This Week in New Haven (September 15 – 21)

N ew Haven’s arts scene really outdoes itself this week. A young but important literary festival offers unparalleled opportunities to bask in the craft of writing; two exhibits incorporating artifacts—one very specific and quick, the other wide-ranging and longer-lasting—illuminate aspects of the city’s history of making things; and another pair of exhibits tells us a great deal about what some of the city’s makers—its visual artists—are up to at present.

Monday, September 15
The Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, administered out of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, were created to “call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns,” backing the second part of that mission up with an extraordinary $150,000 grant given to each honoree. The first part is fulfilled during this week’s Windham-Campbell Prizes Festival, starting tonight at 5 p.m., when this year’s 8 winners—across drama, fiction and nonfiction categories—formally receive their awards during a free and public ceremony in Sprague Hall (98 Wall St, New Haven), with a keynote address from acclaimed British novelist Zadie Smith. The celebration continues until Thursday, when the Windham-Campbell Prizes Festival draws to a close with a 7 p.m. reading by the winners. In-between is a blowout calendar of inventive and interactive free, public events, including a “literary speed dating” affair tomorrow and lots of intimate literary conversations and master classes.

Tuesday, September 16
Photographer Seth Casteel made a huge splash in 2012 when his magical underwater portraits of diving and swimming dogs stole the internet’s heart. He ended up bundling those photos into a bestselling coffee table book with a simple title, Underwater Dogs, and now he’s back with a sequel—or maybe it’s a prequel—called Underwater Puppies, which he’s promoting tonight at R.J. Julia Booksellers (768 Boston Post Rd, Madison; 203-245-3959). In addition to Casteel, Deb Wan, president of the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter, is scheduled to attend, bringing with her an “adoptable puppy” from the shelter. 7 p.m. Free.

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Our Town at Long Wharf Theatre - October 8 through November 2

Wednesday, September 17
It’s old news that the historic Winchester Repeating Arms factory, long-empty at 275 Winchester Avenue, is being converted into luxury apartments, a.k.a. the Winchester Lofts. It’s newer news that prior to bringing in the hardhats, the developer commissioned work from a pair of artists, local sculptor Susan Clinard and Boston-based photographer Ramsey Bakhoum, in order to preserve a sense of the building’s history. Tonight, the pair’s work—including Clinard’s Hands That Make, pictured above, made of materials salvaged from the factory—is getting a one-night-only airing at Reynolds Fine Art (96 Orange St, New Haven; 203-498-2000) from 6 to 8 p.m. Free; refreshments served.

Thursday, September 18
This afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m., the Sterling Memorial Library (120 High St, New Haven) is celebrating the reopening of its spectacular nave with an open house offering refreshments and “informal tours” led by staff. The event comes on the heels of an extensive restoration and renovation project that lasted about 18 months. Free.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the New Haven Museum (114 Whitney Ave, New Haven; 203-562-4183) opens a new exhibition, From Clocks to Lollipops: Made in New Haven, featuring “more than one hundred objects, advertisements, trade cards, photographs and other items” intended to illuminate “the production of consumer goods in New Haven.” A press release fills in some of the blanks between those clocks and lollipops, including “hardware, carriages, automobile parts and accessories, firearms, corsets, … carpeting, rubber overshoes, clothing, musical instruments,” baking powder, bed springs, cigars, wood matches, toys, beers and hot dogs.

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Our Town at Long Wharf Theatre

Friday, September 19
Starting yesterday and ending Sunday, St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church (1 Tower La, New Haven; 203-777-8294) is hosting its food-centric 11th annual Greek Cultural Fair. Church members prepare and sell traditional Greek fare including well-known hallmarks like gyro, souvlaki and moussaka alongside lesser-known options like tyropita (cheese pies), pastichio (“baked macaroni with ground meat in a cheese sauce”) and galaktoboureko (featuring custard and phyllo). The fair—open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday—also features a “Greek Market” with “imported jewelry, crafts, books and icons,” plus a silent auction with a wide range of offerings. Free to attend.

This evening, the biennial CAW Faculty Show at Creative Arts Workshop (80 Audubon Street, New Haven; 203-562-4927) opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit features work from 40+ accomplished artists across an astonishing mix of materials and styles—“oil, acrylic, watercolor, collage, metals, fiber, photography, pottery, printmaking, sculpture and more… ranging from representational to abstract.” Free.

Saturday, September 20
A similarly broad array of artistry is up on other New Haven walls tonight—until 9 p.m., anyway. In the lobby of the 360 State Street building, between 5 and 9, it’s the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s annual “Somewhat Off the Wall” event, where a $100 premium ticket gives you the right, when your number’s called, to claim one of 144 “drawings, jewelry, paintings, photography, pottery, prints, textiles and glass” works donated by 48 artists. There’s also a regular ticket option for $45 (or $35 if you’re under 30 years old), which lets you party in style without taking anything home.

Sunday, September 21
“Sunday in the Park,” a “traditional English country fair” in spite of some newfangled attractions like a bungee jump and climbing wall, sees its 27th annual iteration today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Edgerton Park (75 Cliff St, New Haven). Vendors are selling fresh vegetables, flowers, baked goods and children’s items; performers are dancing and making music; and animals, including ponies, birds and reptiles, are delighting young and old, to give a partial account of the goings-on. Free to attend. Rain or shine.

Written by Dan Mims. Image depicts Hands That Make (2014) by Susan Clinard.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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