August 16, 2023

“NEZHA”: Works by modern Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming are on view at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick through September 22. A reception is on September 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University has announced a retrospective exhibition of the renowned modern Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming, whose body of work engages the past and present, the epic, the mythological, and the everyday. The exhibition, “Liu Shiming: Life Gives Beauty Form,” features more than 80 sculptures made over Shiming’s 60-year career, including 27 works that are being exhibited for the first time in the United States. The exhibition also features 12 drawings that illuminate Shiming’s approach to close observational study of the human form and everyday life. The retrospective will run through September 22, with a public reception on September 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

As part of the public celebration on September 6, the Department of Art and Design is hosting a panel discussion from 5:30 to 7 p.m. examining Shiming’s work and legacy. Panelists include Rutgers University faculty Tamara Sears, associate professor of art history, School of Arts and Sciences; John Yau, poet and professor of critical studies in the Department of Art and Design; and Xiaojue Wang, associate professor, Chinese Literature, School of Arts and Sciences. more

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Skye Ettin shows his joy after helping to coach the Princeton University men’s basketball team to an upset win in the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament in Sacramento, Calif. Ettin, a former Princeton High and The College of New Jersey hoops standout who was on the coaching staff of the Tigers for eight years starting as the director of operations and getting promoted to assistant coach in 2016, recently left the program to take a similar position at the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Skye Ettin’s basketball life has revolved around the Princeton area.

Growing up in Princeton, Ettin attended Princeton University basketball camps as a kid, honing the skills that would make him a star for the Princeton High boys’ basketball team. After PHS, Ettin played college hoops a few miles from home, enjoying a superb career for The College of New Jersey men’s hoops program.

Upon graduating from TCNJ in 2015, Ettin returned home to join the staff of the Princeton University men’s hoops team as its director of operations. He quickly moved up the ranks, becoming an assistant coach a year later. more

STEPPING UP: Andy Blake makes a play in the infield this past spring for the Columbia University baseball team. Star shortstop Blake, a former Hun School standout, was named the 2023 Ivy League Player of the Year and recently signed a minor deal with the Los Angeles Angels signed as an undrafted free agent. He has started his pro career by playing for the Angels squad in the Arizona Complex League. (Photo by Mike McLaughlin / Columbia University Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Andy Blake has spent his baseball career proving himself, and now he is trying to make the most of his chance at the highest level. Upon graduating from Hopewell Valley High, he took a post-graduate year at the Hun School in 2018-19 that helped him to land at Columbia University. After getting named the Ivy League Player of the Year this past spring at Columbia in his final season with the Lions, Blake had his car packed to head to Duke for his final two years of college eligibility when the Los Angeles Angels signed him away to a minor league deal as an undrafted free agent.

“It’s a total dream come true,” said Blake from the Arizona Complex League, a rookie-level Minor League Baseball league that operates in and around Phoenix. “As a kid growing up, every young kid’s dream is to play pro ball for an MLB organization. So when the Angels gave me a call, I was head-over-heels happy, just so ready to get out here and get to work. It’s been a dream come true. I’m just ready to keep going and keep working hard. Hopefully everything goes well and I play well, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.” more

NICK OF TIME: Nick Taylor makes a point during his tenure as the head coach of the Haverford College men’s lacrosse team. Taylor left Haverford this spring to take the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse program. (Photo by David Sinclair Photography)

By Bill Alden

Upon wrapping up a superb college lacrosse career at Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham in 2008, Nick Taylor was planning to leave the game.

“After FDU, I went to American University and earned a master’s degree there,” said Taylor. “I was really intent on taking a stab at the public relations side. I have a degree in public communications.”

But while studying for his master’s degree, Taylor was pulled back into lacrosse, doing some volunteer coaching for the Catholic University men’s program. Realizing that he could make a career out of the game he loves, Taylor ultimately became an assistant coach at Catholic from 2009-12. more

IN FORM: Stephen Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings displays his freestyle form in a race this summer. In late July, Baytin came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, taking first in the 12U boys’ 50-yard freestyle, first in 50 breaststroke, and first in 100 individual medley. Baytin’s heroics helped the Lemmings take seventh overall at the meet and second among Division 2 teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) has shrunk in recent years with such powerhouse teams as the Cranbury Catfish and West Windsor Whalers having folded, the plucky band of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings has stayed afloat despite limited numbers.

With a squad of around 50 swimmers, the Lemmings went 4-2 in PASDA Division 2 dual meet action this summer and ended up taking seventh overall and second among Division 2 teams at the PASDA championship meet in late July. more

SPECIAL ATTENTION: Arthur, this handsome fellow with tuxedo-style markings, is a favorite “senior” at Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary. He is shown in Quinn’s Corner, the new expanded section for those like him, living with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), who must be apart from other cats.

By Jean Stratton

How to say goodbye and honor a cherished companion animal who is now gone? Some people might write a poem or a little story; others display photographs, perhaps a special dog collar or meaningful cat toy.

Jonathan Rosenberg chose to do something very different. When his 15-year-old cat, Tabby, succumbed to cancer, Rosenberg established Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary. This was to become a haven for special needs cats and those desperate for care, who otherwise faced terrible circumstances and probably would not have survived.

As he explains, “In April of 1999, my wife and I learned that our beloved cat Tabby had untreatable cancer and only months to live. The painful realization of Tabby’s impending death gave me pause to think, ‘What was I doing with my life? Was I really making a difference? How could I honor Tabby, who had spent 15 years with us?’

“I resigned from my job, and committed myself to creating Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary, in memory of our boy. Four years later, Tabby’s Place officially began its mission.” more

August 9, 2023

A monarch butterfly rests on a bee balm plant at The Watershed Institute’s 23rd Annual Butterfly Festival on Saturday. Attendees share what they like best about butterflies in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Grace Roberts)

By Donald Gilpin

COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are up, and the new subvariant EG.5 now accounts for the largest proportion of COVID-19 cases in the country, but the experts are not expecting the kind of surges that Princeton and the rest of the world have experienced in recent years.

“Living with COVID-19 means getting used to the highs and lows of its viral activity,” wrote Dr. Syra Madad, infectious disease epidemiologist in the New York City Hospital system and at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in an August 8 email. “While we are seeing an uptick in COVID activity detected in wastewater and people seeking care for COVID-19 at emergency rooms, numbers are still the lowest we’ve seen in the last three summers. It’s all about shifting baselines — meaning despite its relative perception of seeing a 10 percent increase in hospitalizations, which may seem like a lot, it’s still a small increase in numbers.”

In Mercer County, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the last week of July saw seven new hospital admissions of confirmed COVID-19, a 75 percent increase, but still considered a “low” level of admissions. Nationwide the CDC reported a 12.5 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions. more

By Anne Levin

Recently announced staff layoffs, cabinet restructuring, and possible faculty layoffs this fall have led Rider University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to once again urge the board of trustees to replace University President Gregory Dell’Omo.

In a Zoom meeting for faculty and staff on July 27, Dell’Omo discussed his three-year-plan, known as “The Path Forward,” to help return the financially distressed University to stability. Dell’Omo announced that eight staff members had been laid off, and more than 20 positions were being eliminated. Rider’s contribution to the retirements of non-union employees will go from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.

“Our basic position is that the board of trustees needs to make a change at the very top,” said Jeffrey Halpern, a professor of social science and the AAUP chapter’s chief grievance officer and contract administrator. “The president keeps announcing new paths forward. At each iteration, our financial situation becomes worse and worse. He cannot keep denying some responsibility for this. The board needs to take action to rebuild every element of the institution, beginning with staff and faculty morale. His plans effectively are nothing but trying to cut, cut, cut, and we’ve seen the effect of that.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Following up on an action-packed opening week of discussions, reflections, celebrations, and recognitions, Joint Effort Safe Streets will wrap up its 2023 program with an array of Jim Floyd and Romus Broadway Day events on Wednesday, August 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP); Paul Bustill Robeson Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with discussion of several hot topics and a candidate forum at the First Baptist Church of Princeton; a Community Block Festival at the YMCA Field on Saturday afternoon; and basketball for all ages on the Community Park basketball courts, with a clinic on Saturday morning and games throughout the day on Pete Young Sr. Day on Sunday, August 13.

“It’s been thought-provoking and inspiring, and the ancestors are telling me I’m moving in the right direction,” said Safe Streets Founder and Event Coordinator John Bailey as he reflected on the opening weekend and looked ahead to upcoming events.

Expanding on the theme of “Reflections on Princeton’s Black Community — Growing Up in the Witherspoon-Jackson Community,” the August 9 evening gathering at the ACP will branch out from “I remember when…,” with discussion and reflection from a variety of men and women who grew up in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood including Grace Kimbrough, Sharon Campbell, Evelyn Turner Counts, Shirley Satterfield, Leighton Newlin, Joyce Gillette Johnson, Earl McQueen, Peter Young Jr., and John Thompson.  more

NEW KITCHEN, OLD HOUSE: The 19th century house in Kingston known as Heathcote Farm, or the Withington Estate, boasts a fully equipped family kitchen, a collaboration of Lasley Brahaney Architecture + Construction and Christopher Peacock that pays tribute to the building’s architectural roots. (Photo by Tom Grimes)

By Anne Levin

A mansion in Kingston that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places has recently undergone renovations by Lasley Brahaney Architecture + Construction. The Princeton firm designed renovations to the kitchen and powder room of Heathcote Farm, an area fixture since the 1850s.

During its 170-year history, the building was first an elegant country house, and later a four-family residence before sitting vacant for several years. The current owners saw through the neglect and purchased the home, with plans to bring it back to its original architectural splendor.

“Heathcote Farm has a rich history and beautiful architectural detailing,” wrote one of the owners, who preferred not to be named, in an email. “The yeoman’s work for the house’s restoration to a single-family residence began with the prior owners, David and Paula Sculley, who repurchased the four condominiums in the late 1990s. Further, because of the condominium renovation from the 1980s, many traditional old house plumbing and electrical concerns had been largely resolved.” more

By Anne Levin

Jill Barry

Looking back on her seven years as executive director of Morven Museum & Garden, Jill Barry is confident that she is leaving the organization in good hands.

“The most gratifying thing has been how the institution has really come together,” said Barry, who announced her departure last week. She is relocating to Texas to become CEO of the Houston Botanic Garden. Her last day at Morven is September 1.

“The staff is really strong,” she continued. “And quite frankly, we’ve done a lot. When I say ‘we,’ I mean that I’ve done none of these things myself.”

During Barry’s tenure, Morven built the Stockton Education Center, a project that had been in the making for a decade. The building, which opened on the grounds in 2018, added program space, a classroom, new offices, storage space, and more.

“That was one of the first charges when I got here,” she said. “They needed more space, and we were able to get it done. Building a building is always a nice achievement.” more

READY FOR SCHOOL: HomeFront’s Back to School Drive is aiming to provide backpacks, school supplies, and necessary clothing items for more than 1,000 area children. The start of the school year is approaching, and HomeFront needs sponsors to contribute and donate supplies by August 18. (Photo courtesy of HomeFront)

By Donald Gilpin

Many Mercer County children need school supplies, clothing, and shoes to start the new school year, and HomeFront’s Back to School Drive is calling for widespread community support to ensure that those students are well prepared for the opening day.

“Feeling and looking their best is really important to most kids, especially on that first day of school,” said Chris Marchetti, director of HomeFront’s Joy, Hopes, and Dreams program. “The Back to School Drive aims to help our parents provide youngsters with new clothes, shoes, book bags, and supplies, so they can feel on top of their game, ready to learn and prepared for the year ahead.”

The HomeFront Back to School Drive, which is now in its 30th year, will run through August 18 with a goal of meeting the needs of 1,500 students. Last year’s drive successfully outfitted more than 1,350 local children, while helping to foster a sense of enthusiasm for learning and empowering the next generation to thrive on their educational journey, according to HomeFront.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Put me on a highway

Show me a sign

Take it to the limit

One more time

—from the Eagles,
“Take It to the Limit” (1975)

Because the audience knows how far over the top the song and singer are going to go, the excitement is already building as Randy Meisner sings the first words (“All alone at the end of the evening and the bright lights have faded to blue”). A bass guitar around his neck, he’s standing front and center with the Eagles at the Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, March 21-22, 1977.

The song’s title is itself a constant challenge for a lifelong dreamer who “can’t seem to settle down,” whose dreams keep “burning out and turning out the same,” until he gets to the “take it to the limit one more time” cadenzas, holding each note a life’s breath longer until it’s as if he’s gone so high and so far that he’s lost in an absolute and might not make it back but for the intoxicated crowd willing him to surpass the unsurpassable. As many times as Meisner gave the crowd the high they wanted, the night came when he had to tell his bandmates that he could no longer do it, and that was the beginning of the end of his time with the Eagles. As he says in the documentary History of the Eagles, “The line ‘take it to the limit’ was to keep trying before you reach a point in your life where you feel you’ve done everything and seen everything.” He was in his early thirties when he sang it and 77 two weeks ago when he died.  more

BLUES VIRTUOSO: Grammy Award-winning musician Gary Clark Jr. comes to the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on August 27.

State Theatre New Jersey and The Bowery presents Gary Clark Jr. on Sunday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $59-$199.

Clark is a 21st-century rock ’n’ roll musician — a blues virtuoso who blends in reggae, punk, R&B, hip-hop, and soul. He has been performing since his childhood in Texas, and won his first Grammy Award in 2014 for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Please Come Home” from his 2012 debut Blak And Blu.  more

A BUSY SEASON: South African soprano Golda Schultz is among the artists booked for the coming arts season by Princeton University Concerts. (Photo by Dario Acosta)

Single ticket sales for Princeton University Concerts’ (PUC) 130th Season are now available for purchase online only. Sales will be available over the phone beginning Tuesday, September 5.

PUC has also launched its new Admit All ticket access program for low-income patrons, and added All in the Family concerts to the season roster. General ticket prices range from $10 to $60. Student ticket prices range from $5 to $15. Children’s tickets to All in the Family concerts are $5. more

“GREAT BLUE HERON”: The Arts Council of Princeton unveiled a new community mural last week in downtown Princeton, designed and painted by Trenton-based artist Jonathan Conner, known as LANK. It is the 10th temporary mural on Spring Street since the site’s inception in 2020.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) unveiled a new community mural last week at Spring and Witherspoon streets, honoring the D&R Canal and its most famous avian resident.

The new work was designed and painted by artist Jonathan Conner, who goes by LANK. A lover of the outdoors and wildlife, his mural features a great blue heron, a nod to his favorite way to travel from Trenton to Princeton — the D&R Canal path. The gold line running through the mural is an approximate map of the path. more

“NATURE REVISITED”: Works by Evie Sutkowski are on view at Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury through August 31. An opening reception is on August 13 from 1-3 p.m.

Gourgaud Gallery, located in Cranbury Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury, presents “Nature Revisited” by artist Evie Sutkowski, on view through the end of August. An opening reception is on Sunday, August 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The artwork in the exhibition includes the mediums of watercolor, collage, mixed-media, eco-print, and cyanotype.  more

SUMMER JOB: Tosan Evbuomwan heads to the hoop last winter during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Evbuomwan recently competed a NBA Summer League campaign for the Detroit Pistons. Evbuomwan scored 7.0 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, averaged 4.0 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game in helping the Pistons go 4-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BY Justin Feil

Tosan Evbuomwan stuffed a statistics sheet at Princeton University, but only cared if it led the Tigers to winning.

He is taking that same approach to his professional career.

If his first foray as a part of the Detroit Pistons summer league is any indication, the recent Princeton graduate looks as though he could have the same effect at the pro level. Evbuomwan finished tied for third in the entire NBA Summer League in plus-minus at plus-17, meaning the Pistons were 17 points better with Evbuomwan on the court than when he was off it.  more

ALEXIS THE GREAT: Community Park Bluefish swim star Alexis Julian displays her breaststroke form in a race this summer. Julian helped the Bluefish place first in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Julian finished first in the girls’ 10U 25-yard freestyle and 100 individual medley and earned the Most Valuable Player award in the age group along with teammate Oceana Hsieh, the first place finisher in the 25 breaststroke and the 25 butterfly. CP rolled to its eighth straight title in the competition, piling up 3,588 points in taking first, more than doubling runner-up Country Pool Club Swim Team (1,485 points). (Photo provided by Mike Uchrin)

By Bill Alden

Things were a little choppy at the beginning of this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team.

“We had to overcome some adversity,” said CP Bluefish co-head coach Mike Uchrin. “It was cold at first, and then the sun came out and it was hazy. Then after that we had thunderstorms every day. We had a lot of challenging mental things to overcome at first.” more

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Referee Keith Glock giving instructions during the pregame lineup before the gold medal game at the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship on July 1 as the U.S. faced Canada. Glock, a resident of Lawrenceville and a guidance counselor at Montgomery High, served as the lead official in the contest that was won 10-7 by the U.S.  (Photo provided by Keith Glock)

By Bill Alden

On the afternoon of July 1, Keith Glock was standing on the field at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, Calif., but felt like he was on the top of the world.

That day, Glock was serving as the lead official of the gold medal game at the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship as the U.S. faced Canada. more

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Troy Jones of Princeton Supply puts up a shot in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Jones tallied 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one blocked shot to help Princeton Supply edge LoyalTees 57-54 in game two of the league’s best-of-three championship series to sweep the finals and win the title. Jones, a former Notre Dame High and East Stroudsburg University standout, was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although Princeton Supply pulled away to a 66-54 win over a short-handed LoyalTees squad in the opener of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, Troy Jones knew that earning a title was still going to be a struggle.

“We just knew that we had to play our game,” said Princeton Supply star guard Jones in assessing the team’s mindset as it came into Game 2 last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts. “We knew it was going to be a way different game than the last game. It was a much tougher game.” more

August 2, 2023

Hay rides were among the many activities at the Mercer County 4-H Fair and Wheat Threshing last weekend at Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township. Attendees share what they liked best about the fair in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Grace Roberts)

By Donald Gilpin

Beth Behrend and Michele Tuck-Ponder will be running for reelection in the November 7 election, and Adam Bierman, Eleanor Hubbard, and Rene Obregon Jr., will be competing with them for three seats on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE).

BOE member Jean Durbin, the third incumbent whose term is up at the end of the year, had not filed for reelection by the July 31 deadline and could not be reached for comment. more

Sheila Oliver

By Wendy Greenberg

Sheila Oliver, lieutenant governor of New Jersey, died on Tuesday, August 1, her family announced. A statement on Gov. Phil Murphy’s website calls her a “trailblazer” and someone who “brought a unique and invaluable perspective to our public policy discourse and served as an inspiration to millions of women and girls everywhere, especially young women of color.” She was 71.

Murphy is out of the country, and Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union County) is acting governor, according to the rules of the state constitution. Oliver had been serving as acting governor. more

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