Torrington Stories

A Look Back at 2014

It’s good to take a look back every so often to see the road we’ve traveled on so that we can chart the course moving forward with clarity. 2014 has been an amazing beginning to what I projected to be a three year journey of discovery of arts/culture in NW Connecticut. I began 2014 in the first week of January, speaking before the ROTARY club in Torrington (thanks to the invitation by director, poet and friend Conrad Sienkiewicz). I shared with the Rotary club this video I created on January 1st, 2014 and began my blog here.

In the video I set out a premise-that we are in the golden age of arts/culture here and we should be engaged and a part of it. Then I gave suggestions on how to be a part of it and throughout the year, I wrote about that journey here. When I did the video I was thinking one of the ideas might appeal to one person, it wasn’t the intention to complete all of them but, well you’ll see what I did…

A) This is the year you Act/or Direct  I acted three times this year. For the Desultory Theatre Club in June I was Bill Kaberdie in Revenge of the Space Pandas, in October I was “Bill” in “To Tell the Truth” at the Warner Theatre and in November I was the “foreman” in “12 Angry Jurors” in Goshen. I also directed a video for my friend, singer/songwriter Robert C Fullerton for the song “Shoestring”.

photo by Heather Boscarino for the Goshen Players

photo by Heather Boscarino for the Goshen Players

B)This is the year to draw/paint. Although I’ve been doing that for years now, this year (March) my comic strip The Crayon Diary began in the Register Citizen.

The Crayon

The Crayon Diary in the Register Citizen

C) This is the year you write your short story, novel. Although I’ve written numerous blog posts and stories/articles for the newspaper, this is a challenge that must begin in 2015.

D)  “You begin to perform at music venues”: Again, this was one idea for me at least that did not occur in 2014 but 2015 is a new year.

E) You become a patron of the arts” This year I am happy to say I’ve not only participated by seeing performances, I’ve purchased music from local musicians Jay Roberts (2 CD’s), Tracy Walton (2 CDs) Sarah Barrios, Julia Autumn Ford, Robert C Fullerton, and Hannah Fair.  Supporting a local musician or artist is an important way of showing that we value their contribution to our community and you get the great music/art to enjoy!

Then there was the second check list of ways people can be a part of the artistic community

1) See a Show at the Warner Theatre– Completed in MARCH when I saw IMPACT by the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory. Then I participated as an actor on stage for a playwright’s festival in October, saw a movie at the Warner in November and then I enjoyed seeing the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker to end the year. Big Check here.

2) See a show from the Nutmeg Ballet– I was able to attend the IMPACT, the Graduation, the performance by Simerson and Co, the summer dance festival,  and the Nutcracker! CHECK!!!

3) Visit the Historical Society: I’ve visited. I’m a member (have to check to see if the membership lapsed-it it has I’ll renew). I visited the art exhibit of Charles Besozzi and wrote about it and visited the archives! It’s an amazing resource.

4) See a show at the Desultory Theatre: Not only did I see MANY shows there, which I wrote about, I participated as an actor there for Revenge of the Space Pandas

photo by Sheila Ivain

photo by Sheila Ivain

5) See an event from the Artwell Gallery:  While it was open on Main Street, I did visit each event that they had opened with Five Points Gallery across the street. Then I made a special visit to see a music performance

6) Buy art/music from a local artist/musician: As already discussed this was a banner year for me to discover lots of local music!

7) Go to a Five Points Gallery Event  I’ve visited many times and went to the VIP event celebrating Sal Gulino, Ann Scoville and Don Perdue


8) Contribute constructively to an Online Forum: In 2013 I was asked to become a co-administrator of one facebook group page. During 2014, the group became the largest one for our community. I ran “cash mobs” on behalf of the group. In Oct/Nov of the year before we supported Alfredo’s Deli and S/S Sweet Treats then in 2014 there was a cash mob for Downtown Cafe, First Act Bakery, The Soup Kitchen, Angie’s Coffee and More, Torrington Titans with the Soup Kitchen, Carbone’s Deli, Scarpellis and Toy Jam, and then I drew some artwork to promote the food drive for December. Now the group has multiple administrators who will bring that group to a new level in 2015.


9) Use the library: We did use the library, especially the museum passes and the children’s area where my son enjoyed playing with the toys.

10) That’s the one special thing that would be personal.

Now I note I SHOULD have had Studio59 on this list. I didn’t but I guarantee it will be there for a list in 2015 if I have one. I interviewed Timothy Alexandre Wallace and wrote many posts on ItsHappeningHere to get information about shows out to the community and my wife was able to attend the October show there.

***edited-since publishing this post, some friends have reminded me of other things I’ve done throughout the year which I thoroughly appreciate. I had not intended on writing a full description of everything I worked on in 2014, but if I had I would have even started with the statement that I was honored beyond measure to be given the stature of “Artist in Residence” for the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory in January of this year and in April I was honored as an Ambassador to Little Poland, New Britain, an amazing community in Connecticut. I held three art exhibits in 2014, two at libraries (Feb-in Waterbury and August at Burlington) and held an exhibit at the Nutmeg for the Open Your Eyes Studio Tour. that space at the Nutmeg now holds the wonderful work of Katina Hungerford and will be a fully realized gallery space in 2015. I worked to promote Torrington in the VisitCT contest and we came in 6th out of all the communities in CT.  And I donated artwork for a fundraiser to save a drive-in in CT and the fundraiser was successful (though obviously my role in that was extremely microscopic but every bit helps). I have a one panel comic in Ann Nyberg’s network connecticut (since 2013) and daily comics in Nebraska (since 2012) and New York (since 2011) (along with the aforementioned Torrington one) and a weekly comic panel for a central New York newspaper (since 2010).

Here’s the take-away from the post. At the beginning, January 2014, I set goals and then, over the course of the year, those goals were achieved and in greater abundance that one might have thought possible at the onset. This was done with a family and with a full time job. It gives me the thought that even greater accomplishments can be achieved if my new goals in 2015 are set at an even higher bar.  But anyone can do this, whatever their interest or what they perceive their own talent to be.

Here are 3 thoughts that you might find helpful when considering your own goals for the future:

1) I found it was important to start a concrete list of goals and by concrete I mean, I wrote them down. Writing the goals down gave me a structure. The goals didn’t have to be listed on video, that was simply fun, but having a list that was written down made the goals more tangible and real. I couldn’t forget the goals-they weren’t just ideas, they were there on a page/screen.

2) Accomplishing the goal has to be a priority over watching a screen (that includes video/TV and computer time). I watched less TV programming than in prior years. That’s not to say I didn’t watch anything, I did but it’s easier to accomplish something if the TV is off which means making that a conscious daily choice until that is the habit. Now we don’t have cable or a TV anyay but we do watch consumer programming on the computer and certainly I’m not adverse to it.  But on the whole  I used the computer MORE  in service to my goals, researching topics and sources of information than for passive consumerism of entertainment. That shift makes a lot of difference.

3) Failure is ok. The video program idea did not work this year. I learned from that experience and it was fun to do and I can use that experience in the future.  Not too many people try to do a stand-up routine for the first time in their 40’s, do it before a live audience and film it but I’m glad I did it and there’s potential for the future with that experience.  In addition I tried to create newsletter for the facebook group I was administering. That idea did not work. For the hours I put into it, 14 or so people cared enough to comment or like it. That’s fine, I learned from the experience. I tried to get Torrington’s online citizens to vote for Torrington in the VisitCT contest to win some tourism dollars and publicity and we came in 6th. 6 is in the top ten but there’s only one winner so for all intents and purposes, that failed. So it’s ok to fail. Do you know what they call a baseball players who fail to get a hit 6 to 7 times out of 10 at bats? Hall of famers.   In order to accomplish anything, you can’t be afraid to fail and you have to step up to the plate. I think the failures of this year will contribute to making my 2015 exceptional. I think failures are ok especially if you don’t stop there.



THAT is a look back at 2014. Next week, I’ll write about a look FORWARD!

photo by Sheila Ivain

photo by Sheila Ivain

Categories: Torrington Stories

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3 replies »

  1. I’m glad that “use the library” was on the list! And you have a good outlook on failure… If people are afraid to fail, they will never try anything new. One of my goals for 2015 is to expand my guitar skills and I will have to keep this in the forefront of my mind!

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