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‘Shards Of Time’ Live-Action Production Preceded By Paintings & Prints On View At Edmond Town Hall



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Through April 30, Edmond Town Hall is hosting an exhibition of paintings and prints featuring scenes from a 15-book graphic novel series by local author-illustrator Mark Aldrich.

“Shards of Time” offers some original works for viewing, and photomechanical prints available for purchase. The collection is on view within The Mary Hawley Room, immediately off the lobby at 45 Main Street.

A multi-media live production connected to the series will be presented in The ETH Theatre on Saturday, April 15.

A longtime Newtown resident, Aldrich has been working on the series since the late 1970s, when he began off and on mapping out the story line of the full series while working on panels for different books.

It follows the adventures of “architectural preservationists” The Sisters for the Preservation Of Old Landmarks (or SPOOL, for short).

SPOOL’s members are characterized as various animals that work to save world treasures from the sabotage and mayhem of terrorists. Each character is named for a different country and each book follows one character while the other “sisters” are also involved, either in listening to the lead sister’s story or participating in her adventure.

Featured sisters represent everywhere from Egypt (Tunisia Tut), England (Duchess Gwendolyn Dumples), Brazil (Penta Sweet), the United States (Boopsie Floptail) and Mexico (Tallulah Grande) to France (Catorzia Hopinard), Germany (Frau Mach Schell), China (Madam Mei-Lo), Belgium (Lady Catoline Meowrell), and six additional countries.

The first book, Shards of Time: The Poison Swamp, was published in October 2001. The outlines of all 15 graphic novels were completed before the publication that book, Aldrich told The Newtown Bee in August 2003 following the publication of his second book, Shards of Time: Decision at Dover.

The illustrated panels that make up the books are extremely detailed pen-and-ink, colored pencil, and marker artworks. Watercolor occasionally finds its way into the mix as well.

Lisa Scalis, executive director of The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut (CAWC), calls Aldrich’s work “unique and truly immersive” illustrations that “invite the audience to get lost in a world of imagination and cultural significance to the preservation of history,” according to a press release for the current exhibition.

The current “Shards of Time” display is not the first time the public has been invited to view the art. Aldrich was invited to present his original art twice shortly after the publication of the first book. His first exhibition was at his hometown library, C.H. Booth Library, which hosted panels and text from the first volume alongside book covers for the full series, which had also been done already.

That show was followed by a similar exhibition in July 2002 at Small Space Gallery at Arts Council in New Haven.

Subsequent shows have offered fans previews of new art. Sales of prints have allowed Aldrich to continue working on, and publishing, the graphic novels.

A former set designer, Aldrich was a self-taught artist until 1986 when he began attending art school. From 1985 to 1988 he did coursework in architectural history, course design, illustration, and graphic design at Paier College. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Los Angeles and a master’s in history and a library media specialist’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University.

Aldrich is the retired librarian for Garner Correctional Institute. He was honored in April 2018 by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts as a Connecticut Arts Hero for his (then) eight-plus years of work with Garner Players, an inmate group of playwrights and actors based at Garner CI.

Aldrich was nominated for his dedication to “the exciting and stimulating theater produced” in the program, as well as the fact that “his efforts have profoundly impacted the men he works with ... several graduates have been released and continue their creative work on the outside.”

The Arts Hero Awards honor Connecticut residents who are doing extraordinary things for or through the arts. The 2018 Arts Hero Awards theme was “Resiliency.”

For a few years, Aldrich worked with Newtown High School to create internships that gave students experience editing films based on his book series.

As early as 2010 he was working with Kenneth Lundquist, the owner of the video production company Wulf Lynx Studios, and the NHS students to produce early videos of the series.

Aldrich and Lundquist continue to work together. The two have collaborated on the latest presentation of “Shards of Time,” including the approaching live production.

An Interactive Event

Lundquist told The Newtown Bee this week that the April 15 event at Edmond Town Hall has grown from previous presentations at Ridgefield and Danbury libraries.

The live event will feature a screening of an approximately 45-minute long video with all 15 books in the series, according to Lundquist. It won’t be a straight screening, however.

There will be dance sequences featuring Newtown High School students, a fencing sequence featuring local fencers, a musical performance with New York City-based opera singer Laura Castrillon-Triquell and Lundquist, and a Peruvian martial arts demonstration by Rumi Maki.

The performances and demonstrations will be on the ETH Theatre stage.

“It’s going to be live action in front of the big screen, with pausing of the film to focus on the action on the stage,” Lundquist said.

“There will also be action happening on stage while the film is running,” he added. “It’s a full blown musical that brings the audience in and out of that fourth wall.”

Aldrich and Lundquist will additionally be doing a talkback following the screening.

“We’ll be available for anyone with questions, and we’ll have a survey so people can tell us how this can be made more awesome than it already is,” he said. Similar surveys have been used following the presentations in Ridgefield and Danbury.

“This is really growing from those presentations and feedback,” he said.

Admission is free for April 15, but reservations are requested. A promotional video and online version of the exhibition can be found at ShardsOfTime.info, where reservations can also be made.

The “Shards of Time” exhibition within The Mary Hawley Room can be visited Monday through Thursday, 8 am-10 pm; and Friday through Sunday, 8 am-11 pm.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Original art and photomechanical prints by the Newtown author-illustrator Mark Aldrich are featured in an exhibition on view to April 30 at Edmond Town Hall. These seven works are along the western wall of The Mary Hawley Room. —Bee Photos, Hicks
“The Tragic Queen,” from Decision at Dover, the second chapter in Aldrich’s 15-book graphic novel series.
“The Sisters Duel,” from left: “En Garde,” “Attack,” and “The Moment of Truth,” also featured in “Shards of Time” at Edmond Town Hall.
“The Swamp Prison,” from the first book in Mark Aldrich’s “Shards of Time” series. A multi-media presentation has been created around the books, and videos for each book, to be presented on the stage of Edmond Town Hall in mid-April.
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