Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Artspace Holiday Open House this Tuesday

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Let Me Down Easy
Dec. 11, 2007—Jan. 19, 2007
Gallery Open House: Tues., Dec. 18, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

Using Long Wharf Theatre's world premiere production of Let Me Down Easy as inspiration, a group of local artists are crafting their own unique takes on the play's exploration of issues surrounding the human body.

Let Me Down Easy, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith, directed by Stephen Wadsworth, will be performed on Long Wharf Theatre Mainstage from Jan. 9—Feb. 3, 2008. Artspace gallery, located at 50 Orange Street, New Haven, is hosting an exhibition based on the play from December 11 through January 19. There will be an open house at the gallery Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Known to Long Wharf Theatre audiences as the creator of Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, Anna Deavere Smith's newest one-woman show—inspired by interviews conducted as a visiting professor at the Yale University School of Medicine—explores the resiliency and vulnerability of the human body.

"The exhibit features four outstanding New Haven area artists who strive to transform and recontextualize experiences relating to physical, emotional, and psychological struggle. Each artist's work explores the resilience and fragility of the human body," said Laurel Coniglio, program director and Public Allies Fellow at Artspace.

Two of the paintings, "Geologics of Life #1" and "Body of Water" will be on display at Long Wharf Theatre through the run of the play. Artist Anne Doris-Eisner, the creator of those two works, explores how transformation and regeneration occur in nature, serving as a metaphor for human experience.

With acute awareness of the inner processes of the earth, her forceful mark-making depicts the irreversible changes wrought traveling through life. Using unique geological formations and forms in nature, Doris-Eisner draw parallels between the human experience and the natural world. Resilience, defiance, reverence are all symbolically represented in her work, Coniglio said.

"For five years now I have sought through my art to express the divine power and mysterious force of life. That which should have been destroyed instead is able to transform and rebuild, albeit into something new," Doris-Eisner said. "Having faced the death of my child, I liken my survival to that of a tree struck by lightening which still puts out new branches. The water which cuts through mountains and finds its way to continue moving forward. I, too, continue to find a way to live on, though irreversibly changed."

The other artists featured in the exhibit are Tracy Walter Ferry, Evie Lindemann and David Taylor.

In support of the exhibit, there will be an artist talk at Artspace at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. Artspace will be closed Dec. 23—Jan. 1. Gallery Hours for Let Me Down Easy, as well as Artspace's concurrent exhibitions, are as follows: Tuesday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. -8 p.m., with special late night Thursday hours on December 6, 13, and 20, when the gallery will be open until 9 p.m.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Artists' talk Sunday at Ely House

John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Black + White and Red Upstairs
Through Dec. 16, 2007
Artists' Talk and Closing Reception: Sun., Dec. 16, 2—5pm

Press release

There will be an Artists' Talk and closing reception for Black + White and Red Upstairs this Sunday at the John Slade Ely House. The show was written about on Connecticut Art Scene here.

The artists: Alexis Brown, Nancy Eisenfeld, Julie Fraenkel, Maura Galante, Daniel M. Long, Fethi Meghelli, Andrea Miller, Joseph Saccio, Suzan Shutan, Deirdre Schiffer, Kevin Van Aelst, Mark Williams, Jemma Williams.

ALL Gallery Artists' Reception Saturday

ALL Arts & Literature Laboratory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St. Building 2, New Haven, (203) 671-5175
8.5 x 11 Project
Through Dec. 16, 2007.
Artists' Reception: Saturday, Dec. 15, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL) is proud to present a non-juried exhibition of original works that fit within 8.5" x 11" clear plastic sleeves. The works range from realism to abstraction and are composed of media ranging from drawing and printmaking to multimedia and collage combining visual and literary art.

The Artists' Reception for this show will take place this Saturday, from 5—7 p.m.

This exhibition will be shown in three phases:

• In Phase I, all works will be displayed at ALL.
• In Phase II, works will be organized and displayed in binders for up to one year.
• In Phase III, ALL will seek opportunities to exhibit the works at additional venues in Connecticut and beyond.
ALL will continue to accept submissions for Phases II & III of this project until February 24, 2008.

Artists included in Phase I of the 8.5" x 11" Project include: Veronica Batter (Aston, PA); Gretchen Beck (Irving, CA); Elizabeth Beckmann (Rosedale, NY); Christie Blizard (Lubbock, TX); Ken Boland (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) and John Fleischer (Minneapolis, MN); Daniel Boyer (Houghton, MI); Claire Brees (San Francisco, CA); Christiana Caro (Providence, RI); Cyndy Carstens (Glendale, AZ); Jessie Chafetz (Cambridge, MA); Mariellen Chapdelaine (New Haven, CT); Renee Coe (Madison, CT); Ellen Coleman (Brooklyn, NY); Marian Doherty (Milford, CT); Emilia Dubicki (New Haven, CT); Howard el-Yasin (Hamden, CT); Joe Fekieta (New Haven, CT); Frances Giron (Arvada, CO); Alicia Giuliani (Syracuse, NY); Ellen Hackl Fagan (New York, NY); Caroline Hall (Pennington, NJ); Alicia Herbst (Painted Post, NY); Keith Johnson (Hamden, CT); Matthew Keeney (Syracuse, NY); Lee LaForte (West Haven, CT); Cary Loving (Richmond, VA); M. G. Martin (Woodbury, CT); Billie Matthews (New Haven, CT); Joyce Harris Mayer (Medford, NJ); Lydia McCarthy (Boston, MA); Patrick McDonough (Washington, DC ); Joe McKenna (Washington, DC); Leah Oates (Brooklyn, NY); Lynn Paper (Hamden, CT); Manisha Sharma (Mexico City, Mexico); Brad Ford Smith (Dallas, TX); Thomas Stavovy (Hamden, CT); Sand T (Malden, MA); Jennifer Van Elswyk (New Haven, CT); Andrew Wapinski (Wilmington, DE); Kerri Williamson (Philadelphia, PA); Sharon Wolf (New Smyrna Beach, FL); Sejja Young (Highland, UT).

Arts + Literature Laboratory is a nonprofit community arts organization for visual and performing artists and writers. ALL encourages collaborative efforts and facilitates a cross-pollination of ideas among artists, writers and the entire Greater New Haven community. ALL maintains a gallery and performance space located at 315 Peck Street, New Haven, CT, with easy access off I91/I95. For more information, visit or call 203-671-5175.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Picture Framer opening Friday in Cheshire

The Picture Framer Artshack Gallery
96 Elm St., Hartford, (203) 272-2500
3rd Annual Small Works Exhibit
Opening reception: Fri., Dec. 7, 6—9 p.m.

Press release

The Small Works exhibit and sale features artwork 5"x7" and smaller. Stop in at the opening reception Friday evening and meet the artists, enjoy the champagne and chocolate buffet and enter a drawing for a $50 gift card.

Paper, scissors and rock

Paper/New England
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 729-1146
New England Now
Thrugh Jan. 11, 2008.

New England Now is the first show for new Hartford-based arts organization Paper/New England. According to Brian Friedberg, who is doing publicity work for the organization, the intention is to feature a wide array of artworks in or on paper. This could, in theory, include installation artwork such as Nadya Volicer's "Kite Walk," which was featured at Real Art Ways Four Solo Exhibitions this past spring. But primarily, one should expect prints, drawings, paintings on paper and book arts.

Sans installations, there is a wide range of media represented in this show. While there is some abstraction, most of it is representational with an emphasis on environmental and landscape imagery.

Dudley Zopp's "Erosion 8" and "Erosion 10" are beautiful renderings of round worn stones in a stream. The rush of water is conveyed with Zopp's heavily diluted drip and wash of acrylic paint, as if captured in a long camera exposure. Stone also gets its due in Robert Manning's "High Sarsen, Avebury Stone Circle, England." This is a large drawing of a creviced, pocked and cracked ancient monolith, executed with charcoal and conté. Without background elaboration, the large stone has features that seem to contain hints of faces of ancient creatures, a mythical bestiary memorialized in stolid earth.

Time is also an element in Bryan Nash Gill's "Four Square." A wood engraving, the image is made of four fracturing squares that look like cross-cut tree segments marked by circular age rings. Above it is a monotype by Gill, "Cardboard Box." Inked sections of corrugated cardboard have been composed in such a way as to create the illusion of an open cardboard box.

There are a couple of very nice pastels, two by Stephen Brown and one by Louise Hamlin. Where Hamlin achieves an effect akin to oil painting, Brown uses a somewhat lighter touch that captures an airy light much as watercolor might.

Lois Tarlow's two peeled relief works are like night and day. "Descent at Dawn" is a piece of white paper with a couple of dozen curved tears cascading in a smooth diagonal over the surface from upper left to lower right center. "Night Flight," on the other hand, is on torn black paper. Here the tears are more randomly placed. Set side by side, they complement and reinforce each other, a simple but effectively rendered idea.

Tayo Heuser's "Circle #1" is a pen and ink work on burnished paper. In Heuser's large square work, there is a series of differently colored concentric circles on a yellow background. A profusion of delicate white and yellow lines radiate from the center, generating an outrush of energy.

Six large panels of lightly blue tinted paper abut each other to form Nona Hershey's work "Reconnaissance." One large circle runs through and connects all the panels, inscribing a scene of a cloud-filled sky drawn with graphite powder and pencil. Some are dark almost to the point of blackness while others are just tinges of gray. Hershey's graphite dust grips the paper in tiny sparkles like a fine mist.

There are a couple of examples of book art in the show, a medium Friedberg says the gallery plans to showcase. These include pages from a book by Jim Lee about the creation story of the Mi'kmaq, an indigenous people in Canada. Handset letterpress type forms the text. It is lovingly illustrated with color reduction woodcut imagery: The Great Bird, a teepee in a forest, a turtle shell and large eroded stone forms in the Bay of Fundy. Claire Van Vliet's The Gospel of Mary offers the text and an interpretation of the Gnostic gospel with a beautiful abstract pop-up paper design in the center.

New England Now is an auspicious start for the new organization/gallery.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Art opening and music Saturday at new Westville venue

Hello My Name Is Gallery
838 Whalley Ave., Apt. 4, New Haven
You'll Shoot Your Eye Out
Dec. 8, 2007—Jan. 1, 2008.
Opening reception: Sat., Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m.

Press release

Hello My Name Is Gallery, in conjunction with Music @ ArLoW, is pleased to announce You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, opening on Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. This event combines the opening reception of Hello My Name Is Gallery's second exhibition, featuring the work of visual artists Megan Bent and Mark Williams, with the latest installment of Music @ ArLoW's live music series, featuring the groups JuJu and Buru Style. Both the Hello My Name is Gallery and Music @ ArLoW are located at 838 Whalley Ave, New Haven CT in Westville's new ArLoW 2, Artist Lofts of Westville.

Upstairs at the Hello Gallery, Megan Bent and Mark Williams present a two-person exhibition that plays with and critiques the mixed messages and excesses of holiday lawn decoration.

Inside the gallery, Arizona based artist (and CT native) Megan Bent presents a series of photographs that depict the strange and often ironic combination of secular and religious icons present on the lawns of New York and New England. Taken in and around the fringes of Brooklyn and Queens, and the suburbs of New York and Connecticut, these photographs depict the increasingly muddled distinction between spiritual belief and consumer spectacle.

Outside the gallery, on the facade of the building, New Haven based artist Mark Williams presents the latest in an on-going series of Christmas light drawings. These drawings, made from ordinary Christmas lights, take the familiar icon of the toy soldier (ever present in Williams' paintings and drawings) into the sphere of public art. Williams' work, which depicts toy soldiers mired in and consumed by Play-Doh figurines, critiques the marketing and presentation of war by the American media. Williams' light drawings will be on display everyday for the length of the exhibition from 6 to 10pm.

Downstairs, in the storefront performance space, Adam Kubota curates another in his series of Music @ ArLoW live music events. The groups performing, JuJu and Buru Style, will present a range and amalgamation of musical styles; from jazz fusion and breakbeat, to dub style reggae. These groups will only be performing on the evening of Dec. 8 and are not to be missed.

Buru Style is a half-Connecticut/half-Boston Live Dub group that drops ultra-ethereal rhythms from the catalogues of Jamaican Nyabingi artists such as Count Ossie and Cedric IM Brooks, mixes in newer tracks from the likes of Jah Cure and Richie Spice and plays a whole heap of original music as well.

JuJu is the new project by some of Hartford and New Haven's brightest young improvising musicians. The ensemble brings their strong credentials in the field of jazz to the setting of breakbeat and hip-hop. This group is rooted in the legacies of Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Herbie Hancock yet looks to the future in the sounds of DJ Shadow, Squarepusher, and Soullive.

We all have our dreams

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Through Dec. 16, 2007

In the Real Room at Real Art Ways, there is a show that is a fine complement to Shadow Show, the exhibition in the contemporary art venue's main space. Kambui Olujimi's World Famous Dr. Keller's THE LOST RIVERS DREAM INDEX mines the overlapping image world of dreams and the Internet. Both realms are also shadow realms, outside of the corporeal but real nonetheless.

Olujimi painted the walls of the Real Room black, the color of night, the better to festoon with dreams. Using imagery culled first from the Internet—but corresponding to dreams he has had, according to RAW Visual Arts Coordinator Phoebe Augustine—and secondarily from his self-published pamphlet/book The Lost River's Dreamers Index, Olujimi painted the black walls in Pantone Copper Gold. He projected the images on the walls using three projectors and essentially traced them with the sparkly paint.

It is an exotic menageries of fears, fetishes, fixations and fables. Godzilla. Michael Jackson (looking a little bit like Marilyn Monroe, oddly enough or maybe not). A child skipping rope. Another child licking a giant ice cream cone—can you say "phallic symbol?"—that culminates in an igloo at the top. Portuguese men-of-war jellyfish trailing their threatening stingers. An enormous boombox with a troll in front of it holding a check for a zillion dollars (another Powerball winner making an end run around the class system). A roaring lion mounting a tiger, creating a "liger." The Folies Bergere can-can girls. A Japanese World War II kamikaze plane, an old VW Beetle, a man exposing his large animal-like phallus before an array of microphones and much more.

In the copper gold paint on the black background, Olujimi's painted installation reads like a guide to the constellations. The new universe of pop culture has overthrown the old stars of the firmament. The dog star Sirius has been brought to heel. The satellite radio usurper Sirius now drowns out the past, ringing the chords of change out of the speakers of Olujimi's painted boombox.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Limitations schlimitations

John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Black + White and Red Upstairs
Through Dec. 9, 2007

According to John Slade Ely House curator Paul Clabby, he was "thinking about how black and white represents clarity. Red is a very subjective symbolic color—the opposite of clarity, relatively."

Clabby noted that in a book by Oliver Sacks, one of Sacks' patients loses the ability to see color after bumping his head in a car accident. All he could see after the accident was black, white and shades of gray. But, Clabby told me, Sacks wrote that his patient soon began to see more detail, see further and see patterns he hadn't seen before.

"I was thinking how in some way those patients have what we would look at as limitations but their world is complete for them," said Clabby. "It's the same with artwork that is black and white, or red. It can be complete, not lacking in anything. The irony is that I had a hard time finding red works that were good. Black and white took care of itself." For anyone has been visiting a number of shows around town this past year, or Open Studios, there are a number of pieces in this show that will be familiar.

The exhibition title, Black + White and Red Upstairs, is a play on an old riddle as well as a straightforward description of the curatorial arrangement. On the first floor are all works executed in the range of black/white/gray monochromaticism. Works in which red is a prominent-although not only-color occupy the hallway and rooms of the second floor.

These limitations seem like no limitations at all, at least as far as the presentation of a range of media is concerned. Jemma Williams and Meg Hunt used soft sculpture to create "Big Mama," a fanciful octopus. Williams did the sewing and Hunt illustrated the work. It is quilted and decorated with acrylic painted illustrations of fanciful sea creatures on the dark bands of its tentacles. Among the black and white works is Alexis Brown's "Murder of Crow Series, I-IV," a set of woodblock prints. Brown, who I profiled during City-Wide Open Studios in 2006, has a gift for imbuing her imagery of animals with active grace.

Deirdre Schiffer
also offers prints, in her case a series of primarily monochromatic monotypes of the CAW [Create Arts Workshop] Typesetting Room and of an interior with a window. Schiffer captures the sense of the natural light coloring the room in each case. The two figures in "By the Window" prints 1 and 2 are all shadow. In "CAW Typesetting Room 1 & 2", the light coming through the window is a white so intense that it overwhelms the posts.

Fethi Meghlelli
's "A Veil of Tears" is as powerful, if not more so, than it was in his Erector Square studio. The mélange of faces, rendered in charcoal and acrylic, meld together on three large sheets of white paper. They suggest not so much individuals as huddled humanity. Long lengths of black string hang in front of the drawings, the tears through which we view a constant image flow of suffering.

A rather unromanticized, if amusingly macabre, take on childhood is on display in Daniel Long's black and white photos. In "The Very Naughty Chair," a little boy in shorts sits facing the wall on hard wooden chair. He's situated in a bare concrete room and is bent forward, his head touching the wall. A boy dressed in jeans is seen entering a bathroom carrying a gun that shoots ping-pong balls in "Shock and Awe." A naked woman sits on the edge of the bathtub, her back to the opening door. Although her face is outside the frame, it appears she is just turning around while the barrel of the gun starts to poke out past the edge of the door. In Long's images, the traumas and threats of adulthood find their analogue in childhood play.

Trauma is psychological, personal and internalized in Julie Fraenkel's imagery of girls and women, drawn with charcoal and colored pencil on Masonite. While some of her subjects are smiling or laughing, others stare with the blank expression of the emotionally numb. There is throughout a sense of scarring. Scars are etched as scratches into the surface of the boards and apparent in scrawls across the faces and bodies.

Andrea Miller's fabric collages were inspired by the painted cement walls of an I-91 highway overpass near her studio, specifically the rectangles of beige, gray and white that appear as highway workers paint over graffiti. Geometric pieces of cotton rags and other fibers are stitched on a linen background. The lighter tones are set off by smaller, strategically placed dark areas (deep blue, maroon). The visual interest is heightened by the subtle tonal play within each of the elements.

Along the upstairs hallway are a series of prints, monotypes with collage, by Maura Galante. In "ByPass," the background field of swimming hot red, orange and magenta bypass the area where lithographic line images of hearts—the organ, not the Valentines Day symbol—are printed in blue. In "Untitled I-IV" and "Untitled Red," Galante collaged the monotypes with textured papers, some with Asian writing. As with Miller's fabric collages, there is an effective balance between the roughly geometric shapes of the collaged elements and the unconstrained play of color shades within the elements.

The installation "Red Square" is, according to her artist statement, Suzan Shutan's "first attempt at integrating drawing, painting and sculpture with a moving image on video." It incorporates video projection with a three-dimensional frame composed of red string, red tape and red paint. The video projection with accompanying declamatory soundtrack ("Seeing red! Red hot! Red alert! Red hot society! Fire engine red!") is a succession of images, most of which feature red prominently. Puckered lips. A red change purse. Salt and pepper shakers with red tops. A stop sign. A catsup bottle. The string and tape mark the boundaries of an imaginary skewed geometric enclosure, related to but not a square. The paint on the wall flares off to the right, a red shadow (sounds like a superhero's name) but one not quite in perspective.

Joseph Saccio
's "Quiver for St. Sebastian" was one of the works he showed at Kehler Liddell Gallery in October. Dozens of wood rods tipped with pointing seashells at either end burst through a torso of wood. The arrows, alluding to the story of the saint, are stained red. The big, hollowed-out log is smeared with beeswax in several spots, giving it the feel of sundered flesh.

Although red doesn't predominate in terms of surface area covered in Nancy Eisenfeld's two works, "Smolder" (written about before on CT Art Scene) and "Torch," its presence is essential to the sculptural compositions. Both works were created from found pieces of wood, both processed and wild. Much of the woods has been singed and then painted in colors—red, gold, yellow, orange, cool flame blue—to suggest still simmering fire.

In the works of Saccio, Eisenfeld, Galante, red is felt as an emotional charge, freighted with a certain measure of symbolic resonance. It's blood, heat. Shutan's installation, of course, plays the spectrum of red's associations. Kevin Van Aelst's two large Lightjet print photographs also feature red prominently but without any noticeable symbolic resonance as "red." Van Aelst's stock in trade is "conceptual photography." He reconfigures everyday objects in new ways, often with a strong dollop of humor. His conceptual fingerprints are all over these two photographs. In "Right Middle Finger," Van Aelst created a massive fingerprint on a mottled maroon diner countertop using saccharin as his medium. The fingerprint is surrounded by a mug of coffee with the dregs left, salt, pepper and sugar dispensers and a crumb-flecked saucer with a credit card receipt. This fingerprint is a reverse image, the lines reading maroon in a spill of white saccharin. The reverse is the case for "Left Index Finger." The print is formed out of red yarn and seems to hover over the beige carpet on which it rests. With knitting needles lying nearby, this could perhaps be a bloody fingerprint, the telling clue in a murder mystery as filtered through Ladies Home Companion.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

City Gallery Give Art opening tomorrow

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Give Art
Nov. 24—Dec. 23, 2007.
Opening reception, Sun., Dec. 2, 12—4 p.m.

Tis the season, I guess, for abstraction. But that's usually the case at City Gallery in New Haven. For its annual year-ending holiday Give Art show, City Gallery members are showcasing a lot of smaller works. All the works are available for sale at the fixed price of $100 each. The full spectrum of materials and techniques employed by gallery artists is on display. Show participants include new members Deborah McDuff (mask making) and Freddi Elton (photography). This holiday season, City Gallery members are offering the opportunity to give the gift of art at an affordable price.

For the most part, the work is collage-based. Several artists incorporate found or non-traditional materials. (Although what might have been considered a non-traditional material in the past—a delicate twig as used by Meg Bloom, a torn piece of corrugated cardboard employed by Jane Harris, fine mesh screening added by Connie Pfeiffer, a strip of rough tree bark completing a Nancy Eisenfeld composition—is increasingly becoming the new norm.)

Deborah McDuff offers lively collages in which she creates masks out of things like cut-up soda cans, feathers, fabric and beads. There are some beautiful watercolors by Judy Atlas. Almost pastel-like, they radiate deep vibrant color. One, speckled with light blue dots, looks like some beautiful chaos attending the Big Bang or other cosmic event. Another (there was no sheet with titles available when I visited), in which washes and spatters of green range over a background of black, orange and cream, offers a convincing illusion of depth.

Jefri Ruchti's charcoal and/or graphite drawings revel in rich twists of light and shadow, suggesting natural if unidentifiable forms. With Freddi Elton's photographs, there is a sense of time in suspended animation. Her images zoom in close on layers of ice, capturing a vision of cracks, bubbles and needle-like forms.

The opening reception is Sun., Dec. 2, from 12—4 p.m.

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Correction: Van Damme opening at Kehler Liddell next Saturday

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Retrospective of Works by Roger Van Damme
Dec. 1—30, 2007
Artist's reception: Sat., Dec. 8, 4—8 p.m.

I mistakenly indicated that the opening reception for Roger Van Damme's show at Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville is today from 4—8 p.m. While the run of the show does begin today, the actual Artist's Reception is next Saturday, Dec. 8. The body of the copy I ran in the previous post was accurate but the post's heading was incorrect. I've been thrown off by the early Thanksgiving.