Community Soundings: Grant to fund ecosystem project at Nature Center; ‘New England Reflections’ exhibit opens Jan. 2

Grant to fund ecosystem project at Nature Center

The Darien Nature Center will be getting a major upgrade to its Animal Exhibit Room, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Darien Foundation, according to a news release. The Nature Center says it will create a New England Forest and Pond Ecosystem exhibit that will showcase native turtle species in their habitat along with other pond wildlife.

“We are so grateful for the Darien Foundation’s endorsement of our plans to bring the fascinating world of a typical New England pond to life,” said Nature Center Executive Director Leila Wetmore. “Our turtle tanks are the most popular elements of our Animal Room and we’ve been wanting to enhance them for a while now for the benefit of both the animals and our visitors.”

Plans for the 50-square foot ecosystem project include multiple viewing angles, including a window into the underwater area of the pond where visitors will have the opportunity to see from a turtle or fish’s perspective. There will be an illuminated cascading waterfall for ambiance and natural aeration of the pond. The exhibit will also have informational signage and interactive features.

Nature Center officials say the pond ecosystem project will launch the renovation of the rest of the Animal Exhibit Room to eventually upgrade enclosures for its resident screech owls, snakes, lizards, rabbits, and other species.

‘New England Reflections’ exhibit opens Jan. 2

This January, the Geary Gallery of Darien will present “New England Reflections,” featuring the “en plein air” Northeast landscapes of Forest Hills, N.Y., painter Marla Korr. Her exhibit runs Jan. 2-31 at the gallery located at 576 Boston Post Road in Darien.

Marla Korr attended Brooklyn College, where she studied with Philip Pearlstein, Lennart Anderson and Jimmy Ernst. She has also studied at Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting and New York Academy of Art.

As a full-time artist, Korr concentrates her vision on the rich landscapes of the Northeast, as well as the marine images and changing atmosphere of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and coastal New England.

She is also an accomplished equine and portrait artist. Korr also teaches a group of students, imparting to them the knowledge and methods she has practiced and the importance of integrity in art.

She has had exhibitions at numerous locations, including Cavalier Galleries in New York City and Greenwich, the Albany Institute of History & Art, Bergen Museum of Art and Science, National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and many more. She is a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, the American Artists Professional League, and the Copley Society.

Her paintings are available for acquisition. All are welcome and admission is free.

Geary Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 203-655-6633 or visit

Two options

to learn and

play Mah Jongg next month

Popular instructor and longtime Darien resident Donna Holt is at the Darien Community Association to teach two different classes to learn and play Mah Jongg.

“Mah Jongg: Learn to Play” is a four-week session with Holt. Beginners will learn the basics — how to identify tiles and understand the Mah Jongg card, and how to select and strengthen a winning hand. Rules and strategies of play, as well as game etiquette will be covered. Order your 2018 card at once class is confirmed.

This class is offered on four Tuesdays (Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29) from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Class fees covering the four dates are $115, or $95 for DCA members. Payment is required by noon on Jan. 4.

“Mah Jongg: Guided Play” is a four-week session offering lots of playing time and the chance to meet other players, with instructor Holt on hand to oversee play.

She will be available to help with all aspects of the game, from choosing your hand, to guiding the group through any rules or etiquette questions that arise. Players should already be familiar with both rules of play and the NMJL card for this class.

This class is offered on four Wednesdays (Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30) from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Class fees covering the four dates are $85, or $70 for DCA members. Payment is required by noon on Jan. 7.

Registration is available online at, or by contacting the DCA at 203-655-9050 ext. 10, or The DCA is located at 274 Middlesex Road in Darien.