Favorite local exhibitions and books of 2022

Amelia Onorato, exhibits manager at the Museum of Mysterious Arts, hung a Norman Rockwell for an exhibit at MMoA. Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, the exhibit showcases 323 covers that Rockwell drew for The Saturday Evening Post magazine. (DANIEL PASSAPERA/TODAY SPECIAL REPORT)

Artist Dana Sherwood in the 2021 film “The Artists’ Bedroom Bestiary” at Old Lyme. (Photo courtesy of Paul Mutino, courtesy of the artist)

Elizabeth Tashjian at the Nut Museum, 1990s (contributed)

The writers of the day selected their favorite exhibits and books from the past year.


“Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post Cover: Tell Me a Story”

June-September, Museum of Mysterious Arts

The show was originally scheduled for 2020 but was canceled due to the pandemic. It finally opened this year and what a gem. Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the exhibit features every cover that Rockwell created for The Saturday Evening Post, 323 in all. open. The MMoA has decided to host an equally important and fascinating corollary exhibition called “Missing Narratives,” featuring works by African-American artists from the Bill and Paula Alice Mitchell collection.

— Christina Dorsey

“Memorial Nut Museum: The Fantasy Art of Elizabeth Tashjian”

January 18-March 11, Storrs William Benton Museum of Art

Old Lyme’s famous Nut Museum is unique in that it was created by an artist who was inspired by hard-shelled fruits, from lowly peanuts to erotic coconuts-in-the-sea. The show honors the zany attraction and delves into the owner’s puzzling obsession.

— John Rudy

“Imagining the Mystics: Views of the Connecticut Coastline, 1890-1950”

May 21-September. 4. Ryman Allyn Art Gallery, New London

The everyday scenes of Mystic, Noank, and Mason Islands captured the imagination of the painters who formed the Mystic Art Colony in the early 20th century. The exhibition presents portrayals of houses, streets and shipyards, many of which are still recognizable today.

— John Rudy

“Dana Sherwood: Animal Appetites and Other Encounters in the Wild”

May 21-September. 18. Griswold Museum, Florence

What a vibrant and different, very interesting exhibit. Sherwood explores man’s relationship with wild nature. She makes paintings, but I find her installations particularly fascinating. She set up these artificial rooms outdoors, complete with food, and let night vision cameras capture what was happening. Videos of raccoons, possums, and other critters bouncing and gobbling food outside of Old Lyme’s bedroom are hilarious and engaging.

— Christina Dorsey

“100 Years of Mystic River and Open Bridge”

Oct. 7-Dec. 18, Museum of Mysterious Arts

Mystics wouldn’t be mystics without the drawbridge, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. The bridge, with its wheel mechanism and massive counterweights, has been the material of artists whose work tells its history. Earlier Span and Mystic River are also part of the show.

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— John Rudy

“American Musical Instruments: Banjos from the Jim Bollman Collection”

October 8-January. 8, 2023, Lyman Allyn Art Gallery, New London

The banjo is synonymous with musical genres like bluegrass and Southern music, but little is known about their origin story. The show goes all the way back to its beginnings in Africa and traces the instrument’s rise from slave cabins to minstrel performances to high society.

— John Rudy

“Chromatopia: Stories of Color in Art”

November 19-March 5, 2023, Ryman Allyn Gallery, New London

We rarely think about colors, the cornerstones of visual art, but they have their own stories. The show examines our perception of color and the history of the pigments and dyes that enrich our surroundings. There are many strange surprises: some colors are invisible, some are deadly.

— John Rudy

“A Connecticut College AIDS Memorial Quilt”

Nov. 29-Dec. 4, Tansill Theatre, Hillyer Hall, Connecticut College

In honor of World AIDS Day, Conn College exhibited several AIDS Memorial Quilts, each sewn in memory of a loved one who died of AIDS. It’s just a fraction of the 54-ton quilt, with more than 48,000 parts, but its strength is incredible, almost otherworldly. Yes, a group recognized one of my wife’s favorite cousins. But we took the time to read each section in order to remember the dark crisis that remains indelible.

— Rick Coster


“The City on Fire” by Don Winslow

The first of the great Winslow’s final trilogy is a brilliant take on literary crime, depicting the multigenerational relationship between Irish and Italian mob families in Providence war. With the darkly beautiful intensity of the author’s famous frontier trilogy, “City on Fire” and two books nearing completion, Promise will be a fantastic farewell to fiction. As Winslow told the crowd during an appearance on The Day’s “Read of the Day” series, he is devoting his time, money and energy to fighting the far right. Good luck, sir.

— Rick Coster

“Ecstasy and Melancholy: The Diary of Edna St. Vincent Millay”

Edited by Daniel Mark Epstein

This long-overdue volume of diaries and essays by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay recounts the tragic arc of a gifted poet whose candle burned too hot, too fast. The first half of the book, from 1907 to 1913, is told in the innocent, ambitious voice of a Maine girl who finds inspiration in the hills surrounding her Camden home. The second half, a scrappy account of her meteoric rise as a poet and the tragic aftermath of her fame, turns into a checklist of her daily opioid intake. Collectively, these entries make the title seem like an understatement.

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— Betty J. Cotter

Clay McLeod Chaplin’s “The Ghost Eater”

What if someone invented a drug that allowed you to talk to and see the dead? As far as reconnecting with deceased loved ones and pets goes, the concept is dizzying. But what if you get in touch with a soul you don’t want to see? Also, what if the drug has oxygen-intensity-addictive properties? Chapman gleefully deftly crafts an irresistible novel out of this premise.

— Rick Coster

A Sea of ​​Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel weaves stories of the past and the future in this brilliant novel about time and loss. Fans of her previous work will notice the reappearance of some familiar characters.

— Christina Dorsey

“Find Me” by Viola Davis

Turns out, Viola Davis is more than just an Oscar-worthy actress. She’s also one hell of a writer.Her memoir is riveting, especially when she describes in heartrending passages the trauma of growing up in a desperately poor and unruly family in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

— Christina Dorsey

The Book of the Day by Patti Smith

While Patti Smith is best known as a songwriter and performer, she is also a talented writer – her memoir ‘Just Kids’ won a National Book Award – as well as a photographer . At first glance, this collection of 366 inspirational posts adapted from her Instagram account seems like a bestseller. But each of these photographs, about two-thirds original, and the accompanying text are food for thought. One of my favorites: Smith sitting with his hand on his chin. “I remember my mom sitting like that. I’d ask, what’s this, mom? And she’d say, oh, nothing. Now I know what nothingness is.”

— Betty J. Cotter

“Every Cloak Stained with Blood” by James Lee Burke

The latest in the Dutch family’s multi-volume saga is a landmark and emotional tale set in Montana. Burke – Regardless, his poetic depth and grasp of humanity’s darkest tendencies are powerful. But, inspired by the death of his daughter Pamala in 2021, he’s at the top of his game, crafting a beautiful, sad but ultimately redemptive story that will hopefully bring him some comfort.

— Rick Coster

Nemesis by John Connolly

The book consists of two novellas in which the writer’s recurring protagonist, private eye Charlie Parker, tackles two distinct plots that blend perfectly together. Funny, occasionally vicious and always terrifically entertaining, “Nemesis” easily resists any temptation to pick up an electronic media device or check social media.

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— Rick Coster

Jennifer Egan’s “Candy House”

Jennifer Egan can do almost anything. Her all-encompassing “Manhattan Beach” has a traditional structure, while “Candy House” is more like her “Hands Squad Visit,” with chapters focusing on different characters, sometimes using different styles.

— Christina Dorsey

“Hello, Transcriber” by Hannah Morrissey

When Hazel Greenlee and her husband moved to the crime-ridden town of Black Harbor, Wisconsin for work, she found herself working in the city’s police department transcribing detectives’ crime scene reports. Fascinated by mysterious homicide cop Nick Cole and his efforts to catch Candy Man, whose products are killing children, Hazel transcends the confines of her job and marriage. Things… are not going well.

— Rick Coster

Food of the Gods by Dan Franklin

This limited edition short story will make you laugh out loud as Franklin tells the story of a team of archaeologists digging a tomb in the Libyan desert of Kia, the heresy-lost queen of Akhenaten, and how effortlessly it terrifies you. This isn’t a mummy story — whatever you might expect from the less traveled road, it won’t happen.

— Rick Coster

“Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty” by Anderson Cooper and Catherine Howe

Gloria Vanderbilt, mother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, was dragged around in a notorious 1934 custody trial. Settling in New York in the mid-1600s, Ancestry tells the self-made story of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, who turned a humble ferry business into a fortune. Cooper doesn’t shy away from the lackluster lives of the Commodore’s descendants in New York and Newport, and when the last Vanderbilt was banished from the Breakers (2017), it was hard to believe just how far the family had fallen.

— Betty J. Cotter

The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay

The author, another “Today’s Read” guest, tells the eerily touching and riveting tale of a lonely high school student who discovers the solace of punk rock through a big girl who may or may not be a vampire. Rooted in Rhode Island folklore, Tremblay hit another home run effortlessly.

— Rick Coster

“The Abbey” by Katie Hayes

Ann Stillwell, a young academic linguist from the West Coast, gets an unimaginable opportunity to study esoteric Renaissance art at Manhattan’s famed Cloisters Museum. She is introduced into a world and social circle that simultaneously intimidates and captivates her. Maybe Live Homicide would help! It’s a revealing look at an interesting world — one that seems corrupt.

— Rick Coster


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