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December 11, 2016
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No strings attached

Three artists’ works form this triptych.

In the adjacent gallery, internationally acclaimed painter Kalika Stern was also on hand to discuss her new installation at CAS, which includes her largest work to date, an enormous mural described in her own words as a “carefree, occasionally self-mocking humor in her drawings, watercolors and sculptures.” Stern, who is the founder of the Society for Folk Arts Preservation (, has taught, painted and traveled all over the world, and her unique vision is expressed in a variety of styles at CAS, featured alongside the triptychs through April 7.

Accepting my limitations and acknowledging that the best dates are kept on a short leash, I asked the wonder dog if she had enough “pawtographs” on hand to greet the kids before puppeteer Ramona Jan’s presentation of “Some Strings Attached” in Callicoon ( last Sunday. She nodded her adorable head and I held mine high while she did her thing, reminding me why dating a “good girl” is so rewarding. Jan, a founding member of Manhattan’s Reality Galaxy Puppet Theater and former member of the Puppetry Guild of Greater New York, had an arsenal of marionettes on hand, and the kids were so enchanted that a second show was spontaneously demanded, before the first even drew to a close.

Jan’s cast of marionette characters entertained both kids and adults alike. Lucinda Sparkle, Astro-Boy (the piano playing horse), ballet dancer Chantel and a pair of “wild and crazy guys” were introduced by her young assistants, Emma Switko and Lucinda Cantor, as the children sat rapt with attention and I found myself transported along with the crowd. Ramona’s initial fear that Dharma would “attack the puppets” went unfounded even during the appearance of Bubbles, “a somewhat bad baby,” which truth be told, I found somewhat unnerving.

Sticking with the dog, I’m once again putting dating on hold and steeling myself for commitment to an abundance of art shows, concerts and high school plays about to explode in the region. “I suppose there’s something to be said for the single life,” I groan (and grin) in her general direction, while making out my schedule for the weeks to come.

Lyricist Dickie Jones joins the voices in my head as his clever words reverberate, “Hi-ho the me-ri-o. I’m as happy as can be, I want the world to know... I’ve got no strings on me!”