of the upcoming series, which begins February 22 and continues March 1, 8, and 15. “By throwing in Manitoga, which is from the 1960s, and Bartram’s Garden, from the 1700s and older than the places we usually feature, we’re pushing the borders on both ends.”

Located in Garrison, N.Y., Manitoga was the home of mid-century designer Russel Wright. On February 22, Vivian Linares, Manitoga’s director of collections, interpretation, and preservation, will speak about the property, which “stands alone as an iconic and idiosyncratic example of eco-sensitive modernist architecture,” according to a release. “The home’s 75-acre woodland garden, a reclaimed quarry restored to its ‘natural setting,’ is a key illustration of the ecological aesthetic in landscape architecture.”

The Italianate Villa Lewaro in Irvington, New York, was the home of Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made female millionaire. Walker, a cosmetics and business pioneer, is the subject of a talk by her great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, author of the book On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, on March 1. Bundles will bring along copies of her book for signing. Villa Lewaro was designed by architect Vertner Woodson Tandy in 1918 for Walker, who entertained notable leaders of the Harlem Renaissance at the estate. more

By Anne Levin

On January 26, the nonprofit Princeton Business Partnership introduced a new name, new logo, and new website at the first of its monthly “meet-ups.” Some 50 business community members and municipal officials gathered at the Arts Council of Princeton to officially usher in what is now known as Experience Princeton.

On the new website, the organization’s president Aubrey Haines said, “The Experience Princeton brand was developed with many purposes in mind: to welcome visitors from around the world, to uphold Princeton’s reputation for excellence, and to be a responsible, engaged, and forward-thinking ambassador for local business.”

Since Princeton Council passed an ordinance last February creating a Special Improvement District (SID) meant to help revitalize businesses in town, board members and volunteers have been working to develop the brand. A SID is a self-governed and managed nonprofit that constitutes a coalition of businesses and property owners in town, with a goal of helping those businesses. It assists with marketing and acts as a liaison to local government. Each property pays an assessment.

“It’s an interesting time for the organization,” Isaac Kremer, executive director of Experience Princeton, said this week. “We’re in very early phases. Our four teams — streetscape, economic development, administration, and marketing — are meeting regularly and utilizing what we call the strategic doing model, which teaches people how to form collaborations quickly. We prioritize action in the next 30 days, breaking down the work into bite-sized pieces that the teams can really coalesce around.” more

SOLVING FOR TOMORROW: Princeton High School’s research team has been chosen as one of eight New Jersey finalists in the 2023 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition. PHS researchers, from left, are Matias da Costa, Nicholas Akey, Yangwenbo (William) Yao, Daniela Gonzalez, Courtney Weber, Sabine Ristad, Luisa Buss, and William Ponder. (Photo courtesy of Mark Eastburn)

By Donald Gilpin

A Princeton High School (PHS) team of student scientists has for the second year in a row been named one of eight New Jersey finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM Competition, and PHS is one of 300 public schools in the country to be selected.

The school district has been awarded a $2,500 package for technology and school supplies and the team will find out later this month whether it will be named the state winner and receive an additional $20,000 in technology equipment. Last year’s PHS research team went all the way to win Samsung’s national competition, bringing home a prize of $110,000 for its black soldier fly project to process food waste into animal feed and soap, reducing both food waste and greenhouse emissions in the process.

The Samsung competition challenges students in grades 6 to 12 to explore the role science, technology, engineering, and math can play in addressing some of the biggest issues in their local communities. “The competition is designed to engage students in active, hands-on learning that can be applied to real-world problems —making STEM more tangible and showcasing its value beyond the classroom,” according to a Samsung press release.

This year’s PHS entry in the Samsung competition is a framework for saltwater aquaponics, growing plants in salt water where shrimp waste is used as fertilizer to help the plants grow. “It’s a really interesting project because both the plants and the fish benefit from it,” said 10th grade team member Sabine Ristad in a February 6 Zoom interview. “The nutrients that the fish put into the water help the plants grow. I think it’s cool how they both work together for a greater benefit. I learned a lot from the project about how to build these systems and work with other people.”

The award-winning PHS research program, led by PHS science teacher Mark Eastburn, seems to generate an abundance of groundbreaking, interesting projects.  more

Updated Demographic Report for PPS

Five-year projections for Princeton Public Schools (PPS) predict the schools’ enrollment will increase from its current level of 3,721 to a peak of 4,154 by the 2027-28 school year, according to a February 8 PPS press release.

The data, which was to be presented at the Tuesday, February 7 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, which took place after press time, noted that total PPS enrollment has increased by 324 students, or 9.5 percent, over the past 10 years. The most recent enrollment peak of 3,855 students was in the 2019-20 school year, followed by two years of declining enrollment during the pandemic.

The projected enrollment numbers for the next five years reflect a continued expansion of the PPS pre-K program, but do not include children who attend pre-K off-site at partner provider locations.


By Stuart Mitchner

In a November 2022 essay posted on nautil.us, Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer refers to SFI member Cormac McCarthy’s “subterranean connections” to James Agee, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), “a book that we keep in our library and that Cormac retrieves from time to time to remind us of the intimate connections between language and image, indigence and character, and the multifarious beauty found far from so-called civilized spotlights.” 

I found the phrase “subterranean connections” interesting in relation to the richness of McCarthy’s prose, most recently the striking one-page prologue to The Passenger/Stella Maris (Knopf 2022), now available as a two-volume set. It was while rereading the bravura passage describing Alicia Western’s body hanging among the winter trees that I first noticed intimations of Agee’s prose presence, particularly in lines such as “her hands turned slightly outward like those of certain ecumenical statues whose attitude asks that their history be considered.”

The “multifarious beauty” of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is reflected in a sharecropper’s mirror in one of the homes Agee and the photographer Walker Evan visited in 1936: “The mirror is so far corrupted that it is rashed with gray, iridescent in parts, and in all its reflections a deeply sad thin zinc-to-platinum, giving to its framings an almost incalculably ancient, sweet, frail, and piteous beauty, such as may be seen in tintypes of family groups among studio furnishings or heard in nearly exhausted jazz records made by very young, insane, devout men who were soon to destroy themselves, in New Orleans, in the early nineteen twenties.”

McCarthy’s prologue to The Passenger ends as the hunter who discovers the body “looked up into those cold enameled eyes glinting blue in the weak winter light. She had tied her dress with a red sash so that she’d be found. Some bit of color in the scrupulous desolation.” more

By Nancy Plum

Tis the season to hear amazing pianists and the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major of Johannes Brahms. In January, New Jersey Symphony presented Daniil Trifonov playing this work and next week, Philadelphia Orchestra brings the same concerto to the Kimmel Center stage. Princeton Symphony Orchestra brought its interpretation of Brahms’ majestic concerto to Richardson Auditorium this past weekend, featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, a longtime friend of the PSO. Led by Music Director Rossen Milanov, Saturday night’s performance (the concert was repeated Sunday afternoon) brought the Princeton Symphony Orchestra instrumentalists and Barnatan to the Richardson stage for an evening of 19th-century Viennese elegance and drama.

To warm up the audience for the Brahms concerto, the Orchestra presented a work composed in 2020 but influenced by a predecessor to Brahms. Fate runs through some of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most significant works, and American composer Carlos Simon drew from an 1815 journal entry of Beethoven for his one-movement Fate Now Conquers. Simon also derived musical structure for this piece from the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, creating musical gestures capturing the “unpredictable ways of fate.”

Beginning with fierce playing from the flutes, Fate Now Conquers was Beethoven-esque in its drama, rhythmically led by consistently strong playing by timpanist Jeremy Levine. Carlos Simon packed a great deal of musical action into the five-minute work, and conductor Milanov kept the Orchestra players moving the music forward, complemented by an elegant cello solo from Alistair MacRae.

Princeton Symphony Orchestra returned to Simon’s source material with their gracefully dramatic performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major. Conducting from memory, Milanov built the drama well throughout the four-movement work while maintaining a Viennese lilt. Accents and sforzandi in the strings were always exact, and the overall instrumental palette was consistently light, even when at full strength. The overriding theme of this performance was joy as Milanov used dynamic contrasts, gradual crescendos and Beethoven’s abrupt silences to augment the lean and crisp orchestral playing. Pastoral wind solos were heard through all four movements, including from oboist Lillian Copeland, clarinetist Pascal Archer, flutist Catherine Gregory, and bassoonist Brad Balliett.  more

“BETWEEN TWO KNEES”: Performances are underway for “Between Two Knees.” Written by The 1491s, and directed by Eric Ting, the play runs through February 12 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Above: Cast members Shyla Lefner, left, and Shaun Taylor-Corbett, behind Justin Gauthier, in a scene that takes the sketch comedy-based play from history to science fantasy. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Between Two Knees depicts the brutal history of centuries-long oppression that Native Americans have received at the hands of the U.S. The painful subject matter ostensibly is presented as a story about a single family and its descendants — but it is projected through an idiosyncratic prism that blends sketch comedy, historical drama, and even science fantasy.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (which commissioned the work through its American Revolutions initiative) premiered the play in 2019. A 2022 production at Yale Repertory Theatre followed. The play currently is being presented at McCarter.

Between Two Knees is written by The 1491s, an Intertribal sketch comedy troupe whose YouTube videos showcase work that their website describes as “satirical and absurd comedy.” The 1491s are Dallas Goldtooth, Sterlin Harjo, Migizi Pensoneau, Ryan RedCorn, and Bobby Wilson. All five members are involved in Hulu’s award-winning series Reservation Dogs.

Eric Ting directs the colorful and energetic — at times frenetic — production. The framework of a revue is filled with a Cirque du Soleil aesthetic, blended with non-literal storytelling and fidgety pacing that echoes the style of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann (particularly in Moulin Rouge!).

Racist stereotypes that are perpetuated via popular media — including theater — are a key target of satire. Scenic Designer Regina Garcia surrounds the stage with images such as the mascot of the Chicago Blackhawks; and the Land O’Lakes “butter maiden,” whose chest is covered by a dartboard. more

FESTIVAL PLANS: Metropolitan Opera baritone Will Liverman, who just won a Grammy Award, is among the performers coming to the 2023 Princeton Festival on the grounds of Morven. (Photo by Adam Ewing)

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has announced plans for the 2023 Princeton Festival, the majority of which takes place June 9-25 in the tented pavilion built seasonally on the grounds of Morven Museum & Garden.

Events range from a Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville to independent tributes honoring Aretha Franklin and Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S., plus orchestral concerts, chamber music and dance, a Juneteenth celebration, a Family Day, and performances by ensembles and three 2023 Grammy Award winners.

We wanted to create a Festival that was fun, yet relevant — connecting with new audiences through music, dance, and theater — proving that age-old art forms can be fresh and full of meaning for today’s arts lovers,” said Music Director Rossen Milanov.

Milanov conducts the opera, which is sung in the original Italian with English subtitles, and starring Festival opera veterans Kelly Guerra as Rosina and Nicholas Nestorak as Count Almaviva. Anchoring the Festival is Andrew Lippa’s theatrical oratorio I Am Harvey Milk, which celebrates the life of the first openly gay man to hold public office in California. Lippa, the show’s creator, will conduct, and Adam Kantor and Scarlett Strallen sing the roles of Harvey and Soprano, respectively.  more