KentPresents grant to KHS for Art Enrichment

KentPresents Grants $1,000 for Art Enrichment
to the Kent Historical Society

The Kent Historical Society is among 26 non-profit organizations serving Litchfield County receiving funds from KentPresents, the annual ideas festival whose inaugural event was held in Kent during August 2015.

The $1,000 grant will be used to provide need-based scholarships for the Kent Historical Society’s Art Enrichment Program. The summer art program has been offered to children for the past two summers and has proven quite popular.

Michael Everett, President of the Kent Historical Society Board, said, “This grant will enable us to bring more children to our popular arts program who may not otherwise been able to afford our program. Our program provides many stimulating art classes to children during the summer break. Children with a passion for art, who might not otherwise be able to attend, will now have access to this fun program.”

An application for the scholarship is now available.

All groups receiving awards provide social and emergency services, housing, educational and economic opportunities and enhance the cultural and artistic lives of low and moderate income individuals and families in Kent and nearby communities. In selecting the recipients, special emphasis was placed on basic needs, emergency services and education programs, such as the art education program that the Kent Historical Society provides.

“We are very pleased that in our first year KentPresents has been able to make meaningful grants to so many organizations,” said Donna and Ben Rosen of Kent, founders and guiding spirits of KentPresents. “The individual grants range in size from 1% of an organization’s annual fund-raising to 46%. As we grow in the years to come we hope to continue to support need-based groups that help people in our communities to thrive.”

The inaugural KentPresents, held at the Kent School August 13-15, brought together 70 leaders in a variety of fields for cultural and intellectual stimulation. The Rosens will shortly announce dates and details for KentPresents 2016.

The Rosens are members of the Kent Historical Society. Mr. Rosen is chairman emeritus of the California Institute of Technology; chairman emeritus of Compaq Computer; a former venture capitalist; currently on boards of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (emeritus) and New York Philharmonic (emeritus); former Met Opera board member; and former Columbia Business School board chairman. Mrs. Rosen was a longtime contemporary art gallery owner in New Orleans, and is now active in philanthropy, the visual arts, and serves on boards of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Orleans Museum of Art and the American Friends of the British Museum.

For further information visit the KentPresents website at

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, contact: Brian Thomas, Executive Director, 860-927-4587,

Summer Art Enrichment 2015


The Kent Historical Society offered three weeks of Art Enrichment Programs for children in July 2015. Morning sessions had children exploring color through fine art in a variety of mediums and then focused on drawing. The afternoon sessions delved into painting.

The Historical Society wants to foster arts education for young people in our area to honor the memory of George Laurence Nelson, a pre-eminent 20th Century artist known for his portraits, landscapes and florals, who lived at Seven Hearths for many years and bequeathed his 18th century home to the Kent Historical Society to operate as a museum.   

KHS believes that arts education and other forms of cultural enrichment are essential to a young person’s whole and healthy development. The Society offers Summer Arts Enrichment to encourage children’s innate creativity and boost creative thinking and problem solving, while expanding their experience and appreciation of the arts.

Classes took place in the Kent Historical Society’s “Art Barn,” an indoor/outdoor space on the campus of the Historical Society’s Seven Hearths property, facing gardens and a woodland that is used as extended classroom space. At the culmination of each class there was an exhibition to allow parents and family to see all of the creations completed through the week.  On that day, the museum was open to view the exhibition at the time “Camps of Kent.”

KHS member families have priority registration and discounted fees. Join as a Family member for $35.
COLOR SPLASH I ~ Art instructor Cheryl Moore returned to KHS’ Summer Art Enrichment program to focus on color. Moore is a respected artist and a 33-year teacher, who knows how to draw out artistic talents from her students. She is chairman of the Art Department at South Kent School and has offered a number of special workshops for younger children over the years. The KHS sessions focused on exploring color through painting. The projects included “Swipe Art” that involves using a limited palette of color dots that are swirled together to create unique images; “Underwater Watercolor” which uses a technique that involves alcohol to create water bubbles; watercolor abstract flowers were painted; leaf prints were created using large leaves; and dot painting was employed using a technique similar to that used by renowned artist Vance Kirkland.

Color Splash II –
This week was also led by Cheryl Moore and was dedicated to exploring mixed media with a variety of materials, including recyclable papers, and featured painting with watercolor and some acrylic paints. She exposed the young artists to a variety of artistic styles, cultural interpretations, and mediums. Some of the projects were a mixed media self-portrait, tissue paper collage flowers, a landscape using recycled materials, fish prints using the Gyotaku style, and several watercolor paintings.

Drawing –This drawing class was led by Andy Richards, who is a native of Kent and currently the chairman of the Visual Arts Department at The Gunnery School in Washington. He instructed students in drawing as a way to explore their creativity and use their imagination. Exploring one’s ideas visually with drawing is a wonderful way to communicate and share a vision. The central idea was for students to have fun and learn that drawing and the visual arts are a positive learning experience. Students worked with pencil, markers, charcoal and pastel on paper, learning techniques for each and worked on an exercise that involved drawing their favorite place – anything from a house, a room or even a treehouse. Pastels allowed students to work with color and see how different colors can affect the mood of the drawing.

Painting –
Painting can be a lifelong activity, whether as a professional or as a hobbyist. Learning about color and the wonderful effect it has on people can help guide your painting process. Andy Richards lead this program as well, and covered the Principles of Design and the Elements of Design with the idea that knowledge of these will help the student to understand how to take his or her imagination and put it onto canvas. Students started with watercolors and moved on to working with acrylics.  One of the projects was an exercise that involved splattering paint and then looking for creatures that can be developed from the shapes created by the splatters.

 KHS expects to offer this program again in Summer 2016.

Chris Dalla Riva

Hot Dogs and History in One Bun

By Brian Thomas

Some things are constant in Kent. The Ice Watch. Bulls’ Bridge. The schools. And since 1979, Chris Dalla Riva’s hot dog stand on Route 7. He’s been there every summer, witnessing Kent history unfolding under his blue and yellow umbrella.

He hasn’t always been at the same spot. Selling hot dogs started as a project for him and his brothers back when Jimmy Carter was president. The boys stationed themselves on a grass island next to what was then the Gulf station (now Patco). His brothers moved on to other things, but Chris donned the apron every summer. After some years he migrated a little bit south to his current location.

He’s seen a great deal change over the years. “There used to be many more gas stations in town. Now it’s only Patco.” He wonders why there are so few these days. Better mileage, maybe, or tighter environmental rules? Such are the thoughts that occur as customers roll up and place their orders.

Another curious feature he’s noticed – Main Street used to be far more wooded. Storms and other bad weather have punished the tress that used to line the road. Economic development and street widening took out some. Various blights and trees diseases have played their role.

The constants might be more important than the differences. The stand has always served as a meeting place. People can spread out to the various picnic tables that mark the site. It’s a convivial spot, where a surprising amount of town business and socializing gets transacted. Relationships have started and ended at those picnic tables.

What’s a misconception that people have about you? “Everybody thinks I go to Florida on what I make doing this. I don’t go to Florida. Selling hot dogs won’t sustain me for a year.” During the winter he works as an electrician for long-time KHS friend and benefactor John Gleason. But he’ll be back in the spring. “I love doing it. It makes me feel connected to the town.”

Signature Quilt

Kent Quilters creating signature quilt to benefit
Kent Historical Society

The Kent Historical Society is excited to be the beneficiary of the Kent Quilters newest project – a “signature quilt,” which will permanently preserve signatures from full- and part-time Kent residents.

For a suggested minimum donation of $5 residents are able to sign a muslin square in permanent ink by Feb. 15 by stopping into the Town Clerk’s Office in Kent Town Hall during
business hours. All proceeds are being given to the Historical Society.

Signature quilts were very popular in the 19th century and groups used it as a form of fundraising, selling off the opportunity to sign the quilt and then raffling off the quilt itself. The Kent Historical Society featured both of its signature quilts during a presentation in January 2014 by quilt expert Sue Reich of Washington.

KHS Curator Marge Smith has said that another added benefit of signature quilts is that genealogists can use these quilts as a way to determine who lived in a town.

“It will help us capture the town of Kent at a point in time that eludes census records. We are in the middle of the census cycle,” Smith said, adding that this time is called a “dark spot” for researchers. “Genealogists sometimes get very frustrated by trying to prove who is in town at a certain time.”

Jane Zatlin, who is the group coordinator for the Kent Quilters, said the group enjoys working together on community quilts. The group decided that it would rather donate the quilt to the Society’s collection, rather than raffle it off.

Once the signatures are complete, the Kent Quilters will meet at Town Hall one Saturday a month to plan and make the quilt.

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage.

For more information, call 860-927-4587.

Benedict Arnold, Connecticut’s Homegrown Terrorist

Sunday Series talk focused on Benedict Arnold, Connecticut’s Homegrown Terrorist


Braving the aftermath of a large snowstorm that crippled the east coast, author Eric D. Lehman spoke to a large Sunday Series audience at Kent Town Hall on Jan. 24. He presented a modern view of Benedict Arnold. Lehman noted that when beginning the book, he hoped he could vindicate Arnold, or at least make a case that he had been unfairly maligned, but this hope vanished during this research. “He was a bad man,” Lehman said.

Yet he was also a courageous soldier who had many prominent friends and admirers before his treachery. Lehman presented a modern “social network” analysis of Arnold’s social circle, and showed how connected he was to prominent colonial figures.

Lehman also explored the various meanings of the word “treason,” and how the modern usage does not fit the situation in the colonies during the Revolution. What made Arnold’s treachery stand out, Lehman declared, was that he didn’t just betray his country – he betrayed his friends.

Lehman ended his talk with a haunting story about Arnold encountering Talleyrand, the notoriously slippery French politician who worked for the Bourbons, several revolutionary governments, and Napoleon, among others. At a tavern in Portsmouth England, Talleyrand asked an American stranger for letters of introduction he could use on his trip. It turned out to be Arnold, who refused, saying, “I am perhaps the only American who cannot give you letters for his own country. All the relations I had there are now broken. I must never return.” Talleyrand’s comment: “I must confess that he excited my pity.”

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, please call 860-927-4587.