Art Exhibition at mActivity in East Rock

Before opening the mActivity fitness center in East Rock last February, co-owners Burch Valldejuli and Pablo Perez envisioned a holistic, community-oriented approach to wellness that would go far beyond the offerings of most gyms.

This past Sunday, the health club hosted its first official art exhibition, entitled “Pairings,” featuring the work of painters Heidi Coutu and Barbara Hawes, who met at the gym and who both explore the beauty, drama, and expressive qualities of flowers. The show runs until the end of the month.

In an interesting juxtaposition, enthusiastic gallery goers filled a long corridor within view of gym members going about their fitness routines.

Read the full story in the New Haven Independent →
by DAVID SEPULVEDA | May 5, 2016

The show runs through the month of May and can be seen at mActivity Fitness Center, at 285 Nicoll St. in the East Rock section of New Haven.



Behind the Painting: Dr. Halina Wiczyk’s Parents

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk’s lives were an amazing story. As medical students in Warsaw, Poland just prior to and at the start of World War II, Jewish studentts were segregated to a special bench. Barbara and Stan Wiczyk refused to sit on these “Jewish benches”, and in protest they stood throughout their medical studies. Dr. Stan worked with the Polish Army for a few years. When he realized that the Nazis were closing in, he and Dr. Barbara, fled to a small town. There, they were fortunate to meet several wonderful Polish Catholics who helped save them and remarry them with false papers. As part of their disguise Dr. Barbara played the church organ and cleaned houses; A woman physician in those days would most certainly be suspected of being Jewish. Meanwhile, Dr. Stan practiced as a physician in that town, and he also became a resistance fighter although they never knew he was Jewish.

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk

After the war, Dr. Stan was in charge of a hospital in Soviet occupied Poland. Unfortunately, the Communists did not like his politics, and imprisoned him for a year and a half, six months of which were in solitary confinement. Barbara worked tirelessly to gain his freedom, and they were finally allowed to leave Poland in 1958, spending a year and a half in Israel, and then coming to the US in 1960. They both practiced medicine in the US and lived until well into their 90’s. They had two daughters, five grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. With each new birth, Stan Wiczyk always felt he gained his revenge on Hitler.


Behind the Painting: Jim’s Parents

This painting is a commission piece based on an old family photograph that belongs to a good friend of mine, Jim Rosenthal.  This particular photo has great sentimental value to Jim, and it captures the moment in 1947, when Eric and Ilse Rosenthal visited Vienna, in allied occupied Kahlenberg, on a plaza overlooking the countryside.

Jim's Parents

Jim’s Parents

One of the area’s last surviving World War II veterans, Eric Rosenthal was born in a small rural town in Germany in 1922.

Being Jewish, he escaped from Germany in 1937 to Boston, where he ran track, played in the high school marching band, and became a lifelong Red Sox fan. When his parents and younger brother escaped Germany the following year, the family reunited in New York City.

After attending City College for a semester, Eric was drafted into the US Army, and fought in the infantry against the Germans in North Africa, then liberated Italy. He re-enlisted after the war and met his future wife, Ilse, a war orphan, in Salzburg. They came back to the USA on Thanksgiving day, 1948, where they settled and started a family.


Portrait unveiling: Master Jeff Brenzel, Yale University

I was proud to present my work at the unveiling of Master Jeff Brenzel at Timothy Dwight College, Yale University, where I resided as a resident fellow with my husband for 6 years. The portrait will hang in the college at Yale for posterity.


Here are a few more photos from the event!



Gallery Show: Return to the Valley

The mediums for the exhibit are a combination of oil on canvas and acrylic on paper with pastel,  and an application of gold and silver leaf. The title “Return to the Valley ” alludes to my showing my work back in Western Mass, my longtime home and creative hub, where I moved from in 2008.

The show features a mixture of familiar themes of land and sea juxtaposed to expressive female figurative pieces. These are personal expressions, and are also created to interface with sculpture by guest artist and friend, Jim Rosenthal.

Return to the Valley

You can read an advance about the show from the Westfield News here.

Some photos from the reception:

Please visit Jim’s website to see is amazing work… click here.

“It is a spark of beauty or a singular moment that inspires a painting. Yet as I have grown older, that is not enough. Now the work is imbued with deep emotion, and that moment in time catches fire on the canvas with my feeling …of this life, my life; and hopefully it will move the viewer to think of a moment in theirs, or to be moved in an important way in the viewing.”  – Heidi Coutu


Portrait unveiling: Dean John Loge, Yale University

My portrait of Dean John Loge at Timothy Dwight College, Yale University.


Some photos from the reception:


Classes with Everett Raymond Kinstler

Two years ago I took this class with Everett Raymond Kinstler, the famous portrait painter, at the Art Student’s League. It was the foundation of my recent work in portraiture. I have

such respect for the masters of this genre and am enjoying the challenge.